How this ‘shark tank’ vet and her groundbreaking invention are revolutionizing personal safety

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With the increasing number of hate crimes specifically targeting the AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) community, I feel unsafe traveling alone in public. And hate crimes against Asians are growing at an alarming rate. According to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, Hate crimes against Asians increased 339% in 2021. Cities like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles saw increases in hate crimes that exceeded what they experienced in 2020. In early March, a man was arrested in the New York City for committing acts of hate. crimes against seven women who identified themselves as part of the AAPI community. In the span of two hours, he violently punched, elbowed and pushed Asian women between the ages of 19 and 57.

How this 'shark tank' vet and her groundbreaking invention are revolutionizing personal safety 1653344394 HeadlightzBlueOutside

LX Management

I cannot stop the wave of xenophobia sweeping our country on my own, but I can be more personally aware of my own surroundings and take steps to protect myself.

As I re-enter the world after periods of isolation, I am working to become more aware of my own personal safety. “Observing your surroundings and making critical adjustments is the most important thing to do when traveling alone in public,” Josh Katz, Krav Maga instructor and director of 419 Strategy, Share with me. “If you’re listening to your phone on the go, make sure the volume isn’t too loud and use only one earpiece. When entering a public area, assess who’s there with you and be willing to leave if you feel unsafe. And finally If you’re on a dimly lit street: take off your headphones, turn on your phone’s flashlight, and give your full attention to your safety.A lot of people feel better talking to a friend on the phone when you’re feeling insecure, but it ties you up. hands and distracts you from your surroundings. Your friend isn’t going to help you, but your senses and instincts are. You just need to give them room to operate at full power.”

Following Katz’s advice, I was researching ways to feel more secure when I ran into Rock Innovationthe makers of Headlightz Beanies and Headbands, named one of EITHER The magazine’s favorite things in 2021.

“As someone who liked to run at night when my kids were in bed, safety was top of mind for me,” says Raquel Graham, CEO and founder of Roq Innovation. “I needed a light to see where I was going, not a beacon.”

The compact Headlightz headband is hands free and features an innovative bright white LED light that is lightweight, removable and rechargeable. Choose one of three brightness levels and the battery will last between approximately 1.75 and 8 hours. It’s super easy to recharge (no loose wires), snug and soft, and fits both my kids and me, too. It comes in various colors. Most importantly, it increases your visibility: you can see where you are and where you’re going.

“My mom is 76 years old and lives alone,” says Graham. “She’s of Asian descent, and it’s mind-boggling and scary the level of hate we’re experiencing right now. She’s glad to have a product on the market that can keep my mom and all of us a little bit safer.”

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Here are three lessons Raquel Graham has learned from building her game-changing invention and company:

“I solved problems that made my life easier”

Graham’s company started in 2014 as an experiment. “My kids refused to wear scarves during the cold Chicago winters,” she says. “So I created a prototype for my kids that they loved. Other parents stopped to ask me where I got that scarf from. That’s when I knew I had to take it to market.”

Graham created that first product, NEKZ, with no retail or manufacturing experience. Her first account was Follett, who helped bring her products to NCAA schools across the country.

After finding success with NEKZ, he founded his company Roq Innovation and hasn’t stopped inventing ever since. “My biggest advice is to find and solve problems that will make your life easier,” says Graham. “Because if it makes your life easier, the solution you find will help solve the problems of a whole segment of people.”

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Image Credit: LX Management

“I tirelessly studied Home Shopping Network before I was on it”

Graham has been on the Home Shopping Network (HSN) successfully for six years and has been one of the oldest Black-owned businesses featured on the network. But his success did not happen overnight. She studied and watched HSN tirelessly to get ready before she started.

“I’m obsessed with the products and how they can improve our lives,” says Graham. “I saw everything I could on HSN, I studied the segments and the formats, and I thought about the story that I would tell with my own products.”

She remembers emailing HSN with no response that first time. When the opportunity to be on the net finally presented itself, Graham was ready, because she had been preparing for this moment all along. “You have to be ready to go when the call comes. And if you’re putting in the effort, the call will come.”

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“I left money on the table”

Finally, one of the most important lessons Graham learned the hard way is when to walk away from opportunities. “While there is growing support from retailers to support Black-owned businesses and have them represented on their shelves, the reality is that many of us are unable to fulfill orders,” says Graham. “We don’t have access to the necessary financing. When two big retailers knock on the door at the same time, I don’t have the financing to supply the product in such large quantities. And I’ve had to leave money on the table.” “

Graham hopes more retailers will work directly with banks and help provide financing options to support small business owners. “That’s the kind of alliance we need to see more of. If you see black-owned businesses leaving money on the table, don’t just let them walk away. Help build the solution with them.”

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