Trust the process: Sometimes what may seem like chaos is really the beginning of a breakthrough. Don’t be discouraged by the hard and uncomfortable times, they are the moments that help elevate your business to the next level.
As a part of our series about entrepreneurs who transformed something they did for fun into a full-time career, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Ripoli of Angel Energy. Sarah is an east-coast based fashion blogger with a strong focus on women’s empowerment. She is both a public speaker and domestic violence awareness advocate, as Sarah lost her mom to domestic violence at age 6. She is also the founder of Angel Energy, a clothing company that focuses on raising domestic abuse awareness and donates 25% of proceeds to charities monthly. Angel Energy’s mission is to inspire women to overcome adversities in life by spreading positivity and optimism.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?
When I was 6 years old, the month before I turned 7, my father murdered my mother while I was in the house. Being an only child, I lost my entire family that day. My grandparents raised me, and despite this horrible tragedy the rest of my adolescence turned out really great. I decided to never let what happened to me be an excuse for my actions and created a positive narrative for my life instead.
What was the catalyst from transforming your hobby or something you love into a business? Can you share the story of your “ah-ha” moment with us?
For the first 4 ½ years after graduating from college, I spent the majority of my time in a cubical recruiting accounting and finance professionals. To say this didn’t allow me to express my creativity is an understatement. Over time, not having some aspect of my passion for fashion incorporated into my everyday routine began to take a toll on my internal happiness. In July 2018 I started a fashion blog as an outlet to combat this void and began to grow an audience on social media. In January 2019 I finally had the courage to share my story with my following and was overwhelmed with the responses I received from those who could relate somehow. I knew at that point there was no turning back, and that my true calling was to be a voice for the voiceless. At the end of February 2019, I decided to leave my career to focus on building a brand that encompassed both fashion and domestic violence awareness, even though I wasn’t positive what that would look like at the time.
There is no shortage of good ideas out there, but people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How did you overcome this challenge?
In my opinion, so many great ideas never come to fruition because of the misconception that all of the answers are needed before starting. To this day, I am quite literally still figuring things out as I go. If I had waited for a road map of what steps to take next, my life and career would have stayed stagnant forever. There is never a “right time” to take a risk, there is just time and it is our responsibility to make the most of it while we are here.
What advice would you give someone who has a hobby or pastime that they absolutely love but is reluctant to do it for a living?
You will never truly feel fulfilled until you do what makes you happy. Playing it safe is always going to be the more comfortable option, but it doesn’t mean it’s the right one.
It’s said that the quickest way to take the fun out of doing something is to do it for a living. How do you keep from changing something you love into something you dread? How do you keep it fresh and enjoyable?
I think when you truly are passionate about something it comes as second nature. Of course, there are times when the redundancy of anything can make a task unenjoyable, which is why I love having the flexibility to work on what I want when I want. If I’m feeling uninspired the simple act of switching my focus to a different aspect of my business that day helps to reignite my energy and excitement.
What is it that you enjoy most about running your own business? What are the downsides of running your own business? Can you share what you did to overcome these drawbacks?
The part I love most about running my own business is that my fate is in my own hands. My time spent recruiting in Corporate America opened my eyes to just how disposable employees at large companies can be. It was discouraging to know that no matter how hard you worked, ultimately your future is never guaranteed. Running my own company takes the stress surrounding job security away completely. The only downside to running your own business is learning how to manage yourself. It’s easy to put things off when the only person holding yourself accountable is you. To overcome this drawback, I rely heavily on my daily planner. No matter what meetings or events are previously scheduled for the day, I write a list each morning of everything that needs to be accomplished. This way I’m given the flexibility to structure my day accordingly.
Can you share what was the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?
As silly as it sounds, I never realized starting a company based around a personal tragedy would evoke so many emotions within me. I thought that I had healed a lot more than I actually had, but in making this my job I am focused to heal and grow internally.
Has there ever been a moment when you thought to yourself “I can’t take it anymore, I’m going to get a “real” job? If so how did you overcome it?
I wholeheartedly believe that when you are doing something out of pure intent the monetary compensation will follow but should not be the focus. There have definitely been moments where I’ve become impatient with the process of building a business from the ground up and want to see instant gratification from my efforts. When this happens, I try to remind myself that good things take time, and monetary compensation is just a byproduct.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
A few months after I started my fashion blog, I was approached by a popular eyewear brand to be a part of their upcoming campaign. Being new to the industry, this felt like this was the biggest opportunity in the world to me so I strived to make sure the deliverables were perfect. I spent the week creating content until I finally felt that the pictures were worthy enough to submit. After double-checking the email with my content attached, everything looked great to send. It wasn’t until a few minutes later that I realized I had made a big mistake. In the attachments were not only the pictures for the campaign, but somehow an embarrassing group selfie of my boyfriend, his parents, and myself. I was mortified, and after a mini heart attack, I quickly emailed my contact to apologize for the mistake. She laughed and everything ended up being fine! My lesson learned from this is to not only double and triple check your emails before sending, but maybe even quadruple check to make sure!!
Who has inspired or continues to inspire you to be a great leader? Why?
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
My maternal grandfather has always inspired me to be a great leader. Although he is no longer with us, growing up he raised me to see the good in all things. He never stopped educating himself and continuously encouraged me to do the same. He was a hard-working entrepreneur, well cultured in every sense, involved in many different clubs, the president of certain organizations, and was just overall a great role model to everyone around him. His brilliance and kind heart impacted me immensely and have truly shaped me into the woman I am today.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Have patience: Good things take time, and sometimes everything won’t be in front of you at once because it’s not supposed to be.
- Not everything is as it seems: What may be seen as a failure in your opinion, could really just be a redirection to achieve something greater.
- Be open to new roads: In my opinion, being open-minded is the key to success.
- Get comfortable being uncomfortable: You must continue to grow as a person if you want your business to grow. When you are comfortable you aren’t growing.
- Trust the process: Sometimes what may seem like chaos is really the beginning of a breakthrough. Don’t be discouraged by the hard and uncomfortable times, they are the moments that help elevate your business to the next level.
What person wouldn’t want to work doing something they absolutely love. You are an incredible inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Angel Energy is a movement to raise domestic violence awareness, which was inspired as a way to honor my mother after her life was taken at the hands of my father. Up until recently, the brand has primarily focused on intimate partner abuse. After some recent revelations though, I’ve come to realize that domestic violence really is so much bigger than what occurs between intimate partners. Domestic abuse can really apply to any familial relationship, and sometimes emotional abuse can be hidden in the most disguised ways. My hope moving forward is to expand my voice to reach an even larger audience and help those distinguish the difference between love and manipulation within their family dynamics.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His Father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.
The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down.
He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.
Finally, the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it; and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.
The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.
The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there.”
This story represents the concept that a verbal wound can be just as, if not more impactful than a physical one. People will never forget how you made them feel, so it’s important to always treat others with kindness.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Blake Lively! I have always absolutely adored her for so many reasons, but what I love most is her confidence on and off the screen. She is not only beautiful from the inside out, but she uses her celebrity status to make a difference in this world.
Thank you for the time you spent with me. I wish you continued success