Arts & Entertainment | August 21, 2017 10:42 am

The Businesswoman ‘Too Pretty’ to Be CEO

Former beauty queen Iman Oubou says it’s no accident more men than women receive VC funding.

Iman Oubou
Miss New York 2015 Iman Oubou. (Desiree Navarro/Getty)

Iman Oubou has a stacked resume: A former beauty queen, she was crowned Miss New York U.S. in 2015; she’s also a scientist, with a B.A. in biochemistry and M.S. in biomedical engineering. Now the founder and CEO of SWAAY Media, she told Harper’s Bazaar that male investors refused to take her seriously while she searched for the funds she needed to launch her company.

“I was constantly told that rather than building a company I should instead “use my face” to endorse products or become a beauty influencer,” Oubou recounted. “One particularly brazen potential investor even suggested we complete our deal in his hotel room. Suffice to say, there was no deal that day.”

Oubou noted the irony in the way she was treated, as the purpose of her business is to close the gap between the way men and women professionals are portrayed in the media.

“If there’s anything I took away from pageantry, it’s that rejection should only be motivation to prove others wrong, and that’s exactly what propelled me forward,” Oubou said. “I was told I was “too pretty” to be a CEO, and women are constantly being told they are too [insert adjective] here to succeed, but in the words of Ayn Rand, it’s not who can let us, it’s who can stop us.

“Old guard, meet new guard.”