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Not in a country with daunting red tape and restrictions on foreign businesses. Not when Saudi women are barred from attending university, traveling, or marrying without the permission of a father, husband, brother, or son. Certainly not after October, when Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered by Saudi assassins with government ties.
Jennifer Vaughan Maanavi and Tanya Becker aren't average American entrepreneurs. The 47-year-old co-founders of Physique 57, a New York City-based workout chain that caters to wealthy women, decided four years ago to open an outpost in Riyadh, the Saudi Arabian capital. They haven't looked back.
"I'm not political," Maanavi told Inc. editor-at-large Maria Aspan, who traveled to Riyadh for the studio's recent launch party. "Whatever is happening with them politically, it must remain separate from our mission to help empower women." Of course, that's easier said than done. As Aspan writes: "Can any company today really separate its mission from its politics?"
Maanavi and Becker face a serious challenge: How do you build a business--and one with a women's empowerment mantra--in a country known for its restrictions on women? Up until recently, female-only gyms weren't really even legal in Saudi Arabia. You'll have to read the full, fascinating story to find out.
Here's what else I'm reading today:
- Four leadership lessons from powerful fashion entrepreneur Karl Lagerfeld, who passed away on Tuesday at age 85. --Inc.
- The "walk and talk" meeting looks great on television. Turns out, it's hilariously controversial in real life. --The Wall Street Journal
- With a single 10-word tweet, Elon Musk just made a stunning announcement about how he spends his time. --Inc.
- Some Americans are shocked by how much they owe the U.S. Internal Revenue Service this year--especially if they're used to getting tax refunds. --AP
- Your office's newest sensor might be a gunshot detector. --The Wall Street Journal
- Tim Cook is recasting Apple as a slimmed down, Hollywood type. --Inc.
- RIP to another major retailer: Payless has filed for bankruptcy. --Insider
- Tinder has literally changed the lives of Americans by making "So, how did you meet?" stories shorter than ever. --Quartz