The day that we got our very first e-commerce customer from someone that we didn’t know was cause for celebration! Meet Erica and Elizabeth, age 4, our very first customers.
Location: Memphis, TN
Gig: Creative branding and marketing, social media strategist and project manager
Blast from the past, favorite subject in school: Chemistry
Favorite read: Yoga Journal and Bon Appetit
Talk to me about a recent purchase: Erica learned about Sat Nam babe through a promotion that we did with Satya Mama. Sat Nam babe was the first kid specific yoga line she’s seen (high five!). Her daughter comes to yoga all the time and has nothing nice to wear, so she wanted to make that investment in buying less, but better quality.
Erica shares about the day the package arrived: “She (my daughter) is going to lose her mind when she has a package on the doorstep and she did!”
How are you trying to create a meaningful life? “The most meaningful and dynamic thing that I am doing for myself and my daughter is being involved in yoga. It has really shaped how she sees things and views other people around her. I’m also focusing on what I eat and what I feed Elizabeth; it has really impacted us so much and we recently became almost fully vegetarian.”
Parting words: “A lot of parents want their kids to be a part of the things that they love. Since I started doing yoga, I wanted Elizabeth to be a part of it. If you can share your passion with your kid, it’s the best thing ever.”
Follow the mindful adventures of Erica + Elizabeth on Instagram at @ericaeowen
The last three months since ending the Sat Nam babe crowdfunding campaign and transitioning into figuring out how to run a company have been super eventful, to say the least, more so from Memorial Day up through today. A few of the entertaining stories captured here, as I launch my first company and manage the naysayers who want to be helpers (which only gives me more ammunition to work with, let’s be real here!)
June events came and went – a yoga festival in Cold Spring Memorial Day weekend, two small pop up shop events during toddler yoga and at a toy store, as well as the infamous Brooklyn Artists & Fleas. What did I learn from these adventures? Customers are insanely fickle people. They only want the harem pants I still have yet to have in stock, but ah we’re close! They don’t know any kids (come on, everyone knows some kid) or they may have a baby shower coming up in the next 6 months and will without the shadow of a doubt, buy something on Sat Nam babe for that shower.
Yup, heard it all already, but the learning from these events is to pivot and spend more time building my Instagram and online following where I can sell direct to consumer from anywhere in the country (+ world). So besides Sat Nam Fest where I am pumped to be a vendor next month and surrounded by my kundalini peeps and potentially Wanderlust Brooklyn where we are on the vendor wait list (I will take it! This festival is SO worth it) likely slowing down the in-person events and focusing online, building a following and wooing people with the cuteness of our clothes.
Entrepreneur lesson learned: Taken right from the Lean Startup book – pivot early and often, when it makes sense!
Speaking of clothes – harem pants in particular – this experience of getting one pair of pants made properly has been the bane of my existence as a new entrepreneur. Ah yes they are so cute, BUT I should have taken the time up front to properly source suppliers in the U.S. to better manage the process. It’s nearly impossible to deal with the India factory with a 9+ hour time difference and I can only describe the situation of getting those pants out of the factory as a two month long dragged out hostage situation of sorts. It’s like a non-stop constant negotiation going nowhere. BUT this week, I decided, I’m getting those G**D*mn pants if I need to fly to India to get them directly. Yeah that’s been super fun BUT YES, so close to getting those pants done.
Entrepreneur lesson learned: Do not trust others, even when they have the best of intentions and are considered experts in their line of work, to manage any part of your business in the beginning. I took this recommendation from someone I trusted and should have gone with my gut to fully produce in the U.S.
Two interesting convos in the last 10 days. One with an investor who invests in consumer products. I’ll spare you the excitement of our phone call (the short of it is I need to work on a business model) BUT the one comment I found interesting is that this person almost expected me to be in a different place in my company, i.e. she called it a mom and pop shop right now. I totally agree, as we are just starting out, but how else do you start unless your last name is von Furstenberg or Armani? She essentially said I was on the right path, but I need a business model. Got it, yes!
Entrepreneur lesson learned: Be really proud of where you are right now. Launching a company is a process and a half and it takes time to scale and see bigger long term picture.
The last convo happened two days ago and I’m still scratching my head a bit. My friend told me to check out this mentor program here in NYC. I had a phone call with a guy who is a retired fashion industry executive. First off, within 2 minutes of the conversation, he deemed me not fit to launch a fashion company (“what business do you have launching a fashion company? You have no technical fashion background…”) When he wasn’t interjecting every 30 seconds with his own glory days story of working in high fashion, I managed to get in that I was a fashion design minor, worked at Saks for DvF (of course he knew her) AND come from a PR and marketing background. “Ok I feel better now, you have a marketing background. You’ll be fine…” Um, ok buddy…I’m sure things have changed a bit over the years of working in this industry.
Entrepreneur lesson learned: Take everything people say with a grain of salt and keep that thick skin to get through these interesting conversations!
I’m semi-joking throughout this entire post, but in reality, I have to make light of it and keep to the vision I have for the company. Yes, it’s going to take pivoting, time, resources and more, but I have grit and am willing to see it through within reason to see how high I can fly!
While no day is truly the same and some are more entertaining than others in the life of a startup, I wanted to share a snapshot from my day yesterday. Truly never a dull moment!
I woke up at 5:30 before the alarm went off. Gotta measure some Sat Nam babe yoga leggings. What is this about, may you ask? For the past few weeks, I’ve been liaising with our factory in India that are making our first production round of harem pants. The very short of this story (no pun intended, our toddler pants came out too short!), is trying to do business in India when I’m in NYC is simply no bueno (#lessonlearned). There’s been a lot of confusion around what the exact measurements of our pants should be (read: our 2T and 4T when they shipped them to me were the same size. Amazing). SO I took matters into my own hands yesterday morning and decided to provide my own length measurements to India based on our yoga leggings. Def adding technical fashion designer to my resume! The truth though is, these pants are adorable and I cannot wait for them to come in!
If you live on the East coast, it was probably raining all day (surprise!) I love biking everywhere in NYC, so I rationalized with myself and decided to take the train into the city, bike in tow, so I could ride it later when the rain hopefully cleared. I spent a few hours at Sacred Sounds Yoga in Greenwich Village during toddler yoga (simply adorable). Met some moms and got to intro them to Sat Nam babe. The studio owner was nice enough to intro me to someone at Washington Square Park, to see if we can tie in Sat Nam babe with some kids yoga in the park later this summer! Permits and a fee may be involved, but TBD.
From there, the rain was manageable, so biked up to the Baruch Entrepreneurship Field Center to meet with the amazing accountant, Jonathan. It’s funny, every time I show up for an appointment, he acts surprised to see me and then apologizes for not answering my emails (ha!) SO we chatted all about W-9 forms and how to best prepare for doing my taxes next year. Despite this sounding super boring, Jonathan is the bomb and always has ah-mazing and entertaining tax stories of people getting audited.
A quick dropoff a block away to see my friend Kim and her adorable little girl Isabella. I’m going to be doing a July 4th Google Adwords promotion with our blue and white products and had the revelation earlier that morning while dealing with the India fun, that perhaps Kim would want to take pics (she’s a great photographer!) of Isabella in our blue chevron leggings and headband so I could use the pics in our campaign. She agreed! Score! Cutest campaign coming your way soon!
The last stop was alllll the way downtown, near World Trade. It was raining when I left my friend, but for whatever reason, decided to bike anyway. This mom blogger with over 30K Instagram followers agreed to have her girls try our leggings. The plan is assuming the pants fit (they are on the tall end for our pants) that she will feature Sat Nam babe in an upcoming Sunday Styles post that she does. This would be huge and is the kind of publicity I will be going after more and more in the coming weeks to get the company out there. Those two years in PR where I really questioned why I was doing this career every single day are truly coming in handy now.
From there, I ventured home…over the Brooklyn bridge. Kindly telling the tourists to move aside for the bikers.
There you have it, a day in the life. Shop Sat Nam babe for ethical tees, headbands, yoga leggings and (soon) harem pants, for the little kids under five and babies in your life!
Wow it’s been a whirlwind 10 days. 50% funded for our Sat Nam babe crowdfunding initiative with almost three weeks still to go in our campaign. I’m so thankful for all of the pre-sale orders (can’t wait to see all of your kiddos in our tees and pants!!) and outright contributions that are truly so generous.
I’m going to rewind a few years ago to when I was working full time and in grad school (and yes, still dealing with the post traumatic stress of surviving that insane schedule!) I took a class called “sustainability in supply chains” and it literally blew my mind. Yup mind completely blown. A little over a month before the class started for the summer, the Rana Plaza fire happened in Bangladesh, killing more than 1100 garment workers. The complex was structurally unsound and the owners of the building knew this. Many global fashion brands that we all know very well were tied to this tragedy.
Almost four years later, as I launch Sat Nam babe, this story continues to resonate with me and inspires me to simply do better. I understand after taking this class that if an item is “a deal” more times than not, some piece of the supply chain (aka a worker in Bangladesh making $68 a month) is being squeezed. It’s those people who are still the most marginalized who are being taken advantage of, so these global brands can maximize profit margins and shareholder value. These brands may boast about how they are “giving back”, showing employees planting gardens and spending time at soup kitchens, but in reality, when you peel back the layers to a fundamental level, are these companies really doing good?
For me, doing good means understanding my supply chain as much as I can and doing as much as I can from day one of our company’s inception to feel good about our choices. I know the areas that I would like to consciously improve upon down the road (i.e. sourcing suppliers in the US for our harem pants, but they are in very good hands in a great factory in India for the time being) but it will come with time. And we will also find a very tangible, impactful way to support kids around mindfulness, yoga and its amazing benefits from a young age. I have some ideas but it’s too early to share. We are SO proud as part of our crowdfunding campaign, to be supporting Rosie’s Kitchen in South Africa. I got to spend some time with Rosie when I was there and this woman is on the ground, doing the work and feeding many kids each day. We will be making a contribution to her selfless work once our crowdfunding campaign ends March 31.
One thing that I’m really excited about is applying for B Corp certification, which is basically a stamp of approval (and written into my company’s legal docs) that says that our main goal is to not always maximize shareholder value, that the social good piece is very important to us as well. The certification involves taking a very lengthy assessment and asks everything from how many women owned companies are we supporting to our carbon footprint. We’ll be getting the ball rolling on this certification later this year once this one-woman show (aka me!) has some time to come up for air!
One comment in particular stuck with me months ago, when I was in the early stages of forming what Sat Nam babe would look like. I was talking to a lot of parents (mainly moms) and this one mom shared with me: “I would never be your customer. My kids grow way too fast to spend a lot of money on clothes.”
I get it – I get kids grow fast and the cheaper option may be the winner 9 out of 10 times right now. But I’m trying to change that mindset. Perhaps consuming less and being a more conscious consumer can work, even for purchasing kids’ clothes. There are amazing companies out there, such as Eileen Fisher and Patagonia, who are doing their supply chain the right way. I believe it’s Patagonia that actually encourages its consumers to buy less, yet their business is booming. I love that! How inspiring.
Exciting week coming up, as I will likely be placing a big fabric order for our yoga leggings, so our printer can get started printing those cute bug party and blue chevron prints on some pants! And we are creating our hangtags. And approving our harem pants final fit, picking up patterns, meeting with another yoga studio for retail opps, locking in our cut and sew vendor here in NY and so much more that will keep me running from Brooklyn to Harlem to the Bronx and everywhere in between.
I can’t thank you enough for your support thus far. PLEASE PLEASE keep those pre-sale orders coming in. We still have a way to go to reach our goal in less than 3 weeks even though we’ve been rocking it so far. And contributing on our ifundwomen page is VERY easy. Please if you have any questions, just ask me!
Wow, what an exciting last few days. In a little over 72 hours since launch, we are 37.38% funded (THANK YOU!) Early on in a startup’s infancy, nearly 100% of money raised from crowdfunding campaigns is coming from family and friends (so yes, all of you fabulous people here on Facebook who are following this journey). It’s all you. And every donation counts, no matter big or small.
We are just under 7 hours til the end of my first crowdfunding challenge, to get 51% funded before midnight tonight. We are getting there, but still have some work to do.
To give you a glimpse into the life of starting a fashion company, I want to share the story of our little harem pants seen here. After much discussion with my pattern/samplemaker over the past few months, I agreed to do the first round of production in India. Slightly (only slightly) more economical than the U.S. Birthplace of yoga. Organic cotton and organic dyes. Yes, check. All good. But my concern was ensuring they are paying living wages in the factory based just outside Delhi. My patternmaker ensured me they are paying ABOVE living wages. Excellent news and I trust her. Fast forward to this Friday. The factory is coming back saying cost of raw materials has gone up. My response? I care about the product being done on time, good quality AND that our workers are being paid living wages. So if I need to pay a few dollars more per pant to ensure living wages are happening, then yes, it’s a no brainer. Less margins for the company as we are just getting started, but at the end of the day, I can sleep at night knowing these people are being properly compensated.
These are the types of situations I’m dealing with every single day as a new business who wants to do it the right way. Our prices are definitely not that of the big box retailers or well known children’s brands because we are producing in way smaller quantities, quality is higher and I can confidently say we are doing everything we can to create ethically made products. Because at the end of the day, those people in India who are working to get these pants made for my company deserve to live a good life too.
Thank you all again for supporting thus far. I so appreciate it. (and thank you to my amazing best friend since we were 5 –Maribeth DeBonza for being our latest supporter.
The day has finally arrived. In less than 12 hours, I will launch Sat Nam babe, the company that I’ve been working on bringing to life for the past year.
When I think about what I want to share on the most important day to date for Sat Nam babe, so many angles go through my head. What haven’t I covered in past blog posts that could maybe inspire you or perhaps have you think about life a bit differently?
It’s so simple. It all goes back to living life with wide open eyes and being relentless and utterly fearless about finding happiness, whatever that looks like to you. Every move I’ve consciously made in the past year, from quitting a job to deciding to take a leap of faith and launch a company all stem back to how sweet this one life truly is. There is this constant energy that I gravitate toward, that tells me to be fearless, to keep moving toward my dreams and to not settle for anything less than happiness.
Losing a parent at a young age is the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with in my life thus far. I wonder how my life would be different or better with my mom here. But her legacy inspires me 21 years later. She passed away at 44. She never got to travel abroad. Or see retirement. Or see my brother and I graduate from business school. Or spend more time with my dad. It’s unfair, but it’s what keeps me moving every single day and she’s my number one inspiration for thinking outside the box of how society tell us to live and going after my dreams in this one life, right now.
So don’t delay planning that trip. Or launching that business. Or whatever other dreams you may have been sitting on. We all deserve to live our best lives and not let fear get in our way.
What I hope you’ll see by following our journey, is that this company has heart. And soul. Our wish for all kids from the youngest of ages, is that they stay true to their dreams in this lifetime and live out their destinies, because the world is waiting for us all to show up with our best selves. Even if you don’t choose to support this particular company (which of course I hope you do!) perhaps you’ll become a more conscious consumer. Consume less (yes, even for kids, I know they grow fast but still!) Buy local where the company can confidently tell you that the clothing you are wearing was not made in a subpar, unsafe factory. And perhaps we can inspire you to live outside your comfort zone a bit and be a little more fearless, whatever that may look like for you in your own life.
So thank you – thank you for all your support, encouragement and love so far. And thank you for coming on this journey with me, it means so much. Crowdfunding launch and pre-sale coming TONIGHT, 8:30pm EST!
Follow our journey on social media @satnambabe and receive weekly updates on what it takes to launch a company at www.satnambabe.com
WOW I survived! Exactly one year ago, I left my full time job with the dream to work for myself on my own schedule from anywhere in the world. I coined it “taking a leap of faith” and was literally open to anything the universe put in my path.
And what a year it’s been since the day I typed that first blog post from a Starbucks in Upstate NY, dedicated to leaving my job to live out my destiny. Some random thoughts that I have seen/learned/witnessed firsthand over the last year:
A LOT can happen in one year. I can’t believe it’s only been one year. It literally feels like I’ve lived several lifetimes over the past 365 days, my life has changed so much. I would never want it any other way; seek new adventure, plan that trip to somewhere new, don’t allow excuses and being afraid of the unknown get in your way of living a new, better, healthier life. We have already lived 10% of this year (36 days to be exact!) How’s your 2017 going so far? No excuses by Dec 31 if your life didn’t measure up to how you wanted it to turn out; you are in the driver’s seat.
Be open to anything and everything. I was so open to any opportunity that crossed my path that made remote sense toward my bigger goal of working on my own schedule and not stepping foot in an office. I accepted unpaid and paid blog opportunities. I accepted less than exciting freelance work to reduce how much I was pulling out of savings during this transition period. I reminded myself that everything couldn’t be instantly perfect all at the same time and that the right work would follow.
And the fun work sure did follow. It’s been a sheer joy to bring Sat Nam babe to life. What started as a whisper of an idea almost a year ago has turned into an actual company. A real company that will be taking presale orders very soon, that will have a presence at yoga festivals and kids yoga studios and will have an e-commerce site. I am learning daily and very quickly about what it takes to create an ethical piece of clothing and plan on continuing to share that journey with you. But this dream to start my own company would not have happened if I hadn’t had been open to change, really big change.
There has been so much other excitement, learning and reflection that has happened over the past year, but I’ll leave it at this for now (early flight tomorrow am back to the NYC is calling my name). Maybe up and leaving a job isn’t for everyone. But realize that no matter what your situation is, you always have a choice. I have seen and lived enough of my life to know that going to an office 5 days a week was no longer serving me and is definitely not something that I want to do every day until I turn 65.
I wanted to prove that adhering to how society tells us to live is not the way to live. And I survived. I’m happy. I’m healthy. And super excited to continue to live for each day, where Monday morning is never dreaded, but thoroughly enjoyed.