We caught up with Nadia Boujarwah, the co-founder and CEO of Dia&Co, a retail service dedicated to meeting the plus size community’s full range of style needs.
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A lifelong fashionista, Nadia was driven to found Dia&Co by the belief that style can act as a catalyst for self-love. Prior to founding Dia&Co, Nadia worked as an investment banker at Perella Weinberg Partners and most recently served as COO and CFO of New York-based jewelry brand Frieda and Nellie. Nadia was the first Kuwaiti woman to graduate from Harvard Business School, and she also holds a B.Sc. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania.
Sarah Flint: What does walk like a woman mean to you?
Nadia Boujarwah: For me personally, it’s about walking with purpose — and walking together. I believe that we can achieve much more when we take on the world as part of a community with common goals, rather than walking alone in your own direction.
SF: What inspired you to start Dia & Co?
NB: Growing up, I always had a deep love for fashion — but as a plus size shopper, I struggled to find stylish clothing in my size. It wasn’t until I attended Harvard Business School that I discovered how many women shared my problem: 67% of women in the United States wear a size 14 or above, yet plus size clothing only accounts for 17% of total apparel purchases. Clearly something is wrong in this equation. As my future co-founder Lydia and I began to investigate, we often heard that retailers didn’t create clothing in larger sizes because they believed plus size women weren’t interested in fashion. I knew that this wasn’t true for me, and I believed that millions of other plus size women wanted to participate in fashion as well.
SF: What advice would you give an aspiring entrepreneur?
NB: In my experience resilience is among the most important traits for entrepreneurship, and passion bolsters resilience. We had many challenges in the early days of Dia&Co — we couldn’t convince investors to back us, and we had difficulty recruiting team members to join us — but we had a deep belief in a customer that we felt was misunderstood by most. We really had to dig deep to keep going, and I’m not sure we would’ve succeeded if we hadn’t be so passionate about the mission we were on. I knew this service would’ve been transformative for me if it had existed when I was younger, and that was enough to keep me inspired — we knew we wanted to bring it into the lives of more women.
SF: How do you incorporate your own style into your company?
NB: At the core of Dia&Co is our belief in the power of style. To us, style is much more than the clothes we wear — style is the ability to be yourself and express who you are.
Style isn’t a set of rules; it’s about showing off your superpowers, and that starts from within. At Dia&Co, I express my own personal style not only through the clothes that I wear to the office each day, but in my approach to leadership and management.