Pandemic-induced lockdowns putting an end to many business ventures is no new story. However, when one idea declines, catching another one is a good story. Nazifa Tabassum Lamiya has one such story to tell.
An undergraduate student from the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka, Lamiya saw her event photography venture 'Lamiyagraphy' facing cancellations due to the never-ending lockdown. The worries devastated her for some time, but she couldn't let them stop her from pursuing her passion.
"During this period, I started photographing and experimenting with different food, be it store-bought snacks or my mom's baked goodies, simply because I missed doing what I enjoy the most, photography. Slowly, I became more interested in a sub-branch of food photography, levitation photography," said Lamiya.
Levitation photography, beginning of Leviosa
Lamiya created a portfolio of images using the levitation concept and shared them with friends to get their feedback. Their encouragement helped her go one step further and share the pictures in different Facebook groups that were highly active during the pandemic. Soon, she found a significant demand in the industry for the kind of content she was producing.
"I started being approached by multiple restaurateurs to create such images for their brands. And just like that, I had found my signature style and true passion in trying a different technique out of boredom and curiosity during the pandemic," Lamiya explained.
"Once I knew that I wanted to craft magical stories with food, the name literally just came to me one fine morning. 'Wingardium Leviosa' is the very first spell (from Harry Potter) we learned growing up, and it seemed to align perfectly with the vision I had for this new venture I was about to launch."
After all, what better way to show the uniqueness of her photography that makes food take flight on wings?
"From the beginning of Leviosa, the idea was not only to produce images that fulfilled commercial purposes but rather to tell stories through photos and bring joy to the viewer," said Lamiya on her core mission with Leviosa.
The team behind the wings
While Lamiya is the sole owner of Leviosa, she has two team members, Leviosa's business manager Farha Kabir Turna and set designer Ayesha Binthe Yousuf. Farha looks into the day-to-day operations, customer relationship management and social media. Ayesha is in charge of designing and building the unique sets, props and all things DIY.
On recruiting her team, Lamiya said, "I recruited Farha after the unexpected growth of Leviosa in the initial months as it was getting extremely challenging for me to manage the business single-handedly. Ayesha joined the team in the last half of 2021 after I realised it was time to challenge ourselves to create trickier sets and concepts."
"While we bring very different skills and qualities to the table, all three of us have one thing in common, we are perfection-oriented," remarked Lamiya.
Working together for long hours formulating unique concepts, perfecting sets and ensuring the quality brought the team together as a unit. They soon became more like a close-knit of friends working towards making their dream a reality.
The growth of Leviosa
The relentless women behind Leviosa brought the brand name to the forefront as Leviosa successfully worked on over 200 projects in just two years.
"What started as an experiment for me to keep doing what I love regardless of the pandemic has grown into something that is beyond my wildest expectations. Starting from zero, we have worked with over 70 brands, including Aarong, Golden Harvest, Madchef, Tree House, The Paper Boutique, United, Le Meridien, etc.," Lamiya told the writer.
Alongside the distinctive style of Leviosa and its team's perseverance, social media, especially the highly engaging Instagram Community, has played a massive role in its growth. As Lamiya mentions. "The growth was possible due to the timing, the unique strategies and consistent innovation in content creation. We are constantly trying to outdo ourselves and bring fresh content, and our audience and clientele have supported us throughout that."
The future flight of leviosa
The growing success of Leviosa has made the ambitious owner start planning on how to make it a bigger name in the industry. As per Lamiya, "Soon, we would love to grow our team and start operating in other cities in the country. We plan to continue pushing ourselves and establish Leviosa as a brand beyond borders. We have also evolved with the online world shifting towards videos and dynamic content. We draw inspiration for our content from various art forms, including animated movies, paintings etc."
With her venture, Lamiya strives to encourage more youth, especially females, to join this sector through Leviosa.
Student and an entrepreneur
The growing academic pressure of Universities often makes it difficult for students to take time for some well-deserved rest, let alone run a demanding new venture.
"To be honest, this has been a constant battle as all of us here at Leviosa are full-time students. Unfortunately, we do not get much free time as we are constantly working, either after our classes or on the weekends. Therefore, we are constantly trying to find the right balance. But planning ahead and time management have been key factors in balancing work and studies," said Lamiya.
While Lamiya found success in her venture, she recognises most youth's struggles when daring to pursue their creative passion professionally.
"The most useful pieces of advice I can offer are never to stop challenging yourself and that it is never too early to start pursuing your passion. I started my photography career right after completing my SSC, which many people thought was too early. But I believe that there is no better time than the present to do what you love doing," she concluded fittingly.