In Conversation with Meha Agrawal of Silk + Sonder
Describe your business in a few words?
Silk + Sonder is a wellness subscription experience for modern women that makes daily and proactive self-care easy and fun, from the comfort of her home through a guided journal, online community, and virtual programming.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
Three years ago, I felt trapped in an emotional rut with the same disjointed, isolating and self-navigated options most of us have today: therapy felt intimidating, coaching was expensive, anxiety medications seemed risky, and meditation apps were quite frankly…boring. While all potentially viable options for improving my mental wellness, simply finding and engaging with any of these felt onerous and insufficient. I felt this way to begin with because I lacked connection and that, along with accountability, was exactly what I was seeking. Then, however ironically, I finally discovered the therapeutic power of pen to paper and peer-driven support. Its profound impact on my own life left me no choice but to dedicate all my time and energy to bring a more approachable and impactful solution to mental wellness to others worldwide. We launched Silk + Sonder: a subscription for mental wellness that includes a guided monthly journal (yes, analog!) and access to an online community of peers who inspire and hold one another accountable.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
Before Silk + Sonder, I was a software engineer and product manager for Goldman Sachs, Stitch Fix, The Muse, and Fueled.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I did not! Growing up South Asian American, the only career options presented to me were engineering, medicine, law, and academia. I realized I wanted to be an entrepreneur when I left Goldman Sachs to work at The Muse as their 8th employee. Watching Kathryn Minshew and Alex Cavalocous build a company from scratch energized me and I knew then I had the crazies in me to pursue an idea of my own one day.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
I didn’t have a formal marketing strategy – I just had a goal to get in the hands of a friend of a friend within our first week of launching. Beyond that, it was mostly word of mouth and leveraging communities of women readers (e.g. blogs, newsletters etc.) and that seemed to work for early traction!
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
One of the ongoing challenges is ensuring that our product reaches customers’ homes before the 1st of the month. Because we can’t control shipping carriers’ timeline, we’ve had to put internal processes in place to ensure that we minimize unexpected delays.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Creating a community of diverse members across all walks of life and all 50 states with different values, beliefs, and challenges that coexist and support one another in spite of their differences. That is truly rewarding in our current climate.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Like many companies, we had to pivot on certain product decisions. In our case, we had originally launched IRL programming to foster deeper connection with our members. Once the pandemic hit, we had to quickly pivot to virtual sessions.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
There will always be unfortunate, unpredictable, and uncertain situations we can’t always control. The best thing we can do is to constantly plan for worst-case scenarios so when they do occur, we’re prepared to react appropriately.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Staying in my own swim lane. There was so much going on in the world – businesses were crumbling in the midst of uncertainty and chaos. The only thing I could do was stay relentlessly focused on my own business and health and let go of the things I couldn’t control. This allowed me to stay centered, hopeful, and committed professionally and personally.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
I believe that they should be integrated – if you play your cards right, you don’t necessarily need balance because they are both equally energizing and naturally blend. That said, I do believe in creating space to recharge and play. I highly encourage folks to think about the hobbies and interests that gave them joy as children – spend time doing that every week, every day if you can. That time and space is sacred and it’s critical in making you more productive when you return to work or life.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
While most know that I’m an avid dancer, most don’t know that I have a huge passion for singing. I usually spend 2-3 hours on Saturday playing Karaoke by myself. 🙂
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
1. Journal every morning, 2. Don’t check email and Slack until lunch., 3. Move all possible meetings to afternoon.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Being an Entreprenista means that I define ambition on my own terms, in my own words and carve my own path.