So, check this out. I’d never met Serena before but loved her stuff and asked her if we could talk SQUIGGLES. She obliged and we skyped while she was having some much deserved downtime in Italy. I tried to pretend I wasn’t jealous. This is what she had to share and, I think it’s fair to say, I am in love and think you will be too.
Hi Serena, we are going to dive into this. Squiggly Line stuff, get real time, talk to me about your story?
Well, travel has been a passion, always. My family was spread across the world and so I started by making travel guides to the places that I had travelled to. Before I knew it the guides were being shared extensively and the idea brewed. I thought: I should build a company from this. What is really interesting to me now is that, at the time, I could think of a hundred reasons why it was a bad idea. But something in me just told me I had to do it.
Ahhh, intuition, the first step on the squiggly path. So I guess your “concerned friends and family" thought you were crazy?
I thought I was crazy, it seemed like the most irrational thing I could do. I was a full-time student and was committing to something that would literally commandeer every other waking hour. But I wanted it so badly that I found every opportunity to devote myself to doing it and just made it happen. I've met so many people who come up with an idea but never bring themselves to take the first step to make it happen. It’s like they are waiting for the perfect moment or sign, but the thing is, there is no perfect moment, you just have to take the first step on that path and then figure out the second step.
That’s exactly the process, just start. Don’t expect perfection.
Now a big issue is the anxiety of the unknown you have stepped into. How do you deal with that?
I find it hard to open up about the negatives because I have to be ruthlessly focused on the positive, otherwise it’s really hard to invest your life in an uncertain path. What is really interesting to me is the number of people that were critical of what I was doing. I struggled with this a lot at the start. Well-meaning (I think) people who looked at me like I was making the biggest mistake of my life. People seem to love having opinions about the non-traditional path you are treading. You have those moments at a dinner party when it gets awkward, where someone tells you all the reasons your idea can’t work. It’s kind of them, to care so much about my impending failure <sarcasm>. I try not to take it personally and I really try to separate business from who I am – but it’s hard and I can’t pretend that it doesn’t hurt me deeply.
Especially when you are young and starting out. Here I am, stressed, insanely overcommitted and trying to do something which I believe could be life-changing. Is it this that scares people?
My personal view is that this is more about them than you – I have learned to embrace the haters and take it as a sign I am on an edge that is disruptive in some way. And that’s a good thing!
That is where I am now but it’s been a journey for sure. In the beginning I adapted an iron-lady type approach to protect myself. I literally visualised myself suiting up with amour and heading into battle. That is what I thought I had to do to work through it; not allow anyone in. Let me tell you, that didn’t work, I just came over like a bit of an ass and rubbed people the wrong way. Now I am more integrated with who I am - and it draws the right people to me. I just have to make sure I keep the wrong people at bay. I really feel now you need to know yourself before you start building something. If you don’t know who you are it’s really hard to expect people to follow you; what you're building is as much about who you are as it is about your idea.
I agree, I fundamentally believe that the journey is about evolving who you are…
That has been my experience. When I started I was obsessed with startup culture and working. “Weekends are for the weak” is what was on the wall at the incubator I worked at. And that was my god. Now I am a convert to Arianna Huffington - maybe because the exhaustion caught up with me <laughs> but this is about more than the win. It is about enjoying the journey and I am trying to do that now. I don’t always win that battle of course.
I have learned, or I am still learning, that my best tool is me. I have to invest in that tool, I try to take time off and allow myself recovery, to create room to breathe and take stock of the whole. If you don’t do this, the small incremental pieces start to overwhelm you.
This goes back to intuition for me – when you are in tune with yourself you make the best decisions, you are most connected to intuitive knowledge, does this resonate?
Absolutely. Intuition is my most powerful asset. There are numerous decisions that I have make based on this and that ultimately will drive the most value in my business.
Do you get pushback though? That is the hardest pat of intuition I think, justifying it to others?
I’m beyond justifying what I do. I am not trying to please everyone in the world. It’s just ok that some people don’t get it. <this was the moment I fell in love by the way - amen!>
Ok – last question – you mentioned your travel must-have was a white t-shirt. Ending on a light note, what is your fav?
Ha! Ummm. Topshop – can’t get better than a Topshop basic on this one.
You are amazing, thank you for sharing and we will look forward to watching, and helping you grow to be the Number One platform for young (of age and spirit I hope) people.
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