Hi! I'm Aniyia. Keep scrolling to read my story.
HOW WE GOT HERE | MY STORY
Part 1: All in the Family
Say it like “Anita” without the “T”.
I'm a creator. I love to solve problems and improve the world around me using my various talents. People describe me as "the one who can do anything" -- I'm incredibly resourceful, quick-learning, and always up for a challenge.
But I’ve had a lot of practice. I grew up in a business, working since I was about 5 years old in a cosmetology school and three hair salons owned by my family.
I did everything from cleaning up hair, to handing out flyers at hair shows, to answering phones and taking appointments… all before the age of 12.
When my family sold their business, my skills were honed further during summers with my grandmother who has a doctor’s degree in business and accountant certifications. I shadowed her on appointments with clients, helping with tax reconciliations, school accreditations and more. These experiences were vital in shaping me into who I am today.
Part 2: Everything is Music
Alongside being immersed in the world of business, I’ve always been drawn to music, and pretty much anything that involved making things: sewing, crafts, cooking, and so on.
In middle school, I joined my first choir and never looked back. Music became my passion and focus throughout the rest of my time in school. I began formal training in classical voice as a teen at a performing arts high school while also learning Italian.
This culminated with me studying Music, Business and Italian in college, while also doing musicals, opera theatre and diversity work through student government.
I realized during these years that singing would always have a special place in my life, but I didn’t plan to make my living that way. Instead, I applied my skills to work in major gifts fundraising for arts nonprofits in the DC metro area.
Part 3: Cutting My Teeth
Moving to DC after college also brought me love. I met the guy who would become my husband through a family friend, Marco Rogers. He was a web developer who exposed me to the world of tech. A few years later, when he was recruited to become an engineer at a startup in San Francisco, we moved west.
I quit my job in fundraising in hopes that this move might bring me opportunities to find my own role in tech, or to start my own business. In a few months, I landed at a startup called Voxer.
During the years I worked there, I made my way up from office manager to customer support, community management, business development, to marketing. I was the Head of Marketing when I had an idea that I just had to pursue.
It was for an audio accessory that doubles as a beautiful piece of jewelry. I left my leadership role at Voxer to create it, starting Tinsel in response to the lack of tech products designed with women in mind.
Part 4: Believing, Taking Action & Becoming
With no previous experience building consumer electronics, I was able to create the world’s first audio necklace, and one of the first fashion brands for consumer electronics. It’s one of my proudest achievements and made me into a U.S. inventor.
I had my daughter, Noemi Rose, during this journey (who made a mark on the world from the day she was born!) but there was no slowing me down. I learned a lot. Most importantly, the experience was critical in leading me to understanding the serious inequities and challenges that exist for women and people of color in tech.
There are incredible barriers for us to compete in the industry, but I believe that it offers a great opportunity to create economic change for underserved communities. I’ve since committed to doing my part in trying to change the system that perpetuates issues of oppression and discrimination.
This led me to start Black & Brown Founders, where I spend most of my time these days, working to provide resources and access to Black and Latinx entrepreneurs in tech. It also led me to become a co-founder of Zebras Unite, which calls for more ethical and inclusive practices in startups and venture capital.