Raquel Graham is the founder of Roq Innovation, a business she launched in 2014 after struggling to find a scarf for her kids to wear. Since then, she has been catching global attention by developing solutions to make life easier.
“During the polar vortex, when they were younger, maybe about six years ago, they would not wear scarves,” said Graham of her kids. “They decided that they were bulky and itchy, and if you remember the polar vortex, it was so cold that you had to have every bit of your skin covered, so I went online to see if I could find an alternative, and there was nothing.”
This led her to start Roq Innovation to fill the market gap. She first designed Nekz neck wraps, followed by Headlightz beanies, a set of hats and headbands with removable and rechargeable LED lights inspired by a love for running at night.
“All of my products come from my life, I don’t just think of products out of the blue. It’s usually I’m doing something in my every day and there’s a frustration and then I look to see if there’s a product out there and if there’s no product then I make it,” she said.
In 2020, Graham appeared on ‘Shark Tank’ and left with a deal from two Shark Tank investors who invested $200,000 in her business in exchange for 20% of her company. The deal also included a one-dollar per unit royalty until they recouped $600K, Black Business reported. The deal has paid off, the news outlet said. Graham generated $1.7 million in revenue in 2021 and $1.8 million in revenue in 2022.
The Black woman entrepreneur has appeared on several prestigious platforms for her inventions. She has appeared on Good Morning America to talk about her company. Media mogul Oprah Winfrey has also featured her on her “Oprah’s Favorite Things.”
Before becoming an inventor, Graham worked as an analyst for J.P. Morgan Chase before becoming vice president and head of marketing for Ebony magazine. She earned an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management while working at Ebony.
She later left the magazine to work as a marketing consultant for major brands. Before Roq Innovation, she started a marketing firm ROQ Marketing Group in 2009.