My New Little Startup
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A newsletter about branding, startups, and mission-driven companies aiming to make the world a better place.
👋 Welcome to For The Love, so happy to have you all here!
Today we’ll be discussing:
Something a little different today
A roundup of new launches this week, including the palate cleanser to Kendall Jenner’s 818 tequila.
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💙 For The Love
You may have noticed, over the past few months, my newsletter schedule has been...inconsistent.
That’s because I’ve been growing a human (!!!)
Charlie and I are expecting a little girl this November.
While I’m doing that, it’s just about all I’m capable of doing...well, that and feeling nauseous and falling asleep.
Almost 4 months in and it’s already been the most exciting, emotional, humbling, terrifying thing I’ve ever done.
I’ve never felt less in control, which is saying something coming through a pandemic.
This is especially the case because I’ve had some complications — including two 12-hour episodes where I was convinced I had lost the baby.
I have never been so surprised or relieved as I was hearing that little heartbeat again.
(For anyone that’s interested, it was because of a subchorionic hematoma. I will not subject you all to an in-depth recap of what this means, but am more than happy to discuss with anyone going through it.)
My doctor’s instructions were to do…nothing. I was put on limited activity, and honestly, that’s about the energy level I had: limited.
Naturally, I scoured the internet for supplements, foods, anything that might heal me faster and at least make me feel like I was doing something productive.
I wanted some control back.
Of course, because internet, I found suggestions of everything from dubious supplements to 32-ingredient smoothies, but unfortunately nothing substantiated by science, so I begrudgingly did what the doctor ordered — nothing.
At least I had my work and my newsletter. I could use all this time on the couch *productively*, right?
Thank you, deep brain fog.
No matter what I did, how hard I focused, how much I napped, I could not snap out of it.
Not getting my newsletter out every Sunday morning was not for lack of trying. Every week I’d pull up a blank Google Doc and start writing about the inspiring conversations I’d had with founders, but unlike in the past when coherent sentences (even insightful and funny ones when I was really on my game) would end up on the page, these felt like a mess.
I beat myself up about it.
If I wasn’t being productive, putting things out into the world — work, ideas, any output, really, who was I? And what value did I have?
That’s the cruel trick modern society plays on us — we believe our value is in output. Well, that and recognition (which is why social media is such an enticing quick-fix on feeling valued).
Growing a human doesn’t really fall into that category. We’ve come a little ways around what it takes to raise a human, but there isn’t a lot of discussion and support for pregnancy, especially in the early stages.
When I’d rescheduled a weeks-worth of calls, pushed back my newsletter, and made nominal progress on my startup, I didn’t have much to show for my week.
That was really hard.
I was incredibly fortunate to have the flexibility to scale back my work when I wasn’t up for it. The vast majority of women don’t have that luxury — they’re expected to show up to work day after day, business as usual. (Also hard).
I’m also super lucky and grateful to have a caring husband and family who are constantly reminding me to relax and focus on taking care of myself.
Easier said than done.
Maybe it’s a remnant of the “girlboss” culture — doing it all. And some women can, but it turns out, at that moment in time, I was not one of those women.
Given that I had about an hour-long window of non-brain fog time a day (if I was lucky), I did a lot of thinking about what I spend my time on, and if those things are valuable or meaningful.
I write this newsletter because I love it and because I really enjoy highlighting stories of founders and what makes their business special — beyond a shiny new valuation (the usual metric by which a business’s productivity and value are judged).
In one of my early newsletters I wrote about Modern Fertility (recently acquired by Ro). They have a Slack group dedicated to people (not just customers) trying to get pregnant and in the early stages of their pregnancy.
It was so hugely reassuring for me to have a community to go to for support and to ask questions, at a time when I wasn’t sharing my pregnancy with many people.
Spoiler alert: It turned me into a customer too. That’s where I bought my pregnancy test.
All this is to say that I’m very happy to be back (albeit still with some naps), writing this newsletter, and sharing these stories.
I wish I had a tip, a quick-fix to give you all for combating pregnancy brain fog, or fixing a hematoma — but I can’t. The answer for me for both was, annoyingly, do nothing, be gentle with myself and give myself time.
And all those metrics I usually use as a crutch, to determine my value? Well, I’m trying to remind myself there’s more to me than that. (Literally, like there is a human being growing inside me.)
Those visible markers for productivity and success will be there when I’m ready to get back to them.
In the meantime, I hope to be back in your inbox every Sunday morning as often as I can.
When I can’t, I’m trying to come to terms with that being okay too.
🌟 For The Love of Sponsors
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🔥 For The Love of Newness
For Mezcal made by an all-Mexican team — Agua Mágica is a new ultra-premium sipping mezcal made by small-batch producers in Oaxaca.
In case you’d like to turn that into a cocktail — Hazlo makes cocktail mixers created specifically for tequila.
Eadem is skincare “powered by smart melanin™ technology” (ie using ingredients that are “the most compatible and efficient at fading dark spots on skin of color.”)
Gender-neutral nail care brand (℅ Lil Yachty), Crete, makes nail paint pens in shades like sheetrock. Also, nail stickers!
Yóu Yóu is a new organic tea seed cooking oil, perfect for high-temperature Asian recipes.
Just in time for summer travel — Nori is a portable steamer/iron.
And of course, you’ll need sunscreen. Bask is “reef safe, skin safe,” and sun-basking-ready.
A few more things...
Is there a topic you think I should cover? Or a funny ad I can dissect? I’d love to hear from you! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, respond to this email, or drop it in the comments ⬇
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Written by Aja Singer, a brand and creative strategy consultant interested in all things startup, mission-driven, and community. Born in Canada. Based in Brooklyn. You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter.