Motherhood is one of the most rewarding and stressful balancing acts. It requires pouring your heart out to a little human being while waking up every morning to make sure they have everything they need.
In this series, we highlight a few of those women who are in the middle of their greatest balancing act; pouring their hearts into their children while pouring their heart into creating a legacy for their families.
Hanieh Sigari is an entrepreneur, biochemist, anti-aging industry disruptor, and mom. Her holistic California-based skincare brand, Qyral, is the culmination of a lifelong mission to improve lives and increase longevity. She combines her business acumen, bioscience knowledge, and passion for empowering women to be beautiful and financially free.
What inspired your start in entrepreneurship?
I’ve been fortunate to have grown up around very strong, resilient women who taught me that nothing is impossible or out of reach. My grandmother was illiterate, had a second-grade education, and had ten children, but she was able to start multiple businesses and make a name for herself as a female construction developer in Tehran.
My mom was a social worker who founded a business to provide employment for hundreds of women who were devastated by war. Although she had no experience, she was able to land government contracts to bring in work. The women learned a skill that allowed them to find independence so they could start over.
How could I not be inspired by those role models? I learned by watching them that you can be a strong, powerful woman, mom, and wife, and have a thriving career, make your dreams a reality, and change the world one step at a time. It’s all possible and within reach.
To me, entrepreneurship, if done with the right motives and intentions, is a means to impact countless lives and have a positive effect on society.
My dream of being an entrepreneur started because of my work in nursing homes. When I was 15, I started working various jobs in care centers and found some deplorable conditions. I often daydreamed about starting my own nursing home and so I could do things my way! In my nursing home, patients would be at the center of care. We would have a central place where we would gather every evening and sing, play games, tell stories and have fun! The ratio of health workers to residents would be very small.
I tried to do some of these things at the nursing homes where I worked but my employers didn’t like my ideas. Then I met a young, ambitious engineer in nursing home development who eventually became my husband. I shared my dreams and ambitions and he was THRILLED to join me on the ride. But first, we had to finish our academic studies. We both moved to Michigan for graduate school- he studied business and I, biochemistry, and gerontology. We were two young people out of school with very little money, but the dream to have an impact never left us. In 2011, we decided to divide and conquer. I would start a geriatric business and he would go into the newly booming world of e-commerce and logistics.
I initially started my first business because I was faced with two options; continue my longevity research studies in a laboratory and academic setting, or find a way to apply it in a real-world setting through applied patient-centric care.
Since I didn’t have the financial means to start my dream nursing home, I thought I’d start with something more attainable. A home health company that didn’t require a lot of capital and overhead. Despite being young and not knowing anything about business, I was able to break $1.2 million in revenue in my first year. That doubled the next year, and so on. I was having fun and making the impact I always dreamt of!
As amazing as it was, I ended up selling that business because I felt it was time to pursue other opportunities. What I really wanted to do was empower other women. I used my knowledge as a biochemist and passion for finding solutions to problems people face while aging. I dove into research and developed custom skincare products that are formulated for individuals. From there, Qyral was born. We are on a mission to educate people about skincare and anti-aging discoveries- not just for beauty, but holistically. We are set up as a direct sales and social selling company so that anyone can own a business. It’s a win-win because it combines all of my passions. And ultimately, passion is what really inspired me to journey into entrepreneurship.
What has been your biggest challenge/failure as an entrepreneur? And how do you deal with it?
I have a complete aversion towards the term “failure”. I don’t think there is any such thing since it’s only a stepping stone to bigger and better things. You only fail if you give up. But when you have a big mission and full conviction in what you’re doing, you don’t quit!
Of course, there are tons of challenges when you’re an entrepreneur. In the past, I’ve lost sleep worrying that I wouldn’t have enough money in the bank to make payroll. I’ve been frustrated not seeing the type of growth I was hoping for. Balancing and prioritizing time with family and friends is always a challenge.
The most challenging thing has really been motherhood combined with a full focus on my business. Before having kids, my work ended when my eyes gave out and my fingers couldn’t type. I could work 16 or 18-hour days without a problem. After having kids, that’s no longer possible, and I am not willing to sacrifice my time with my children. They are the most important things in my life. As a result, I’ve had to learn to prioritize.
I’ve had to say “no” to many things I would normally say yes. I try to be as present as possible when I’m with my children and make sure the few hours we have together are the most rewarding, memorable hours of their day.
My health and fitness are also very important. I prioritize that by waking up at 4 a.m. to start my day with a workout.
How do you balance entrepreneurship and Motherhood without experiencing burnout while pursuing your passion?
It’s a challenge, but I’ve learned to ask for help. I know I can’t do it alone, so I recruit help from friends, family, or babysitters whenever I can. My business is as much of a child as my own children so I’ve learned to integrate it all and have fun!
I see motherhood as a privilege and blessing so having a good, positive attitude helps. The kids will only be little for four or five years, so I try not to forget that and enjoy every moment I can with them.
What advice do you have for moms looking to get started In entrepreneurship?
Don’t start a business because it’s the trendy, fun, cool thing to do. Really think about why you want to start a business. Identifying your “why” is the most important step and coming back to your why will be critical throughout your entrepreneurial journey. It’s really easy to be excited about something in the first few months, but imagine doing it every single day for years and possibly never making a dime. You’ll want to throw in the towel and give up, but your why will always pull you back and put you back on track.
Passion about what you’re doing is also very important. You may have all the right reasons why you’re doing something, but maybe you’re not passionate about it. So take some time to be sure you’re absolutely in LOVE with what you’re doing. How long are you willing to work at it? What skills do you need to acquire? Malcolm Gladwell calls it the 10K hour rule and it’s true.
What does being a Pretty Woman Who Hustles mean to you?
It means being a woman who is resilient, passionate, determined, impact-driven, and exudes confidence. She knows how to lean into the softness of her femininity, and hold her strength. She’s a woman who knows what she wants and isn’t willing to fall into societal norms and standards. She is me and you.
What books do you recommend for moms navigating entrepreneurship?
This is a tough question because there are so many good ones! Angela Duckworth’s Grit is always a really good read. Neville Goddard writes about mindset before skillset, so anything by him is good. Anything by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes is incredibly powerful and a symbol of strong femininity.