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“Don’t wait until you’ve reached your goal to be proud of yourself. Be proud of every step you take toward reaching that goal.” ~Anonymous
Everyone has dreams and goals in life. However, the question a lot of people ponder about is if their ideas are achievable. Will I succeed when starting up a business? How do I know that my idea will succeed and I’m not just wasting time and money?
Earlier this week I chatted with Brooke Mullen, the founder of Sapahn, and asked her how she got to where she is right now. Brooke herself never knew that her hopes and dreams would turn into a business. She started out with baby steps and soon realized that her passions turned into something bigger than she expected.
Whenever I see a highly successful person, I always want to know how they got to where they are now. So, naturally, I questioned Brooke on this exact question.
"It took me many small steps to get where I am today," she said. "I am very passionate about assisting human trafficking victims. I never really knew that my passions were going to turn into a business. It first started out with my husband and I moving to Thailand."
"I was so intrigued when I went to the markets," Brooke said, "and I saw different artisan groups handcrafting good quality products. I realized later on that the artisans in Thailand get paid very poorly and aren’t getting what they deserve. I began to question what I could do for them. I thought 'wow, every community in Thailand is resourceful, and they have everything they need to do. What if we took what communities already know and try to elevate that?'"
"Nine years ago, I first started to realize that it could start out that simple. I didn’t need a large plan to start up my own business. Sapahn evolved around individual needs and people getting what they deserved. I met with artisans and began designing products for them to make. At first, I attended a few small trunk shows and progressively got Sapahn's name out to other companies and boutiques," Brooke mused.
"I would have never imagined that this is where I would be today. It can be very challenging and overwhelming at times. However, it comes down to what you're passionate about and what you find rewarding."
Brooke genuinely cares about the story behind her business and every individual she meets. I followed up by asking her about the inspiration was behind her goals.
"If I was going to be selling anything, I wanted quality to be the main thing that consumers saw," Brooke noted. "A lot of people don't associate handmade with good quality, and that is why I wanted to show them wrong. I wanted the Thailand communities to be looked at with the best respect and not drive the viewers to just the vulnerable side of wanting a product. These artisans were preserving their craft and keeping it alive by making handmade products with much pride."
A lot of thought went into the process of opening this business. As I’m sure many of you also have this same question, I asked Brooke if there was ever a time that she didn’t think she was going to be able to achieve the goals she had set for herself.
"Yes, definitely. I was a one-person show for so long that it got frustrating. When times got tough, I had good things happen. I was contacted by a current team member of mine who asked if she could help out. Different opportunities come at the right time, and you just have to trust that. As a team, we gain information from every opportunity and every risk. You will never know until you try and risk won't put us under if we fail."
Some other tips that Brooke had on managing a prosperous future are:
"Find your tribe -- find people that will help you and that you can grow with. A few years ago, I started meeting up with a group of women entrepreneurs. These ladies helped me find what I needed and what made me happy. If you admire someone, let them know, talk to them, and ask them questions. It may be scary at first, but it is amazing. Create your destiny and go get what you want."
Balancing her work and family, Brooke always finds time for things like yoga and enjoying the outdoors.
"The biggest challenge of this last year has been balancing work and family time. I recently had a kid, and I have to make sure I give my family the time they need. I work half of what I did the past years because my team has grown. I always have to plan out my schedule by journaling," she points out. "It comes down to identifying what I need to accomplish by mapping it out in the journal and then attacking the plans. When I'm working on stuff for Sapahn, I have to shut out other browsers and stay off social media so that I stay focused. In the time where I need to regroup my thought, I enjoy yoga, being outdoors, or simply going out to lunch."
There have been multiple times when Brooke has expressed how much journaling her thoughts have been a huge help to her. “Writing things down is a way of receiving inspiration and letting the brain look at thoughts so that it can absorb and gain inspiration from that,” she said. Journaling is very important in our everyday lives and can also help as a huge destressor. Below I linked a few unique journals to check out!