Individuals who pursue their passions? Check.
Busy Women who are able to juggle a gazillion items? Check.
Heart for Hustle: In this series, The Busy Woman Project interviews a couple of amazing, strong Women of Asia who, in pursuit of their passions, moved from Corporate to Wellness. Think ex-bankers, lawyers, consultants to Boutique Fitness gym owners and Athleisure fashion brand founders across multiple cities!
Follow our series as these Busy ladies share their views on Wellness, what drives them and more!
Together, these ladies have worked across various industries including Venture Capital and Banking. Nina & Meg first met while at Goldman Sachs and were named to Forbes 30 under 30 in Retail & E-Commerce in 2016.
With ADAY, the duo believes in setting a new benchmark for apparel (think hyper-versatile and the most comfortable clothing in your wardrobe), which does more, thereby allowing us to consume less and create more headspace for focusing on the things that really matter in life, rather than what to wear.
What are you Busy with? What is your typical day like?
Building a company from scratch and telling our story to the world keeps us busy! There is no typical working day for us. One, day we’ll be in San Francisco meeting with potential investors and the next day we’ll be in New York having breakfast with the product team.
Either way, we’re immersed in every aspect of the business so it’s great that we have the chance to work closely with everyone on the team. It’s definitely an exciting factor as no two days are ever the same, but we’re lucky to have such an awesome team of creative individuals who feel so passionate towards the brand and overall ethos.
Is being ‘Busy’ bad?
Like everything, ‘being busy’ should be taken within moderation. We are busy — we are going from meetings, to the office, to a photo shoot to rock climbing...but we also have a strong belief in a life balance (rather than work-life balance).
There may be some days where the grind is on, and other days where we need to take a mental break. At ADAY, our most scarce resource is time. We want to follow our passions both professionally and privately, and love to explore new places and experiences.
How can someone be ‘less busy’ in hectic cities like NYC & London, etc?
In cities of a ‘hustle’ mentality, like NYC and London, it’s sometimes hard to realize when busy becomes too busy. Meditation, connecting with family, taking a step back and journaling helps us stay in tune with what we’re really looking for.
What are your views on the pursuit of wellbeing / tips for healthy living?
We strive to implement a daily life of wellbeing. We recommend doing something active whenever you can, even if it's small — from meditating on the subway for 10 minutes to taking a brisk walk instead of a cab (and always walk fast!). We really believe you can embrace a healthy living lifestyle anywhere and everywhere.
Because we travel so often, we have embraced outdoor running as a way of discovery. We have our favorite spots in NYC (along the East River and Williamsburg Bridge) and London (along Regent’s Canal in Shoreditch), as well as our favourite spots for “flow” (bouldering at the Cliffs in Long Island City, for example).
What drives you? Where or what do you think shaped your entrepreneurial drive / gave you the confidence?
Our whole team is incredibly driven, each person by individual passions. My [Meg] personal mottos are “don’t be bored / be your best self / remember to teach” — and it’s focused on having the greatest amount of utility impact in this world (can you tell I was an economist?).
On a personal level for our team, this might be having the opportunity to work with cutting-edge and technical fabrics, creating brand awareness that really speaks to our customers, or just being a part of team who wants to build the same dream — a life you don’t need to take a vacation from.
But it’s clear to all of us that ADAY is driven by something bigger than ourselves. It’s difficult to put this inspiration into something tangible, but I think it comes down to a desire to create something meaningful and impactful, that puts a smile on faces and also has positive impact. There’s so much to do to increase happiness and move humanity forward. We always ask, “does this make your heart beat faster?” If the answer is yes, that’s our drive.
Do you use any mobile / web-based apps to support your day-to-day routines?
Our team uses Slack on a daily basis. We find this tool incredibly resourceful as many of our team members are in and out of the office quite frequently, allowing us to stay in touch with each other easily. We also find it a great team-building tool — we’re constantly sending special notes of encouragement, funny gifs, or keeping each other updated with both work and personal activities. We believe that open communication is the best way to be the most productive and meaningful.
Have you ever experienced gender-related challenges being a female business owner?
Not really. This is an important question — but it’s hard for us to separate out what is a gender-related challenge vs. what is just a challenge. Everything is hard since you’re doing it all for the first time. We have both always worked in male-dominated industries and environments. We expect to work hard and face a lot of challenges along the way — on the flip side, we’ve received a lot of support too.
What are your thoughts on ‘stereotypes’ of Women in Asia and how can we further educate women to instill that belief & love in self?
Self-esteem and self-love are ongoing conversations that we have with ourselves throughout our lives. It ebbs and flows and we find that the best way is to just be at peace with it and nurture it, rather than pressure it.
As a Beijing-born and Beijing-and-UK raised woman, I have actually never felt pressure on looks or body image, although certainly I had a lot of cultural confusion growing up. We have this one body — we might as well love it :)
Do you think women support each other in the West (more or less than in Asia)? Can we do more (e.g. to support Women-led brands, etc)?
Always pay it forward! Do something awesome at least once a week for someone else and invest in the world around you. You’ll receive it back.
Who or what continues to inspire you to grow & push boundaries?
Our customers! We strive to organically connect with the woman who is purchasing our products, getting to know her and hopefully becoming her friend. Our woman inspires us because she is smart, dynamic and changes her world every day, in a small or large way. We love the way she lives her life and this helps us push our boundaries to provide for her ever-changing life.
Define ‘that moment’ when you decided to leave your corporate life to build your own brand with ADAY?
In 2014, we were both in technology, I was living in San Francisco and Nina in London and saw everything change, from smartphones to on-demand apps making our lives better. However, our clothing has remained the same for centuries.
What we discovered was that women are always busy — we are natural multi-taskers and planners. Both Nina and I were living lives where we wanted to “do it all”, work hard, travel AND be active and healthy — combining work and play to make the most of our time. We wanted clothes that accommodated our busy lifestyles, which could be worn anywhere, yet cut for movement. So we set out to create technical staples for everyday life, combining technologically advanced fabrics with contemporary design to give the whole apparel category an update.
Nina had taken a Sportswear Design short course at Central St Martins when she was still at Index Ventures and I started working part-time when I still lived in San Francisco. In our old jobs, we worked together on the brand over video calls, and started speaking to Charli Cohen, the founding Creative Director. From there, we took numerous meetings with patternmakers, ex-Lululemon, Nike, Adidas, Puma folks and other people who knew a lot more about fashion than we!
Very soon after, in May 2014, we both decided to quit our jobs to focus exclusively on ADAY. It was really the only way we could both dedicate the amount of time and commitment necessary. Going full-time on a startup is definitely not easy — we lived off our savings and had no idea what would happen next.
Inspired? Hopefully! Share them with your friends who are looking to pursue their passions xx
Do you have more questions for Meg & Nina? Know someone who fits the Heart For Hustle profile? We'd love to hear from you! Drop us an email at [email protected]
YOU can do your part by supporting a For Women business or simply start by celebrating and shouting out another Woman's achievement. Let's empower one another to live, feel and be better.