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. 

If you were forwarded this by a friend, join over 2,500 other DTC enthusiasts by subscribing here! 


💙 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? 

Wrong. 

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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You'll be surrounded by experienced mentors and investors. You'll receive guidance and coaching to master customer discovery, hypothesis testing, business model design, and other fundamentals that you'll need to build a strong business.

After 10 weeks, you can expect to come away with

1) A better business model

2) A clear path to your customer

3) A plan for ongoing experimentation

4) A like-minded community that keeps on giving

200 founders have joined the Day One Fellowship, leveled up, and accelerated their journey.

Head over to www.joindayone.com to learn more and apply to an upcoming cohort.


🔥 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 info@ajasinger.com, 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.