In Conversation with Sarah Ripoli of Angel Energy

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Describe your business in a few words?

Angel Energy is a clothing brand that focuses on raising domestic violence awareness and inspiring resilience. Each month we donate 25% of our proceeds to a different domestic violence based organization to help victims in need.

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

I started a fashion blog as a hobby in the summer of 2018 and began to share my life with my following. About 6 months later, I felt it was time to open up about losing my mom to domestic violence at the hands of my father. It was my darkest secret that immensely weighed on me for the majority of my life, so it was such a relief to finally get it off of my chest. After sharing my story, I received a number of responses from women who had either been in my shoes before or knew someone that had. Finally feeling free was so liberating, and I knew at that point there was no turning back. I decided to combine my love for fashion with domestic violence awareness, and Angel Energy was born!

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

Before starting Angel Energy, I was an Accounting & Finance Recruiter in Philadelphia. I graduated from college in May 2014 with a degree in Public Relations, but somehow found myself in a career that wasn’t relevant to my major. It took me over 4 years to realize the reason why I felt so unfulfilled was because the creativity aspect of my life was missing, and that’s what makes me happy.

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Becoming an entrepreneur was never really something that I had considered prior to Angel Energy. Throughout college and upon graduation I was naturally conditioned to believe that climbing the Corporate America ladder was the only real route to success. It wasn’t until I actually started working that my idea of success changed. I realized how so much of what I was doing in my career didn’t align with my values. I knew that starting my own company was the only way to achieve true internal happiness and fulfillment.

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?

Around the time Angel Energy was being created I was simultaneously fashion blogging in Philadelphia. Through media events I formed a large network of other bloggers in the community. When creating the launch campaign for Angel Energy I asked if they all wanted to be involved, and those that were interested became a part of a photoshoot and video that conveyed the brands message. We then used that content and solely relied on influencer marketing. Luckily, the word was able to spread quickly through Philadelphia.

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?

When starting Angel Energy, the plan was to make it women empowerment focused. What I failed to realize was that although the percentage is smaller, there are also men who are victims of domestic abuse that did not feel included in the movement. Obviously, we want to be as inclusive as possible, so we added men’s apparel to our brand. From this I learned how important inclusivity is so more people can relate to the message.

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

Having my story published in The Philadelphia Inquirer, because it was the same newspaper that covered so much of my mom’s murder case. Being able to change the headline from “N.J. murder trial: Lurid details, rare defense” written about my parents in June 2001 to “A child witness to her mom’s murder seeks healing 20 years later from the journalist on the story” in October 2020 was definitely my proudest moment so far. I am so thankful to have been able to finish my parent’s painful story with a different narrative – that it is possible to fuel pain into purpose and rise above anything!

When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?

I think it’s important to have a candidate not only describe what they’ve done, but the steps they took to get there. Hearing someone explain processes gives more credibility.

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Due to both social isolation and economic crises as a result of COVID-19, domestic violence has been on the rise globally. Our main goal during the pandemic has been and continues to be to raise awareness for those that are in quarantine right now with an abuser.

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

Hopefully to create a domestic violence-based nonprofit of our own as a branch of Angel Energy.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

Nothing is as it seems! Sometimes a failure in one area is really just a redirection from the universe.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?

When first starting Angel Energy I wasn’t sure where to allocate our budget. It definitely takes trial and error to determine what methods work best.

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

Every time I begin to feel lost or off-balanced I turn to spirituality to redirect my focus to the things that really matter in life. Reading books like ‘Many Lives, Many Masters’ helps to put everything into perspective again.

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

Absolutely! I find a work/life balance is not only important but extremely necessary in becoming successful. All work and no play inevitably leads to a burnout, so I make sure to prioritize this. A tip to achieve work/life balance would be to time block your days and weeks. Seeing a visual reminder of when to push hard and when to take a break makes me feel more organized and motivated to complete tasks.

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

I’m extremely unathletic and actually met my best friend on the sidelines of gym class in 5th grade because we were both so bad.

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

  • Start your days earlier! I’ve found that I tend to get the most work done in the mornings before lunch, so I make sure to capitalize on that time.
  • Create a daily routine. Personally, I love to listen to a motivational or educational podcast as I drink my tea in the morning. This helps challenge my mindset in a positive way and starts each day on a good note.
  • Lastly, and my favorite tip is making a daily to-do list to hold yourself accountable. When I have my goals of the day written down I know I will complete them. 

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

Being an Entreprenista to me is a leader who is confident in her dreams, but is also willing to fail, learn and continuously adapt during the journey.

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