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
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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?

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Entrepreneurship, General troublemaking, Professional Growth, Sustainable Living

2016 Resolutions

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As 2015 comes to a close, I recently took some time to reflect on one of the most momentous years of my life. I started 2015 by moving into my own apartment for the first time. Five months later I moved out, and in the process, started looking for a new job. I quickly realized I had the opportunity that I had always wanted: to start my own company. Since then, my life has been truly focused around IMBY, creating an accessible option for ethically-made fashion.

When I think of 2016, I think of possibility, and uncertainty. If there’s anything I know about being an entrepreneur, it’s that there’s no way to predict the next year, let alone the next month. But I do want to set my intentions for next year. Here are the things, first and foremost as an entrepreneur, I am resolving to in 2016.

  1. Take care of my mind and body. This was a big focus of my letter to myself when becoming an entrepreneur, and to be honest, I am not doing a great job of it. I will be focusing on making yoga a regular part of my daily routine, and I plan to start 2016 with a Whole30 challenge to recalibrate my deteriorating diet.
  2. Create a morning ritual. I have been craving stability and routine in my not so stable or routine life as an entrepreneur. One thing that I am confident will help is creating a morning ritual that focuses on starting my day mindfully (not on my phone!) with meditation, yoga, and a healthy meal.
  3. Practice gratitude. I get a lot of help and support from wonderful friends and colleagues, and without them, I couldn’t get IMBY off the ground. I want to practice gratitude towards the people who support me beyond just saying thank you. This includes a regular thank you note practice, as well as being grateful of the things that others might not realize are a big deal, but make a big difference to me.
  4. Go big. 2016 will be a big year for IMBY— the company will hopefully grow a lot. This will require the majority of my energy and time for 2016, and I am ready to focus on bringing ethical fashion to the masses. This will require sacrifice including less time with friends, challenging decisions, successes and failures. I plan to embrace it all (and I have my own set of goals for IMBY’s growth in 2016!).
  5. Build community. Being an entrepreneur is incredibly lonely. I knew this fact from my time at PresenTense helping entrepreneurs start up, but it feels so heavy building a company alone. I plan to focus 2016 in building my own community of individuals I can support and who can support me. I am starting entrepreneur brain slams so that my friends and I can support each other in brainstorming new ideas when there is not normally someone around to share those ideas with.

Speaking of community, I recently joined the Ethical Writers Coalition, a group of bloggers focused on living more sustainable lives and helping others do so as well (some of them have been my favorite blogs on the topic for a while now!). We have all committed to posting our resolutions today. You can check out the other truly inspirational posts below– and check out their blogs for some great resources! What do you resolve to focus on in 2016?

Hanna of Sotela’s Why Making Unresolutions Are Better
Alden of Ecocult’s Painfully Honest New Years Resolution
Leah of Stylewise Blog’s Year in Review and Ethical Resolutions
Hannah of Life + Style + Justice Blog’s Resolutions
Kasi of The Peahen Blog’s A Year of Wardrobe Resolutions
Elizabeth of The Notepasser Blog’s My One Big Resolution for 2016
Faye of Sustaining Life’s Shedding Layers for a Mindful 2016
Annie’s My 2016 New Year’s Resolution: Buy Only Ethically Made Fashion
Kamea of Kamea’s World’s 4 New Year’s Resolutions You Need for a Meaningful 2016
Holly of Leotie Lovely’s Gone Green 2016
Andrea of Ecologique Fashion’s Resolutions

 

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Entrepreneurship, Professional Growth

The rat that launched my business

I have been a little off the radar lately. Let me fill you in on why.

In May, a series of events and unwanted rodents led me to discover that my new and quaint Brooklyn apartment was no longer the humble abode I had anticipated it to be. I left the apartment, moved in with my parents, and didn’t look back.

At the same time, I was starting to explore where I wanted to move next in my career. After three wonderful, challenging, and rewarding years of growth and learning at PresenTense, I felt it was time for a new challenge.

Unrestricted by a lease or a job, I had the opportunity to push my boundaries and dream big. So I decided to pursue something I have always wanted to: starting my own company. I started working on it on nights and weekends and on September 15, I officially left my job at PresenTense to start IMBY, an ethical fashion company.

I have SO much to share about my entrepreneurial adventure so far, the ethical fashion industry, and IMBY. Too much for this one post, so there will be many posts to come.

For now, I will leave you with a letter I wrote myself right when I started IMBY about what I wanted to remind myself during the process. I welcome your insight and feedback into IMBY, and if you are interested in getting involved, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Dear Sara,

You are starting to embark on an exhilarating, terrifying, challenging, and rewarding journey. Starting your first (or any!) company is not an easy feat. It will inevitably be one of the most fun and challenging things you take on. It will push you to your limits. Your passion will be tested. There will be long nights. And your creativity will soar. 
Sara, you will be a rock star. I believe in you. Sitting on the subway writing this letter I’m so excited for you and what’s coming. You have been preparing for this for years. You are completely and totally prepared and equally unprepared. 
I want you to remember some important things as you push forward. 
You will fail. And that’s ok. Failure it’s one or the most important aspects of the entrepreneurial journey. This is where you will learn more than ever before. 
Take in every day. Entrepreneurship is not solely about the final product but also the journey. Be curious and always be learning. Lean into discomfort. Live in possibility. 
The product will never be final or perfect. It will grow and evolve and pivot and change just like you will during this process. 
Remain humble and embrace support. You simply cannot do this alone. Ask for help. Admit when things are hard. Be vulnerable. You will do the best you can but others will be able to do things better. Accept their help, support, and guidance professionally and emotionally. 
Live the entrepreneurial experience you have always desired. Truly embody it. This is your first chance to test the waters, learn where you will sink and swim. You will sometimes need to fake it until you make it. Lean into that. 
The health of your business is directly correlated with your health and wellbeing. Don’t sacrifice taking care of yourself. Go to yoga, meditate, eat healthy, whole foods, and nourish yourself with what you need physically, emotionally, and socially. While it will be essential for you to push through discomfort at times, you will also need to draw the line and be kind to yourself. 
Be appreciative. You have an opportunity to do something amazing. Don’t forget that you are lucky to have the stars align in the right way to enable you to take this journey. 
Turn worry and fear into opportunities. You will, quite often, experience fear. There will be many unknowns. Recognize those moments and shift them into moments of power and action. For every negative thought, create a positive one. 
Create your own luck. Entrepreneurship is really hard, and it’s a matter of the effort you put in and the attitude you have. Allow yourself to believe you will succeed. Many people will doubt you along the way, understand that’s part of the process. Humbly accept their opinion then prove them wrong. 
When you make it big, don’t forget the little guys. 
You do you. You are different, you’re unique. You’re a troublemaker. No one is as dedicated to your mission as you are. Never forget that. 
Have fun. Don’t forget to laugh. Live in the moment. Don’t take anything too seriously. 
Make it rain. 
In possibility,
Sara
July 17, 2015 
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General troublemaking, Professional Growth

On being best

As a New Yorker, it’s hard not to get swept up into the notion of being the best. Every year when the Forbes 30 under 30 list comes out, I count the years I have left to make a remarkable change, to be noticed enough to make the list. I feel the pressure nearly daily; scrolling through my newsfeed and Instgram feed I see the list of who is being asked to speak on panels, teach a class, who is being published in HuffPo or Fast Company. I wonder what do I have to do to prove I’m the best? How can I get published? Who will look to me to be the expert? How can I get on that damn 30 under 30 list?! I know I am not alone in thinking about these questions. I have had several conversations with friends who feel the same way. I am not sure if it is unique to NYC, but I sure think it is magnified here.

Today I was walking down the street and I realized something.

Am I trying to be the best, or my best?

These two options are quite different you see. The former, being “the best” at something is likely defined by society, by culture, by the Forbes 30 under 30 list. “The best,” is determined by others, by outsiders, not by yourself (unless you make those claims yourself, but then you end up like those coffee shops that say “best cup of coffee in the world!“).

Since I can’t deem myself “the best,” I realized, I can only be my best. To me, being my best means to live an authentic life, to do things we enjoy and that contribute, and that make us and others happy. We have genuinely believe in what we are doing, and in ourselves, before others will believe in us. And if our contributions go unnoticed? Perhaps they are not noticed by the media, by your boss, or even your friends or family, but if you are doing something you believe it in they are certainly noticed by the lives you are changing.

There’s a sticky note above my desk that says “do your best every day,” and I now know that is all I can do. While I can’t control who decides if I’m better at something than someone else, I can do my best work every day, and be the best version of myself. For me, that’s doing things I believe make a difference in this world (my work at PresenTense, volunteering at the Future Project, helping with PurposeFuel), taking care of myself (yoga, meditation, eating healthy, rest and relaxation), and being a good friend and family member. And the rewards I reap from doing those things are completely satisfying to me.

How do you do your best? What would it mean for you to do your best every day? Let me know in the comments.

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General troublemaking, Professional Growth

The temptation of mediocrity

Mediocrity is pretty tempting. It doesn’t require much effort, much stress, or lack of sleep. Just show up, and do what you are told. Why push to change things? Why make things hard than they have to be?

If you want to be a troublemaker, mediocrity is not an option. Being average is not what makes change. It’s when you stand up for what you believe in, when you take the uncomfortable steps towards the unknown, when you power through the setbacks and strive towards something better, something stronger, something more powerful, that’s when you reap the benefits of being above average.

If you want to change the world, you have to be the changemaker. It’s not easy, and not always glamorous, but it has to be done. Why not be the one to do it?

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Healthy Living, Professional Growth, Social Innovation

More Than Just the View

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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.

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General troublemaking, Professional Growth, Social Innovation

How a $55 Job Changed My Life

Two years ago I was in a job I was really unsatisfied in– I felt like the passionate person I was was being underutilized. Looking for a little extra cash and the ability to be exposed to new things, I signed up to be a TaskRabbit, a service where people can request others to do jobs for them— everything from grocery shopping to data entry to installing light fixtures. I did a few research jobs, and then came across some postings from General Assembly, a hub for entrepreneurs in NY, looking for people to help with events. Interested in the work they did, I put a few offers on their events and eventually got one to help set up and ensure there was enough beer out at a “tech night” event. It paid $55 for the three hour event— and a lot more in the long run.

In a weird, unbeknownst to me, foreshadowing, the event was a workshop from IDEO for Columbia MBA students on design thinking for startups (design thinking is the backbone of PresenTense’s curriculum). I thought it was incredibly interesting, and started to do some research on GA’s website about classes they offered to the public. I came across a series on Building High Impact Nonprofits and Social Enterprises and signed up immediately, as someone who has always considered starting my own non-profit. I didn’t even know what a social enterprise was. This was April 2012.

I took the class and learned a lot (also was exposed to many things I never even heard of before that excited me). When the organizer of the class, Shana Dressler, invited students to help her on a project she was working on to write a book about how to start social impact business, I jumped on the chance. A few weeks after I started the class at GA, I saw the job posting for PresenTense and decided that this was a direction I was excited and passionate about. I applied and cited my newly-gained “experience” including the class at the GA and my work on Shana’s team.

I accepted my position at PresenTense, an accelerator for social impact businesses, in June 2012. I continued to work with Shana and an amazing group of ladies on what became the Social Good Guides for almost a year, gaining tons of exposure in the social enterprise field. Two years after taking the class at GA, I am now heavily engrained in the social entrepreneurship space, and am passionate about the field. I couldn’t imagine a better field to me, nor one I would relate to more. Heck, I even think one day (maybe not so far away) I will be a founder myself.

(cue infomercial voice) But wait, there’s more! Because of my job at PresenTense I have been exposed to many different people, organizations, and projects, and made some pretty great friends as well. One of them is my dear friend Meredith, who, upon our meeting under PT auspices we realized we were quite similar (and even were wearing the same outfit when we met!), graciously introduced me to many of her friends, and invited me to join her book club. My friendship with Meredith, and participation in the Book Club, have opened me to a ton of new people, experiences, and like-minded individuals who are eager to take the world (and cause trouble!) like I am. Thanks, Meredith!

If you are trying to keep track, my $55 TaskRabbit job led me to: take classes in a new field, work on a project to empower social entrepreneurs, my job at PresenTense, lots of new friends and business connections, my book club, and I am sure more to come. Oh and did I mention I am ridiculously happy in this field working with some of the most inspiring people I’ve ever encountered? I think all that proves a pretty decent return on investment.

Okay cool, Sara, you are thinking. What’s your point? How do I strike gold with an odd job? Here’s what I want for you to take away, troublemakers:

  1. Everything in life is an opportunity, but only IF you choose to see it that way. My job from TaskRabbit was just to ensure a bar was stocked and to set up chairs, but I leveraged it beyond face value.
  2. You never know where opportunities will lead. Keep an open mind. Did I think signing up for TaskRabbit would lead me to a new career direction and a brand new awesome group of friends? No way!
  3. Take risks. I knew nothing about anyone in the Social Good Guides group, or much about the topic at hand, but it seemed like an opportunity to work with interesting people on an interesting subject.
  4. Put yourself in situations where you will be exposed to things that excite you, and where you will meet likeminded people. This is where the magic happens, even if you aren’t “qualified” in that field.
  5. Everything happens for a reason. I truly, deeply believe that. But sometimes you have to be a week, a year, or ten years removed to see what the reason was.
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