The Thrive Questionnaire with Sophie Kahn and Bouchra Ezzahraoui

The co-founders of AUrate discuss daily routines, avoiding burnout, and overcoming failure.

Founded in 2015, AUrate is disrupting the traditional fine jewelry model by offering modern, essential pieces made from ethically-sourced high-quality materials at an accessible price point. Founders Sophie Kahn and Bouchra Ezzahraoui are taking the intimidation out of fine jewelry purchases without sacrificing on quality or contemporary design. 

What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?

S: I spend time with my one-year-old daughter. She’s the one who wakes me up in the morning. No more need for an alarm!

B: I check my emails, make a cup of coffee, and play with my little kitty, Loulou.

What gives you energy?

S: AUrate. Seriously. It doesn’t feel like a “job” in the official sense of the word since I love it so much. It truly invigorates me.

B: Working towards a meaningful goal.

What daily habit or practice helps you thrive?

S: I make a to-do list every night for the day ahead. They’re really important for me, since they allow me to think before I act, and prioritize or delegate as needed. I believe if you want to be efficient, it’s far less important how fast you do something, than that you do the right something in the first place. My to-do lists help me with that.

I also try to meditate since it gives me a sense of being grounded and just overall feeling better in my skin. Although I must admit I haven’t been as disciplined with this lately. But it definitely makes me thrive when I do it (note to self to meditate more often).

B: Being mindful.

Name a book that changed your life.

S: It might be cliché, but Lean In from Sheryl really was an eye-opener for me. That you can have a stellar career and be an excellent mom and wife all at the same time, since I hadn’t actually seen that combination in real-life.

B: The Little Prince. The child in me never stops teaching the now grown up.

Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?

S: Almost, and I know that’s not good. But again, my work doesn’t stress me out, and actually brings me joy. For me, a happy life is about work-life integration, not work-life balance.

B: We’re in a complicated one. We’re inseparable and wish we could take a break from each other sometimes.

How do you deal with email?

S: I answer in the morning and end of day, and then in between when I have time. I am very aware of my time spent on it though and make sure it stays efficient. My rule of thumb: if I can reply within 5 seconds, I do it on the spot. If not, I save it and do it as other moments (in batches).

B: I get through all of them. Filters help me prioritize them.

You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do?

S: That’s always a lovely thing. I try to clear my head and take some distance. Usually this means walking outside.

B: I take a walk in the park. That’s when I’m the most creative.

When was the last time you felt burned out and why?

S: I think the last time was 3 or 4 years ago and came from a severe lack of sun. I’m super sensitive to sunlight and need to make sure I get enough of it during the winter. That time, I flew to Mexico and it was gone within 2 hours. Luckily, with age, you get to know yourself better and can preempt these situations.

B: Building a business is a marathon where you need to sprint. It is physical sometimes and being overworked takes a toll on you. This only happens when I get distracted from the big picture by unnecessary details.

When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?

S: I don’t mean to sound morose, but I feel like I fail (and also win, in other ways) every day. Small losses and small gains, it’s part of life. I try to put everything in perspective, and when I can’t, I talk to my support network of amazing friends, family, and husband. Maybe it’s my rational Dutch upbringing, but I know failing is part of the game, especially when you are reaching for the stars and juggling so many things at once. If anything, I believe, if you don’t fail, you haven’t tried hard enough to push yourself. So change the perception and embrace it.

B: Most of what you do in a startup is trial and error, but you need to know why you failed. The more you learn from your failures the closer you are to your goal.

Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.

S: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

B: “You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.” By Steve Jobs

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