The #Girlboss of #SiliconValley

Mariam Naficy: Creating a Business Through Art and Design

Photo Courtesy SFLUXE

Mariam Naficy is someone who can give you two business stories with completely different philosophies, strategies and business model but guess what, both of them are awe-inspiringly successful. Naficy found Eve with her best friend -Varsha Rao at the age of 28. Eve was launched fast, garnered successful fast, and was sold fast. Eve can illustrate the frame of mind of a 20 something year old young start-up founder. The rush, the restlessness, the bold decision and the glamour of a 28yrs Naficy is reflected perfectly through Eve’s journey. But it’s amazing to see how the same person started another company rooted in a contrasting philosophy. Minted says maturity, experience, sustainability and believes in slow penetration of the market. Minted is unlike Eve; Minted is here to stay for the long run.

When asked why she wanted to start a company at the first place, Naficy said, after carefully studying the Silicon Valley for years, she came to the decision that it will take long time to ascend in the conventional way, rather it is better to open something of her own. She says, “.. in 1998 the startup/funding environment was booming here (Silicon Valley) and we realized it would take forever to progress through the ranks of banking and consulting so we wanted to start a business together.” She looked at the market and started going after the gap. Eve was an online cosmetic destination which seems like an easy business game compared to today’s world. But it was quite revolutionary back in 1998 and Eve was an instant success. Before selling to IdeaLab, Naficy turned down the offer few times before finally selling it for over $110 million in 2000. Mariam sits on the Board of Yelp. She started her career in investment banking at Goldman Sachs and is a Stanford GSB and Williams alum. She is also responsible for launching The Body Shop’s first-ever E-Commerce business in 2004.

When it came to Minted, Naficy took a different approach. She went back to that one thing she learned during her high-school. She remembered and stick to the idea she learned noticing her classroom that every person can be sliced to absolutely one thing. For instance, in a class full of individual one person is good at poetry, another person in presentation and so on. If the right person is entitled to the right job the company gains an unparalleled success. Most of Minted’s employees are in-house staff who were developed slowly, by shuffling them quite frequently. This shuffling and shifting can be traced back once again to Naficy’s life. As a daughter of an economist for the UN development program, Naficy grew up in five different countries. She believes, exposures can only enrich a person. “It could be in the back of my mind there is this connection with the more you are exposed to, the stronger you get,” Naficy said. Like lots of other things, the story behind Minted also resonates with Naficy’s personal life. She readily confesses that she has always been the one to shop. This lifelong habit taught her that every retail plummets for some years –some recovers, some don’t. Naficy came up with this ingenious idea to make one retail that will never drop down, which will only sale what the customers want. There comes Minted, a stationary destination, where any artist can submit their work but only the most voted by the audiences will be made into products. Indie designers from all over the world submit designs, and Minted’s community votes to tell the company what to sell. Minted is on the list of 33 startups to watch in 2017

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