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Article: In Memory of Raisa

In Memory of Raisa

In Memory of Raisa

1951 - 2021

It is with profound sadness that I announce the passing of my Mom, Raisa Sheikh, who lost her battle with cancer recently. She was not just my Mom, but also the “Mother” of Heys, as one of its founding family members.

Born in Karachi into a large family, she was the 2nd youngest of the 7 children, with 3 brothers, and 3 sisters. Her family held the exclusive distribution rights for the famous Swiss watchmaker OMEGA in the region.

Childhood pic of Mom

Mom would marry Dad and settle down in Dhaka. My Dad had a successful business supplying banks with large safes. They had two sons, my older brother and me.

Mom & Dad looking cool with their shades

However, as fate would have it, a Civil War broke out in 1971 and they would tragically lose everything they owned. Mom and Dad managed to escape the country and left for Sweden where they resided for a couple of years before deciding that the family would immigrate to Canada in 1974 to start a new life.

Mom and Sons

By the 1980’s, Mom held jobs at Fabricland and Zellers but her passion and creativity always came out in her personal hobby of designing floral arrangements. I still remember her staying up late into the night creating these exotic arrangements from the basement of our home, even after a long day at her regular job.

Mom wasn’t too pleased when I took this pic of her in the basement late one night, as she worked on her
floral arrangements!

Within weeks she had made so many of these designs that the family decided to try to retail them in various kiosks in shopping malls across Southern Ontario…..and that’s how it all started.

Mom and I working in our very first retail kiosk at Central Parkway Mall, Mississauga

The rest as they say was history, as that set in motion a series of cascading events that would one day transform the company, as Heys grew from a small home-based business into a global travel brand. The Canadian success story that Heys is today, would not be so without Mom and her favorite hobby that she turned into a business.

1990’s - Mom and Dad on one of their many buying trips to Asia for factory visits

2004 - Mom and granddaughter in the Heys booth at a trade show

Mom and Dad celebrated their 50th Anniversary

Mom was a kind, soft spoken soul, always humble, and I, the company, and the generations following her, will strive to continue on in her name. She is dearly missed and will be forever loved by her husband, sons, and grandchildren.

Emran Sheikh
Heys International

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