Interview with Sabine Vidal, Founder of Be & Golden
Have you ever wondered what your own version of success is? or even your friends? And that their version of success could mean something completely different to yours? We're not just talking about becoming the CEO of a a FTSE 250 (although dream big girls) but the real life honest versions of success.
As part of our mission to give you the confidence to conquer your world, we're investigating what that personally means to as many women as we can chat to, whether it's working a job that allows you to travel the world, saving enough money to move out of your parents house, bossing the boardroom or leaving at the end of your shift to enjoy the finer things in life. We're creating more transparency around success to help you realise your own version, inspire you to put a plan in place to achieve and execute it so you can conquer your world confidently.
Today we read all about how Sabine, a passionate mental health activate, is on a mission to normalise the conversation about vulnerability. Her business, Be & Golden, was born out of the idea of wanting to wear her heart and her feelings on her sleeve, and wanting to see others do the same after years of her own personal struggles with mental health.
LIFE AND SUCCESS
What does success mean to you?
Balance, and being in a position where I can honour my needs without compromising on anything. So I suppose that could be applied to anything really. At the moment it's about being creative and showing myself love, but not losing sight of my ultimate aim; completing my clinical psychology training. Success to me also means the ability to make a positive impact in other peoples lives through multiple channels; my actions, my words and my business.
How has that changed over time?
I went to a school where success was defined by how important you were, your grades and how much you did. It's taken a while to let go of the 'busy' idea of success and acknowledge that having a full schedule doesn't mean I'm doing everything right. Still adjusting to that one... I have a bad habit of signing up to a lot of courses and starting side hustles.
How do you plan to achieve success?
Listen to my gut and follow what feels right. For me that’s keeping busy with Be & Golden, gaining the right experience to be accepted into a masters programme, being kind to myself and not putting too much on my plate so I can focus on what's important.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Finding my path in the world, i.e finally realising I want to be a psychologist and have the courage to talk about mental health. I was scared for a long time - vulnerability is hard.
Tell us about your background and how that led you to found Be & Golden?
I love being creative and I often found myself sketching and lettering as a form of procrastination and catharsis when things were bad (or when uni lectures were boring). I always wanted to do something with my creative projects and have tried selling my prints for years. Be & Golden was born when I was putting a lot of pressure on myself (full time job in sales, finishing my second psych degree, writing my psychology thesis, and obviously throw a bit of heartbreak into the mix). I think it was a point where many things clicked into place. I knew that I was frustrated with how scared people were about their feelings, I’d started to be more open and many of my friends were speaking openly to me and I saw how much better they felt afterwards, I also wanted to do something proactive about raising awareness about mental health and how important it is to speak about it.
What are the biggest things being a business owner has taught you so far?
Time management for sure. I tend to spread myself quite thin with a lot of projects, so I'm learning to balance about 10 very different things at the moment.
I've also learnt to be patient and to believe in my ideas. Starting a business is slow, and things don't start selling overnight. I've had to give it time, because I really believe in Be & Golden, but I'm sometimes insecure about my ideas when they don't work out straight away.
Starting your own business is a big gamble, what gave you the push to go ahead with it?
I'd been sitting on the idea for quite a few months, and I just wanted to do something with it. I've been working on opening up and owning my vulnerability, and Be & Golden gave me a way to do that, and to give back to the mental health community at the same time. It just felt like the right time to do it, so I jumped in and took the risk before I could get caught in the anxious thinking loop of how it could go wrong.
What are the biggest mistakes you’ve made since starting out?
I rushed into the process without doing all my research and understanding exactly what my message was. This was definitely the case the first few times I tried to sell my prints. Setting up online stores can be quite complicated, especially when you're selling internationally. I've really struggled to set up a second store to sell T-shirts to South Africans, and I think I would've been able to have a much more successful start if I'd had an established store selling products which catered to both the EU and South Africa (I lived in London for the last 2 years, but have just moved back home to Cape Town).
I also had a false start with some designs that didn't quite get across my idea of speaking about vulnerability and wearing your feelings. I wish I'd taken a bit longer to sit with my designs and experiment with more ideas before jumping into it.
What is the best advice you could ever give someone looking to start their own business?
Be patient with yourself and the process. But also trust your gut, if you love and trust your idea, go for it. Also, write out a plan, and anything else that comes to your mind, something about getting your thoughts down on pen and paper really helps.
Just like Fearne Cotton, who struggles with anxiety, hosts a podcast inviting other celebrities to open up about their own mental health challenges and Nadiya Hussain - British chef - is similarly candid about the acute anxiety and panic attacks she suffers with. You are also open about your own personal struggles and have specifically designed your t-shirts to support mental health, please can you tell us how this works?
Being open about my mental health struggles has been a big part of my healing. I used to be very closed off (even my psychologist struggled to get me to speak) but when things got really bad I had to start opening up, and that’s when I found the support I needed. I realised that the only way people can help you is if they know you need help. I’m in the process of training to become a psychologist, so this cause is close to my heart in many ways. I really believe the world would be a kinder place if people were accepting of their feelings. I know not everyone can be as open as I have been - I’m lucky that the field I’m in is all about feelings - but if just one person who’s struggling reaches out to just one friend or a professional or family member, then I know we’re moving in the right direction. Not everyone has to tell their story, but if people understood what was happening to them is normal and that there is joy/contentedness on the other side, then it might make them feel less alone. Be&Golden is just a platform to hopefully make that easier, to hopefully make people feel less alone with their feelings, and hopefully encourage people to start the conversation about mental health.
CONFIDENCE AND SELF-CARE
What does true confidence look like for you and when do you feel it most?
True confidence for me is trusting yourself and your mind, not letting others impact what you think and feel. For me this is when I'm taking time to journal, going to therapy, and acknowledging that everyone has a different frame of reference. Everyone sees success, failure and the world differently, so if someone tries to undermine me or tell me I shouldn't be speaking so openly about my feelings, I know that's more about them and their stuff, than me. When I understand and accept that, that is when I trust myself the most, and when I’m the most confident in what I have to offer the world.
What would you say has been your biggest struggle with self-confidence that you have had to overcome so far?
I really struggle with imposter syndrome. I have 2 degrees in psychology, I have my own experience with mental health, I've done a ton of extra courses, I have a load of life and world experience and yet I still often feel like I have nothing worth speaking about. I still struggle with this, however, starting Be & Golden and being so passionate about it has given me a platform to start speaking. And I think that's often one of the best ways to move past something, is to just start doing it.
What advice would you give to anyone who is trying to find the confidence to conquer their world?
Trust your gut but don't always listen to your mind. Anxious thoughts can be a confidence killer, but they're not reality. What's real are your feelings and experiences. You have something to offer the world, and you'll feel so much better if you let it out. Lean into the vulnerability, and don't let anyone (or yourself) tell you that you can't do it.
How do you drown out the negative criticism and stay authentic to yourself?
I know how damaging it can be to not be authentic to myself, and I'm determined to never feel like that again. I've had quite a few people tell me that I shouldn't be so open and vulnerable, that I shouldn't share my story so freely because it will scare other people away. But i remind myself often, that people who are scared of vulnerability in others are likely just scared of vulnerability in themselves. And for the most part people are actually grateful for others being vulnerable (read Daring Greatly by Brene Brown).
One technique I did learn recently during a hypnotherapy session with Jessica Boston (@trancephenomenon) was to create a 'movie reel' in my head of positive moments which go against any negative anxious thoughts. When ever I start doubting myself or my worth, I remember when I’ve received genuine kindness, when people have told me they’re proud of me, moments when I’ve been able to help someone. It’s cliche, but there’s so much power in positive thinking.
When things get crazy, what’s one thing you always remember to do for yourself?
Look after myself. I make sure to eat properly, take a moment to disconnect and breath (i.e Watch an episode of Friends), and have a nap.
What’s the last movie or book you’ve read that made you feel empowered?
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin empowers and inspires me to work on my ‘happiness’. I don’t actually believe in true happiness (though I’m all about those happy moments), and believe we should rather be on the search for ‘contentedness’. But anything that can make life fuller and more positive is worth doing, both for ourselves and everyone around you. What I love about this book is Gretchen shows that we can make huge changes with just small achievable steps. It really can be applied to all aspects of life, even starting a business. You can’t just wake up and decide to be happy (or sell 100 products in one day), you have to work at it slowly, experiment, and find the steps and processes which are actually worth keeping.