It all started when the polar vortex struck in the Midwest a few years ago. Raquel Graham’s son and daughter were over wearing scarves and refused to keep them on. Enter a little mother’s wit.
Little did Graham know that what started as a DIY home project would turn into a NEKZ, a scarf alternative that has been featured in Forbes, Good Morning America, the Home Shopping Network, The View, and as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things.
Graham’s company, Roq-Innovation, has expanded to offer a full lineup of creative protective wear. All of her products are high-quality, fashionable, and functional.
Sitting down talking to this phenomenon was absolutely amazing! Listen in….
Please tell us about your road to success.
It all started when the polar vortex struck in the Midwest a few years ago. My son and daughter were so frustrated with wearing scarves and refused to keep them on. I was no inventor but grabbed some material, scissors, glue, and a few other supplies and went to work. Little did I know that what started as a DIY home project would turn into a NEKZ!
My background is in marketing and I have held various positions in the field including marketing director for Ebony magazine. A simple hack for my kids’ scarves led me down a path to entrepreneurship, and I haven’t looked back.
Based in Chicago, my company Roq Innovation has expanded to offer a lineup of custom-made wearable tech accessories including Headlightz Beanies, Headbandz, Handylightz, and Face Maskz. With the rapid spread of the pandemic, I had to make some adjustments and modified my product offerings. These pivots have proven to be successful, and we are consistently meeting the needs of our customers.
Why is it that you want to reach back and help others get on HSN?
I am one of few Black-owned, female-owned businesses to have a recurring appearance on the Home Shopping Network (five consecutive years), and I am eager to share my story with other entrepreneurs who are looking to launch their products on national platforms. I live in Chicago, but my products are distributed worldwide. I feel it is my duty to share my experiences and advice as other Black business owners navigate a crowded marketplace.
There are a lot of layers to conducting business internationally, and I know that the lessons I’ve learned can help other save other small business owners a lot of time and money.
What can people expect from you in the upcoming new year?
As 2021 approaches, we look to expand our product line with more innovative offerings. With the spread of COVID-19 on the rise, we are particularly focused on the continued distribution of our Face Maskz. The masks are trendy and fashionable, but they are also durable and protective.
Please offer a word of advice to that struggling entrepreneur.
To any entrepreneur I would say “keep going.” There have been days when I have questioned my direction or a decision, but quitting has not been an option. Surrounding yourself with those who can help you is important, but be sure to lock into those who offer encouragement. Words are powerful, and can go a long way when your business is not progressing as you envisioned. Lastly, be flexible, patient, and open. Your path to success will be different from others. Stay the course and allow your journey to unfold.
Dr. Jessica Mosley is a serial entrepreneur who loves teaching fellow CEO women how to show up in their truth & power. As Steward Owner of MizCEO Entrepreneurial Media Brand, Sovereign Care Home Care, Sovereign Care Medical Training Center, and Deborah’s Place for Battered Women, Jessica is busy making moves that impact her community & those connected to her.