“I am a badass business woman, a leader and a bloody hard worker. I am the founder and CEO of feminist underwear brand Neon Moon and I love it!” Hayat Rachi a.k.a. Queen Hayat.
Seriously, there was no better way to begin this article than with the above words from CEO and Founder of Neon Moon Queen Hayat. If you haven’t heard of Neon Moon allow us, or should we say Hayat introduce you.
What is Neon Moon and its mission?
Queen Hayat-”Neon Moon is an underwear brand but we’re so much more than that. We want to create a safe space where we support women and women support women. Neon Moon is here to be the big sister to everyone who needs us. We’re not just focusing on underwear, we’re creating a movement where women are encouraged to see their worth.”
That “worth” Hayat speaks of is borne out in her own story. She admits to having a special talent, a “knack” she calls it. “I have a knack for getting fired.” She admits. “After I left my last job I was homeless, sofa surfing and quickly running out of money. It was at that point I realised that I can’t work for other people. I needed to be my own boss. It was walking through Westfield shopping center when I noticed the need for Neon Moon in the world.”
How though, do you go from homeless and no money to starting your own business? You recognize your worth and get about the business of taking charge of your life. Queen Hayat had no experience in the lingerie industry or retail in general. She didn’t allow those facts to deter her however. She went right to the Prince’s Trust to request backing. “They want to back those who know what they’re doing, rightly so.” Hayat said.
“I went back and basically annoyed them into backing me. It really showed my perseverance and inability to accept failure. I think this was a huge factor in them realising the potential of Neon Moon. I really had to learn the industry and everything behind it from near scratch, it wasn’t easy, but I think I’m getting there. Turns out, you never really know everything about anything.”
“You never really know everything about anything.”
How has that experience strengthened you and how are you able to help others?
Queen Hayat: All of that was a huge test of believing in myself. I learned how much work goes into being your own boss. The whole experience has given me a great insight into how the world of business start-ups functions and how many hurdles there are. I’ve given talks since to help people starting up their own business. Also how to navigate the world of The Prince’s Trust, since their help was invaluable to me.”
Hayat believes in making your own way in life. “Whatever form that takes.” She said. “I value hard work, ambition and fighting for change in the world.”
How is she and her team fighting to change the world? “We use our social medias to speak up every day. It’s our platform for communal and continual education and motivation. Neon Moon as a whole is working towards creating an empowerment programme too! This would include speaking to people of all ages and genders.”
What do you see as the biggest hurdles for women today that hinder their success?
Queen Hayat: ”This is one of the most complex questions out there. The hurdles for each and every women are different and unique to their situation. Intersectional feminism is a huge topic. I think one of the biggest hurdles for many women is unlearning what they think it means to be a woman, how they should dress or speak or act.”
Hayat feels that the needs of women aren’t going to change drastically. She believes with the rise of Me Too, women are breaking down the fear of speaking up. She went on to say, “That doesn’t change what is happening to cause this and what happens after. We may be more likely to be believed or less likely to be shunned, but we still require strong support systems in place.” She feels this is applicable to every aspect of life.
Who was the person that inspired and motivated you most?
Queen Hayat: ”Malala Yousafzai inspires me so much. Her personal story and aim to get every child into education is amazing. She also seems like the kind of person I could have a really easy conversation about feminism with! She is so determined that even a bullet couldn’t stop her. She’s an unstoppable force and someone I can learn so much from.”
In closing our interview with the absolutely amazing Queen Hayat she encourages, “Don’t be so hard on yourself. It is really tough to be rational about why you do certain things and look at society from the outside when you’re in it. I encourage girls to be more informed with why they make the decisions they do. Why do you fear grey hair when boys don’t? Why do you shave when boys don’t? Why do you want that cosmetic surgery? Why do you see one girl as pretty and another as not pretty? It’s all subjective and it’s important to be as informed as possible in order to be truly content and honest with yourself as to why you are who you are.”
There are huge things on the horizon for Neon Moon. “We’ve got so much in the pipeline!” Hayat says. “More inclusivity, more campaigns and more products! We don’t want to ruin the surprise but trust me, it’s going to be amazing.”
How can you help in support of Neon Moon and its mission for women?
Queen Hayat says the smallest of things can help. “Of course, if you support what we’re doing, you can create change by voting with your money, if businesses promoting your values aren’t profitable then we won’t be able to make it into the mainstream and create change from within. Engaging in our social media and spreading the word is just as important too. We want to reach as many people as possible and introduce them to our values! How can people support businesses with their values if they don’t know where to find them? Word of mouth is, and has always been, the most effective marketing out there.”
Hayat is a phenomenal example of what can be accomplished when your “why” is known and it’s larger than yourself. Know your worth and what that worth can mean to the world. Now is your time. Get up and be about the business of taking charge of your life and making a positive difference in the lives of others.
“Women need to be there for each other, it’s not just a future need but a current one.”
What are your top books?
I love self-help books. Being able to reflect on yourself and how to improve is so important to me. A great book for this would be F**k It by John C. Parkin. I’m also a huge fan of Girl Boss by Sophia Amoruso, definitely up there in my favourites. It’s incredibly inspiring.
Check out www.neonmoon.co for Badass Underwear for Badass Women!