Learn to say no early, people will pull you in so many directions but it is up to you as a business owner to say yes when it feels right and say no to anything that doesn’t serve you or the company that you’re building.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nikita Seal.
Nikita Seal is a mother to 6 year old twins, Air Force vet who served in Iraq, mental health awareness advocate and serial entrepreneur. She is currently the owner of Anxiety is a Mutha!, a mental health awareness brand that includes a podcast and clothing line, owner of ZZ’s Ice Cream Puffs, a delectable treat served out of a food truck, and Pretty Rolls, a luxury smokers line.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
My name is Nikita Seal and I was born and raised in the small town, El Dorado, Arkansas. I was raised by my dad who was a single parent because my mom passed when I was 3 years old. I was a pretty happy kid, but I was a loaner who enjoyed playing solo or with my favorite cousins whenever they came around.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite life lesson quote is “you die once but you live every day”. This quote resonates with me because it shows that nothing is final until it is well, final. Live every day to the fullest because you never know when it may end.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
The book that I read most recently that has impacted my life in a significant way is The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. This book went into detail on how most of us live with a lack mindset but, if we change the way we think and view ourselves, then we will be able to take the ultimate “big leap”. The hardest thing for so many of us to do is to change our mind.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
I spent several years in the U.S. Air Force serving our country. I even had the honor of serving in Iraq during Iraqi Freedom. Being in the military has provided me so many opportunities that I’m grateful for such as being able to travel the world on their dime. After leaving the military I tried my hand in corporate America. Before the pandemic I was working my dream job at the time. I was getting promotion after promotion, given my own office and flexibility. Unfortunately, I realized that I was still not happy as I thought I should have been during that time. When COVID-19 hit, I was laid off from my job shortly after. It was honestly, probably the best thing that has ever happened to me. I never felt so relieved in my life other than the initial of fear of “how will I pay these bills”.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
Once I was laid off, I thought it was the best time to expedite my dreams of being a full time entrepreneur and start my food truck business, ZZ’s Ice Cream Puffs. ZZ’s is a magical treat that consists of a fried donut and ice cream sandwich. The donut is hot while the ice cream that it’s stuffed with stays cold and you’re able to add your favorite cereal toppings to it. It was important for me to create something that would stand out and not be something that customers were used to.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
From a young child I’ve always known I was supposed to work for myself, but I never knew exactly when that day would come. Once I was laid off during the pandemic it was kind of an aha moment, like now is the time to just be done with the hustle and bustle of working for someone else and do it for myself. I figured why not dedicate that same energy into building something for myself and my family that will create wealth for generations to come. I guess one can say that starting ZZ’s was my “big leap moment.”
How are things going with this new initiative?
Things are not always easy but it sure beats being depressed everyday working for a company I saw no future with. There are days where not one customer stops by and my heart is still grateful. I understand that success does not happen overnight, it takes consistency and dedication, people respect that. It has been difficult funding everything out of my own pocket, but I have faith that everything will work itself out.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I would have to say that my children are truly my reason for everything I do. They make me better and motivate me to give them the life that they deserve. I want to pass down the option to do whatever they want in this life without feeling the pressure of having to go with society norms just to make it in this life. They make me a better me by holding me accountable when I am not being the best version of myself. I always say the people who love you the most will tell you about the ugly parts with love even if it is painful to hear. They do that for me and I’m grateful for that. I also feel that it speaks volumes that I can be open enough to receive their feedback and not shut them down because they are “just kids”. They are six years old and I’m grateful that God chose me to be their mommy. Having twins in itself feels really special to me.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
The most interesting story that happened to me since opening ZZ’s was having to open on our first day with no donuts. Weeks prior to open I had found the perfect donut shop or so I thought. We had perfected the size of the donut that we needed so I was excited that everything was ready for open. The day of our opening I picked up the donuts and attempted to open the box and the lady assured me that everything was there and told me not to worry. I closed the box and left to go finish getting dressed for my big day. Once I made it home, I opened the box of donuts and realized that the order was completely opposite of what I ordered or needed. These donuts absolutely would not work with the type of treat we were making or else the ice cream would just completely melt. I went back to the donut shop to let them know of their error and they were livid with me. Of course, I was angry and devastated by my big day potentially being ruined. I shed so many tears but I refused to let that define how our opening went. I decided to still open ZZ’s that day and instead, we gave out free ice cream to the community and had an amazing day.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Five things I wish someone told me:
- Don’t expect your family and friends to line up to help you, be prepared to ask for what you need and even then, don’t be crushed when you don’t get the support from them that you would hope for.
- Learn to say no early, people will pull you in so many directions but it is up to you as a business owner to say yes when it feels right and say no to anything that doesn’t serve you or the company that you’re building.
- How you start your day is how you end it. Create a morning routine that helps you align your day to be calm and productive.
- Figure out how to get funding beforehand so that you are not paying everything out of your personal account.
- It is OK not to have all the answers and be ok with admitting that. It takes so much of the added pressure off.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
I created a podcast titled Anxiety is a Mutha! with my cohost and that has been therapy. I think having that outlet to be super real about my struggles and depression has helped make the transition to a full-time business owner a lot smoother. Nobody ever tells you how heavy success can feel so it’s nice to admit that in a safe space without feeling ungrateful.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would let everyone know that we are all equal and we all suffer with something. It is ok not to be ok and seek help. So many of us suffer with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and a host of other things that for some reason we feel so alone in our battles. Anxiety is a Mutha! is an advocate for such an important conversation to be had so that people can start to feel more open and less alone.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
I would love to have lunch with Issa Rae from the show Insecure. She inspires the heck out of me. Her first YouTube show Awkward Black Girl, changed my life. Having anxiety, I was able to relate to a lot of her content. It made me feel like I can be open about my awkwardness and anxiety, and not ashamed about it. I also would love to create a show of my own one day so her creating her own lane inspired me to create my own and tell my own stories.
How can our readers follow you online?
Readers can follow me on Instagram at @anxietyisamutha, @zzs_icecream_puffs and @prettyrolls420
You can also visit my website https://anxietyisamutha.com/
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!