Entrepreneurship, General troublemaking, Healthy Living, Professional Growth

30 Day Challenge: My Morning Routine

Since launching IMBY, I have been writing for lots of blogs, contributing content for the IMBY blog, and focusing on business operations. And where does that leave this blog, my place for personal thoughts and exploration? Unfortunately I haven’t been showing much love here.

Instead of focusing on ethical fashion on this blog, I will now be featuring more content on the technical side of that topic over on IMBY’s blog. Here I will be focusing on my personal journey with ethical fashion, with capsule wardrobes, and as an entrepreneur striving to use business for societal change.

My last post (though awhile ago!) was on my new years resolutions, and one of them was to create a morning routine. Lately I have been experiencing the opposite of everything I strive for in a morning: wake up, check my emails, scroll through Instagram, watch tv, stay in bed answering emails. Where does it leave me? Starting off my day with clutter, a mess of a mindset, and ultimately less energy.
So, starting tomorrow I am committing to a new, energizing morning routine. Here’s what I landed on, starting from when I wake up:

  • 10 minutes of journaling
  • 10 minutes of yoga
  • 10 minutes of meditation
  • Get dressed from my capsule wardrobe (yes, I started my own! I will fill you in more on that later)
  • Drink a glass of hot water with lemon
  • Eat breakfast: Avocado toast, eggs, or smoothie
I anticipate this will take me about an hour each morning, and I am excited to start each morning with reflection, movement, and healthy eating. I also decided that if, for some reason, I don’t have time to do it all, I will still journal and meditate, even if it’s just 5 minutes of each (but those are for the rare exception days!).
I also set some ground rules for myself:

  • No phone near my bed
  • Wake up by 8am every week day
  • No tv when I go to sleep or wake up
  • No checking email until my morning routine is done

I am excited to kick this off! Who else out there has committed to a specific morning routine? What have you learned? What has worked best?

Healthy Living, My favorite things

Why I love selling tahini

Something you may not know about me: at night I moonlight as a tahini saleswoman.

Okay, that’s a gross exaggeration. But I have now helped out the fabulous women at Soom Foods sell their products on two occasions, and both times I have had a blast. I like to help them for a few reasons:

  1. Soom Foods was founded by three sisters, one of whom is my former boss, mentor, and dear friend, and consequently have grown to love the other Soom sisters.
  2. I truly believe it’s the best tahini you can buy in the USA.
  3. It aligns with my values of healthy, clean eating (if you don’t know, tahini is made from sesame seeds, a super food with wonderful health properties such as lots of protein, calcium, iron, and omega 3-fatty acids).

And their product sells itself, because it’s that good. It’s healthy, delicious, and inarguably something you need to have in your pantry if you are dedicated to that lifestyle.

Today it became obvious to me the reason why I love helping them selling their products:

You stop “selling,” and start inspiring, when you are selling something you believe in.

This sentiment extends well beyond the sale of tahini. It extends into the work we do and the things we love. Work no longer acts as “work” when it’s something you love, something you believe in. When you are working for a product, service, organization, or otherwise that you must share it with other people, that it beings you joy or excitement to spread the gospel, and that you genuinely believe in, things are different.

Let’s work towards finding that thing. Because time is precious, and your talents are not worth spending on anything that is otherwise.


General troublemaking, Healthy Living, My favorite things

Returning to Local

One of the more disappointing first-world moments of my life was when I asked a person in Switzerland what their best and most famous chocolate was, and he said Lindt. “LINDT?!,” I thought, “the one that I get at CVS back in New York?” Unfortunately, that was one of my many rude awakenings as a travel seeking to experience the best of “local” life. I am fortunate to live in a city where I have access to the world at my fingertips, but it makes traveling sometimes quite the bummer. Lately it seems that as the world grows more connected, the less we are able to really appreciate the novelty of traveling to a new place, experiencing a new culture, and tasting a type of food we’ve never tasted before.

I find it interesting that after years of globalization, at the all time high (and perpetually growing) level of global connectedness, many are now seeing a shift back to the importance of shopping and eating local. People are interested in knowing the source of their produce and proteins. Many people care about where the fabric for our clothes came from, and who made it. Websites such as madeclose focus on just that— helping individuals gain access to where their purchases are coming from. The new CUPS app here in NY aims to have New Yorkers frequent small, independent coffee shops, shifting the focus away from ever-present Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. Grub Street wrote a fabulous article a few months ago about why you should not eat at the new Dairy Queen that just opened in NYC. My friend Kristin of Seamly.co just made the decision to only source fabrics made in the USA or Canada so that she can trace back their origins.

With the world becoming increasingly transparent, it is important to many people, including some of the worlds most dominant troublemakers, to buy local and understand the ecosystem our food, clothing, and the like exist in. We no longer have the luxury (excuse?) of ignorance. It’s something I aim to be consistently cognizant of– stay tuned to learn more about my sustainable fashion challenge– and I am curious to hear what you have to say.

Do you go out of your way to support local businesses? If not, is there something in particular that is stopping you?

Healthy Living, Professional Growth, Social Innovation

More Than Just the View


I recently returned from a ten-day trip to Peru. It was an amazing experience, one that challenged me in new ways and exposed me to a new part of the world I had yet to explore, South America, with two close friends.

As you can probably imagine, one of the highlights of our trip was the hiking. Pressed for time (we are all working gals with limited vacation days!) we hiked the one-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (8 miles) and the following day hiked Wanyapicchu, a steep mountain right next to Machu Picchu. While I do enjoy hiking, I certainly cannot call myself a pro, and didn’t quite know what to expect from these two hikes. I was nervous and unsure, but excited to see where the trails would take us.

Despite the hikes being difficult in some sections, I was told by many people that the hikes were

Totally worth the view.

It’s easy to think that the summit of a hike, or a mountain, is the moment that makes it all worth it. As you stand triumphantly over the ground you have just conquered, taking in an exceptional view of the world below, there is an incredible rush of satisfaction and accomplishment. I certainly felt that at the top. But in Peru, I realized that the journey up the mountain was more transformative than simply being at the top. It’s navigating the unsteady rocks, pushing through mental and physical exhaustion, and encouraging your comrades during the hike that define you and push you past your limits. It’s about the shaky feeling in your legs you get as you descend and the people you meet along the way who you exchange stories with. Those are the moments that define you, that guide you moving forward.

There are many things that may stop you along your way. For us, the altitude made it hard for us to breathe, it was raining and the rocks were slippery. There is often a fear of getting hurt, or a fear of failure. I realized that appreciating the challenges made the successes even more rewarding. The easy way is never quite as fun.

Hiking the Inca Trail and Wanyapicchu gave me perspective on my work both as an entrepreneur and with entrepreneurs. Individuals (myself included) may see the rocky, slippery, and sometimes flat-out dangerous path up as simply obstacles to overcome in order to accomplish their goal of seeing the view. But aren’t the challenges the fun part? Entrepreneurship not just about building a product or service that allows you to sit back, drink a pisco sour, and enjoy the view; it’s about the climb. It’s about the times when you feel like you just can’t continue, you need to stop and catch your breath, or when you feel stronger than ever and are able to encourage your team members to power through. It’s about the moments when your legs are shaky and you aren’t sure that your next step will be a successful one. And of course it’s about those moments when you ultimately summit, when you get to look down below at the world beneath you and see all that you have accomplished. It’s the culmination of the hike and the summit that make life interesting, and work as an entrepreneur exciting. If you aren’t interested in the climb as an entrepreneur, you’re in the wrong field.

I don’t want to live in a world where I am always on top of the mountains. I want to push myself to be constantly climbing, catching my breath, and figuring out which rock to step on next. As I settle back into my NYC life, I strive to keep these lessons learned in mind, reminding myself that the challenges are often the most rewarding part of an endeavor.

General troublemaking, Healthy Living, Social Innovation

Sorry I’m Not Sorry

Lately I feel that I’m often on the defensive about my lifestyle choices. I am seen as extreme for making a conscious choice to eat real, clean foods that have no preservatives/additives, choosing to consume socially responsible goods, and being conscious about how I treat myself and the world.

My friends, family, colleagues think I am judging them for eating oreos (yum) and shopping at Forever 21. Well, friends, I am not judging you. I am not a judge-y person. Rather, I am judging the world we live in. I don’t blame people for eating foods packed with chemicals or buying clothes that are in no way a benefit to the world because that’s the norm, the status quo. It is really, really hard to avoid those things (and I spend a lot of time figuring out how to do that– more coming soon!). But it shouldn’t be that way. I will not accept that the world and the country I live in is flawed and nearly forcing us to consume products that aren’t acceptable, I will make trouble until I feel I am living in a world that I want to leave for my kids and grandkids and grand-grand-grand(x10) kids.

So I wanted to say:

Sorry I’m not sorry.

I am not going to apologize for being my “extreme” self. I’m not apologizing for thinking that consuming junk and things that are bad for my body and bad for the world is ridiculous or extreme. And I’m not sorry for pointing it out to you so you can make conscious decisions; not to make you feel bad, but to point out that we DON’T have to stand for the crap that is in the supermarket or the department store. And we won’t make change until enough people aren’t sorry either.

Even writing this, I sound extreme. I see it, I am reading it. But I don’t understand why it has to be that way. Why are we considered extreme if we just want basic, normal, sustainable things that won’t destroy our bodies or the planet? What a radical idea!

I keep thinking about this quote from Steve Jobs that we use in our visioning seminar at PresenTense. He says:

When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.

This quote has, in fact, changed my viewpoint on the world. It’s so true. The things that frustrate me are completely man-made, and not any more real than anything else, than my opinions or the things I want to make or consume. Right? So if man had the right to add chemicals to my food, to employ kids in sweatshops to make my clothes, to damage the environment by the amount of pollution and waste we produce, and more, I have the right to disagree with that. So I am. Sue me.

Sorry I am not sorry for caring. And I am not sorry for causing trouble on issues I care about. And you shouldn’t be either.

Healthy Living

DIY Recipes: Because Who Wants to Consume Chemicals?

One thing that troubles me most is the amount of junk in our foods. Seriously, there are so many chemicals and preservatives in our foods that they are literally making us fat and sick. Some of these additives are so bad for you they are even banned in other countries (WHAT?! yeah, disturbing, right?).

Since I have become more conscious of the food I consume and how it affects my body, I have been paying careful attention to the ingredients of what I buy. Even better, I have been causing trouble by making my own, healthier versions of every day “essentials.”

DIY 1: Almond Milk (paleo, whole30)
I have recently become pretty obsessed with almond milk, thanks to my strong disbelief in soy products and the desire to avoid excessive dairy. I even use this stuff in my homemade lattes— just dump it straight into my nespresso and within a couple minutes I have almondy-latte goodness.

This is so easy. All you need to do is:

  1. Soak 1/2c of almonds overnight in water (I just fill up a mason jar and put them in there).
  2. Drain almonds, give them a good rinse
  3. Add 1c fresh water + almonds to a blender and give it a good whirl. I normally will let it go for about 45 seconds, give it a break, and then another round of 45 seconds.
  4. Strain your new mixture using a cheese cloth (good to make sure it’s at least doubled up) or using a nut milk bag (OMG I can’t wait to get one of these).
  5. ENJOY! Keep refrigerated. People say it lasts about 3 days, but I normally finish mine in that time, so I haven’t seen it go bad.

If you want to add some flavor, feel free to add some vanilla bean, blend in some dates for sweetness, and sometimes I add a hint of cinnamon to my lattes. That wasn’t so bad, was it? Let’s carry on.

DIY 2: Mayonnaise (paleo, whole30)
I started making my own mayo when I did the whole30, and I don’t know why people don’t do this more. It takes literally 2 minutes and it is so much better than store bought, and so much healthier!

  1. Add 1/2c olive oil (light, not extra virgin), 1 egg, and a pinch of salt into a bowl (sometimes I also add about a teaspoon of dijon mustard)
  2. Stick an immersion blender (if you don’t have one, I highly recommend, especially if you like making soup!) into your mixture and turn that baby on. Leave it in there for 30 seconds and watch in amazement as mayo appears before your little troublemaking eyes.
  3. Enjoy on sandwiches, make your own chicken salad, or use however else you use mayo!

DIY 3: Chocolate Syrup (paleo if made with honey)
I am not going to lie— I love chocolate. And I love chocolate milk. And mocha lattes. Pre-whole30 I drank chocolate milk after every work out. I need to get back to that, but I am trying to reduce sugar. The point is, if you are going to consume chocolate syrup, make it yourself! SO delicious and no junk, and it lasts for months.

  1. Add these ingredients to a pot: ½c cocoa powder, 1c water, 2c sugar (I have used honey and agave instead as well), pinch of salt, 1/4tsp of vanilla
  2. Let pot boil.
  3. Store in fridge, and savor every moment.

DIY 4: Granola Bars (gluten free, dairy free if dark chocolate is used, soy free, paleo without substitutions/exceptions noted)
I love granola bars, but so often they are chock full of stuff I have never heard of. Why do I need soy protein isolate (which actually triggers my migraines) in a granola bar? The gig’s up, Quaker, these trouble maker does it herself.IMG_2858

  1. Add any types of nuts and seeds you like to a baking dish along with 2 cups oats, and toast them in the oven on 350 for 5 minutes. I generally use pecans or almonds, pepitas (spicy are good!), sunflower seeds. Feel free to add those extra healthy ones like flax and chia seeds too! You should have about 2 cups total of the nuts. You could even make these without oats if you are paleo.
  2. While those are hanging out in the oven, mix up the following in a pot and bring to a boil, then turn off: 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup honey, dash of salt, dash of vanilla, dash of cinnamon (optional). Sub more honey for the brown sugar if you are paleo.
  3. When both are ready, mix it up! At this point I also like to add chocolate chips and they melt through, so you only need about 1/4 cup or less. But that’s optional too!
  4. Spread evenly on baking pan on top of wax paper, bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Have you noticed something here? All these recipes are super fast, and super delicious, and, dare I say, much better for you. I am not saying to eat mayo and chocolate syrup at every meal, but I do feel strongly that it’s worth doing some of these DIY for products you consume anyways because they don’t contain all the gunk you’d be contaminating your body with. Not to mention they all taste EXPONENTIALLY better and might even save you some cash. Everyone wins!

Let me know what you make, and how it turns out. Or what products you DIY/want me to figure out a recipe for. Let’s cause some necessary trouble to the food industry by refusing to consume the junk they are trying to feed us.

General troublemaking, Healthy Living

What I learned from a month of just being me

On December 31, I was running around like a lunatic. Doing my nails, finishing up work, writing down my resolutions and texting people to figure out plans, all in hopes of starting 2014 right. 2014, I decided, would be my year. 2012 was one of the most tumultuous of my life, 2013 was a year of recovery and growth, and 2014 was devoted to achieving extraordinary things. I was determined, and I was determined to wrap up all of the loose ends of 2013 on December 31 so that nothing could hold me back and I could start the year off running.

I woke up on January 1 feeling great. Ready to take on the world. So I did. I started gathering recipes and making plans for my Whole30 challenge that I was to start the next day. I went to two different grocery stores to get my ingredients, and prepped for hours. And I was off. Ready to take on the world, one Larabar at a time.

I also started making a plan to take on 2014. First were my resolutions:

  1. Hone my skills in branding and graphic design
  2. Continue to buy at most one item of clothing/shoes/accessory per month
  3. Make my bed every day
  4. 1second everyday video
  5. Do one thing I would never have expected myself to do
  6. Make a new recipe 1x/week
  7. Start a blog, update it at least 1x/week (oh, hey!)
  8. Take on a task or project that I am scared about/challenges me
  9. Be financially confident
  10. Try on no more than two outfits in the morning, put away clothes at night

Then the things to always keep in mind:

  1. Open myself to new experiences
  2. Be mindful of what I eat, how I treat my body, how I treat others and how I treat the world
  3. Put out in the world what I want to get back
  4. Invest in mutually beneficial relationships
  5. There is no such thing as “should”
  6. Do things that make me happy, avoid the others whenever possible (recognizing that it’s not always possible)

I reminded myself of all these things for a month, and proved to myself that I am capable of taking on the world. I trained with my personal trainer, stuck out all 30 days of the Whole30 (okay fine, I have three more meals!), cooked dozens of meals, kept organized with my work schedule and personal schedule, contributed as a member of a startup team, had a weeklong successful work trip to Miami, didn’t have a sip of alcohol (because of the Whole30!), took a Skillshare class, found a new office for my team, and took on my first branding client. I made sure to keep in touch with friends and to filter out the energy I didn’t need around me. I avoided dating so that I could focus on myself and what makes me happy without the distraction of adjusting to someone else’s needs. I spent time with family. I booked a trip to Peru for April. I started implementing Friday “personal workdays” where I can focus on tasks and projects I am working on outside of my job description (I am fortunate to work a four-day work week at my day job!). Overall, I got things done.

January was one of the most productive and empowering months of my life, and I believe it was all about the framing. I went into 2014 with a positive, can-do, ready to take on the world attitude. And that’s what I did. I believe you can do the same if you set goals and actually believe you can.

I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next 11 for me and all you troublemakers. Let’s make 2014 a year of productivity towards ourselves and the world. Are you in?

General troublemaking, Healthy Living

“I could NEVER do that!”

It is so interesting how many people have started their sentences with “I can’t” and “I could never” in response to my Whole30 detox. Mostly:

I could NEVER live without chocolate!

My response:

Actually, you CAN! You will live if you don’t eat chocolate for 30 days. Isn’t that crazy?

Okay, so I know that perhaps I am already more health conscious than others, but doing the Whole30 just ain’t that bad. Yes, it requires planning. A lot of it. And it also requires a lot of time in grocery stories and cooking in the kitchen. But what you end up with is 30 days of pure, whole, real food. It’s empowering to know you CAN live without pasta, cheese and chocolate (I know, that isn’t easy). It’s empowering to know you can control your eating habits and not being influenced by others who are tempting you with mac and cheese goodness.

The “I can’t” phenomenon I’ve observed isn’t just around eating. I hear it about careers (“this is my dream job but I don’t have the perfect background, so I can’t apply”) and dating (“I can’t bring up if we are exclusive, it’s too scary, what if he ends it?”) and fitness as well (“I could never run a marathon), among others. And I am not claiming to be immune from it either.

By living in a mindset of “I can’t,” I feel we are holding ourselves back and not letting ourselves reach our highest potential. We need to constantly be challenging ourselves, and pushing ourselves to the limit to achieve our goals and inspire others to do so as well. One of my 2014 goals is to take on a project that challenges and even scares me (more on all my 2014 goals coming soon!). I challenge you to do the same. To take on a project at work, a new healthy lifestyle, a fitness class, or something educational that you have wanted to try but some part of you is holding back.

My personal trainer told me a few weeks ago,

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

My troublemakers, how can we cause necessary trouble if we aren’t willing to take on big challenges ourselves? By resisting chocolate for 30 days (and trust me, that’s no easy feat for myself), I am empowering myself to tackle real challenges, to know I am capable of doing things that used to be my “I can’t”s. And to me, that’s an “I can.” How are you going to challenge yourself in the next week, month, and year?