Noura Sakkijha; @nourasakkijha
How do you describe your job to your family?
I’m the CEO of Mejuri—and together with my partners and team we’re creating the next generation fine jewellery brand that is powered by our community. My family are traditional fine jewellers, so it’s always fun to chat about Mejuri’s business model and the fact that we sell diamonds and gold online!
Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I studied industrial engineering during my undergrad in Jordan. I then moved to Toronto and did my MBA at Ryerson University.
What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)
I was a process analyst at CIBC in the Process Engineering Department.
What was your BIG break? How did you land it?
I think one turning point for us was being part of 500 Startups in San Francisco. It gave us a boost of confidence and exposure to see how many successful startups operate. From there, our perspective and vision were solidified, and we established a strong support network that was rooting for us.
What would you say has been your most significant setback, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?
The toughest thing I had to do was raise money for early investments as a first-time entrepreneur with no connections. Pitching a jewellery company to investors who are mostly men wasn’t easy, but I was persistent and took each “no” as fuel to get me closer to the “yes.”
Name one piece of career advice you always give.
Show up every day and be a star.
When you’re feeling low about your work, what’s the one thing you always do/watch/read/listen to bring yourself back up again?
When I have tough days, I like spending time with friends and my husband. I also enjoy exercising, painting or doing something very unproductive (but fun) like watching a comedy show. I also love reading startup and business books—it definitely fuels my entrepreneurial mind.
How would you describe your industry in terms of representation and inclusivity?
The jewellery industry is dominated by men even when it comes to jewellers. But things are changing very quickly! Eighty percent of people working at Mejuri are women.
What’s the most pressing issue facing women in your industry right now? What would fix it?
We’re lucky to be in an industry that is generally a supportive environment for women. But, being a startup leader is a different story. Most startup founders are men, and male-founded companies tend to be better funded, so they tend to have more opportunities than women. However, things are changing. I have been lucky to be surrounded by extremely supportive mentors, investors and a great team.
Being able to see more women in the startup and tech industry would be a game-changer. There are now more funds and initiatives out there helping women stand up and gain the resources they need to make moves in their respective industries. If they can lift themselves up and work hard for what they want, they’ll be able to lift others around them.
Looking to the future, what excites you the most about your career?
Building something big, that is fulfilling for everyone involved from inside the company to our community.