Mail Boxes Etc. UK & Ireland's blog


International Women’s Day profile: Mehreen Amjad

Mail Boxes Etc. has many successful female entrepreneurs among its franchisees.  

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we talked to Mehreen Amjad, who owns MBE Kilburn, about why she wanted to work for herself, the challenges she faced and the advice she would give to other businesswomen.

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Mehreen, 38, studied politics and international relations at the University of Leicester and went on to study law at BPP Law School. After graduating, she worked in a law firm for a while, but she always knew she would start her own business. “I wanted to work for myself,” she says. “I didn’t want to put all that effort in for someone else.”  She decided to look at franchising following a suggestion from her partner.  “I really liked the idea.  There’s lots of flexibility and you can work at your own pace.”

That flexibility was key for Mehreen:  “I had a baby about a year after opening my MBE store in Kilburn, and being my own boss meant I could manage that in the way that I thought best.  I didn’t have to leave my child with someone else.  I got a nanny but she and the baby came to the store with me.”

Setting up the store was quite straightforward.  “I did lots of homework – I researched the company, the client base and the competition, and the MBE head office team gave me the necessary tools.  The great thing is that they then leave it to you to set it up the way you want.”  

Mehreen has a broad client base.  “A lot of my small business clients are in the creative industries.  We recently had a Game of Thrones final script to print, but we had to delete it from the system as soon as we’d done the job, so we didn’t get a chance to find out the ending!”

She says that Brexit has had a tangible effect on the local community.  “A lot of overseas students have left.  We’ve had clients who have lived here for 20 years with their partners who haven’t surrendered their dual citizenship and have been asked to go back to their original homes, so a lot of families have decided to up and leave too. Our international clients have had to make decisions based on necessity.  If you run a business, you don’t want to invest in something that may be taken away from you.  London is the place that has suffered more than anywhere else.  The struggle of Brexit is real here.”

Female role models

Being an independent woman is very important to Mehreen, and working for herself is central to this ethos.  “I work at my own pace, employ who I want, and I make my work fit with my family commitments too.”  She acknowledges how important Mail Boxes Etc. has been in her success as a businesswoman.  “MBE is a known and trusted brand, and the head office team have been wonderful.

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You know you can call on them and they will try their very best to help you. They are genuinely nice people and they care about their franchisees and want them to do well.”  It also helps that there are female role models on the team who all have important jobs.

Mehreen’s advice to other women entrepreneurs is not to look for reasons why they can’t do it.  “Look for reasons why you can.  There is never a good time – you just have to get on with it.  Be clear about why you want to do it.  A business is a long-term commitment and you have to be ready for the challenges you are going to face.  But if you have that drive and you have planned, you should go for it.”

She thinks her legal background helped prepare her for the challenges of working for herself.  “There is an element of sexism in the legal profession, and that made me resilient, but also quite focused in my interactions.  It made me toughen up.”

She is very positive about the benefits of a Mail Boxes Etc. franchise.  “I think that with the MBE franchise, in some respects it’s simpler than starting on your own.  You have a business model there, all the support you need, and there’s a uniform approach to marketing so the brand is strong.”  After nine years of running the business in Kilburn, Mehreen is looking to the future, which may include expansion with another London store.

Just do it

Mehreen’s final words to other women who want to start their own business – particularly those who have children – are encouraging: “People think you can’t do things when you have children, but it is very important to stop looking for excuses. Don’t tell yourself ‘when they go to secondary school I will do this’.  Just do it.”

She is also paving the way for the next generation of female entrepreneurs.  “People don’t understand how much children can contribute to your business.  I bring my little girl into the store and she says ‘Mummy, do you realise you could do it like this, rather than the way you’re doing it?’  She is street-smart – she has really benefited from being involved in the business. Her confidence is through the roof: she talks to our customers, sees how the business works.  Your children grow with your business; they can see your commitment and they learn from their environment.  Sitting at home is not the only way.”


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