Hayet Rida retails high-end home products and jewelry but her story is of resilience and tenacity.
From motivational advice and founding a high-end candle brand to entrepreneurial endeavors with homeware and jewelry, Ghanaian-born Hayet Rida has a take on her unique selling point – and the answer might surprise you.
“I proudly call myself the pivot queen and I am the chief pivot officer in my life because everything about my business is basically a combination of what other people call failures. But to me, they are all stepping stones of how I got here,” says Rida.
She credits her mother for her unique ability to overcome adversities and turn them into life-changing opportunities where others might simply give up.
“One of my blessings is I got my dad and my mum’s ability to execute [dreams] until [they are] done. My mother has shaped everything I am. She is the chief hustle officer. When I was growing up, there was a school trip [to France] and she was a single mum of five kids and you can’t just pull a $3,000 bill on my mum because that was a lot of money back then.
“She didn’t have the money but she made a plan and said ‘I am going to rent out my car and sell this and that in the house’. She was like, ‘we are going to figure out how to get you on that trip’. This woman was not even ashamed to say ‘I am going to sell some of my prized possessions like pots and art work’ to put me on that trip,” recalls Rida.
That anecdote stuck with Rida well into her adulthood. After spending the past 13 years working in the advertising space with global brands like Meta, Rida recently launched her luxury jewelry line in Chicago called KHOI. She has mastered the skills needed, as both a jewelry designer and creative director.
When it came time to build her store, even though she had no money, Rida would lean on her mother’s advice, to find a way to make her dream a reality.
“I remember we had to do flooring and the first thing I did was go into my closet and say, ‘what am I selling?’ So, everything in the store is me selling my clothes and my bags. I started teaching people classes on creativity and charged $100 per person – I will have 20 people a class. The next week, I am going to do small consultations with brands. If you tell yourself, ‘I can’t do it’, then you are not trying hard enough. You will find a way if you want it; the same way my mum tried to find a way to get me on that school trip.”
The launch of KHOI is testament to Rida’s resilience and tenacity. Her journey towards becoming an influencer was motivated by her desire to share her life experiences in the hope that it would encourage others going through similar trials.
“I am a chronic over-sharer and 10 years ago, I had gone through a really bad breakup so I felt ugly because I was plus-sized. I grew up hating myself and I actually didn’t know I was beautiful until I was 25. I remember coming out of that relationship and saying I am going to learn this confidence thing that I read about on the internet. I am going to figure out how and I am going to document it for myself, and that is the power of influencers who last, because we didn’t start it to make money. I started for myself.”
After amassing a following on her personal blog, where she shares everything, from ‘growing up fat in Ghana’ to ‘how to create boundaries’, Rida says her mother sparked her next eureka moment, which came in the form of candles.
“My mum burns candles the way earth makes oxygen. There is always about 15 candles burning in the house. And I always liked the smell. So, I said let me make my own and I found the right team and I said, ‘let’s make it happen’.”
That gave birth to AÏYA CANDLE CO which took off and soon transitioned into luxury home products. Along the way, Rida got an opportunity to work with a brand to develop her own unique line of jewelry.
“They wanted to collaborate with me because they loved my luxury taste. They said you design a capsule collection with us and the deal was interesting because you almost make your own brand and they are the people behind it. I said to them, ‘I would only do it if you let me do the packaging’ because I didn’t like the packaging. So, we came up with a deal where I would name the brand, call it what I wanted, design the packaging, and they would be the back end of it. I called it the KHOI Studio.”
With the deal closed, Rida ordered 10,000 pieces of packaging in anticipation of the launch. Then disaster struck. The brand decided to pull out of the deal last minute.
“The world did not know about the brand yet so technically I could just cancel the whole thing and move on with my life and continue with AÏYA CANDLE. So, I said I was going to launch regular everyday accessories until I finish with the packaging and move on. A year later, I have a store and that is [why] I call myself the pivot queen because anybody else would cancel the deal and just let everything go. But I trust myself as a person and I always trust that I will always figure it out,” says Rida.
As she has slowly grown in her confidence as a jewelry designer, the vision for KHOI has also become clearer. For Rida, it’s all about having full control of her art and creation, and reliving the remarkable stories of artists her mother told her about as a kid.
“I remember my mum used to collect art pieces and she would say only five of these were made and the next art looks nothing like the other one. I remember the stories my mum used to tell and I felt like that’s what I want as a brand.”
KHOI pieces are one-of-a-kind items that are never restocked. Once a collection is over, Rida creates an entirely new range which means her followers always have unique pieces to select from. And in a world where the customer is king, Rida has managed to find a blend between maintaining artistic control of her creations and keeping her customers eager and excited for more.