S06E011: Afshan Nasseri, Founder & CEO of Aam Creative, US & Pakistan
In today’s episode, we are thrilled to feature Afshan Nasseri, the 26-year-old founder and CEO of Aam Creative who divides her time between the US and Pakistan.
Aam Creative is a dynamic digital marketing agency comprising a talented team of 15 women of colour, scattered across the globe. The name “Aam” draws its inspiration from the Urdu language, where it refers to the beloved and widely cherished fruit, the mango, symbolizing its popularity across Asia and Southeast Asia.
Afshan embarked on her entrepreneurial journey at the age of 24 while simultaneously navigating her studies in London. Within a short span, she accomplished a remarkable feat, generating a six-figure revenue in US dollars. Her client base comprises 45 diverse companies and more spanning the realms of fashion, food, tech startups, and even aerospace.
Several factors played a pivotal role in Afshan’s decision to launch her own venture. As a half-Indian and half-Iranian, born in Montreal, Canada, and raised in Boston, USA, she was on the cusp of applying for a job when the disruptive force of the pandemic unfolded. It was during this crucial moment of reflection that she recognized the absence of cultural understanding in the creative industry, particularly from the perspective of South Asian-Muslim experiences, within her generation.
Afshan’s valuable insights were forged during her internships at prominent marketing agencies. It was during this time that she observed a significant discrepancy—while cultural campaigns were extensively discussed for esteemed brand-name clients, very few individuals possessed genuine experiential knowledge of the cultures they were representing. This realization served as the catalyst for Afshan’s mission to bridge the gap and provide authentic cultural perspectives within the creative space.
During a reflective moment, Afshan vividly recalls her time as a junior in the office, where she saw the lack of authentic cultural understanding. Growing up as an independent Muslim woman in the Western world with roots in India, she realized the value of firsthand knowledge when crafting campaigns that resonate authentically.
“And I was the junior in the office but I was like, Hey, like, why don’t you ask me? I’m Muslim and this is something that I know because it’s one thing to research Ramadan and see how you can kind of craft a campaign out of that. But if you’re a Muslim and you’ve grown up with certain traditions, you know that if you’re gonna host an Iftar party, you need dates to be on the table. You need a certain dress code. You want to partner up with certain people who Muslims actually look up to in the space,” Afshan recalls.
This realization highlighted a larger issue in the Western marketing landscape—an absence of cultural perspectives and a lack of cultural liaisons. Afshan saw the need for creatives who truly embodied the nuances of Asian cultures, encompassing both the Muslim and South Asian perspectives, from the vantage point of Generation Z and millennials.
Aam Creative initially began as a comprehensive 360 agency, but it has since embarked on a journey of specialization. In today’s conversation, Afshan delves into the familiar quandary faced by many entrepreneurs: how to maintain exceptional creative work while simultaneously steering the business towards engaging with larger players in the industry.
Afshan draws inspiration from her close friend, Sarah Khan, a travel writer, whose unwavering passion encourages Afshan to stay true to her own passions and pursuits.
She remarks, “All the remarkable women on my team have backgrounds rooted in humanities. Their innate curiosity drives them to explore culture and history, making them natural researchers. It is this aspect that sets us apart and makes us truly unique.”
To nourish her creative spirit, Afshan immerses herself in Indian music, finding solace and inspiration within its melodies. Additionally, she is captivated by her latest read, “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter—And How to Make the Most of Them Now” by Meg Jay, a book that holds tremendous significance for her personal and professional growth.
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Today’s episode is sponsored by Redbox Studio.