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Female Disruptors: Liza Sakhaie of The Reflective On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

I’ve been advised to keep a list of my priorities up on my computer at all times to help me make decisions. These aren’t just business priorities but also how I prioritize the different areas of my life including health, family, friends, spirituality, and fun!

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Liza Sakhaie.

CEO & Founder of The Reflective — a digital fashion platform for the modern, modest woman. We are changing the way women feel about modesty by empowering them to see fashion as an external expression of individual values. Our mission is to provide an elevated and attainable product curation while empowering our community through engaging and educational content, events and evolving experiences.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I grew up in NY and have been working in fashion since I was 14 years old.

As a young woman, a traditional modest dresscode felt antithetical to my beliefs: oppressive, restrictive, archaic, frumpy, ugly- everything a 20 something year old feminist working in the fashion industry would likely want to avoid.

But with time, and through my own religious growth, I decided to appreciate the value of covering up, eventually coming to understand it as an external reflection of my internal values: Humility, sophistication and refinement. And so, despite my younger self, I started dressing modestly.

At the time, I was working on the experiential retail marketing team at Bloomingdale’s, conceiving of new ideas to capture customers in innovative and interactive ways, and yet, in my own modest shopping experience, it felt like no one was doing much to try to capture me.

And so The Reflective was born!

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Us “modest dressers” are used to being outsiders. The fashion industry and even faith based communities often look at us archaic, stuck in the past, or anti-feminist. We want to break the stereotypes around modesty and support women who choose to take on a modest dress code (key word: choose!).

Secondly, we are once of the first in the modest space to emphasize the “interfaith” aspect of our community as a way to unite women of different backgrounds across their mutual core values. There is so much dividing our world today and I saw modesty as a unique opportunity to bring women together rather than continuing to segment them into different groups.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I can’t think of one on the spot but if it comes to mind later I will let you know!

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

One of my main mentors has been Joyce Azria, previous creative director of BCBG and founder of Avec les FIlles.

She has given us a consistent piece of advice that has kept us moving since the beginning- that is to always keep pushing forward and trying new routes even if you don’t have a specific goal in mind. As a business owner, it’s easy to get caught up in “the plan” to avoid potential bumps, but that could end up being your biggest roadblock because it prevents you from moving the ball forward when you need to. Joyce is always reminding us to move full steam ahead and roll with the punches!

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

It’s always a positive as it grabs people’s attention. When you’re changing a narrative or starting a new conversation, followers are excited to learn and join your journey.

However, on the contrary, we have also struggled with offending those that don’t resonate with our message. Many assume that by supporting a modest dresscode, we feel that everyone has to dress the way we do. However, that’s not at all our message! I think the graphic below best portrays our feelings towards dresscode- that what you wear should be whatever makes you happy!

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

  1. When we were starting out we immediately wanted to launch our marketplace. However, we were advised to launch with a simpler MVP to prove our concept, so we launched a product-centric weekly newsletter. This allowed us to get familiar with the business and community while also testing what worked best!
  2. To take 3 networking calls a week: I try to connect to 3 new people every week to continue to expand the horizons of The Reflective and my own professional network. I am constantly learning from others this way as well as growing my business in new directions.
  3. I’ve been advised to keep a list of my priorities up on my computer at all times to help me make decisions. These aren’t just business priorities but also how I prioritize the different areas of my life including health, family, friends, spirituality, and fun!

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

Although social media plays a hugely important role in the industry, we are launching a new focus on events and in-person conversations. This will consist of small, exclusive dinners led by women across industries and faiths as well as major pop-up shops and networking events. We feel that it’s just as important to connect with your community face to face.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

There is a general stigma around woman and their capabilities surrounding finances that I have definitely felt throughout this process.

However, there are many female-centric communities that have sprung up in the past few years to support women entrepreneurs and bring us equal opportunity! We are a part of one such platform, Dreamers and Doers, and have made connections, taken classes, attended networking events and more as a part of the community.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

I practice Judaism and try to listen to a Podcast from speaker Rabbi Shlomo Farhi when I have a chance. On each episode, he brings down a passage from the Torah (the Hebrew Bible) and gives over a life lesson that you can draw from the story. Many times when I’m in need of advice I turn to these podcasts and discover exactly what I needed to hear!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I want to inspire women to look deeper into themselves and represent who they want to be on the outside. That isn’t just about covering up. It’s about discovering what clothing makes you feel good and reflects your personality best. It’s about not wearing something just because it’s trendy. It’s about knowing your body and what feels right to you!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Do what makes your soul happy”

Throughout my career, I was advised not to enter the fashion industry given its cutthroat nature and lower salaries. But every time I tried transitioning into something more “practical” such as finance or marketing, I began dreading all things work-related. If you’re spending 80% of your waking hours on something, make sure it’s something that makes your soul sing!!

How can our readers follow you online?

You can check us out on Instagram @the_reflective_ !

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.