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3L finds friendship, calling in Short North boutique

February 3, 2014 | Students

Alya Sulaiman walked out of her apartment, across the street, and into a newly-opened boutique called Royal Factory in the Short North, located just south of Ohio State’s campus.

She left the shop with a spark of interest that redirected her legal career.

Sulaiman, now a 3L at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, thought she wanted to be a real estate lawyer, but inside the boutique she met the owner, Felicia Jimenez, a former employee at Limited Brands who went into business on her own.

Sulaiman was actually Jimenez’s first customer, and the two struck up a friendship that guided Sulaiman into a career working with small businesses.

“It was really the start of a fantastic relationship,” she said. “Through my relationship with her, I was able to see a lot of the things I was learning about in law school, like contract law issues, and learn about the things she was dealing with as a small-business owner. It really sparked my interest to see not only her business, but all the businesses in the Short North.”

Sulaiman is now working on starting a small business of her own, a political website called Know Your Leaders, that focuses on providing a searchable database of resume-style information about those running for and holding elected offices. The idea of the company was developed at Moritz with assistance from some of her classmates.

“The purpose of Know Your Leaders is to make it easier for people to be informed about the employment history and qualifications of political candidates and current office-holders,” she said.

Having interned at the law firm Roetzel & Andress in Columbus, she saw all the legal resources available to large businesses, but she feels small businesses do not have the same opportunities.

“It really astonishes me why there aren’t services tailored to small businesses,” she said. “I’m really interested in providing digestible, easy-to-understand resources for small businesses as a lawyer because I feel like what’s out there is not very user-friendly.”

In Washington D.C., she interned for a company called Main Street Genome, which leverages big data to provide solutions and drive growth for small businesses. It’s that type of work, she said, that’s more in line with what she wants to do.

“My general goal is to be able to work in an environment where I can really assist small businesses and startups at their inception and through their high-growth phases,” she said.

Sulaiman also finds time to volunteer. She was president of the Community Outreach Program at Moritz during the 2012-13 school year, organizing trips to clean up local parks, serve meals at homeless shelters, tutor children, and plant seasonal vegetables in a community garden in eastern Columbus.