Influencer Raisha Williams: independent and unstoppable
Interview January 2020
Could you share with us some information of your family life?
I grew up with my parents as the only child in the house for 10 years. I have a younger brother and an older sister. My parents are still alive and were very supportive of whom I have become today. My father told me, when I was a child, that when I turn 14 years old, just like his parents did to him, I would not be supported by him financially nor materially. I should take care of my self. Meaning that if I would want to finish any advanced study or buy anything, I would need to find a way. My father always told me that I need to have a “fishi” which is something that one is good at, that if anything happens, one can survive.
How did you feel about that?
Well at first it didn’t feel right, I was wondering if my father still loves me. I was looking around me and noticed that all my peers’parents were still supporting their children financially. They bought and pay for everything of their children. But in a certain way, it was a blessing in disguise. This made me sit and think creatively what to do next. I need to say that I am an entrepreneur by nature. Since small, I was thinking of ways to solve problems and earn money. Every weekend I was washing the car of my parents together with my cousin. Getting 10 guilders and splitting it in two. 5 for me and 5 for him. With only 6 years old I was printing sport cars on A4 papers, stand at a table in the “pauze” at school and sell them for 1 guilders, every day. I did also sell customized designed T-shirts at school when I was 8 years old for 6,- guilders. I even customized and printed the gymnastic uniforms for Kolegio Chaya Willems which was the school that I was attending at the moment. It was really a great feeling to see everybody wearing uniforms with my artwork.
While I was preparing for the big day I was doing other things like selling notebooks to students, fixing people bicycles, selling pancakes and much more. With this being said, I encourage everyone to start with what they have, and be patience because success is not a day-night achievement.
Could you share with us some of your educational background?
Sure, after finishing Kolegio Chaya Willems I went to Mgr Zwijsen College for only one year. I had the best grades and where suggested once again to go to a HAVO school. I grab the opportunity and proceed with the second year at Peterstuyvesant College. I also did great that year and were offered to go to VWO which is the highest level of education of my age. Guess what I also took that challenge and did great. I have finalized my degree with honors in IT at Maria Immaculate Lyceum. At this moment I am finalizing my study of Business Information System at the University of Curaçao.
Could you share with us some of your past professional experiences as we know that you are a busy person?
Since young, I was very active in a lot of organizations. I was involved in a lot of sports organizations like BMX and mountain bike teams, girl soccer, gymnastics, judo, karate and much more. I was also active in art organization as an actor in different types of short films, I was wearing as a clown to entertain children and played in several music bands of all types.
When I was about to turn 14 years old, I felt blessed I suddenly got a lot of great offers based on the things I was doing at that moment. It was that time that I got the offer to work at Betterdeals as a Web developer. I was the youngest employee in the company. During my 3rd year at the university, I have also got the opportunity to be involved in the creation of the voting software for the election of Hoben Goberna. As part of my study, it is required that every student does an internship in order to put what they have learned into practice. For my internship, I could build a software for the HR department of BearingPoint in order for them to administrate the knowledge base of their employees. That was also a success. I was always busy seeking for new challenges, and ways to learn new things in order to improve the community.
How did you got involved in repairing Blackberries?
I always had something for technology in all sense. My father had a BlackBerry Bold which at that time had a trackball that used to get stuck. So one afternoon while he was sleeping in his lunch break, I opened his BlackBerry with the intention to fix the trackball for him out of kindness. With a special screwdriver, that I always asked him about their uses. I never got the answer, so I tried it out on his BlackBerry and I beware and behold I found out, that I could open his BlackBerry.
This was done under a lot of pressure because I needed to have his BlackBerry fixed and up and running before or by the time he woke up to go back to work. Well, I was not able to make that in time. My dad was kind of a little pissed off, not pleased and went to work. He told me that his phone needs to be fixed, in one way or the other. It took me a lot of time and effort but I was able to fix it. All this was self taught, with a little help from YouTube.
What were your first experiences in selling telephones?
With the anxiety of being able to cover my own expenses by the age of 14, I was pondering about what to do next. It is in that period that someone asked me for advice to help him choose a new phone to buy. He wasn’t interested in blackberry.
I showed him some phone models and recommend him based on his requirements and interest. All this was done through MSN Messenger. Something went completely wrong, as he ordered a black phone and I received a red-colored one. He didn’t want it, because he didn’t order that color. So I went back to the client to take the phone in order to be able to return it to the international company. When I took the phone, I went to an art training and put the phone on the table in order to practice. Well by the time the training was finished the phone was gone. Someone stole it. It was around that time that I have started working at Betterdeals and got my first ever salary. I have refunded my client with my salary, for the stolen phone that he didn’t want anyways because of the wrong color. What a bit of luck…
I didn’t let that discourage me, I started to sell phones that people would order. Regardless of all the people around me that suggested me differently. This is how I have started Raisha Store with the knowledge and experience of repairing phones and with the ability to recommend and help people choose their desired phone.
How did you manage Raisha Store?
Well during that period I only got good reactions from my customers. They were very happy and surprised that a young girl of 14 years old could fix their phones. Raisha Store was a success.
I was so passionate, I really wanted to buy my own car, “cash” before I turned 18 years old. #loan-free.
This dream also came trough. I bought my first new car “cash” when I was 17 years old, thus not old enough for a driving license. So I was not able to drive. The car stayed in the garage for almost a year before I got my driving license. Then I wanted to buy another car that I would use for rental purposes.
Why did you want your own car so young?
Well, I wanted to be independent. As a youngster, you are a little bit dependent on your parents to drive you to your activities. My grandmother had a car and some of my cousins that were older than me always wanted to borrow her car as she didn’t need it every day. And as you know when you are young and you want to move around, if you don’t have a car, it is a challenge. But my grandmother would agree that they could borrow her car, let us say on Thursday. When Thursday arrives she starts back-peddling, because supposedly something else came up.
Well, this was frustrating for my cousins. They always needed to cancel their plans, because they didn’t had a car. So that is when I decided for myself that I wanted to be independent. As I have mentioned before, I was always a busy person with a packed schedule and a lot of activities, I couldn’t afford not to have mobility.
After I bought my first car I really wanted to give other people the same mobility like me.
How was your experience of buying your first car?
Buying my first car was a story on itself.
Because I had a goal, my father once picked me up to show me a car that he thinks fits me well.
After talking to the sales representative, I went back home and told some other family members about my plan. Their reaction was like, why are you rushing? You are not even 18 years old yet. You can wait.
Well from a young age I always followed my dreams and believed in myself. But that particular time I felt a bit broken but kept looking for car options. I found another option and asked my father to do a test drive for me. The test drive went smooth said my father. We came home and I told the other my family members and showed them pictures. Now the remark was that the color of the car is too catchy. Well, the 3rd time I went on my own, checked the car bought it and then called my parents to pick me up, where I was. I mean, you learn after a few experiences…
How did you start your car rental business?
I have accumulated lots of business experiences over the years. With the savings of my first business, I could finance my second business. The car rental business really took off.
One day an old client of Raisha Store asked me if I knew someone that rent cars because his car just broke down and he needed to take it to the garage. Well, my answer was: Yes I Do, I also rent cars. I had to rush to finalize all the formalities. That time I only knew how to start the car and add gas. But my courage is everything.
That is how I have started RW Rental, which is my car rental company.
How many businesses do you have?
At this moment I have 4 companies which are Raisha Store, RW Rental, PAD39A and SocialMe.
Raisha Store is all about selling and repairing of phones, computers and tablets.
RW Rental is the car rental company.
PAD39A is a software development and software testing company, and SocialMe is all about designing, video editing and social media marketing.
You are a very active person, run four companies, thus you are a serial entrepreneur, but you are also a JCI member involved in leadership development representing an upcoming generation. You are a person that is above average compared with your peers. We consider you an Influencer, because you are an exception in your age group. Where did this come from?
You are right, I have a lot of drive. I am a member of JCI Creative Leader in Curaçao , I am currently holding the board position of treasurer this year. JCI offers different personal development opportunities and it also represents a network of youngsters who are involved in creating meaningful impact in our society. It is a platform of like-minded people and with my skills and the opportunity to further develop them, I can impact our society. This drive, I guess is something I have inside of me and my father was very supportive in triggering this, as he would always tell me to take my destiny into my own hands, as this is my own responsibility.
What are your personal goals?
One of my personal goals is to have financial freedom by the age of 35. When I am 35 years old, I don’t need to work anymore.
I will be in good health condition in order to enjoy life even more. I will be financially independent, surrounded by people I love and that loves me.
My goal for the near future is to be able to buy my first house by the age of 25, cash. In other words, without a loan. #debt-free.
Where did that artistic part of you come from?
My father once came back from a trip from Cuba and brought me a “Cuatro” and after becoming a little bit frustrated that I couldn’t make music out of it, I started to go to music lessons. I played in Junior All-Star band directed by Fecco Gomez for years. I also got interest in other musical instruments and started to play the bass, guitar and trombone. I always loved acting. I have been an actor for several roles as part of the group called Pispein of Albert Schoobaar. Yes, I have a busy life and I am trying to manage all these activities in an organized manner.
When did you start your first company and what is its name?
When I was 14 years old I started “Raisha store”, which most people know me from.
Lots of people were really surprised that a girl could fix their phone. That made me very well-known and liked on the island. I mean… for some people their phone is their life.
What does success means to you personally? And what does success means business wise?
Personal success is every time that I am able to touch a life positively. When I can positively impact people and motivates them to be a better version of themselves. Business success is when I am able to serve my clients, and as make them happy.
What is your BIG WHY or driving motivation to be who you are right now?
To be a living example and an inspiration to the youngsters.
What are the challenges that you are dealing with? And how are you dealing with these different challenges you confront?
Every day is a challenge, I always make a way to balance and make the best out of the day.
I am very open-minded. If something happens unexpectedly and requires me to change my schedule I most of the time mange to do both the scheduled events and the extra ones. I always manage to deal with situations and have a very positive mindset. No job to big, no job to small.
Are you feeling any effect of the economy right now?
I never discuss the economy with people, I believe that I create my own reality and my own success.
Do you use your inner voice to evaluate when dilemma’s show up? How does that work for you?
Yes, I use it a lot and if I don’t, it haunts me ..like telling me “I told you so”. I never dream, but when I dream, it is a premonition that something is about to happen. My intuition is very accurate. I can feel and sense things that other people can’t. I often get signs from above, that guide me through my decisions.
How are you trying also to keep up with your personal knowledge and skill levels?
I don’t have vacation. Every hour that I am free I use it, to learn new things online. I never watch TV, unless I really need to.
What are your strengths?
I am a good communicator, I can communicate with people of all races, level or origins.
I have lots of patience, I am trustworthy and I am also very result-oriented.
I have a lot of perseverance and never give up. I always say “..it’s always too early to quit..”.
What is a trait that is “work in progress” for you and that you really want to improve?
Drink more water and be more conscious of what I eat. In other words, eat according to what my body allows me to eat. That way I can hopefully improve my health and reduce my allergy reactions.
Do you have hobbies or interests that you are also passionate about?
I love to play music and love acting, I like photography and videography.
I also like to enjoy nature and is always curious about how the human brain works.
I like so many things that what I don’t like would be an easier question to answer.
And what is that?
I don’t like combing my hair.
If you as Raisha would meet a stranger in the bus (let say in Puerto Rico Holland or the US) and they would ask you to introduce yourself what would you answer?
Depends really on the situation, I am very humble and don’t like to showcase all my potential at once. I would mostly let the other person do their talking first, after mentioning my name.
How would you describe Raisha in one word or one sentence?
Talented, independent, amazing girl with good vibes and sparkles.
Whom are the persons that have inspired you the most in your career?
My father, he would always tell me to be consistent and specific in what I do.
Other things that my father has taught me were to use my time wisely and effectively, to treat every moment as the only moment in time because it will never ever come back again and to do the right thing because its right.
What was a defining moment in your life?
I don’t really have a specific defining moment in my life which…not even when I turned 14th years old. I have a very positive way of thinking and looking at life, that may be the reason that I don’t have one specific defining moment.
Where do you want to be 15 years from now with your life?
Probably in Beverly Hills, I planned for my 35th years as mentioned above. But I definitely think that it will be filled with great experiences and enjoyments.
What would you want your Loved Ones, family, friends and others to say about you let’s say 20 years from now?
Raïsha is a wonderful person.
What makes you stay optimistic about the future of Curaçao?
We have lots of talented youngsters, I believe that life is yin yang their is the same amount of good in the bad and the same amount of bad in the good. It is time that we spread and focus on the good things that are happening around us. We need to trigger a creative mindset instead of a victim mindset. And trust me this is already happening.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
As a serial entrepreneur, I love to look for opportunities in the market and in that sense contribute to the whole of the society. I love being out of my comfort zone. I would like to encourage all youngsters to set goals and work towards it.
If I have inspired you in some way, and you would like to hear more about me and my actions feel free to contact me at +5999 697-7690
One of the 250 Influencers of Curaçao
Raisha Williams is a multi-talented entrepreneur, who has an independent mindset and an unstoppable drive. Triggered when she was 14 years old by her father to look for ways and means to finance her own advance studies, has inspired her to become now at age 24 year an owner of different businesses. Her innate eye for business opportunities and a creative business mindset, has been the reason for her early successes as a businesswoman, adding value to the society at large by offering services to make things go more smoothly for her clients. Raisha has always been curious and has always worked towards developing her skills and knowledge, now still as an UoC student, while running her businesses, but also through her extra-curricular activities like being a musician and actor. She also adds value to the society at large as a member and treasurer of JCI helps her develop her leadership skills at the one hand and with this network of youngsters in JCI at the other hand, she creates meaningful impact in our society. We deeply respect and love Raisha, whom as a representative of the business sector we will hear more from her in the coming years. We consider her as a worthy representative of a young breed of entrepreneurs and a representative of the business sector and one of the 250 Influencers of Curaçao.