The Follow Your Passion Project is an interview series highlighting female entrepreneurs by our friend Jessica Hamel of Frost'd.
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Jessica Hamel, FROST’D. Photo by: Josh Vertucci
“Every entrepreneur has the same struggles. It's so hard, but so rewarding and addicting. I don't care anymore that I don't have a life. People are so inspired by it. They see the headway you are making even when you’re not feeling particularly successful. “
When I set out to interview female entrepreneurs ‘following their passion,’ I thought it would be a fun way to release some creative steam on a topic I am both passionate about and emotionally connected to. However, over the past few months, it quickly transformed into a kind of therapy for me. As an entrepreneur, I’ve always loved to hear the stories of the journeys of successful entrepreneurs. But, to be honest, a lot of the time they left me a bit disheartened. You see, being an entrepreneur is lonely. You’re constantly in a state of up and down and there aren’t many people who understand what you’re feeling. The entrepreneur stories you often hear are so often far from the trenches you are in. That is, unless you surround yourself with other entrepreneurs who are in the new business trenches -- just like you.
Over the past few months, I had the opportunity to listen to the stories (and commiserate with) a handful of amazing female entrepreneurs who have followed their passion and created, and importantly, mostly bootstrapped, their own businesses. I’ve learned a lot during these interviews, but there are a few quotes that keep coming to mind as I wind through my own entrepreneurial journey.
“I'm not just following my passion blindly. I've put the work in. At the end of the day, I was just taking this big leap and hoping to God that it would work out.”
It’s the classic curse of social media. Every entrepreneur looks like they’re without a care in the world, but here’s the truth: following your passion isn’t glamorous and sometimes it can be downright ugly. The most important thing to remember is that no one is an overnight success. In fact, I believe, the notion of an ‘overnight success’ is a complete myth. ‘Following your passion’ means having the passion to work hard in hopes that something will come out of it. It could be one year, but it could also very well be ten years.
“That's where the tears come. When you own your own business, you are working with your own money and your own debt.”
As an entrepreneur, particularly one who is self-funding their business, you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. It’s always good to realize and remember it’s not easy for anyone, but we’re entrepreneurs and we love a good challenge. Right? There were so many moments during these interviews that the women were completely open and honest about their struggles. However, I found that you have to find things that balance out those points of difficulty to survive. Some top tips: find help with certain aspects of the business you are just not good at, focus on what reignites your passion time and time again when things get rough, but most important, hustle through and have faith something amazing is just around the corner.
“If we can’t cultivate those values of self-care and mindfulness in ourselves, how can we possibly weave that into our business and the people who will eventually become a part of our community. It’s imperative that we walk our talk. Presence is not easy.”
Time and time again, self-care was brought up by the featured females. It’s one of the most essential tools for an entrepreneur, as well as one of the most neglected. There is always something to be done and, most of the time, if you’re not doing it, it’s not being done. It’s incredibly hard to step away, but so important to realize that when you do step away you’re able bring a lot more back to the table. For me, ultra-running has always been how I decompress. On the trail is where some of my best ideas are created for the business. You need to step away, to be fully there.
"I read once that if you have 1,000 true fans, that's all you need to survive as an artist."
This quote from Kaitlin Mogentale really struck a chord with me. Getting a bit more personal here, quickly after starting FROST’D., and after countless coffee chat with mentors, I got swept up in this notion that I needed to grow my business as quickly as possible if I had any chance at success. To do that, though, it would’ve meant sucking a lot of what I envisioned for the company right out and that’s exactly what began to happen. After a bit of reflection, I realized I needed to let go of this immense dream a little bit, to focus on the present and create the company that I was passionate about.
"Follow your gut. One thing I learned through this process is that I was always second guessing myself. If your heart is saying one thing, just go and do it. Don’t put effort somewhere else.”
Don’t waste your time. If you have an idea or a passion you want to turn into something more, do it. The idea of FROST’D. haunted me for years. I knew I would never be satisfied if I didn’t give it a try. So, do it. Don’t be afraid of failure, because saying you tried is success enough.
Read the rest of each interview at http://www.followyourpassionproject.com/ and stay tuned as we release two more parts over the next few weeks.