Did you know that Sweet & Spark (my old company) was the name of an og blog I started on tumblr in 2010?
I was so fascinated by all the creative things happening on the internet at that time. Pinterest had just come out, a girl I used to work with in merchandising at Gap Inc., you might know her as Blair Eadie of Atlantic-Pacific, was beginning to share her daily outfits on a wordpress blog, and individuals like Gary Vee and Seth Godin (who I still follow closely) were voicing fresh perspectives on business to help people get over their fears of doing something remarkable. That’s when I discovered what it felt like to be moved by authenticity and authority, the stuff we’re all made of yet, doubt on the regular.
Before that, most of my inspiration came from beautiful things that created a feeling of fantasy and wonder inside of me, like luxury handbags, quality clothing and vintage jewelry. Owning thoughtful things infused me with the possibility of living a life more expansive than the one I was living, not that it looked as limiting on the outside as it felt inside. I had a high paying corporate job, shiny new BMW and a closet full of clothes I loved. But it wasn’t enough, I felt like a fraud, something was missing. It created a burning desire in me to want to know how to create an authentic life that felt as good inside as it looked on the outside. I tried to ignore the calling to explore this but could only push it down for another couple years.
When I was twelve I would circle the outfits I wanted from the Delia’s catalog and dream about what it would feel like to wear them to school. Sometimes, if they went on sale, my mom let me pick a few things out. It meant so much to me to have the opportunity to express myself in what I wanted. I remember receiving my first package in the mail bursting with an ice blue satin jacket lined with white fur like it was yesterday. Wearing it in the snowy Western New York winters made feel warm and bright inside. Wearing something unusual was my way of reminding everyone that they were special too, they didn’t have to blend in with the gloom.
When I worked in fashion merchandising, I loved the seasonal presentation’s that our design teams led. They would travel all over the world to find luxury, of the moment pieces and bring them back to the office to mock up concept walls with themes they wanted to be reflected in future clothing designs. I would take so many notes, feeling all lit up about what it would feel like to have the freedom someday to buy and wear whatever I wanted and do cool things like travel abroad and have the time to put more thought into my personal style.
In the early days of people believing in themselves and creating personal brands, I knew this was my calling. No one knew what they were doing at that time so the stakes were low to start a blog. It was purely for creative pleasure and enjoyment. There was no Instagram to share posts on, just good old fashioned word of mouth. I would have my sister, who I shared an apartment with, snap an outfit photo here and there and then in-between posting them, I would share about the things I was doing, recipes I’d made and quotes that inspired me to keep following this unconventional path. Things like, “fuck what people think.” “Do more of what makes you happy.” “Adventure may hurt you but monotony will kill you.” It all felt so right. Back then, the only thing I knew about doubt was to completely ignore it. The culture of entrepreneurship seemed to be all about boldness and hustling, especially in 2010, so that’s what I committed to.
The last post on my tumblr blog was on November 13, 2013, exactly one year after I took the full-time plunge into entrepreneurship and started a Shopify website to sell vintage jewelry as Sweet & Spark. That last post was a first birthday tribute post to S&S entitled, Overwhelming.
A new influencer friend of mine, who I still adore today, helped me organize the first birthday celebration by making floral arrangements in vases that she spray painted with gold designs to match my brand color. I had a local bake shop donate cookies and I printed the online press mentions I’d received over the year from Rachel Zoe, The Glitter Guide and Lucky Mag out and hung them with washi tape on the temporary pop-up booth I was renting in a shopping center downtown San Francisco. Friends new and old came out to celebrate that night at the pop-up.
I was so blown away by the attention, support and opportunities I had received in my first year of business, everyone was rooting for me. It was the first time I felt overpowered by something larger than myself and I felt out of control. A voice started to question, who was I to deserve to shine that bright?
This is the question every entrepreneurial journey will ask us to come to terms with at some point. Do we believe that we are worthy of shining bright? What do we need to do to see our innate goodness? Because as I’ve experienced firsthand, other people seeing it will never be enough if we don’t already believe in it. The beautiful journey of entrepreneurship is about uncovering the confidence to believe in our light.
The deep, fucked up root of doubting ourselves is that we feel bad about feeling good. It’s a wise effort by our self protective parts to keep us safe in what we already know to be true for ourselves, that joy is not secure. We’re frightened to change this narrative because we’re gambling with the perceived loss of love from others, we go on thinking it’s safer not to cause any concern to be doubted which drives a need for perfection.
I abandoned my vulnerable blog and set off on a different path. I focused on building the perfect looking and operating company to quiet the thoughts of ”I can’t do this, I’m too much, I don’t really deserve this”. I hoped that I would be seen and respected for my authority once I showed people what I could build and was making money. I put my energy into learning everything there is about building and running a business like marketing, team building, funding and commercial real estate. And I tabled working on the things I already knew I loved like writing openly about my experiences, sharing helpful quotes and tips for others on a similar journey and caring meticulously for my own style.
As long as you’re creating something meaningful to you, all paths will lead you to find confidence because the universe’s only intention is to get you back into your whole, worthy authentic self. So I was destined to be back here some day, reunited with my vision of building a personal brand, inspiring others to create and care for a life that they love too. I keep reminding myself that time is not linear. I’m not behind just because some of the friends I made early on have hundreds of thousands of followers now. I trust that my soul needed the experiences it did in preparation for this next chapter.
As a business coach, doubt is the number one topic I get asked about. I find the term imposter syndrome to be an unfair judgement of one’s self. If you’re creating anything that you actually care about, you will have doubt. Imposter syndrome is simply a denial of our innate humanness, we all doubt our light and can be skeptical about letting life feel really fucking good.
There’s no overcoming doubt, you learn to work side by side with it. My therapist once told me that doubt is our innocence wanting a voice and it’s our job to listen to it. It usually has an abandoned dream to remind you about. Sometimes we doubt ourselves and sometimes we doubt others, both are just tactics to keep us small in favor of keeping our hearts safe. We heal doubt by having the courage to be present with ourselves and get back in touch with our childlike sense of joy and honor it in others too. I’d like to remind you that yes, we deserve to feel good! So do the things you long to do for you. When we feel good we have a ton to give to clients, customers, friends, family, employees, etc. and then our businesses reflect that abundance back to us.
I get it, it’s hard to prioritize the love for ourselves because we usually have the pressure to make money knocking on our door. But as soon as our intention is about money over love, we either won’t take any action or it will be littered with a sense of trying to prove our worth, repelling what we actually want because we don’t think we’re worthy of it. So my number one bit of advice for overcoming imposter syndrome is to ask yourself, who do you want to become? And how can you cultivate that in a small way now? As long as you take a step forward, all paths will lead you where you’re meant to go!
With clear eyes and an open innocent heart again, I can feel into my 25 year old self’s bright spirit and I’m giving her the permission to be seen in this tribute post, as she’s always known that bravery is the way. As I look into her eyes of these old photos and take in her body language, I see her doubt along side her great courage to put herself out there, living into her humanity and letting it be seen. I’m so proud of her.
I don’t have some grand plan of what my personal brand will look like someday, but I do know that I have built enough trust with myself over the years that I know I deserve to feel joy in the process of dancing with the unknown. And when the doubt creeps in, I’m going to take it as a gentle reminder that I’ve got some nurturing to do with myself. What’s the worst that could happen? Someone thinks I’m immature and pathetic for sharing my heart and laughs at me? Or maybe just maybe, I inspire one more person to trust themselves.
I want to feel empowered in my life and I’m cultivating that by prioritizing a few hours a week towards writing and speaking on topics of this nature to see where it will take me outside of my 1-on-1 coaching practice.