International Women's Day: An Interview with Our CEO & Co-Founder Rajia Abdelaziz
Our CEO and Co-Founder, Rajia Abdelaziz is an inspiration to us daily. She is kind, smart and works tirelessly everyday to bring her mission of safety for all to the masses. So today, on this International Women’s Day, we are celebrating Rajia along with all of the women who hustle hard to achieve their dreams! We recently chatted with Rajia about what International Women’s Day means to her, the women who inspire her as well as her message to young women who are thinking about their future career.
Q: What does International Women's Day mean to you?
Rajia: I love International Women's Day because it celebrates hard-working women and their wonderful achievements! Women have come a long way and I love reading stories about inspirational women and what they're doing to change the world.
Q: As a female CEO, what have been your greatest challenges?
Rajia: I cannot tell you the amount of times people have underestimated my background. There's been so many times I've been pitching to investors and in competitions and people would assume I knew nothing about tech since I'm a woman. It was extremely frustrating. People would make comments like "Do you understand how advanced technology like this is to develop?" ....Yes I have a dual degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, I understand what it takes to develop a product like invisaWear and I actually wrote the software for the app prototypes One of my mentors was watching a pitch where I was asked a question like that and she joked that I should've dropped the microphone after talking about how I got two degrees in at 22 years old :)
Q: Tell us about a few women who inspire you.
Rajia: There are so many women that inspire me, it's very hard to only name a few! Some of the women who are an inspiration to me are:
• Kendra Scott
◦ She had a new born baby and was a single mom - she was out their hustling and the first business she tried to sell her jewelry to said no. I'll never forget listening to that story. Every time we've gotten "Nos" I've thought back to Kendra Scott and how if she had listened to the No's she wouldn't have a billion dollar brand. I'm also all about giving back and I love how they have a Kendra Cares program that donates over $5 Million dollars annually.
• Carolyn rafaelian - Alex and Ani
◦ Carolyn started a Billion dollar company after identifying a way to turn scraps from her dad's factories into jewelry. Wow! I love that her products are made in the USA and how they partner with non-profit to give back as well.
◦ Last year Oprah came to UMass Lowell and we had the honor of being able to gift her an invisaWear! We also got to listen to her speak and her story is beyond inspiring it had me in tears. She talked about how when she was young she had a "rich" friend. The friend was so rich that she had a tree in her backyard. She said that she always hoped that one day she'd become so rich that she'd be able to have a tree in her yard as well. She said that fast forward years and years later, now she has 300 trees in her backyard. She's a great example of dreams coming true and that hard work pays off. She said that she used to be so sick yet she'd still come into work.
Q: How important is it for women to empower, support and lift each other up and what does that mean to you?
Rajia: It’s so important for women to help each other! We have so many amazing women that helped us get to where we are today and we honestly wouldn't be here if it wasn't for all their support. When women help each other it's so amazing because we help each other avoid mistakes that we've made and we can all work together to make a greater world.
Q: What message do you want to share with young women who are thinking about their future careers?
Rajia: Follow your dreams and don't let anyone tell you they're not achievable! I would've never in a million years imagined invisaWear becoming what it is today and we're only getting started. I always dreamt of running my own company but I never imagined that I would actually do so and that it would become a global company or that we'd be featured on Good Morning America, ABC News, Rachel Ray, and so much more! Many of the moments from last year are surreal and I want every woman to know that if you work hard enough you can accomplish anything