In Conversation with Nadia Boujarwah of Dia&Co
Describe your business in a few words?
Dia&Co is the only fashion and lifestyle brand dedicated to celebrating the plus size experience and meeting the plus size community’s full range of style needs. We remove obstacles to shopping with on-trend collections, and incredible fit. No two women are the same, so we offer two ways to shop – through the Dia Shop or the Dia Style Box service. We’ve built a community of 5 million + women strong and are serving and celebrating women who have been ignored for far too long. From developing the shopping experiences she’s always wanted, to building community platforms that inspire her, to ensuring she sees herself represented in the world around her.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I’ve always loved fashion, but struggled to find clothes that fit my body and worked with my personal style. I’ve been everything from a size 8 to a size 22 and I couldn’t help but notice, no matter my size, that there was nothing for me. I had the realization that these experiences were not at all unique. In fact, they were experiences that I actually shared with tens of millions of women. That realization inspired me to create a solution — and Dia was born –as a way for women just like me to embrace their individuality.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
My professional background is actually in investment banking – I didn’t have a career in tech or in retail. But I love fashion and I live in a body that fashion doesn’t always serve, and that was a set of experiences I knew intimately. It grew out of a personal need and now, Dia & Co is a place where everyone can explore all the incredible things that style can really do.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I didn’t set out in my career with the intent of being an entrepreneur. I’m passionate about the space and solving the problem for this customer. That passion and my desire to create an inclusive company, community, and experience, has driven my career as an entrepreneur.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
When we launched our business in 2015 it was clear that there was an incredible group of women leading the charge on a more inclusive conversation online. These were women who were still writing blog posts, long form YouTube videos and just beginning to take off on Instagram. We owe all our early traction to these influencers who believed in our business and helped us spread the word.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
We have made so many mistakes! I think we came into building Dia too focused on getting things just right, when the reality is that building a business is hard and almost never linear. Learning how to move quickly through potential solutions and past mistakes has been the biggest lesson of being an entrepreneur.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
Be clear about what you can control and what you can’t. Then focus only on what you can.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
There is no one right way to build a business. It’s really a process of learning as you go, so spend less time trying to arrive at the best possible answer and more time experimenting and following your gut!
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
Absolutely. Our mission at Dia is to spark style freedom through a life well-lived and I apply that to my own life every day. My family, friends and team.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
- Have a plan. I start my day with objectives that I know I need to complete each day. Making sure I know what is most important has helped me get the important things done even when the inevitable distractions begin.
- Don’t spend all day in your inbox. I try to block off windows of time throughout the day to answer email and then don’t look at it in between. Email is one of those things that can take up as much time as you let is, and rarely requires immediate attention.
- Block off unstructured time on your calendar. I have specific blocks called “Thinking Time” We never miss a meeting, why not protect creative thinking time just as much?
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
I think women are uniquely suited to being entrepreneurs. I say that because success in entrepreneurship is dependent on one thing above all else: resilience. It is really an exercise in getting up time and again when it seems like that race has already been called and to keep going. Fortunately, resilience is precisely our super power as a gender. We’ve always known that we have to work harder and expect fewer advantages than our male counterparts. We’ve been training for this our whole lives!