Make slightly updated lists.
I’m always behind on something — or a lot of things — and at some point, I became ok with going to sleep buried in a mountain of unfinished tasks. Complacency isn’t the right word for it. Autopilot is close. Or acceptance, maybe? That there’s only one of me, and that that means I can’t get to 80 emails everyday AND actually work on product and pitch decks and social media and write marketing emails. Acceptance that I need to sleep and exercise and pray and have a social life in order to be more than a shell of a human being. So even though a lot gets done...a lot goes unfinished day by day. It’s a little scary to think about what’s falling through the cracks, but in reality, some just has to. Hence the lists. And the slightly revised lists.
But I clicked into this newsletter one morning, and it called me out. It told me to live. To shut up. To make a choice. To stop drowning in that acceptance. I went for a run to clear my head in my favorite place. It was an unusually windy day and I struggled against the gusty uphill. Another runner saw my expression coming from the other side and laughed and yelled “It’s easier on the way back!”
I laughed and was reminded that even in a solo sport like running, you’ve always got cheerleaders. I call it “The Runner’s Nod” — that moment when you make eye contact with another runner and they smile or wink or nod in your direction saying “Hey” or “You’ve got this!”
I love that moment of connection, and as I ran back in the other direction, I knew what to expect. I thought of my other solo sport: Sukoon, and thought of all the wonderful, amazing people in my life who have cheered me on these past few years. Family, friends, fellow founders -- even complete strangers -- who encourage me when it feels impossible, urge me to keep going when all I want to do is crumble into bed for days.
I’ve written a lot about my struggles the past few months, the adversity that sometimes gets me down and is hard to navigate through as I build Sukoon. But today is the first day of Ramadan and I’m taking a minute to reflect on how lovely it has been too. How lovely YOU have all been. One of the blessings I never anticipated in starting a business was how many people I'd meet along the way who would truly change the trajectory of my life. I try to jot down my highs and lows each day in a journal before I go to sleep, and as I leaf through it this morning, I re-read some of my favorite messages:
"Sometimes ya gotta feel all these feelings and then when it passes, you go back to kicking butt. Other times, we're here to help kick the mental blockage for you. Love you."
"Why is success measured in terms of capitalism? How much have you learned and grown this year. How much have you put yourself out of your comfort zone? How many things have you done that you never thought you'd do? How are these things not being factored into your definition of success?"
"You guys I'm crazy. <-- every single successful person in this world has a healthy dose of this. Don't lose it. The feeling of doing something crazy is what makes people great."
"Let's get a reality check: you will never be homeless (you will live with me). You will not go hungry (I will feed you). If worst case scenario this fails, you're a baller who will get another job. You are smart and competent and educated and you have amazing degrees in your pocket that will never go away. You are a CEO. You have a stressful job. It's ok to have horrible days. It will happen again, and you will be ready for it when it does."
“STOP LIVING YOUR LIFE ON AUTOPILOT.”
I came home from my run and booked a flight. I needed to get out of the rut, to explore a new apparel ecosystem. I needed new energy and ideas and inspiration. I needed to create some momentum.
I met with nearly 50 new suppliers/vendors/partners in under 7 days and I have almost never had more unread emails, but I am SO PROUD of myself. I made a million phone calls, shook so many hands, identified new partners and built meaningful connections with them. We spoke honestly, we spoke with integrity about our businesses, and I found inspiration through the commitment of people all around me.
I parked in weird alleys and rode up creepy elevators to find hidden warehouses full of new gadgets and tools I’ve never seen before or thought to utilize. I learned about castings and moldings and the effect of different materials on the environment and the impact on our garments. I sourced fibers — not fabric — but actual fibers that will become yarn that will become fabric — that will be sewn to create our next collection. I stood under machines that will knit our yarns into a blend that we researched to perfection over the past three years. I climbed up ladders and felt the heat of dye machines developing the perfect Pantone. I sat in work stations and marveled at the elasticity of bobbins and inspected the feet of sewing machines that feel so normal and small but have such a big job. I met the men and women whose hands create so many of the things in our lives that we take for granted: clothes.
I’m on a red-eye back to New York and as Fajr approaches on this first morning of Ramadan, I can’t help but feel so amazed by all of you who have supported me in any part of this path. You’ve made it possible for me to get here, for Sukoon to get here, and I am so truly grateful.
I’m exhausted because red-eye flights suck and I’m sitting between two people who look way more comfortable than I am right now, but I’m also so so happy and proud and lucky to be exactly where I am, and I thank each of you for the role you’ve played in bringing me this moment of sukoon. For giving me the adrenaline and the mental strength to navigate off of autopilot when it's really tempting to stay put. You are in my heart, you are in my prayers, and I can’t wait to share the magic and blessings of the upcoming month with so many of you.
May our intentions, fasts, prayers, and struggles be heard and accepted.
May we experience a spiritual adrenaline that reminds us to stop living life on autopilot.
May our hearts be full of the love and patience that only physical hunger can remind us that we are capable of.
And may the month ahead serve as a way to reset our souls, fill our hearts, and bring our communities together.
Ameen. Ramadan Kareem ✨