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.
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Table of Contents
Who has been the most influential person(s) in your life and how did they impact you? How did that lead to where you are today?
Hanieh Sigari: Without doubt, I’m inspired by my mother. As a social worker in Iran, she helped women who had lost everything to get back on their feet and become independent—many for the very first time.
My whole life, I’ve wanted to do something that was similarly impactful. I realized that was the reason my previous business successes weren’t enough for me. What matters most isn’t how much money I make, but how much difference I make to those around me. That’s why I decided to create Qyral, a brand with the power to change lives.
2021 was a challenging year for all of us, particularly for businesses. How did the pandemic impact your business? Please list some of the problems that you faced, and how you handled them.
Hanieh Sigari: The beauty industry has always been considered recession-proof – studies show that when times get hard, cosmetics sales actually increase. We all want a little pick-me-up to help us feel better when the world makes us feel bad.
But the pandemic changed that old wisdom, because so many people were isolating. There’s no need to buy lipstick when you’re always wearing a mask, and you don’t need to put on a full face of makeup when Zoom can use an algorithm to enhance your appearance during virtual meetings. For the first time in a long time, there was a measurable decline in beauty sales.
However where makeup products struggled, skincare products, like Qyral, flourished. Self-care became extremely important and without the need to wear makeup everyday, many people began to pay attention to the natural condition of their skin.
Being an online-first brand, Qyral was poised to cater to this new demand. Traditional beauty companies made most of their sales in malls and stores that were either closed or saw massively decreased foot traffic. Lots of big companies struggled to pivot their sales and distribution models to supply online demand, but at Qyral, we already had that infrastructure in place.
I think we were really fortunate that our business model matched the changes the pandemic forced onto the industry as a whole.
The pandemic led to a myriad of cultural side effects, including one that was quite unexpected that is informally known as “The Great Resignation”. Did this widespread trend affect you in any way?
Hanieh Sigari: So, the team behind Qyral is actually very small. We made a conscious decision early on not to seek outside investment and instead I’ve bootstrapped the company to bring it to this point. I’ve used venture capital in the past and have always been incredibly grateful for the support of investors. But because Qyral was so closely tied to my dream of what a company could be, and the good it could do, I didn’t want to lose any autonomy or feel forced to forsake those founding principles.
As a result, the great resignation hasn’t been a major concern for us. I like to think the team I’ve built feels valued and empowered through their work, and we’re all invested in growing the company together. Ultimately, we all believe in what we’re doing and enjoy doing it.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021. How do you feel about this trend? Explain
Hanieh Sigari: One of my first business ventures was a home healthcare company. I employed over 600 staff members and our job was to help people stay independent in their homes for as long as possible. It was important, rewarding work, but it also involved putting in long hours and facing endless disappointments. None of us are immortal, and caring for elderly people always ends with the same inevitable outcomes. Long-term, that can be hard to bear.
What made it worse was I was limited by insurance rates in what I could offer my employees in terms of advancement and renumeration. I wanted to give them so much more — they deserved so much more — but the industry we were in made that impossible.
I think that’s true today of many industries. People are burned out from working jobs that exhaust them mentally and physically without proper acknowledgement or reward. Working in healthcare ultimately broke me. I had to leave for the sake of my own mental health. I can’t fault others for quitting their jobs too.
Now, I want the work I do, and the work I ask others to do, to be impactful. To add value and meaning to our lives. Americans are tired of being treated like nameless cogs in the machine, driven to the brink just to make some fat cat another dollar. It doesn’t surprise me that so many people are leaving jobs with employers that don’t value them, and that don’t have any greater meaning. We all deserve to feel like we’re appreciated and making a difference.
According to a study by Harvard Business Review, Employees between 30 and 45 years old have had the greatest increase in resignation rates, with an average increase of more than 20% between 2020 and 2021. That can be quite an alarming rate. What advice would you share to increase employee retention?
Hanieh Sigari: I think that giving people impactful work — and compensating them fairly — is the obvious solution to retaining top talent. Workers who feel undervalued and replaceable aren’t going to stay in that position for long. Loyalty is a two-way street.
That’s especially true in the current economic climate. The rise in gig workers and e-commerce ventures shows just how entrepreneurial people are, and how willing they are to take a chance on making their own opportunities in life. Studies show that something like two-thirds of Americans dream of starting their own business.
For employers, I think one of the best ways to increase retention is to use emotional intelligence, or EQ. Learn to listen empathetically to your workers and speak to them in ways that resonate. As a people manager, I’ve spent my career learning to fine-tune my EQ. Understanding what motivates others makes me a better business person and leader. Emotional intelligence is also a great all-round life skill that has helped me to be a better parent, partner, and friend.
According to a Nature Human behavior study, In 2021, 80% of US workers reported feeling that they have too many things to do and not enough time to do them – a phenomenon known as “time poverty”. What is your take on the work-life balance? Explain.
Hanieh Sigari: One of the toughest lessons I had to learn as a new business owner was that I couldn’t do everything myself. Letting go of those reins can be difficult, but it’s necessary. Not only because doing it all just accelerates burnout, but because I’m not the best person to do everything my business needs to be done.
Outsourcing work at a startup can be scary. What if I trust the wrong person? What if something goes wrong? There will always be uncertainty, but it has to be tempered with realism. As the CEO, is my time really best spent packing products for shipment, or should I be on the phone brokering new deals with suppliers and distributors? Yes I could do everything myself, but it’ll take me twice as long and only be half as good as if I hired experts.
These days, I spend my time where it’s the most valuable and impactful. My days are busy — and I don’t pretend that juggling running a startup as a mom with two young kids isn’t exhausting — but everything I do helps move me closer toward my goals.
A more recent survey by Joblist asked about 3,000 respondents if they’re actively thinking about leaving their job. That survey found that 73% of 2,099 respondents who answered this question on their employment plans are considering quitting. How are you preparing for the future to counter this potentially persistent problem?
Hanieh Sigari: I’m not interested in keeping people in jobs that don’t fulfill them. Instead, I want to give people the tools they need to achieve their greatest ambitions. I’m a huge believer in entrepreneurship. It’s the greatest driver of social mobility and individual freedom in the world. Anyone can become anything!
Through Qyral, I aim to give people access to that kind of freedom. Entrepreneurship is at the very heart of what Qyral is all about. My goal is to create real opportunities for ordinary people with extraordinary ambitions to change their lives forever.
Thank you for all that, our readers are grateful for your insightful comments! Now, if the Great Resignation isn’t your greatest concern, what is the #1 most pressing challenge you’re trying to solve in your business right now?
Hanieh Sigari: I think the biggest challenge we face is trying to be disruptive in a multi-billion dollar industry. The beauty and skincare space is colossal, and dominated by a handful of brands that have unimaginable competitive advantages. I won’t pretend people haven’t called me crazy for thinking I can take them on!
But when it comes to legacy industries, being small and agile can be a huge advantage. We saw that during the pandemic, when so many household-name companies failed to pivot fast enough to online shopping and contactless distribution. More than two years in, some major companies still don’t get it.
Qyral is an early adopter of innovative new technology that can absolutely revolutionize the industry. We don’t have to rely on mass-market products that don’t produce reliable results. Instead, we can make products that are individualized for each person. That’s an enormous leap forward, and it will improve life a thousand-fold for consumers.
No more trial and error. No more wasted products that promised the earth and failed to deliver. No more unpredictable results and disappointment. Just skincare products that work for you and adjust to your lifestyle, because they’re made just for you. It’s truly revolutionary, and the total opposite of how the dominant brands have run their businesses, which is going to make it really hard for them to pivot and catch up.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Hanieh Sigari for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Hanieh Sigari or her company, you can do it through her – Instagram
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