Zara Huseynova – thoughtSeeker
Describe yourself in three to five words
Determination, Passion, Persistence, Discipline
What is your favorite word?
What makes this word special to you?
Persistence is what separates successful from un-successful people. Persistence is to keep on going for what you believe in.
Do you have a favorite quote?
It’s kind of cheesy but it has been there for like last 5-6 years already. It’s “Nothing is impossible! Even the word itself says i-m-possible”.
Who are you and what do you do?
I am Zara and I am founder and CEO of ALZA Boutique and WoWoman, which is a woman empowerment platform.
What motivates you in life?
In different stages of life you are motivated by different things. Initially, all kinds of different fears, angers, things which were pissing me off in society, in the environment around me, kept motivating me and pushing me to change them.
They pushed me to create WoWoman for example. Now it’s more like I am trying to take energy not from anger and fear, which are indeed very powerful emotions, but I make sure that I only choose positive ones.
I am trying to use Love as my main energy and motivator.
Love to myself, love for others, love for the world.
What is your secret success recipe?
I don’t really think there is any secret success recipe in this. It’s so many things coming together.
It’s never taking NO for an answer.
If I really believe in something I just go for it and I don’t accept no for an answer. I just persist.
Could you describe how you feel when you work for WoWoman?
I feel like I am doing something meaningful, like I am doing something that matters. It’s very important for me not to spend my time doing whatever. I feel like I found true heaven.
Which were the highest obstacles you faced in your life until now and how did you overcome those?
I think the biggest obstacle was the social pressure and the environment and that was creating a lot of insecurities inside me. So I had to overcome them inside myself. This is why I am doing what I am doing.
I am trying to build confidence in girls all over the world.
A number of things influenced me like, for exmaple, AIESEC. I found a purpose which was more important for me than insecurities and fears. And I also created a support system around so that when I fall, I actually have space and things to push me back forward.
I created a support system for myself, I had people around me. I knew what works on me: for example even if I am down, music inspires me. I knew that easy things like even a gratitude song would get me back into my right state of mind. I built strong teams and I have amazing people around me in my personal and professional life, people which helped me keep pushing forward.
However, I think the biggest challenge is always you. You are the only one limiting yourself. Whatever comes can become bigger or smaller in your mind. Yes, problems come in shapes and sizes but it’s all about your perception, how you see them. It was a number of small challenges with hiring people, firing people. Firing people was quite a hard one for me but it helped me learn that work and personal relationships should be separate.
Do you have a message for the viewer who is watching you?
Dare to dream
Tell me something about a part of your life you never talked about before?
Oh yes, there is something that’s a huge part of my life. It’s me dancing. I was five times national champion in ten years of professional ballroom dancing. And I have learnt from that, that we are not the same. I mean, it’s important to understand that being equal, men and women, does not mean we are the same. We are different! I think that dancing has taught me that. And I think dancing helped me a lot, brought me here, today.
Dancing allowed me to travel the world from an early age when I was 11, which was something not really normal here, in Azerbaijan, especially for girls, because it was expensive. And yeah, because no one would really allow you to go somewhere by yourself as a girl. But if it’s a world championship, where you represent your country, then it is possible. So this allowed me to be more open minded, to see the world, to understand things.
For instance, I was never trying to get in this men’s world, which can be especially difficult in Azerbaijan, even if it’s an awesome country. I wasn’t trying to be like a man! I wasn’t trying to prove them that I am also strong. I was using my own energy and this is what I am trying to create trough WoWoman. We are equal but we don’t have to be the same. That’s the whole idea of bringing diversity to the world. We are different and this is the beauty and the diversity that will make the world a better place.
If you had absolute powers, what would you improve in the world firstly?
I would give people confidence in themselves so that they would do what they want to do, without society telling them they are supposed to be doing something else. I think this would make the world a much happier, peaceful place.
What is your legacy, Zara?
I hope to give girls the confidence to be themselves, not to be what society, family and so on tell them they are supposed to be doing or being.
What are your three core values or principles?
1. Value number one is Family. Family can help you achieve happiness in your personal and professional life. My husband, my family, my employees were always there. Both morally also actually doing stuff, so that has always been great. Also without them I wouldn’t be where I am. So, if you have the right partner, you can make that all.
2. Doing things that matter, that are meaningful. Not doing things for just the sake of doing them. I am trying to find things which have impact, something that matters and is meaningful and also something profitable. Something I am struggling with right now is finding this something. For instance, I love my wedding dresses business, but it doesn’t solve any social issues. So, this is very closely tied to one of my dreams! I want to be settled financially by the time I’m 30, so I don’t have to work anymore, and I can just involve myself in a social project. I would go around the world feeding children by myself or organizing million budget projects. So that’s my dream until I have kids. I want them to travel with me, to take them around the world, helping them see the world right from the young age. So I want to have it all by the time I am 30, so the rest of my life can be travelling around the world helping people.
3. Constant growth in everything personal, professional
What is the question that you ask yourself every day?
Am I productive or just active?
What changed your life?
Dancing and exploring. And also entering the university. Usually it means a lot to people here. For me even more so, for I was preparing for it a lot. But that part of my life I guess was the most meaningless one. Because I don’t see any impact on it, it was more for my parents, to make them happy, because for them it means a lot. But what changed me a lot is AIESEC. I entered it in first generation, there was no AIESEC before. There I met Alex, my husband right now. He was my mentor as he was the AIESEC president at the national level. He was my coach like official mentor. And he actually really-really taught me a lot both from professional point of view and also personally. He taught me not to depend on other’s opinions that much. He taught me to get out of the cage I was living in.
How did you start your business?
My business started with only 200 euro budget. First we sold merchandise on e-bay. Our office was in a cafe but more and more orders were coming in. Then we moved to a dentist office. That was also quite fun because when people were like “So how will we find you?” I was saying: “do you see a sign of dentist? Please enter there!” So they were quite confused, but again it worked. After that we got into a place with two floors, the first floor we had the beauty salon for the ladies and on the second floor we had the shop with evening and wedding dresses.
In the beginning we had everything: clothes, accessories. But then we saw that the biggest value is in wedding and evening dresses. So we decided to focus in that direction. Since my wedding was also coming and I made more research on the dresses, I realized that I could not find anything which would fit the quality and price at same time. So I thought that most likely I am not the only one who has this problem. So we went in the direction of wedding and evening dresses. And also because from childhood I was surrounded by ballroom dresses, perhaps that is why I sell them well. Everything was quite familiar to me, to work with such kind of dresses, because I’ve been in them since 6 years old.
Where do you get your power from?
I think from work itself. I am quite a workaholic. I cannot just stop if something is not finished. If I know that I have things to do I cannot just go and have fun. And if I can’t finish it in time I feel really bad. I feel so guilty. Sometimes it’s challenging to sleep at night: “Ah, I didn’t finish that!”.
On the other hand, it’s very very cool to see when you get things done. When things are done, it’s actually motivating. I do need appreciation, so I do get power when someone says I’ve done a good job. And usually Alex’s opinion matters for me! And also my family, like my mom, my grandmother, my sisters they are always there.
If you have to change something in the world what would be the first thing you would change?
I guess there are a lot of things which need to be changed. But I think they can’t change if people’s perception doesn’t change. People need to stop being so selfish. I think in many cases we are just so stuck in our daily routines and in our problems that we actually don’t see the big picture. In many cases people complain and complain, they always want more and more. I think one of the ways to solve big social issues is when people are going to step aside and look at the bigger picture.
Would you like to tell something which I did not ask about?
I really want to emphasis the role of Alex, my husband, in my life. I dream and build with him. I wouldn’t be able to do it all by myself. He is always there, no matter what. It’s important for human beings to have someone with whom one shares everything. If you have a lot of achievements but you are alone, for me it doesn’t make sense.
What would be your final message for the viewers?
Something that I learned along the way that lot of people were telling me! “This is impossible and that is impossible and this is also impossible!” Then there is one quote that became kind of my motto: “Nothing is impossible, even the word says I-m-possible”