By Natalia YUREVICH
aida Mouradova is an owner of a fashion wholesale distribution company White Crow inc; they sell designer accessories and jewelry to flash sale sites and e-commerce sites. She is also a creative director and an editor of Twenty Five Hundred, an online platform for like-minded people. Besides, Saida designs unique headpieces. In her free time, she is participating in the art project “747 Big Imagination Foundation.”
We are meeting with Saida for an interview in a sunny Marina Del Rey area of Los Angeles to talk about female success, her secrets of productivity, sustainable fashion, spirituality, and how to discover your inner Goddess.
Saida, thank you for finding the time for this interview.
You are living in LA now, but where did you grow up?
I was born in Azerbaijan. I moved to Sweden with my parents in my early teens. Having lived there for a while, I moved to France to study Fashion Design. Then I moved again, this time to New York, I stayed there for 18 years, and finally, I recently moved to Los Angeles.
Why did you stay in New York for so long?
I went there to study at the Parsons School of Art and Design. I didn’t necessarily have a plan, but then I landed a very good job. I stayed there to pursue a career in Fashion Design. It was exciting when I started, but about 8 years ago, I realized that I was burnt out, that was one of the reasons why I wanted to leave.
Was it a good decision? What did you plan to do?
I didn’t really have a plan. Luckily, a new opportunity was awaiting me. Some people I know asked me to help them stock a store in Ukraine. I started shopping around and discovered a few great brands. This is how I got an idea to start my own business, and that is how my current company White Crow, Inc was born. We specialize in Fashion Wholesale distribution, and it is basically the business and the fashion. A lot of it is about merchandising and planning, watching the trends, monetizing the trends, and capitalizing bestsellers. I am still working with some of the accounts, and it has been going on for 8 years now.
You did it. You are a successful female entrepreneur. Would you say that it is harder for women to be successful?
I would say it is definitely more difficult because of the widespread chauvinism and sexism, especially in the business world. We all witnessed that during the last Presidential elections, what our President got away with, wouldn’t have been tolerated from a woman. Yet, I always say that the
“Future is Female.”
The world will be a better place if we bring more women to the leadership roles. But for that, women need to get their heads out of all the things like, you know, the latest Botox, or the latest designer dress.
If we concentrated more on who we are, and how we see ourselves, we would be able to make the time for other important things, and this would affect the world around us.
It is a domino effect, really.
Yes, sometimes we are obsessing too much over beauty. Is it difficult to be a “modern woman’?
I would say that it’s probably harder to be a woman today than at any point throughout the history because now we are required to be mothers, wives, partners, career women, and we have the beauty industry on us telling us that we have to be forever young. I believe we’ve hardly ever had that much on our plates before.
Have you succeeded in combining all of those things?
I don’t think it is reasonable to be all of those things. I think you can just be what makes you happy, and whatever that formula combines is your formula.
What are the components of your formula?
My formula has naturally evolved into what it is now, through what I have done in the last 10 years of my life. One of my main goals was
I was searching for real “me” but I was also searching how to express myself. That is what I wrote in my blog article:
“When I fully realized how I wanted to express myself, I also understood all those unique, fascinating women who have been captivating me for years with their expressive styles. I finally began to understand what made Isabella Blow an icon and Bjork a style revolutionary, Audrey Hepburn a model Rebel and Lady GaGa the new face of a Goddess. They had all found their own language and I now feel like I have begun my journey of understanding it.”
You often talk about wonderful women in your blog articles. Do you have a female role model?
I would not say that I have one particular role model that I would want to be like. But I like what Dita Von Teese did for Burlesque. She inspired me in that area.
I also appreciate some women in business who have done amazing things. Natalie Massenet, the woman behind net-a-porter, is one of them. She started it out of her apartment and ended up selling her business for several million dollars. Her story is inspiring.
Which other women inspire you?
I get inspired by women with a voice, who are not afraid to step outside of what is allowed. I am extremely inspired by women in the Middle East, who are fighting with their music. I am inspired by artists, who are ok stepping outside of normal. Erykah Badu is a perfect example.
In fact, there is a woman in every area that I can think of, that inspires me. And they all have one quality in common:
They are unique.
I wonder, what can help women understand who they really are, who they want to be?
You know, I recently had a conversation with a 3-year-old girl from my partner’s side of the family. She saw that I was wearing those prominent silver-white cuffs, so she exclaimed: “Oh, you look like Wonder Woman!”
Are you Wonder Woman?
And I answered her: “Yes, I am, but you know what, you are Wonder Woman too.” She looked at me in bewilderment. So I said:
“You have Superpowers!”
And I think if somebody had told me when I was a 3-year-old that I had superpowers, and I had to find them, I think that my life would have turned out slightly easier.
To answer your question, I believe that it would really help to have this kind of conversation with both, boys and girls from a very young age. We should just tell kids that they can
Be whoever they want to be.
We should tell kids that they have all the time in the world to find their superpowers, to find their uniqueness, and just do whatever they want, try things, make mistakes, fail, and learn.
I think this is the key to success in life.
You had a spiritual awakening. How did your journey start?
Once I had an almost out-of-body experience, and I realized that a lot of things are very different from a bird’s eye view.
I went through 6 months of questioning everything – why we live the way we live, and how things could change. I had no one to ask for answers. I started seeking answers in science, trying to explain some of the things logically. Soon I saw that even science didn’t have an answer to every question. In fact, we have to accept that not everything can be explained.
“I also love the magic of spirituality, the parts of it not yet explained. 80% of the universe is made of dark matter. We know it as a scientific fact, however, science itself is still struggling to explain it. We know something that we can not explain. Think about that for a minute!”
That is when we may realize that
Magic may exist.
And the more we believe in Magic, the braver we become about our choices, about what we want to do, and about our purpose in life.
Do you remember…
The concept of the Goddess?
It is the woman who is above everything, who dares to be God, who is allowed to be God.
How do we become God?
You don’t have to become God; you are God. You are part of everything. You are made of stardust. There are parts of you that came from far, far away.
If we try to have a conversation with ourselves on a daily basis, we may discover things we didn’t know.
For example, this is how I stopped eating meat. I have always been a meat eater, and now, I don’t eat meat at all, and I have never felt better. I realized that my body doesn’t like meat.
Same case with alcohol. At some point, I realized that maybe alcohol was not for me, but I had never considered not drinking it as an option.
If more people had a regular honest dialogue within themselves, we would just be in much more harmony with ourselves. And here, meditation can help us.
Do you meditate every day?
I try to meditate for at least half an hour a day. I don’t always find time to actually sit down or lie down. I can be doing things and meditating at the same time. It’s called active meditation. To me, it’s the most common meditation practice, and I practice it several times a day. I also try to sit down and meditate at least once a day, but it doesn’t always happen.
You shared the story of your journey in your blog; this was a fascinating read. Can you please tell about the platform twentyfivehundred.com?
Sure. Twentyfivehundred.com started with an idea of creating an online meeting place that would serve as a platform for conversation between like-minded people.
We are about 8 writers, men, and women, who cover different areas, such as
- Social issues
One of our authors is an independent blogger who is writing about healthy and sustainable living. She tells about organic brands that e.g. don’t test on animals. She tests their products, verifies the components. We are trying to
Concentrate on honesty.
In that way, Twenty Five Hundred is a place to find honest information about products, events, people, stories, and hopefully, find your inspiration.
You have been blogging about some very interesting festivals. Can you tell us more about them?
I try to do the festivals that have a message. I believe that
“The best way to change the world is to inspire people to change. And people get inspired the most when they are having fun.”
One of the most interesting festivals in this sense is
Their focus is to provide a sustainable alternative and to educate festival-goers to clean up after themselves, to use sustainable products, to try vegan products.
A bigger example is
They start amazing creative initiatives, and their message is about leaving no trace. People have to leave the area where they were camping clean as if nothing was ever there.
When you spend a week in an environment like this, you may feel like creating the same kind of life at home. And this is how we can actually start changing the world and make the world a better place.
These festivals are a good place to go if you want to meet like-minded people, or if you want to work with people who have the same principles, who see the world in the same way as you do.
Do people have any misconceptions about your lifestyle?
I’ve been accused of being a privileged, rich girl. I had no idea I would appear that way. I’ve gone through many things, like a refugee camp, heartbreak, some career mistakes, some small failures and big failures, but I built everything that I have on my own.
It was with help and inspiration from a lot of incredible people, my close friends, my loved ones, my family, but I brought myself where I am today.
Can you please tell how you manage to stay focused and productive?
What time do you wake up?
I try to wake up around 8 am, not later than 9 am.
When is your bedtime?
I’ve always been a night person; my creative pique is after the sun goes down. After moving to LA, I started sleeping around 7-8 hours a night, which means I try to go to bed around midnight, except when I write or work on my 3D modeling project, I may stay up until 2 am.
What does your daily schedule look like?
The first thing I do after waking up in the morning is to check my email. I am 3 hours behind my New York team, so as a leader of the company, I prefer to catch up with what is going on, I also check things off my to-do lists.
Even if I get very busy,
I always try to have a healthy breakfast with my partner and spend some time outside with my dog.
I don’t like doing the same things every day. That is why I try to dedicate every day to a different project. For example, Monday is a day for my wholesale company, most of the time I just work on that all day.
I try to dedicate a part of my day to education.
I watch a lot of podcasts on YouTube. I also use the time to read or to research on my articles for the blog.
In the late afternoon, we often go to the beach. It became an incredible part of my life here in LA, and I still can’t believe that I have it. My partner surfs, and I take photos, or I write, or I sketch sometimes, and later in the evening, I often write.
You mentioned podcasts, what are your favorite podcasts?
I recently discovered Matt Kahn and his podcast “Soul Contracts, Twin Flames and Soulmates Redefined.” It is mind-blowing!
What apps do you use daily?
The apps I use the most are
- Binaural Beats for Meditation.
- WhatsApp for talking to people all over the world.
- Spotify – I have a playlist for all kinds of situations in life.
How do you fight procrastination?
This is a really good question. I believe that it is important to
Find the source that prevents you
from going into the project.
For example, I need to start a new project that goes with a lot of challenges and requires a lot of time to learn. So I procrastinate because I don’t have time to learn, right?
Now, I have to ask myself: why don’t I have time to learn? Maybe, I am just afraid to go into that area because I failed in that similar area in the past. If we don’t find where the source of the problem is, it may become a huge block. So unless we break that block, we will always face the same problem. Might as well break it down.
This is again where meditation comes in. It may help to understand the core of everything we do.
Do you have a habit you’re happy about?
I am a super healthy eater.
I have no addictions. Even as a kid, I always liked all the healthy things, like asparagus with my omelet in the morning.
Any bad habits?
OMG, yeah! Taking on too many projects. I would sacrifice my free time to do something because I would think it is so amazing. And then I realize I don’t have time. I am learning that unless I am giving 100%, I shouldn’t dedicate my energy to it.
Saida, what’s next?
There are two big things that I want to do next.
I want to start a 3D-printing company to 3D-print my headpieces.
Three years ago, when I was traveling in Vietnam, Vogue USA somehow got hold of one of the images of my headpieces and requested a photo shoot. The photo shoot had never happened, but nevertheless,
My headpiece was in the offices of Vogue!
An important part of my plans is related to Women’s Empowerment.
I want to start a series of workshops, and an online community to empower women.
It would probably be a series of workshops, led by some of the most incredible people I have ever met.
I think if you take a woman and put her
in the environment where she is safe and is free to express herself, it will change her, and then later, it will change everyone around her.
Last week, I asked myself what I would want to do if I knew that I only had a certain amount of time to live.
And one of the top things that came out was to
“Share my experiences with other women.”
I believe that this is the biggest gift that I can give to my audience.
Where can people find you online?
Thank you, Saida!
Photos: Thanks to Saida Mouradova
Useful notes, links and resources mentioned in the interview