My life’s path has been restrictive due to circumstances beyond my control and for the first time in my life, I have the freedom to steer away and do what I CHOOSE rather than the limited scope I have been given. I’m looking forward to traveling towards undefined destinations and letting things happen as they may.
This is from the blog post Yasmine wrote before leaving the United States to travel solo around South America. It was during her travels that she was inspired to empower other women to feel safe in any situation–to CHOOSE it, just like she did. By ‘letting things happen as they may,’ she found the inspiration to help others stay comfortable in their own skin by creating awesome self-defense tools.
Yasmine Mustafa is a blogger, entrepreneur, and lover of technology. She recently started ROAR, a company dedicated to making fashionable accessories for self-defense, along with an app that will allow women to call for help and research how safe an area is before venturing into it. This project strikes a cord with me because I am a victim of assault. Back in 2008, still living in Seattle, I was walking home alone one night and heard footsteps behind me. Next thing I knew, I was being attacked by three people. One held me by my hair so I couldn’t really move, another punched me repeatedly in the face, and the third tried to grab my purse out of my hand. Somehow I found the strength to fight back and got them off of me long enough to scream my head off for help. Luckily someone heard me and asked if I wanted him to call 911. I said yes, and he told the people assaulting me to run away or they’d get caught by the police. I was so very lucky to walk away with not only my bag, but also minor injuries: only a black eye, some missing hair, and a very sore (almost broken) nose. It could’ve been much worse. Unfortunately this happened right around the corner from my house, so for an entire year I was afraid to walk home alone in the dark. Even to this day, sometimes I cringe when I hear footsteps behind me. Now I feel much more comfortable walking around at night, but I still will purchase one of ROAR‘s products, just in case. It sucks not feeling safe!
I asked Yasmine some questions about ROAR and her skin, of course!
Ariana Page Russell (APR): Please tell me more about ROAR.
Yasmine Mustafa (YM): ROAR is a social impact driven company with the mission of reducing the incidence of assaults against women worldwide. Women are constantly told not to stay out late, walk down certain areas, or go out alone. They’re encouraged to adapt to the expectation of violence, alter their lifestyle, modify their behavior, and to carry a self-defense device to protect themselves. We want to empower women to live life boldly and without fear through safe and fashionable self defense accessories and a mobile application that enables them to be more aware of their environment. For each one purchased, one is donated to a woman in a developing country and long term, to really get to the root of the issue, we’ll use our proceeds to include educational programs to raise awareness of violence against women and promote a culture of respect and consent.
(APR): What inspired you to start it?
(YM): It came about after a series of events that I share on the backstory portion of our site. In short, it began when I decided to travel solo through South America last year. My family and friends were supportive – until I purchased my plane ticket. Most changed their tune afterwards and asked me to reconsider because “women shouldn’t travel alone.” Meeting travelers who altered their lifestyle due to potential threats and repeatedly encountering women who were assaulted at one point in their lives was another. When I came back late last year, one of the top questions I was asked was whether I felt unsafe or if something happened while I away. When I answered no, the main response was “you’re lucky” as if being assaulted or raped as a woman is a way of life. I knew I wanted to do something in the social entrepreneurship space and the catalyst was hearing about a woman that was sexually assaulted a block from the apartment I gave up before my trip. A light bulb went off and the idea for ROAR was born. During my research, I found women were terrified of conventional self-defense tools like mace and taser guns for the feature of being overpowered and used against them. Coupled with the desire to place emphasis on prevention, the complete solution is focused on hardware, software, and educational programs to empower women to feel safer.
(APR): How does it link to skin and health?
(YM): Being healthy physically and mentally is important and we empower women to feel both using technology.
(APR): What do you love about your skin? Loathe about it?
(YM): I’m middle-eastern and have a tan complexion. I love the color and the fact I never burn in the sun. I’m not sure I would say I loathe my skin but one wish is that I didn’t have folliculitis on my thighs or the back of my arms. They’re little bumps caused by blocked hair follicles that don’t look or feel pleasant.
(APR): Has your skin inspired you in any way?
(YM): Sometimes I wish I could lend it out in the summer to my fair-skinned friends who can’t be in the sun too long!
(APR): Thanks Yasmine! Can’t wait to see the new products!
All images courtesy of Yasmine Mustafa