MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — These are the tools of Turqouya Williams's trade.
"This is pepper spray, and then I also have an alarm here. You can hear it from 600 feet away." The Twin Cities entrepreneur is describing her top accessory, a self-defense keychain dubbed, "Protect the Throne."
As the CEO of Soul Sistas LLC, Williams transitioned from apparel to safety during the pandemic.
"We have coronavirus, but we also have domestic violence going on, we have an uptick in crime, things like that," said Williams.
Now her business is focused on these safety keychains, which contain a Kubaton, a self-defense tool that can be used on pressure points and also to break glass.
"What we aim to do is to provide protection and confidence to women," Williams explained.
Besides selling her products online and at a kiosk at the Mall of America, Williams utilizes mutual aid groups to offer free alarms and keychains to women in domestic violence situations.
"If somebody's barrier to getting something that's going to make them safe is money, then I want to give, you know, that opportunity to someone. So they can be safe ultimately without cost," said Williams.
The product has paid off. Williams says she's heard from women who've successfully used the keychains.
"One went through a really traumatic experience and said you know, 'I don't think I would have maybe lived and I was able to escape', recalled Williams. "So the other person had a very traumatic experience with someone following them to their car and they pulled their alarm and the person ran away."
After spending years working in human services, Williams is thrilled to develop a product to further help women.
"My hope is that you never have to use it, but it's better to have it and never use than to need it and not have it," she said.
Soul Sistas LLC. can be found at the ground level of Mall of America. The kiosk is by the Lululemon store and Urban Outfitters. The keychains retail around $40, but there are more glamourous sets that are $50.
As for the future, Williams hopes to one day take her work with women further by opening up a domestic violence shelter with an emphasis on healing.