From Engineer To Globe-Trotting Pole Artist: Meet, Nadia Sharif

The dream of turning a passion into a career is one many of us share, but the ability to turn that dream into a reality is the turning point that separates dreamers from entrepreneurs. There is no one path to entrepreneurial success and here at The Scope, we want to share the unique stories of the bad ass people creating their own definitions of success and the journeys they took to get where they are today. We start with Nadia Sharif.

Source:  @thenadia33

Source: @thenadia33

Nadia Sharif is an engineer turned professional pole dancer turned designer and business owner. She left her 9-to-5 engineering job to pursue a career as a professional pole and movement artist and is renowned around the world as one of the best at her craft. She’s traveled the globe competing in (and ultimately judging) competitions, appeared in music videos for Diplo and danced on stage with Snoop Dogg; but her dance career didn’t start in a studio or in a club. It started when she went to Home Depot, turned a metal pipe into a makeshift pole and started teaching herself moves she’d seen on YouTube in her bedroom. If you’ve had the privilege of seeing Nadia perform live like I have, then you know she is a truly gifted performer and dancer.

Over the years her pole career has evolved into a thriving clothing line and online business. Twisted Movement is where Nadia’s love for pole and dance fashion collide. She creates her intricate and head-turning designs by hand (yes, she made all of the looks in the pictures throughout this article by hand) and provides them to and helps empower her international community of pole enthusiasts and followers. In this interview, Nadia shares a few lessons she’s learned along the way in building her business and her plans for the future.

How would you define yourself/your business (self-employed, freelance, solopreneur, small business owner)?

Creative artist that has turned my passion into a career.

How long have you been operating your independent business?

1-2 years. Started getting legit 1 year ago.

What prompted you to branch out on your own? Did you have an aha moment?

It was a small organic growth that came from me satisfying my own need and people liked what I was doing.

What experience in your field did you have before you started your business?

Zero. My goal is we always to be an inventor so creation was always a part of my life.

If you had a 9-to-5 before you started your business, what was it?

An engineering job. It was demanding and not the type of projects I wanted to be on. I do love engineering but my careers project, hours, and lifestyle were not right for me.

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I’m a gambler and I have fear all the time. But big outcomes don’t come without risk.

Did you ever experience doubt before starting or during the early days of your business? If so, how did you overcome it?

I’m a gambler and I have fear all the time. But big outcomes don’t come without risk.

What was the biggest lesson you learned from your first year of operation?

That I can’t do it alone and I need help. I’ve hired my friends with expertise to help me in different areas.

How would you compare your first year to where you are now?

Things are much more streamlined now. I had to put a lot more processes in place. When I first started everything was manual. For instance, now I print shipping labels at home instead of waiting in line at the post office.

How have you used social media to help grow your business?

My business relies heavily on social media. That’s where people follow me as an aerial athlete and where I first gained a following. My fans have followed me from my days of only being a pole dance artist to now being a business owner.

What is the most important tool that you use for your business (Instagram, your camera, calendar, etc.)?

My cell phone and IG. We do a lot of photo shoots using just my cell phone.

What key milestones helped shape your business? Are you most proud of?

Hiring my closest friends to help me and support me along the way. I couldn’t have done this without them. They are my models, my web designers, my creative director and more. Shout out to Mina Mechanic, Veronica Nichols and BAM Web Management. They have become part of my brand.

What piece of advice would you give aspiring creatives to start their independent businesses?

Invest in yourself and take the risk. It’s worth it.

Looking to the future, what excites you most about your business and what can we expect to see from you?

My next move is opening a physical space to create, imagine, and play.