Last month, my company Mejuri announced our Series B raise. I led the raise pregnant with twin girls, pushing through a process that’s already demanding of any founder. I was raised in the traditional fine jewelry industry in Amman, Jordan. My father is a jeweler, and my father’s father was a jeweler. As a kid, I was exposed to the ins-and-outs of the business, and I watched my father work six days a week, every single week. Over the holidays, when other parents were off, he worked even more due to the seasonality of fine jewelry. From a young age, I was driven to create something different. My mother gave me a nurturing environment to dream and experiment, never letting my gender limit my options. In my early twenties, I chose not to work for the family business, but to immigrate to Canada for my MBA. I knew staying in Jordan wouldn’t allow me the opportunity to grow in the way I wanted.
Once I completed my MBA, I fought for a job at one of Canada’s largest financial institutions as a process engineering consultant. I loved the people I worked with, but felt a deep need to make larger impact. I began to develop Mejuri as a side hustle; I was engineering during the day and building a business plan late at night. I’d work for hours honing the messaging and working to explain why disrupting the industry was so important—and exactly how I’d do it. In 2015, I founded Mejuri to break the barriers of traditional fine jewelry, and create a brand that markets to women instead of men.
Going from having a monthly paycheck to having to fight for every opportunity, support and create roles for others, and solve every single problem wasn’t easy. My co-founder Majed is also my husband, which meant we threw out the concept of “work-life balance” and dove head first into embracing work as a major part of our lives. Up until recently, the pace has been 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. So far, the grind has paid off. Mejuri has grown 400 percent every year since we founded the brand in 2015. Our team has grown from four to 130 people and spans three countries—and we ship to 35. Our products have hit a popularity I could have only dreamt of, with 60,000+ women on waitlists for our drops.
It wasn’t until last year, after expanding into retail, that we decided to raise a Series B round of funding. Raising money is never easy. Just .2 percent of companies raise venture-capital funding, and just 2.2 percent of those are female-founded companies. But the truth is, it was easier to raise $23 million—seven months pregnant with twins—than it was to raise the first $1 million seed round just three years earlier. When I decided to launch Mejuri, my newcomer status meant I had to work hard to build a network of people willing to help or even hear my plan. I competed against people who want to Harvard and were two calls away from an investor; for me, it was crossing the ocean into another world that was inaccessible in ways I hadn’t imagined. Our seed round remains my proudest milestone—that first round of funding allowed us to build the movement of Mejuri to where it is today. We focused on growing the company through conscious innovation and a low burn rate. I didn’t have built-in connections to rely on if we needed more capital. What we did rely on, however, was word of mouth and a real relationship with our community.
Raising our Series B was different—it took the same amount of hustle, passion, and execution, but this time we’re backed by proof. When we decided to fundraise, I was six months pregnant. I was nervous about how people would perceive me—when Majed and I were raising our Series A round, one investor asked us during our pitch if we planned on having kids. We were taken aback—because it was clearly something that would factor in their decision. This time around, my pregnancy became a barometer for finding good partners. If you have an issue with a pregnant, female CEO—Mejuri isn’t for you. My kids will always be part of the story, a reality that left me feeling vulnerable yet liberated.