Interview with invisaWear Co-Founder & CEO, Rajia Abdelaziz
In honor of International Women's Day we’re celebrating one of the hardest working women we know, invisaWear Co-Founder and CEO, Rajia Abdelaziz. Recently we had a Q & A session with Rajia and she shared the inspiration behind invisaWear, where she got her entrepreneurial spirit and her biggest professional achievement to date!
Q: Tell us more about your company, invisaWear and the motivation to launch the brand.
Rajia: We created invisaWear because we wanted to protect ourselves and our loved ones. It feels like every day you hear a sad story on the news about someone that was kidnapped, abducted, or worse. We wanted to protect the people that are most important to us but when looking for a safety device everything available was a big, ugly, panic button.
Q: When launching invisaWear what three things were most important to you?
Rajia: 1. Building a Product People Loved (Customer Feedback) Our main focus was building a product people would really love. Ray and I spent countless hours surveying people to see exactly what they would want in a safety device. After launching we always ask people for feedback and ask them what they want to see in invisaWear 2.0 :)
2. Building a Brand - We wanted to build a brand that empowers women to live their lives without fear and to the fullest. All the photos you see on our social media pages are meant to brighten the user’s day and leave them with a happy and motivated feeling.
3. Making the invisaWear Look Discreet - The number one thing we wanted was for our safety device to be discreet and stylish. My grandma who’s 80 says she’d rather fall and not be able to get up then to be seen wearing an ugly panic button. If my 80 year old grandma won’t wear it then neither should any women.
Q: Where did you get your entrepreneurial spirit?
Rajia: From a young age I always wanted to start my own company! When I was ten years old, my favorite flip flop broke and I was devastated. I ended up going online and researching how to fix a flip flop. I ended up fixing it using a bread clip and I thought I needed to invent a bread clip like device for anyone else going to through a similar tragedy :) I had this grand plan to develop “flip flop guards” to protect your flip flop. Needless to say at that age I knew nothing about finding manufacturers or bringing a product to market.
I got my love of engineering from my dad. When I was younger I would love to build things with him and I’ll never forget the time we built a computer together. I specifically remember going into the doctors office one day and telling my doctor I was going to be the CEO of an engineering company one day. He laughed and asked what “C.E.O” stands for and I proudly told him that it meant chief executive officer. I never in a million years imagined that at 25 years old I’d be a CEO, I thought it was always going to be when I had grey hair and was close to 60 years old.
Q: What are the biggest obstacles you’ve had to overcome as an entrepreneur?
Rajia: When we were getting started early on, we faced a lot of age discrimination. Investors we were speaking with would make comments like you’re too young to be running a company or if you want to be successful you’ll need to hire a CEO with grey hair. It was really discouraging but we learned to take the feedback and learn from it. We’d ask investors why they were worried about our age and they’d say it’s because we didn’t have experience developing technology like this before which was wrong. Because we were open to feedback and we wanted to hear peoples opinions we we’re able to understand the investors concerns and mitigate them. We’d explain how I worked at Amazon and had direct experience writing software that runs on wearable devices, we’d talk about my management experience running an ice cream shop, we’d talk about Rays experience at EMC and Vicor where he developed firmware and worked with Bluetooth Low Energy. I always recommend taking some time to understand the feedback you’re getting and people’s concerns or else you won’t be able to improve yourself.
Q: Tell us about your typical work day.
Rajia: Everyday in the life of an entrepreneur is completely different! Usually I get into the office, I check my email, I read customer messages (my favorite part of the day is reading thank you notes from invisaWear users about why invisaWear is helping to keep them feel safe). I still read each and every one! One hour I’m in meetings with our engineers working on some exciting updates / enhancements, another hour I’m in meetings with our manufacturers going over operations, another hour I’m with our marketing team working on implementing new strategies. Everyday is a new adventure!
Q: What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Rajia: Workaholic, Perseverant, Change-maker
Q: invisaWear is first and foremost a personal safety device but the brand is also known for its stylish aesthetic. How would you describe your personal style?
Rajia: My personal style has evolved a lot of the years. Because of my position in the company I always try to wear business casual or professional. I love anything that looks chic or elegant.
Q: What’s your biggest piece of advice for female entrepreneurs?
Rajia: Don’t ever give up on your dreams. People always tell you about the million reasons you’re going to fail and all the things that could go wrong, you need to focus on what could go right. If you don’t build your dreams, someone else is going to hire you to build theirs.
Q: What has been your greatest professional achievement to date?
Rajia: Being Named BostInnos 25 Under 25 was an achievement I’m really proud of! Launching invisaWear and Saving Two Lives In such A small period of time is another one of my greatest achievements
Q: Favorite quote?
Rajia: “Fear Kills More Dreams Than Failure Ever Will”