Azra Qizilbash is an entrepreneur and the founder of IMPWHER, a streetwear/active gear clothing brand dedicated to empowering women and encouraging inclusivity. Urban Asian spoke to Azra about her vision in starting IM.PW.HER and her role in spearheading such a global movement of empowering women and non-binary folks. Learn about her vision, inspiration, and legacy in starting such an impactful brand!
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
A yearning to build a legacy of my own. I have a thriving full time career, yet there was always this nagging sense that there was something more for my personal story, but I never took action. My brother was one of the biggest inspirations that pushed me to take charge of my dreams. To stop the excuses, get creative and go for it. He is a full time entrepreneur and co-founder of his own company EasyKale.
What was the inspiration behind creating Im Pw Her?
My mother. She has always been my inspiration in whatever it is I do. She is the definition of a woman that is a combination of strength, resilience, self-improvement and compassion. I am blessed to say I have a role model in my own mother. IM.PW.HER is a play on the word Empower-Her, and dually, it stands for I AM POW(H)ER.
Why do you believe it is important to encourage awareness of different identities and open-mindedness in the community? More specifically, how do you think Im Pw Her promotes acceptance and evokes a culture of unity?
Diversity is the life root of Life, and not accepting this is unwise and selfish. Life is not linear. There are many ways of living, of thinking, of just – being. I want a community that is inclusive, diverse, compassionate and forward thinking. The future is created by the decisions we make now.
What is your definition of an Alpha? Describe some ideas or experiences where you identify something as an Alpha?
My definition of an ALPHA is someone that understands they have Personal Power. They are a leader for the positive. Whether they have an impact on thousands, or even on one, they are a Leader. Moreover, they are a leader for Themselves. And what this means, they lead a life that is congruent with their “optimal” self. They think of who they want to rise into, and they act accordingly to take action to bring them closer to their personal vision.
What is your educational background? Did you always see yourself becoming an entrepreneur?
I am a scientist by educational training, I have my bachelors in Neuroscience and my masters in Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease and I currently work in a global pharmaceutical company by day. And I always saw myself being an entrepreneur, my passion has always been to be a creative. I just finally made up my mind and took sincere and intentional action. I hope that in 1.5 years time, I can be in IM.PW.HER full time. This lifestyle requires immense amounts of discipline to balance it all, but when your vision is so clear, and so compelling, you always will find a way.
Do you consider yourself a social impact entrepreneur? If so, how are you transforming today’s culture?
Absolutely. Although this is still a very young company, I aim to have connections with my ALPHA’s through hosting events and engaging them on social media and establishing meaningful relationships. I want women to know wherever they come from, whatever they identify as, whatever their story, they have a safe space in my community. Yes, this is a women empowerment movement, but it must include involvement of ALL humans (men, non-binary and transgendered). This is critical to our longevity and success of this movement. We all have important women in our life, and we all need to work together to change the trajectory of the future. As my motto goes, Power of HER = Power of ALL.
What is the most important thing you have learned from establishing Im Pw Her?
That women need community, we need a network. We need to remind each other that we are leaders in our life, leading with both words and action and that we can overcome any obstacle in our path.
What is your favorite type of music? Type of art?
I love all types of music, but I particularly enjoy classical music. I’m currently a budding violinist in my spare time. And I enjoy creating abstract oil paintings when I am seeking inspiration for an idea.
Where do you see Im Pw Her in 10 years?
I envision IM.PW.HER as a not just a clothing brand; it will be a movement that will provide engaging and dynamic motivational speeches and workshops around the world. IM.PW.HER will provide innovative resources for women to build the life they want, in their own unique style and voice. I want every woman that crosses my path to know that the power is already in her and inspiring her to go after her goals. I want to create a global social network of powerful women with substance and altruism. I want IM.PW.HER to be a household company name. I want a generation of GOAL-Diggers.
What is your advice for entrepreneurs starting a business?
If you have an idea, don’t get hung up on perfection. More importantly, don’t talk yourself out of it. There will be this small voice in your head that will say, “who do you think you are?”. Ignore it and move forward. I believe every person has at least one million dollar idea in their lifetime, but they are paralyzed in fears, what-ifs and caught up by over-thinking. I say hit the ground running and learn along the way. Fail forward. Be creatively resourceful, scrappy and learn to network.