Coming to America
I came to America and opened seven fashion retail stores, including some of the most sought out locations in America, such as Beverly Hills, Century City, Ventura, Topanga, etc. During two years of rapid expansion, I was immersed in all facets of running her multiple retail stores. The trial by fire helped me to quickly learn the importance of being a smart buyer. Negotiating millions of dollars in merchandise gave me the experience in determining best selling price points and optimal merchandising. By listening to clients, I learned the value of customer service and most importantly uncovered secrets of predicting what women were looking for based on current and projected trends.
Making moves by making shoes
Building on this success, I launched a shoe vertical bearing my name, Hadari Shoes. Multiple opportunities to source top quality products and negotiate low prices with manufacturers became second nature as I continued to expand the shoe business. When I was not traveling overseas, you could find me at national fashion conferences where I built key relationships with US buyers, including stores like Nordstroms, Marshalls, and Modcloth (which was sold in 2017 to Jet.com, a Walmart company, for 75 million dollars).
Closing my retail stores to focus on the momentum with global manufacturers and distributors, I transitioned and started a wholesale company, again bearing my name, called Hadari Online. Then I saw a gap in the online market space and made moves accordingly. Meeting with the buyers of Overstock.com, an online company that traditionally sold furniture, I convinced the buyers to let me open up a fashion vertical within their online offerings. Within seven months of Overstock.com offering clothing, shoes, and accessories, Hadari Online products were the number one provider on Overstock.com. At this time I also worked closely with Zulily, where I was a top supplier for their fashion items.
Finding the growth curve
Taking all of my experiences, I set my sights on a new way to revolutionize the fashion market through my new company Xehar. With traditional retail stores getting bogged down by excess inventory, I discovered an opportunity in a new way of looking at distribution to the underserved target market of curvy women between the ages of 18 – 35 years old. With a passionate team, I created comprehensive influencer marketing strategies that helped give plus-sized models the ability to leverage social media platforms to build community. This drove sales of fashion items through each influencer’s networks. Another advantage of our unique use of developing a dynamic liquidation system for fast fashion is that we were taking part in reducing clothing waste globally.
In addition, I established formal mentorship programs, hiring kids who had a passion for fashion but had no experience. Paring youth with our influencers, giving them a chance to work hand in hand with building and implementing social media marketing campaigns. Each week I would meet with them as a group, and reinforce that good business is doing your best. Seeing their desire for learning, inspired me to include them in as many facets of the business as possible. Some of them ended up working for the company and added to the success of our diverse team.
The hardest year of my life
Business is all about trust. You have to trust in your idea, trust in your employees, and trust in your investors. Unfortunately, my lead inventor was not on the same page with me, and I had to keep building my company without him truly understanding my vision. He would tell me that I was overspending on everything. Soon, every conversation was a fight over justifying why I needed the funds. He would ask me how much money I needed, and I would explain in detail, over and over. We needed funds for production and tech development, and he would send money for half, which didn’t allow me to fully execute the business plan.
To keep everyone at the company, I decided to forego my salary and actually moved into my warehouse for a year. Unfortunately, during this time, after risking everything, I lost my business Xehar. Reflecting back, I could say that it was because we had an investor that one day decided to stop putting money into the company. But it’s much more than that. I lost the company because I stopped believing in myself. I started to listen to people who claimed to be the experts, and I trusted advisors who I was paying to solve my problems.
The third time was not the charm
Broke, homeless, and dealing with a company that was crumbling, I decided to pivot and chase after a new market opportunity in massive-scale textile liquidations. I knew that fast fashion was allowing for big deals of recently out of season styles that could be purchased for pennies on the dollar. And I knew that facilitating these transactions could be its own business. So I raised money for the development of a new app that connected wholesalers with retailers. We built two full versions, but each one was not what we needed to break into the market. I then decided to hire a lead developer, and we finally built what we
needed. However, the investor insisted on his idea for the business model behind the app. Every discussion about it, he would get upset and start yelling at me. It got real unhealthy, real quick.
My reputation went down with the company
When you start and run a business, it becomes everything. And when that company goes down in flames, it is easy to get burnt. The company was my identity, it was my reputation, it was everything for me. I remember thinking that how I felt was not important. When my investor bailed, all I could think about was my team of employees who believed in me. The models risked their reputations believing in my vision as they represented our products as influencers. I was doing all I could to save the company, but that did not stop them from turning on me. Some of them understood the dire situation I was in, and left me alone,
moving on with their lives. However, some of them decided that harassing me daily for their money, which I could not pay, is how they would invest their time. Things went from really bad to worse. Once our office was shut down, I lost the ability to live in the warehouse. I had nowhere to live, no money for food, and was living on eggs and bread for weeks.
Who let the trolls out
The past employees who were upset, could not accept the fact that I was not able to pay them, since I was not homeless, having lost everything. That is when they took to the internet to air their grievances. I’ve been at low points in my life many times, but this felt like rock bottom. It is also the time when one particular past advisor got super aggressive with me. He demanded a payment plan even though he knew I had nothing. He took all of my energy. He would send me really long intimidating emails with videos about me that he threatened to post on YouTube if I didn’t reply. I would try to ignore these extortion emails, but the next day he would actually post the videos. Then I had no choice but to call him, and I would have to spend the entire day on the phone trying to convince him to take everything down. The only way he would do that is if I made him promises that I could not keep. Sometimes calls like this would last , seven, eight, and even 10 hours. And he would record those conversations, and then use that to threaten me again in more emails. I felt hopeless. It has been exhausting, scary, and overwhelming. And the worst part is that he is still harassing me.
Finding strength in friends and misery in frenemies
Literally roaming the streets, trying to find a place to stay, and worrying about how to get my next meal, I reached out to one of my dearest friends, and he let me live in his beautiful house for free in the valley. That generous act saved my life. I was in a really bad spot, and the relentless harassment from past employees and advisors was paralyzing. I knew that I needed to focus on rebuilding myself. And then one morning I wake up and I see these disgusting YouTube videos with my name on it and my voice recorded from private conversations with the advisor that had been harassing me. What hurt most is
that this advisor was a friend, and I thought he would stand by me, but he chose to turn against me. He became my enemy, and he took all my energy away from the actual things that I needed to do to get my life back together. I understand that building your own business has risks. It would be easy to blame the investors that backed out or the bad advice from advisors, but what I have really learned is that I am responsible for the profits, and the loss.
A container that changed everything
If there is one thing that I know how to do, it is flipping inventory. So amid all the turmoil, financial challenges, harassing internet trolls, and damage control for past employees who were coming after me, I knew that my fastest way to gain cash was to find some inventory to buy low and sell high. Smiling and dialing all of the colleagues who would still talk to me, I got a lead on a container. He said if I went to Miami, I could help with the deal. So I flew to Miami and spent some time with him and a long story short actually found a buyer for the container of inventory and I got a nice-sized cash commission. This cash saved me, gave me a renewed sense of confidence, and made me believe that I was actually moving
forward in a positive direction.
This was just around the time when the coronavirus was really bad in China. Because I had done business in China for large fashion deals, I started to connect with old associates, and one of them asked me to help source PPE products from the United States to ship to China. Even with my recent win of flipping the container from Miami, my situation was still very unstable. So much that I didn’t even have a bank account to accept funds. I was in full hustle mode, and when I closed my first deal, I was so excited. But when it came time to get paid, since I had no bank account, I got cut out of the deal and was taken advantage of yet again. They literally took my money and never paid my fees. I was devastated but also became extremely motivated. I knew that I could continue to close deals. I just needed to find out how to make sure I would get paid.
A new partner and a new path
Whether by fate or by accident, I met an investor who would listen to my proposed idea of partnering in large import and export container deals. It took him about four months to actually agree to work with me. Once he agreed to partner with me, I closed a very large deal. This new partner and simple agreement gave me the opportunity to focus on what I am good at, closing deals. With money coming in, I was able to get back on my feet. I got my own apartment in Santa Monica, and the big deals are still closing. I am still dealing with a lot of negativity online from my past employees and advisors, but I am taking the higher path, not stooping to their level, and focused on making money and building my next venture
The future looks bright
I have always believed that good business starts with solving real problems. As I have been navigating the large international import and export markets, I see problems that are worth solving. The root of my deals that don’t close, I can trace back to trust breaking down between broker, buyer, and seller. This is where my vision of the future includes a platform where brokers, sellers, and buyers can go, and find trusted transactions. I am still a ways from actualizing this vision, but I am the type of person who sees opportunities and chases them down. As I work to build a new trusted trading platform, I am focused on creating content around my life and business experiences to serve as a mentor for other entrepreneurs who are navigating the wild world of big deals.
One thing that has stayed the same through all the changes I have experienced, is my passion for giving back, and helping to mentor others. To give back, I volunteer at the Friendship Circle, an organization for kids with special needs. Helping to give special needs kids a supportive environment outside of their house helps keep me grounded and stay humble. To simply play silly games, work on puzzles, build Lego towers, and spend quality time with kids being kids, helps to remind how fulfilling the simple things in life really are. Having volunteered since 2007, I have had the chance to see these kids grow to young adults, and it is so special to know that I am a part of their lives. I know that it makes a difference to me, them, their families, friends, and the Friendship Circle community.
My life coach, who has been by my side, told me almost ten years ago that the best way to turn mistakes into momentum is to not only learn from them, but teach others how to avoid the mistakes you have made. Mentoring comes in many shapes and forms, and I enjoy giving young entrepreneurs the opportunity to learn about business first hand. I keep an eye on my social media feeds, looking for talented entrepreneurs who express their desire to gain experience in various business ventures. When I find the right mentees, I invite them to a Whatsapp group chat to connect with them and help them gain access to my network. They are often surprised at how much value they can add to business deals I am involved with, and many of them get a unique behind the scenes look at how business lessons translate to closing big deals. For example, a recent mentee was able to participate in multiple deals that grossed over ten million in revenue. Not only was he able to learn, but he also earned a hefty commission in the process. I believe that the more we learn the more we earn. And the more we share our life and business lessons with the next generation, the better off we will all be.
If you relate to my story, if you have been through a roller coaster of owning and losing businesses, then let’s connect. Let’s be on the same team, let’s support each other on this journey. The one thing that life has taught me is that no matter where you are, when you work hard, you will see progress. Join my journey by friending me on Facebook, following me on Twitter, and connecting on LinkedIn.