I don’t know about you, but I’ve been feeling a shift in our society.
I feel it in the Work Bigger Community, and in conversations I have with fellow entrepreneurs. I feel it in the communities that I belong to – communities filled with mission-driven women who fight for higher consciousness and work to serve.
On the other hand, I’ll scroll through social media and find images that – if I were 15 – would send me into a tailspin of insecurity. Or, I’ll turn on the TV to find some energy-draining reality show about the drama of the rich and famous.
We’re constantly bombarded with images of what “success” looks like, and encouraged to get sucked into the bullshit – the seemingly glamorous. This is dis-empowering. And I’m over it.
Hence, why I launched #WorkBiggerStories – interviews with women who are mission-driven, working to get big things done, not for the money and fame, but for the mission.
Today I’m interviewing Helya Mohammadian, founder of Slick Chicks. Helya transitioned from working at Bergdorf Goodman with celebrities and socialites to founding an adaptable underwear company aimed to empower women.
What drove her to leave such a “glamorous” career? And how does she overcome the challenges of founding her own company despite having found meaningful work? Read her full interview below and learn how transitions, although difficult, can also lead to growth.
Give us some background. Where are you from, and where did you start out?
I grew up in a small southern town in North Louisiana (the kind with 3 exits and a few farms).
As a young girl, I was always passionate about fashion and the arts. I knew that one day I’d live in New York City and become a fashion designer.
At 21, my dreams of living in the city came true when I was accepted into The Fashion Institute of Technology. I interned for a few design houses, such as Carolina Herrera and Cynthia Rowley, and after finishing my degree I was hired as an Assistant Personal Shopper at Bergdorf Goodman, working with famous celebrities, well-known socialites and the “who’s who” of New York’s Upper East Side.
But something was always missing. I felt my passion slowly fade, and being surrounded by material things made me unhappy.
One day while using the restroom as a changing room (which happened quite often since I was on the go all the time), I thought to myself, there has to be an easier way to change. Feeling fresh and confident was not something I wanted to compromise anymore.
I was inspired to create Slick Chicks as a solution to a problem I had, realizing that this wasa problem for many women.
Tell Us More About Slick Chicks and What You’ve Created
Slick Chicks are functional panties for women.
The custom designed fasteners make it easy for women to change their underwear regardless of the situation. But beyond this product being innovative, it’s also empowering.
Slick Chicks has helped women during and post pregnancy by catering to their limited physical capabilities. I also aim to empower women who are differently-abled and have other physical limitations.
It’s a huge burden on one’s pride when you can’t change your own intimates. I hope to change that and give women their dignity back.
Can you share more about your overall mission and how Slick Chicks connects with the impact you want to make?
Everyday women face challenges in their lives that can hinder their confidence and productivity. I believe that your underwear should not create one of those challenges.
The mission of the company is to help women feel empowered and confident as they tackle all of life’s daily challenges, and it’s my personal mission to boost women’s confidence.
What led you there? Can you recall any experiences you had that pushed you to your mission?
After my initial launch of Slick Chicks, I received an email from a woman who had limited mobility and wanted to buy a pair of underwear in a size XXL. At first, I was manufacturing limited sizes since I was running a startup completely bootstrapped. So I told her that I didn’t have them in her size but as soon as I did I’d be happy to send her some.
Her request made me realize that the product I had created is useful to people with disabilities.
By the time I was able to send her some Slick Chicks, she had unfortunately succumbed to cancer. A few weeks later I received an email from her daughter. She said her mother was so inspired by my product that she worked harder in physical therapy to keep her mobility so she would be able to change her own undergarments and regain that dignity.
While I am so sad that she never got that chance, the fact that Slick Chicks empowered her so much erased any doubts I had about my product and strengthened my mission to help others.
What challenges did you face along the way, and how did you overcome these challenges?
As an entrepreneur we wear many hats, but as you start to build a business, it is so important to identify your weaknesses.
My biggest challenge was asking for help. I felt that if I showed any sign of being vulnerable it would make me look weak. But that was far from the truth.
Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals who are as passionate as you about what you’re doing lets you focus on growing.
Of course there will be speed bumps along the way. Everything from trying to gain a following to managing the process can be daunting. But staying focused and passionate about what you offer and managing it well is the key to growth.
You don’t have to tackle all challenges alone.
At Work Bigger, one of our goals is to build creativity among readers and community members. We know this is a key skill required to thrive in the future of work. Can you share your definition of creativity?
I believe that being creative means thinking outside of the box. It’s exploring, understanding, experimenting, discovering, and creating an idea with your own style.
I believe everyone can be creative; you just have to explore that side of yourself and not be scared to take risks!
What advice do you have for 20 to 30-somethings who want to make an impact through their work but are currently feeling stuck?
If you can positively visualize where you want to be in life, career, relationship, etc. you’ll eventually build confidence and learn the steps you need to take to achieve your goal.
It’s natural to think of all the obstacles that stand in your way (trust me I know from experience), but don’t let that inhibit you from moving forward.
To overcome obstacles, I write often, and I remind myself why I’m doing this. For me, knowing I can change someone’s life for the better is enough to keep me going.