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Veronica Vargas of Shaboo Prints: “Loving what you do is key to personal and business success; Periodically ask yourself whether you are having fun”

Loving what you do is key to personal and business success, so it is vital to be honest with yourself. Periodically ask yourself whether you are having fun. If you are not having fun, search for what activities within your business/industry are fun, then follow them no matter how zany it may initially seem to do so. […]

Loving what you do is key to personal and business success, so it is vital to be honest with yourself. Periodically ask yourself whether you are having fun. If you are not having fun, search for what activities within your business/industry are fun, then follow them no matter how zany it may initially seem to do so. Insist on having a joyful and successful life as you explore your business potential. You can have both!


As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Veronica Vargas.

Veronica Vargas is the founder of Shaboo Prints, a boutique lifestyle brand designing positive, feel-good products. She is a social expressionist and entrepreneur on a mission to return millions of adults back to a wondrous world full of potential, play, and a knowing that expressing their real self is the whole point — i.e., finding their happy place! Visit www.ShabooPrints.com.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Iworked hard in various jobs, earning a pension and benefits and living for the weekends, as was the norm. I always felt that I was born for more, but because life at that time did not seemingly support that, I started to get depressed. After an emotional breakdown one Monday morning while preparing for work, I realized that if I was going to continue to live within that context, I had to do more of what I love — do things that brought me joy. I went back to the memories of my childhood to examine what that even was: playing, creative writing, and drawing. I started to do those things without purpose for pure survival and it quickly evolved into Shaboo Prints. Shaboo Prints now exists to provide uplifting products and messages that encourage others to return back to their “happy place,” like I did.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

I started this journey on a hotbed of dissatisfaction: dissatisfaction with not feeling valued at my jobs, dissatisfaction with the measure of my personal fulfillment, dissatisfaction with the entire direction of everything in my life. It took a lot of courage to admit that I was fully responsible for my dissatisfaction, created by me obeying external expectations, rather than internal hopes and dreams.

When I finally started on my own path, I was confronted by those same external expectations and the people that prescribed them: employers, family, friends, and society, all of which denied support for and discouraged my new pursuits. I was even forewarned that doing what I wanted to do was a hobby that could not financially support me.

I did not stop pursuing Shaboo Prints, but I had significant moments of self-doubt, caused by an old tendency to obey “norms” established by someone or something other than my own heart. However, underneath those moments was a deeper knowing that I possessed a different truth.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

Creating my own business is an extension of my real self, as it is for all business owners. It is freedom of expression and it is open-ended possibility and potential. The dissatisfaction from previously not living my dream was so acute that the thought of returning to that way of life felt like spiritual death. Pursuing Shaboo Prints literally meant life for me; returning to a cubicle meant death. I felt as if I no longer had a choice but to move in the direction of my own business if I wanted to be happy. Full stop.

I also started to notice that whenever I made a business decision or created anything from a state of who I really was (not as a someone else’s version), I started to experience positive market response and consumer feedback. In other words, I started to see a real value to my business through my individual style, skill set, and approach — I now refer to that as my “secret sauce.” Feeling valued as an expert for who you are and what you do is very motivating.

Here’s the irony: the deep knowing that I was meant for something unique caused stress in my life before becoming a business owner. As a business owner, that same inner knowing has become a powerful asset.

So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

I have created a business doing what I love. Love for what you do endears you to your market and gives you superpowers, such as grit and resilience. Both business colleagues and the market respect a Don Quixote kind of blind pursuit for what you love.

As long as I continue to love what I do, I maintain my endurance and receive opportunities for growth that I could never have imagined. I am now partnering with like-minded businesses in varying industries for product development, and I’m establishing myself as an expert, which opens leadership opportunities and strengthens my creative drive.

Shaboo Prints is now an international company, supported by equally passionate customers and colleagues. We are beginning a new product launch combining innovative augmented reality technology with practical home products to return people back to their happy place.

I like to refer to my business’ growth as a continual unfurling of the red carpet. It just keeps flopping open forward in directions I could have never imagined!

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?

Before my business, I was a “worker bee” who kept a low public profile. However, as a business owner, I understood that I was required to be seen publicly as a leader so, despite being naturally shy, I agreed to begin live Facebook broadcasts. Before the first broadcast began, I sat in front of the computer camera begrudgingly. I scowled at it and mumbled to myself how much I hated being seen. I complained on and on and wallowed in my own miserable statements until I saw the red light that indicated I was live go on. I smiled and began the first live broadcast introducing Shaboo Prints.

It wasn’t until awhile after the completion of the broadcast that I discovered my mumbling, scowling, and complaining was captured and broadcast. There it sat on my Facebook page gaining views before I removed it. I heard from well-meaning followers that my honesty was both funny and cringe-worthy.

Before this incident I resisted being seen because it made me feel unsafe and exposed. Once I got over my humiliation, I found it an absolute gift that I experienced a worst-case-scenario at the start, and lived. It neutralized some of the fears going forward. I also learned the power and impact of having an honest online presence: that honesty can cut through air thick with messaging like a foghorn.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I make my company stand out. Who I am, my style, and how I express my principles are what give Shaboo Prints its distinct signature.

A story: I create narrative images for our products and it was time to design some new greeting cards. I browsed many cards by other manufacturers for ideas and inspiration and wound up feeling creatively stuck. The more I researched competitors, the more stuck I felt.

At the same time, I was in the middle of designing an amazingly fun new character, a strange-looking monkey astronomer. It was elaborate and fantastic, and I giggled the entire time I created it.

I realized that the more I referenced trending designs, the more I became creatively stuck because I was not following my own unique instincts. I took a huge risk and decided to put the crazy monkey astronomer on a greeting card. It was not a conventional card design; it distinguished Shaboo Prints less as a card manufacturer and more as a joy manufacturer. It has gone on to become one of our more popular cards.

My insistence on upholding Shaboo Prints as a lifestyle brand — not a conventional manufacturer — positioned us as an innovative business and has attracted unique capabilities through unexpected partnerships. We are now combining traditional with leading edge, such as with our augmented reality lamps, to give consumers uplifting and unforgettable experiences.

I strive to remain uniquely different, and provide uniquely different products, regardless of the industries we play in. I don’t mind if we push creative boundaries or shake up trends.

As a business leader, I also participate in online summits where I am required to provide an image of myself. I always offer pictures that reflect who I am — playful and creative. I am proudly featured with an animated expression surrounded by some of my favorite zany characters. These profile pictures may be judged by some as unprofessional, but as I maintain my honest presence, I can live in a joyful state and project my business’ distinction.

Whenever I create or lead from a state of joy and freedom, I and my business stand out and succeed.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Loving what you do is key to personal and business success, so it is vital to be honest with yourself. Periodically ask yourself whether you are having fun. If you are not having fun, search for what activities within your business/industry are fun, then follow them no matter how zany it may initially seem to do so. Insist on having a joyful and successful life as you explore your business potential. You can have both!

If you are in a stretch of time when you are required to do things as a business owner that are not joyful, commit to strategically seeking joy. Take a break to do something that you love. Maybe it’s having a bite of chocolate or lighting a scented candle or playing with your pet. Taking a break to do something you love is sound business. It will uplift you, get you un-stuck, release your secret sauce, and improve creativity and productivity.

I have a toy box in my office in which you’ll find a coloring book, a slide whistle, a tiara, a pair of sunglasses, and a bubble-maker.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today without my business coach and friend. Hiring a business coach was one of my best decisions. She offers an outside professional point of view and shares with me her own success as a mentor. We have become dear friends, and yet I can rely on her honesty. She helps me keep my eyes on the horizon, then she expands the horizon to include bigger goals that require more expansion. She has encouraged me to face fears and manage barriers so I can grow as a business leader. She is also there as counsel and tactician during product and organizational development, budgeting, public relations, and marketing. I will always have a professional business coach as a member of my team.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Bringing goodness to the world is our business! I created my business as a way to return to my happy place and vowed to succeed doing what I love while helping others return to their happy place, too. Literally, our byline is: “Returning you to your Happy Place.”

All of our products contain positive messages and we purposely target adults with our products and services. I am tending to the adult that was like me: someone who works hard, has dreams, and struggles with being unfulfilled.

We have designed a virtual program that gently teaches leaders to have an honest online and video presence. We distribute “Good Message” videos every Monday morning encouraging viewers to set a positive tone to their week ahead. We are about to undergo a new product launch, combining innovative augmented reality technology with traditional products to open inviting animated worlds that uplift and inspire.

Everything we create is to strengthen the relationship and connection with self and others, a state of being that we refer to as the happy place. We believe that our products literally emanate the positive energy and caring they are infused with. Therefore, our initial audacious goal is to get our products into one million homes with the knowing that it would support a social shift towards joy and fulfillment.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. There’s no hiding! Leading a successful business is going to require you as a public leader. I am shy and prefer to stay behind the curtain. When I began my business, I believed I could drive it from the shadows. I didn’t even put my face on my personal Facebook account. However, my marketing messages were not being heard, and I needed to do something about it. With the support of consumer push and business colleagues, I put my face on the website, newsletters, emails, and social media. In addition, I understood the connective power and amplification of video and decided to begin video logs of my personal and professional thoughts. My posts immediately went from getting 10 views to 2,000 views and led to additional sales. Since becoming public, I have received a lot of requests to share my personal journey. One of the most powerful forms of communication is through sharing, not telling, so those who have achieved particular personal and professional success are valued for their story. Achieving your own success — whatever that means to you — positions you by default as a social leader.
  2. Business success requires extensive personal development and honesty. Your costumer will know when you are lying to yourself and them. Once I understood the power of my physical public presence for the business, I had to confront my shyness and preference for staying invisible. I asked myself, “Why is it so difficult for me to be seen?” and discovered surprisingly significant feelings of insecurity. I also realized that if I was going to try to help others feel valued via my products and services, I had to lead by example in order for the business’ marketing messages to ring true. If the business is an extension of you yet you don’t fully value yourself, how can you expect consumers to value your business? Honest people and honest messages are magnetic because consumers have become very savvy to superficiality.
  3. Don’t chase anything: not the consumer, not the market, not the money, not the sales, not the trends. Instead, increase your magnetism. Chasing anything is expensive and potentially chaotic because it can make your tactics zig-zag. It also positions the business as reactive, not proactive, which is a big disadvantage. I knew a business colleague who invested heavily in someone else’s product launch tactic. The originator created a tactic that generated many sales for himself, so my friend followed that exact tactic for her business but the campaign failed and she lost a lot of resources. She reflected on the mistake and realized that she didn’t evaluate whether the tactic was aligned with her brand: it wasn’t. She has a following that expected personalization, and the tactic did not contain her unique energy. I witnessed another colleague chase sales. That colleague sold whatever was trending and generated good sales, but I noticed that the business lacked soul — mainly because it was purely transactional — and was always on the brink of collapse. As a result, their customers were fleeting and not loyal because they, too, were purely transactional. That business existed to sell stuff, any stuff. Soulless transactions are not why I started my own business venture. There’s nothing wrong with using tactics as templates, trends as guides, and consumer cloisters for targeting, but aligning tactics with a business’ core principles and messages creates a more deliberate course. No one likes to hang out with someone whose hair is always on fire. People are attracted to honesty, stability, and calm leadership. They will draw nearer and listen more attentively. My business and I are on a mission to create a lifestyle brand and long-term sustainability.
  4. Don’t be heavy-handed in your partnership with opportunity. Allow divine timing to occur. There is always movement occurring in your favor, even if you can’t see it. Trust and allow. I am very committed to the mission and vision of my business and I work very hard to grow it. That’s why I’m very selective about the business activities and partnerships I make — but I have learned that results are not always immediate! Early on, I understood the power of video in marketing, product development, and messaging, so I started creating my own entertaining videos that served as public relations and soft-sell marketing. The feedback was good but it didn’t result in the level of sales I had hoped for. My gut told me to continue making the videos, despite the work involved and lack of sales. There were many days when I was very insecure and privately asked myself, “If this feels like the right thing to do, how come nothing is happening?!” but I kept on. It took a year before the momentum began to change in the right direction. That may seem long to you, but during that year I became an expert and recognized for my skill in video production. Not only did persisting in these activities expand my mastery, but it also expanded my product offerings to include a profitable online course training other small business owners how to use the power of video. I have learned to fully commit to my own follow-through and execution of great ideas, but to then let them go because each has its own germination period. I am in deep partnership with my business entity, which has its own rightful pace.
  5. Having fun and love for what you do is an indicator that you are exactly where you are supposed to be, doing what you are supposed to do. It also boosts the resilience required of you to get it done. Creating my own lifestyle brand is blazing a new trail. Early in the development of my business, I participated in an elite year-long business workshop. My business mission was very unique: providing playful products and services to return adults back to their happy place. I adapted the conventional techniques for my business but I remember not being taken too seriously. I also struggled with well-meaning family and friends discouraging me, telling me that my mission was too impractical. In other words, the more I tried to make my business fit into conventional ways and means, the more it seemingly did not work, which is enough for some business owners to stop that particular journey. The love I have for Shaboo Prints has inspired me to break through barriers within myself, others, and the market. If I did not love what I do I would not have persisted through video production, public speaking, or any and all of my failures, disappointments, and personal discomfort. If it were not for my love of what I do, my designs and products would be soulless, our marketing messages hollow, our branding lackluster. My passion magnetizes me to attract new partners and see new opportunities, such as our recent partnership with an innovative software company. I love my business so much that I won’t let anyone stop me from being the leader it requires me to be, or to reach the people I am supposed to reach. Yes, it is hard work being a business owner, but because I am in love with my business, I want to do what I do as long as possible. Love makes me energized, resilient, joyful, creative, optimistic, and resolute. In a nutshell, love makes me superhuman.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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. 🙂

Shaboo Prints was created to be a lifestyle movement. In the parlance of the day, “Shaboo” is to be “woke.” It supports a personal level of awareness that triggers the pursuit of happiness and fulfillment. Imagine a world where people are happier, doing and loving what they are innately good at, more confident in their innate value, and supporting others in the pursuit of their happy place.

One of my initial business goals is to place our products in one million homes because I believe these products emanate our love and good intentions. Energizing one million homes with the love and goodness our products are created with is sure to positively shift culture, even if ever so slightly, for the better.

There is an uptick in depression, negativity, and stress right now that Shaboo Prints proposes to assuage through its products and services. We remind people that underneath those more challenging layers is the constant current of another positive reality, and that life, at its core, is good. We will never waver from working to return people back to their happy place, where they are hopeful, where life is open ended, and where each individual is valued for who they really are. That is what I hope our legacy to be; that is the kind of footprint we hope to leave.

Keep an eye on Shaboo Prints. We are on a mission to create a movement of returning you to your happy place. Do you Shaboo?

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Twitter @ShabooPrints

Instagram @ShabooPrints

Facebook.com/ShabooPrints

Pinterest.com/ShabooPrints

YouTube — Shaboo Prints Channel

Thank you so much for joining us!

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