I have been following RÉNA IMAN online for a while. I did a bit of a deep dive and was very excited to get to know and share Réna’s story with you. Réna gives me all of the feels as she is not solely focused on creating chic handbags, but also vision of being a socially conscious luxury leather handbag brand on a mission aiming to stop violence against women. I am excited to share her story. Ps. There is something in it for you in the end.

1. Looking back on your first job, what skill did you use that you still use today?

My background is biology and public health. My first job was working in a research lab at VCU. This opportunity allowed me to learn how studies are conducted from start to finish; from writing proposals, understanding findings, to making the appropriate adjustments to endure the studies are complete. Although I was a science major, I was always obsessed with all things fashion. I left this job knowing how to maximize research of the industry, research my targeted audience, organizational skills, creating business plans and making adjustments to strategies, which has made a huge impact on my marketing and social media tactics.

2. Was there a defining moment that made you start your business?

I created RÉNA IMAN with a vision of being a socially conscious luxury leather handbag brand with a mission of being apart of a socially conscious community aiming to stop violence against women. This is my mission for a few reasons. First, I was unhappy working a nine to five, in an office where I wasn’t allowed to be creative. There was also the “me too movement” where I felt very compelled to learn more ways I could help create another platform for women. So I took my love for handbags and created my company. A quote I always looked at in my apartment was, “ My life didn’t please me, so I created my life - Coco Chanel”. This resonated with me daily; so I took a leap of faith to create a brand that is creative and different, while incorporating my passion for helping women create a new path for themselves.

3. What was the first step you took to launch your brand?

I knew I wanted to start with handbags since I am a handbag addict! I also knew that creating classic handbags wouldn't set me apart in my industry, so I started to brainstorm on how to create something innovative, while incorporating my classic vibe. I then thought of monogramming my handbags with gemstones. What girl doesn’t love jewelry and handbags! This idea had never been done before, so I wanted to be the first. I sketched my ideas on every page of my notepad and started to look for a manufacturer to create it. There were countless samples done before I created the perfect tag that allowed me to customize any gemstone while keeping the clean lines and classic look.


4. What is the greatest lesson learned in your first year in business?

As an entrepreneur on a budget, I learned that not all PR would work for my brand and my mission. After wasting money and not getting the results I wanted, creating a plan that worked for my budget and my brand was a must. So ultimately, I learned to be careful with how I spent money on getting exposure to my brand because not all things pay off.

5. What is your best piece of advice for your fellow Female Founder?

Always keep liked minded women around you! Creating a business is not easy and has its ups and downs. Many times, the downs come way before the ups and having my amazing tribe of women behind me kept me focused and motivated. They encouraged me when I needed it most. Like-minded friends are also a great way to test your products and ideas before showing the public.


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