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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

// update Dec 19 //
Thank you for all the love in the comments ❤️ 


I was determined to buy a Canadian made suitcase which I did; yours. . Now that I read this beautiful tribute to your mom and all the lovely remembrances of other people, I’m so glad to know the back story of an immigrant family just like ours who served their country and built a legacy through determination and hard work. May your mom Rest In Peace.

Carmel Preyra

Your Mom sounds like an amazing women and an inspiration to all who were lucky enough to cross paths with her.


Dear Emran,

Many condolences to you and your family. She was indeed a great woman, I’m among the luckiest people who had pleasure to know Mrs. Sheikh she was indeed a mother figure to all of us working at Heys, she always had the sweetest smile on her face. May God bless his eternal peace on her and be with you and your family thru this tragic time.

Maria Patel

Dear Emran, that is a beautiful and well deserved tribute to your mother. I feel very fortunate to have gotten to know her over the years. She was kind and warm each time I saw her. The enormous pride and love she had for her family was obvious. She represents everything that is good in the world – something she obviously passed down to you. It is no wonder that Heys has become the success that it is today. May the memories you have of her continue to give you and your family strength and inspiration.

David Schlesinger

I am so sorry to read of your loss. I hope that your memories of her bring you comfort.


My sincere condolences on the loss of your beloved Mother. She sounds like a wonderful person, someone we all would have liked to meet. Keep your memories of her close to your hearts until you meet her again.

Joanne Licari Richichi

Lovely story, lovely lady. My sincere condolences for your loss.

Luba Elson

Although I never had the pleasure of meeting her, your description of her character speaks volumes. It is quite evident that her values have been instilled to your family and the company which is Heys.
My condolences to you and your family.

Karen Dash

Vous offrant mes plus sincères condoléances suite à la perte de votre mère. Elle semblait être une femme très courageuse,exceptionnelle et dotée d’un grand talent artistique qui a fait de votre compagnie un fleuron dans son domaine!

Courage à votre famille…

Johanne Poirier

May her soul Rest In Peace
So sorry for your loss
Ur mum is A legend

Wafa and Ali

Emran that is very well said about your mom ,I-knew her thru her group of Shehnaz Sheikh, Rahat, kitty’s mom and others.
I found her very down to earth ,gentle soft spoken as you even described her.
May Allah bless her with Jannah Ameen

Farrukh sheikh

اَللّٰھُمَّ اغْفِرْلَھَا وَ ارْحَمْھَا وَ عَافِھَا وَ اعْفُ عَنْھَا وَ اَکْرِمْ نُزُلَھَا وَ وَسِّعْ مُدْخَلَھَا وَ اغْسِلْھَا بِالْمَاءِ وَ الثَّلْجِ وَ الْبَرَدِ وَ نَقِّھَا مِنَ الْخَطَایَا کَمَا نَقَّیْتَ الثَّوْبَ الْاَبْیَضَ مِنَ الدَّنَسِ وَ اَبْدِلْھَا دَارًا خَیْرًا مِنْ دَارِھَا وَ اَھْلًا خَیْرًا مِنْ اَھْلِھَا وَ زَوْجًا خَیْرًا مِنْ زَوْجِھَا وَ اَدْخِلْھَا الْجَنَّةَ وَ اَعِذْھَا مِنْ عَذَابِ الْقَبْرِ وَ مِنْ عَذَابِ النَّارِ۔

O Allah, forgive her, have mercy on her, grant her peace and pardon her. Receive her with honour and make her place of entry (in grave) spacious. Wash her with water, snow, and ice and cleanse her of her faults like a white garment is cleansed of stains. O Allah, substitute her with an abode better than her abode, with a family better than her family and a spouse better than her spouse. Admit her into Paradise and protect her from the torment of the grave and the torment of the Fire.

Abdinassir Mohamed

My condolences 💐 your company is amazing, I have bought your products and they’re very high quality. Thank you for sharing this story and bless your family. Happy holidays.


My deepest condolences to you all. I have such fond memories of your mother, my Great Aunt. Her generosity was truly one of a kind. She always met us bearing thoughtful gifts and a smile. She celebrated my first birthday in Canada with a lunch. I will always remember that gesture. She taught me how to dry and preserve flowers! Like her, I also loved floral arrangements and as a child, it meant so much that an adult was encouraging my hobby. A truly remarkable lady. May she rest in peace and be remembered with love, always. Ameen.

Haya Shamsi

My sincere condolences for the loss of your dear Mom. I too lost my Mom in December, many years ago. She was an immigrant from Ireland and when I read your story I thought of how fortunate we are in Canada that strong, industrious people like your Mom choose to call this country home. Time will make this moment in your life less painful, but nothing will ever replace the sound of your Mom’s voice or the touch of her hand. Thank you to your Mom and your family for making Hey’s luggage- its the only luggage I have used since I bought my first piece in 2012.


Thanks for sharing such a nice post regarding your mother ..
She was my paternal aunt,my father 3rd sister.
One of her skills you forgot to mention is , she was an artist my childhood time she made 3 portraits of mine showing my past as childhood , portraying my present as a girl and future as an old lady..
Rest I saw her continuing her passion while we were in Dakka.
Being a person , she was very much humble and shy ..time made her very much confident .
Demice of her is a great loss in our family.,
May Allah give u all the strength of bearing her loss.
May she gets the higher place in Jannah ameen.

Huma Salim

Well it is the sweets way to show your love for her and the journey she been pass through

Tariq Younus

What a wonderful tribute to my dearest aunt…. I feel proud of being her nephew…. May Allah bless her with the highest level in Jannah….Aameen
Hard work of her and uncle led to the success of Heys….. And now u r carrying forward the legacy of Heys…. May this brand further prosper in the world….. Aameen

Omer Malik

Emran, I was touched by the life story of your dear mum and how she was the inspiration for Heyes. As a Heyes customer, please accept my sincere condolences to you and all your family on her passing (my own mom lived with breast cancer bravely for years before passing away sadly).

Pamela Lobo

My condolences to your Family . Thank you for sharing your Mothers story , what an incredible journey. My thoughts and prayers to your Family .

Chris Pataki

Your Mom was a beautiful person inside and out and so is your Family! May she Rest In Peace. Our sincere condolences to You and your Family.

Lucy and Paul


My deepest sympathies to you and your family. What a great story and thank you for sharing it.

Meg Rachpaul

Thank you for Mom Raisa and her story. Condolence to your and Heys Family.
Travelling everywhere with your wonderful luggages for years.
Will always be grateful for your wonderful family.


So sorry for your loss. You tell her story so eloquently that one can’t help feel some kind of connection to a beautiful kindred soul. I too worked at Zellers and now am battling cancer. Stay strong and always know she is with you in your heart. Condolences to your family. Sending much love and light. 💗


Thank you for sharing your mom’s story. What an incredible person. It is really inspiring to read about her life and the story behind Heys. My mother’s family also was in Karachi and we move via East Africa to Canada -a similar trajectory. My condolences to you and your family. Peace.

Lu-Anne DaCosta

I am so sorry to hear the loss of your mother. I have such fond memories of when our families would get together in the early days. Know that she is in our hearts and we are praying for her soul. My sincere condolences to you and your family.

Kaleem Azhar

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَ بَرَكَاتُه.

Brother Emran,

Thanks for sharing your mom’s Success. It was wonderful to know her and beginning of the company. She sounds like a remarkable woman. As a loyal customer of Heys international, I would like to extend my sincerest condolences to you and to your family for the loss of your Mom. Praying for strength, comfort and peace in time like this.May Allah SWT grant her a highest place in Jannah أمين

إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ .

Aisha Bhatti

Very heart touching story , she was a G8 mother .my condolence to u & ur family. Lots of love & Patience to You.r family .

Sanjeev Malhotra

What a beautiful tribute to your Mom. I have several suitcases and other products from Heys, and it’s nice to know the success story behind them. My condolences to you and your family.


I am sorry to hear of your Moms passing. She will live on in your hearts and thoughts.


Thanks for sharing this loving story of a very special Mom. She was inspirational in so many ways.

Donna Wyatt

Thank you for sharing. What an inspiring story. My condolences to you and your family.


What a lively to your mother. Please accept my sincere condolences to you and all your family, friends, employees, business associates and loyal customers. You mother left a legacy that she started, loyal customers and dedicated employees that I’m sure your family will confine for many years. RIP Raisa and thank you for your wonderful products over the years.

Carole Ireland

Sincere condolences! What an amazing woman and an amazing tribute to her!!!! She certainly captured our imaginations with Heys! BRAVO! May we wish you continued success! all the very best, lisa


My condolences to you and the family may her soul rest in peace

Nini dewan

What a wonderful tribute to your mother. May these wonderful
memories give you strength at this sad time.
I remember her and your dad from the Tomken road warehouse, grow into the new big foster cres. warehouse location.
On my visit to the warehouse I often saw her with her grand daughter.
My condolences on your loss.

Alka Jogee

My deepest heartfelt condolences to you and your family. I lost my mom in January 2017, and know how difficult and painful it is. May You find peace and comfort during this trying time and remember she is always with you in your heart.

Eva Radenkovic

My condolences. Thank you for sharing your mom with us. It’s a beautiful family story.


I’m so sorry for your loss. My condolences to her family and loved ones. What an inspiration she was!


What a remarkable story! Thank you for sharing it, in your Mom’s honor. Sending my condolences to your family in this difficult time. She will be missed by many who were fortunate to know her Emran.

Calgary, AB

Kathy Bosch

I am so very sorry for your loss. I lost my mom in 2020, so I know how difficult this time for you and your family must be. Sending peace and love to you and your family


Deepest condolences to you and the Heys family. Its one of the hardest things in life, losing a parent. Thanks for sharing, and a great tribute to her memories. Heys is definitely a company we’ve always been a fan of. A true great Canadian success story. More power to you and your family.


Our most sincere condolences to your family. Wonderful of you to share the history behind Heys; and now we know the contribution your family and mom made as immigrants to the country, and ultimately to the remarkable story of a Canadian family business that took off internationally. You all must be very proud of the legacy your mom is leaving behind.


Emran so sorry for your loss. I miss my mom dearly but you must always remember the wonderful family times together. That was a wonderful tribute to your mom. My thoughts are with you this holiday season.

Carol MaillouxEmran

So sorry to hear the hard news of your mother,s death nothing worse than loosing your mother I too lost mine she was only 62 also my father has died and this past summer I lost both my brothers within a month of each other. I am on my second set of your wonderful luggage look after your father and the rest of your family and yourself too and pray and stay together


So touched by your story of your mom. This is an especially hard time of year to lose a loved one, no matter one’s religion. I lost my mother(s) much earlier in life; but, it seems that the longer one has one’s mom in her or his life, the harder it is to move on without her. My prayers for you and your family re: this immeasurable loss.


My condolences to you and your family. Lots of love and patience to you.

Elise Abi

My deepest condolences to you and your family.

Denise Muir

Dear Emran, my deepest condolences to you are family. My thoughts are with you and your family in this difficult time. I love the Hays brand and was not aware of the history behind it. Now that I know it, I have a personal want to keep supporting your family brand as it’s a great product.

As per the notes above, your mum is a true inspiration and a remarkable lady.

Vikesh Dave

I knew your Mom the day she married to my uncle. She was my favorite as I was 7.5 years old. In Dhaka she was the first person I ever saw who did paintings as hobby on canvas. She was always a giver, soft spoken. I never saw her in bad mood. I loved her and admire her personality. It’s a loss for all of us and we all are missing her. May her soul Rest In Peace and her children be torch holders of her mission. Regards
Dawood Batla and whole family

Dawood Batla

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