Entrepreneur creates jewellery that helps ladies shield themselves from violence
Rajia Abdelaziz had just left an event with friends and was on her way home when an SUV pulled up. “A group of men started making inappropriate comments to me,” she recalls. “When one of them started to get out of the vehicle, I started to run.” She managed to get into her car, locked the doors and drove home, shivering. “I was extremely shaken,” she says. “I realized that as women we need to protect ourselves and that I needed to do something to help with that.”
As a security instrument, the cell phone is not always within reach in an emergency. It could be inaccessible in a purse or dropped under the car seat in an accident. So Abdelaziz started researching the market. He couldn’t find anything that could be accessible at all times, so he sat down with his best friend – Ray Hamilton, who is now his business partner – and designed a piece of technology that allows him to call for help and send location alerts to emergency contacts with a double click. And the best part is that this piece looks more like a necklace pendant than an emergency button.
Jewelry, key chains and headbands as security devices
Two years later, the two put the product on the market under the name Invisawear, in which the entrepreneur used her knowledge as an electrical engineer to help one in five women who will be harassed at least once in her life.
The duo worked hard to turn the idea into reality. The obstacles faced were many, especially as a young entrepreneur trying to get investment. In the end, they surpassed the initial goal of US$ 150 thousand (R$ 802 thousand), obtaining financial contributions of millions of dollars.
In the five years since the company’s launch, the product offering has expanded from a collection of gold and rhodium jewelry to hair accessories, key chains and headbands. Some products are also available in genderless versions. “Naively, we believed that safety was a strong concern only for women. Despite this issue being a priority for them, men also have their fears.”
Accessories are stylish and functional, while the brand’s jewelry is designed to have broad and timeless appeal. “We had a lot of orders and we often see grandmothers buying our products for their daughters and granddaughters,” says Abdelaziz. All parts are used on the body and are almost always accessible. They include a panic button that can be programmed to send GPS locations to security services, pre-programmed text messaging to up to five emergency contacts and a call to the police via the ADT security system.
“ADT has the fastest response time from authorities and protects over a million homes, so we connected to work together, we had some great ideas”, says the entrepreneur. Invisawear’s partnership with ADT also provides access to video streaming, voice activation and self-defense classes as ways to equip people to protect themselves. The company recently announced a partnership with a Canadian security provider in hopes of expanding the business across Europe and the Middle East.
Growing concern for safety
The success of its products proves the growing concern for women’s safety. In the face of an increase in violence against women – 65% of women said they had already been harassed in the streets, against 25% of men –, Invisawear is a technological innovation capable of having a concrete impact on people’s lives.
“One of the best moments of my life was when one of our products saved someone’s life,” Abdelaziz says. “A young woman had been seriously injured in a car accident and the key ring saved her life. Her father managed to get to her and wait for the ambulance. No one knows how long it would have taken anyone to find her if not for that.”
In three years of sales, more than 700,000 Invisawear products have been sold in the North American market, helping to make safety a priority. A company collaboration with the Beverly Carter Foundation produced the Beverly keyring, with 20% of proceeds from sales going to the organization. The company has also supported RAIN, the Trevor Project and Stronger Cities as part of the founders’ commitment to women’s safety.
Other security jewelry companies have come onto the market in the last three years – including Flare, which sells an elegant cufflink and charm bracelet, and Nimb, which sells a futuristic ring that works via an app to make emergency calls. . Companies offer products with different designs and styles, with only a few differences in functionality.
It’s a sad reminder of modern life that such products exist, but Abdelaziz plans to keep releasing these discreet security pieces. “I am, first and foremost, on a mission to eliminate sexual harassment. The hope is that, one day, products like these will be enough to stop this violence from happening.”