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    In Her Own Words: Sima Azadegan designs a new life

    As we face a new Covid variant, women reflect on what the pandemic has meant to their families, their colleagues, their customers and their communities. Sima Azadegan thought the pandemic was a time to follow her dreams.

    "As the first cry of the pandemic hit us last march, I had two choices! One was to listen to the news and be overwhelmed by horrifying reports of what was happening around the world, or I could for the first time step into my own shoes and follow my own dream and passion that I had ever since I was a young girl. I decided to listen to my own voices and chose the latter option. I can say with much confidence now that following my dreams and passion has truly paid off for me.

    The pandemic gave me an opportunity to have an introspective look inside and decide how I was going to live the rest of my life. Oftentimes, in life we are faced with challenges and experience dark days but it is up to us how we want to live. Do we succumb to the negativity which weighs us down or do we want to rise above it all and stand as a soldier of light? It's pertinent that we act as warriors. With perseverance, faith and hope it is possible to overcome difficulties and reach our highest potential. Following our dreams and passion is not a cliche but a responsibility that we have while living here on planet earth.

    In a little over a year, ever since the pandemic, I created my company, Sima Collezione. It is a fashion line with heart and soul. It comprises 50 designs of high style, exclusive, one of a kind evening dresses. I have brought back elegance, glamour, integrity, beauty and refinement. Moreover, I have incorporated the positive forces of nature through my fashion line. Each dress encompasses a theme, a story, a value from nature and the divinity. These designs have come from my higher consciousness and I truly believe that I have a responsibility to share them with the world.

    My company’s mission is to empower women by creating bold and vibrant dresses and at the same time helping charity. Since helping charity is an integral part of my character, I have made this an important mission for my company. I would like Sima Collezione to be a worldwide phenomenon whereby ladies can tap into their inner beauty and allow their inner light to shine while at the same time knowing that they are helping another individual in need. I would like Sima Collezione to help build positive consciousness for all the women in the world.

    I am truly grateful for the pandemic as it gave me the opportunity to follow my dream and my passion. So far, it has taken me to feature my collection at the New York Fashion Week this September, being an executive contributor for the brainz magazine and having my own podcast series at the Podcast Business News Group! All of this, because I decided not to listen to other people, media, friends and family who were petrified of Covid but on the other hand, I decided to listen to myself.

    Be true to yourself and stand up for what you believe in no matter how dark the outside world is or how big the pandemic is."

    This is a time of virtual community and sharing. We’re asking women how the pandemic has impacted their personal and/or professional lives. Please send an e-mail to esherberg@bizjournals.com if you would like to contribute to this continuing narrative.

    Sima Collezione Founder Sima Azadegan: 'No matter how dark the outside world is, you have to pursue your dream and passion'

    Her story is one of those we need for inspiration and to tell women all over the world that it is never too late to discover one's passion. Sima was a child of an immigrant family and from a young age, she was taught not to have a voice. She always wanted to do the right thing and she quickly discovered her talent in piano that led her to become a piano teacher for over two decades.

    After raising her family, she felt something was missing in her life. She decided to go against what people expected of her, she found her inner voice and decided to follow a lifelong passion. She created Sima Collezione at the age of 50. Her purpose with the clothing brand is to empower women all over the world by creating bold and vibrant dresses, which bring out their inner beauty and light.

    Since the first vision and decision to pursue her dream, she has already by now achieved more than most people could dream of. She has been selected to show her first collection at NYC Fashion Week this September, she has been featured in Forbes and Bloomberg among others,  and her brand has already been awarded several awards and recognitions - and the first collection is not even finished yet!

    Q: WHAT'S YOUR BACKGROUND, AND WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON?

    I have lived a complete life and I have done a lot during my lifetime. I am married for 30 years coming up this month! I have 2 children, one 27 years old and another 25 years old. I have adopted an 8 year old as well. I have been a piano teacher for close to 20 years. I also sing classical opera! I have worked as board of director to 4 charities here in Los Angeles. I have traveled the world and have worked consistently on revealing my own truths. At the age of 50, I decided to follow my dream and passion as I created my company, Sima Collezione!  

    Q: HOW DO YOU FEEL YOU STAND OUT FROM OTHER COUTURE DESIGNERS?

    What I have done, I truly believe no designer in the world has!!! During Covid, while I was sitting at home, I created 50 designs of high style, elegant, evening dresses. While I was sketching these designs, I did not look at one magazine or one book. The inspiration came to me from my heart as well as my higher consciousness. These designs are very original and as I see it very raw!! I have brought back elegance, class, beauty, integrity that is so needed in our world today. I went even a step further during covid and created an art work for each of these dresses that exemplifies a theme from nature and divinity. In turn, I have created a clothing line with heart and soul. It is a clothing line with value and meaning. Ladies all over the world can wear these exclusive high style evening dresses that can give them meaning and value, depth and understanding about the meaning of life!

    Q: WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO GET STARTED WITH SIMA COLLEZIONE?

    What motivated me was the truth that I had a soul awakening at the age of 50! Every cell in my body was telling me to go forwards and follow my life long dream that I had ever since childhood. I had spent 50 years of my life, pleasing people and trying to do the right thing for everyone. At 50, I felt that it was my time to live my life and create my own destiny as I saw it. Even Though, I faced a lot of resistance from my closest family, I decided to listen to myself and follow my passion. Ever Since then, it has been a dream !

    Q: WHAT WERE YOUR FEARS WHEN STARTING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?

    My biggest fear that I had was to get a budget to start this passion project. At first, my husband and children thought that I was delusional and were not supportive. I had to work so hard to get that budget from my husband to start this project. And so far, it has paid off for me. The other fear that I had was to find the right people with integrity to help me. If I felt that certain people were not right for me, I would not continue to work with them.

    Q: WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE FUTURE?

    My goal is that I want to bring a huge change to the apparel industry. I want ladies to look inside themselves and shine their own inner light rather than be so concerned so much with the superficialities of the outside world. I would also like to empower women not only through my clothing line but through my own story and my own dream!

    Q: WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU'VE FACED SO FAR?

    Honestly, I have not experienced a big challenge! I am taking my time with this project and making my decisions thoroughly and with a lot of perspective. I do not like to make quick and fast decisions that would not serve me and or my company. I see myself doing this for the rest of my life, so I am not in a rush.

    Q: WHAT'S YOUR ADVICE FOR FEMALE FOUNDERS WHO ARE JUST STARTING OUT?

    My advice is that no matter how dark the outside world is, you have to pursue your dream and passion. God has given us talents and gifts and it is our responsibility to manifest them while at the same time work for the overall good of the world!

     

    Sima Azadegan of ‘Sima Collezione’: “. Even if people had told me before, I still had to learn the lessons by myself and all alone.”

    … a founder has to be a leader with vision, integrity, strength and have a cause or a passion that she or he wants to pursue. It’s very easy to be swayed in many directions if you are not strong enough to stand your ground. It’s important to have a vision so you can lead […]

    … a founder has to be a leader with vision, integrity, strength and have a cause or a passion that she or he wants to pursue. It’s very easy to be swayed in many directions if you are not strong enough to stand your ground. It’s important to have a vision so you can lead the people that are working for you in the right direction. A leader has to have integrity. I believe only with good morals and good intention can a company or a vision come alive. I don’t believe in the game of manipulation or any other mind games. Truth will always prevail.

    As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sima Azadegan. Sima Azadegan was born from an immigrant family, and at a young age, she failed to find a voice. She grew up wanting to do the right thing, and most of all, to please others. Today she has taken on the mission to empower other women through her clothing brand Sima Collezione, of which she is the founder and CEO.

    Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

    I have lived a complete life! At 9 years of age I started my classical piano training. At age 17 I went to University of Southern California and by the age of 20, I was married. I became a piano teacher for 20 years. Worked on board members of four major charities here in Los Angeles. Raised my 2 children who are now 25 and 27 years old. Adopted another child. I participated in many charitable organizations and did a lot of inner journey and self discovery work on myself. At the age of 50, I was ready to step into my own shoes and follow my dreams and passion. That is when I created my company, Sima Collezione!

    Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

    Yes! The funniest story, which right now is funny but at that time it wasn’t. When I first told my family that I was going to create my clothing company. They thought I had gone mad and that I was delusional. First time ever, I went to meet a business advisor at a coffee shop and my husband thought that I was having an affair!!! He couldn’t believe that I could actually go and meet a man at a coffee shop just to get business advice.

    Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

    Yes, At the beginning of my journey, a lot of people wanted to work with me or in another word lead me on their own wagon. One reason is that they thought I am a housewife going after her passion project and thought they could use me to make a lot of money for themselves. During Covid, while staying at home, a lot of things were made clear to me. The most important lesson I learned was not to trust people blindly. I have to give people a chance to prove themselves. For me, action speaks louder than words! It is through people’s actions that I can trust them.

    None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

    Yes! I would like to give all the credit to who I am and what I have achieved so far to my grandmother Susana Cohen! She is not here with us now but her genes and her demeanor are alive and well within me. She was a holocaust survivor who at the age of 14 came to live in Iran. Not knowing one word of English, she met my grandfather and lived happily. Even after my grandfather passed away, she lived a life with strength, integrity, grace and humility. She was a warrior and a survivor and I definitely have inherited her genes.

    Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

    I think the most important concept for women to achieve in their lifetime is to have a strong sense of belief in themselves and their own capabilities. We experience challenges and resistance at all times but we have to be strong enough to face our fears and overcome our difficulties to reach a point where we can follow our own dreams and passions in our lifetime.

    Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

    Yes, In order to look outside to find solutions for our lives, we need to look inside and work on creating a better person out of ourselves. We need to first focus on our own flaws, weaknesses and our own demons. We need to deal with them first in order to become better people for our families and our society.

    This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

    I believe that no matter what, women should follow their own passions and dreams. We all have so many innate talents that we have to manifest in this world. We all have a responsibility to follow our dreams and make them come true.

    What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder. Can you explain what you mean?

    I am not sure what you mean about “myths” I believe anyone who is driven, hard working, focused and disciplined can pursue their dreams and reach their full potential as a person.

    Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

    I think a founder has to be a leader with vision, integrity, strength and have a cause or a passion that she or he wants to pursue. It’s very easy to be swayed in many directions if you are not strong enough to stand your ground. It’s important to have a vision so you can lead the people that are working for you in the right direction. A leader has to have integrity. I believe only with good morals and good intention can a company or a vision come alive. I don’t believe in the game of manipulation or any other mind games. Truth will always prevail.

    Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

    I really don’t have “ The 5 things I wish someone told me before I started. “ I thought for a long time about this question, and I am very happy that I learned all my lessons on my own during this journey. I am glad that I had to face my own challenges, because that was the best way I could learn and grow through this process. Even if people had told me before, I still had to learn the lessons by myself and all alone.

    How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

    When I started my company, my mission was to help empower women and help charities as long as I live. This is my vision, my mission and my dream!

    You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

    I would like to make a change in the apparel industry. I want ladies to instead of being so concerned about the superficialities of the outside world, instead to look inside and shine their own individual light to the universe. I would like to empower women to stand with strength, hope, love, light, compassion, peace, charity and all the positive forces of the universe.

    We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

    Yes!!! I would love to have breakfast or lunch with Anna Wintour who is the editor-in-chief of Vogue Magazine. I would love to share my ideas and insight about the apparel industry. I would love to share my vision of my collection and how it can bring positive consciousness to all the women on the globe.

    Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.