Raquel Graham makes things happen. She’s a problem-solver and creative entrepreneur. She has also been on Shark Tank twice and both times, walked away with deals.
During a polar vortex in Chicago back in 2014, Raquel couldn’t get her kids to put on their scarves even with the sub-zero weather, inspiring her to invent a new kind of scarf. That scarf grew into a multi-million dollar business that sold thousands and was a bestseller on the Home Shopping Network (HSN). Raquel later added a beanie with an LED light for bikers and runners to be able to see at night. Her company, ROQ Innovation, develops problem-solving solutions that make life a little easier.
Before founding her company, Raquel consulted for a Fortune 500 company, and long before she became a successful entrepreneur, Raquel had to go through a mindset shift to even be able to begin taking the first steps on her entrepreneurial journey.
First and foremost, she had to learn to let go of self-doubt. She struggled to quiet the negative chatter in her mind. She didn’t know any Black women like her who had built big, successful businesses so she had no role models. When contemplating launching her company she thought, “Can I do it? Am I worthy? Am I as smart as them?”
Initially, she was intimidated to take on a big account as a consultant. But the more she consulted she realized that the teams she was advising weren’t as savvy and innovative as she would have expected. She saw firsthand how even the best, most respected companies were operating with antiquated systems and employees were afraid to advance new ideas. “Once I saw what was behind the curtain, I started my company. It eliminated all of my fear. From that point on, I’ve never shied away from any opportunity – no matter how big.”
Last year marked a huge milestone for Raquel’s business when she was featured on Season 13 of ABC’s Shark Tank as well as Oprah’s Favorite Things of 2021- a longtime dream that finally came true for her. Her products have also been featured on The View, Forbes, and Good Morning America.
Raquel’s appearance on Shark Tank (Season 13, Episode 11) ended with a successful two-shark deal from investors Kevin O’Leary and Peter Jones.
Ironically, Raquel’s products are aimed at “making life a little easier”, yet her entrepreneurial start was anything but easy. At the outset of founding her company, she faced some very serious and seemingly insurmountable health challenges.
Raquel suffered a stroke and had a near-death experience the same year she started her company and got her first HSN deal. She spent months recovering at the hospital and even had to relearn how to walk again. Despite this major setback, it was her powerful mindset that helped her to will herself out of the hospital bed and onto the airwaves of HSN. Focusing on having a powerful mindset made all the difference in her recovery. “What I know about healing, for sure, is that it starts in your mind”.
When asked what continued to motivate her after her experience, she shared that when you make it through something as serious as conquering life-threatening health issues, you begin to feel a greater sense of purpose. She knew it was not an accident that she survived. She felt in her bones it was a gift that could not be wasted.
When asked her number one piece of advice for women entrepreneurs, Raquel shared: “This is our time! If Covid and lockdowns taught us anything – it is that we must all trust ourselves and go for it. Don’t wait for the perfect time because there is no perfect time. Be intentional about your goals. Be clear and act! The rest will follow, but do not pontificate and confuse that for action. Action is actually ‘doing’ something to bring you closer to your goal.”
This year, Raquel and Roq Innovation are launching three new products, expanding into new categories, and planning to grow their digital business and social media presence exponentially.
What moves are you making that are part of your action plan?
You can follow Raquel on LinkedIn and you buy beanies and other fantastic products on her website: https://roq-innovation.com/