From aspiring actor-turned-banker to global multimedia entrepreneur: the rise of Lancashire’s Mujahaid bin Jamshaid
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“I grew up on a normal estate, nothing too fancy,” says Mujahaid, 36. “My main influence was from my father, who was in senior management at Nelson & Colne College. I’d see him leaving for work every morning in his suit and that had such a positive impact on me - it made me want to make something of myself.
“But, what I wanted to be was very different from what I ended up pursuing: I was into drama and theatre studies and had a real interest in film and acting,” he adds. “At college, I was leaning towards science- and theatre-related subjects, but my father said ‘listen, you’re going to do economics, business, and maths’.
“It completely changed my education and drama was put on hold, which I wasn’t too happy at the time,” continues Mujahaid. “But, when I got into the world of economics through A Levels and at uni, I enjoyed it. Working for the bank was all very high-flying, but I still had this desire to explore something in the creative arts. So things took a change.”
With a family member having recently had a poorly-produced wedding video, Mujahaid offered to help. Whilst still at the bank, he brought what he calls three ‘crazy Matrix-style Apple Mac screens and a tower’ and spent all his time learning how to edit video. He fell in love and decided to give himself a year to explore the idea of doing it full-time.
“Having that creative side which I could all of a sudden explore after years of working in a more mundane and corporate job was a real release,” says Mujahaid, from Pendle in East Lancashire. “But it was a big decision to leave the bank; I’d just been named the best graduate by the CEO and everything was going really well.
“It was terrifying in one aspect but exciting in another,” he adds. “I put all my life savings into equipment - the day I left the bank, I had £200 left in my account with no salary coming in. My family wasn’t too happy, to be fair! They didn’t understand why I wanted to go from my successful career to holding a camera, but I just felt this overwhelming feeling of excitement.
“I saw it as an adventure, but I still went from going from a comfortable corporate position to running my own business, which I’d never done before,” explains Mujahaid, who used a £2,000 Pendle Business Support Grant to found Amor Media Productions in 2009. “I was stepping into the unknown and losing that buffer of a paycheck every month was daunting.
“Even though the passion was there, though, the first few years were difficult and that was when it really hit home just how crazy this was. But, no matter what, I always wanted to exceed customers’ expectations, even during the teething process. It was terrifying, I’m not going to lie, but I knew this was what I wanted to do.”
Slowly but sure, however, things started to pick up as Amor gathered traction. Catching eyes thanks to Mujahaid’s novel approach of bringing an element of artistic cinematography to an industry which was set in its ways of staid and slightly underwhelming wedding videos, the company’s productions were soon getting millions of views on YouTube. Things were taking off.
“We were getting loads of attention on social media with our Hollywood-esque shooting and, suddenly, the volume of inquiries and the interest in our work meant we were turning work down,” says Mujahaid. “Day and night, I enjoyed the work and I still do. My passion for getting the final product, the storytelling, and the composition right has never gone.
“I loved being able to indulge my creative side and explore a vision and, to this day, when we put a video out there, there’s a real buzz,” he adds. “ Also, to be working on something as special as people’s weddings is an honour, especially when you’re working with high-flying clients who are investing a lot in their special day.
“They want the best and are trusting you, which is a responsibility we take great pride in. People go from being clients to being friends because we’re more than just a company delivering a product. It all stems from my passion and I think that’s where our success comes from.”
Amor has gone on to become one of the UK’s premier video production agencies, collecting a slate of titles at the British Asian Wedding Awards over the years. But Mujahaid’s work now extends far beyond weddings as, under his direction, the company has branched out into the world of corporate advertising, too.
“Amor started as a tool to explore creatively and to fill a gap in the market but, before long, I started getting requests for high-end companies like restaurants and hotels in Manchester and London,” Mujahaid explains. “They loved the storytelling angle to our videos and wanted more vision in their adverts.”
The company has since gone on to work with the likes of Emirates, Mercedes, Jumeirah Hotels, Red Bull, Muslim Global Relief, Skydive Dubai, the BBC, the University of Central Lancashire, the Celtic Manor Resort, and the University of Manchester. A more impressive list of clients you’ll struggle to find.
“To be given full creative range on jobs for such amazing brands and clients as someone who came from humble beginnings in Lancashire is incredible,” says Mujahaid. “I’m so proud and grateful for the opportunity and the whole journey has been about constant learning. That’s the key: success is vision and effort.”
Another key factor has been adaptability. Which is where Amor Digital Now, sister brand to Amor Media Production and Mujahaid’s digital marketing and advertising agency comes in. The company now has offices in 10 cities across the world.
“Throughout, I never lost that passion for banking and finance,” he says. “I recognised it has a pretty transferable skillset to marketing, given that they’re both so heavily based on data. Both industries complement each other, which is where the idea for a 360-degree agency which deals with everything rather than just the video production came from.
“I wanted it to be truly global, just like what Amor Media Productions had become from a media perspective, so I started studying in the background for three years with The Chartered Institute of Marketing,” Mujahaid adds. “Everything’s about using data to tell a story with passion in a world that’s getting smaller thanks to tech that’s getting better.”
Our chat coming to a close, I ask what the one piece of advice Mujahaid would offer his younger self would be and, for the first time during our conversation, he pauses. But not for long. “Begin with the end in mind,” he says. “It’s from ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey. Everything is possible through learning.
“So long as you have the vision and the willpower, you can achieve your goals,” Mujahaid adds. “I took a risk and followed my passion, but it took belief and perseverance. And I wouldn’t change anything about my journey.”