Saturday 9 July 2016

Sheena B.

Sheena and I first met in NYC in 2009 through mutual friends at a conservation party for Central Park. At that same party, we met Chris Noth (Mr. Big from Sex and the City), and I managed to spill my dirty martini on him... but that's another story. Over the years we saw each other a few times, then both ended up in Toronto. We hung out more, went to Jamaica for a wedding, and I was lucky to get to know Sheena better. She's the life of the party; always encouraging more fun- even if you're exhausted/semi-hungover from a day of drinking Pina Coladas in the sun. While living in Toronto, Sheena started her business called Tease Tea. She's a strong, beautiful, and motivated entrepreneur, filled with some great advice.

Where are you from and where are you now? 
I am "technically"  from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. That said, I've spent most of my childhood living in many different small towns across Ontario. You could say the only constant in my life has been change. 

When I graduated college, I moved to NYC for my career followed by San Francisco Bay Area, then Toronto. 

The irony is that I am now settled back in Ottawa, the city in which I was born, and have never been happier. Funny how it took me years of travel and new homes to figure that out.

What goals are you working towards and what keeps you motivated? 
I'm working on building my online Tea Femmpire, called Tease Tea. It's been a chaotic and challenging journey the past two years. Two things keep me motivated: The passion and drive I have for being my own boss, and building something beautiful from the ground up. 

The other part, are my customers. Every time we receive a positive review, or repeat customer, it's my fuel. I know we are on the right track to continue to grow. 

What does confidence mean to you? 
Being unapologetically yourself, and authentic. I spent years hiding my own eccentricities, wishing at times they didn't exist. 

It's still a work in progress, though I've learned to embrace who I am, flaws and all, and it's made me a more confident personally and professionally. 

Where does your confidence come from? 

It might not make sense to most, however, I feel my confidence has come from my many failures, questionable choices, and non-traditional upbringing.

Being able to come out of those things "okay" has fueled me to constantly prove to myself, and sometimes others, that I am so much more than those failures, choices, and circumstance of environment. Proving those things one small feat at a time has built the confidence. 

What do you love about yourself:
          a) Mentally?
My desire to always problem solve with minimal resources, and not take time or energy stressing about things that I literally have little to no control over. I already have enough things within my control to focus on!
b) Physically?
I see the word physically and I think "Man, I'm out of shape!" I literally huff and puff just speed walking, and I can't run without breaking into an itchy rash due to my body just not being used to sweating. 

If I had to choose something physically, I'd say two things; my "exotic" features, and my hair. I get asked multiple times a week "what my background/nationality" is. I also like that I have no idea. It keeps people guessing, and I like that I can't answer because I know that they can't peg my personality and physical features to a stereotype in their mind. 

As for my hair - Although it always has to be styled in some form, it listens well, and looks pretty good most days. I can also shamelessly go days without washing it. Being as on the go as I am, that couldn't make me happier.  
c) Emotionally?
In recent years, I've become incredibly self aware, almost to a fault. This was not the case for most of my adult life to date. I remember at a job a few years back, a woman in HR once told me she "questioned my lack of emotional intelligence."  It hurt. I realize in retrospect, in the past, about 95% of my personal, professional, and life decisions had been made with little to know emotional factors. In fact, I had "prided" myself on being able to make decisions and manage people without getting emotions involved or considering the emotions of others. I think back to that, and I cringe. 

Today, I am always trying to be mindful of how I can be a better listener, leader, friend, spouse, etc. instead of just assuming I am doing fine. 

When I get into a heated debate, I ask myself "How could I have chosen my words in a different way that would have made me more understood? How could I have understood that person better?" 

I'm also wildly aware of my strengths, flaws, and weaknesses more than I've ever been, and try to have the self-awareness to improve or navigate around the challenges instead of hiding them.

What is one of your greatest accomplishments?
Deciding to leave my career in hospitality and start a business as a full time entrepreneur. I'd always thought I was destined to own a restaurant. I was also making great money at my last job as a GM. 

A crushing blow to my self-esteem and ego during my last year in hospitality left me seriously questioning what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. While I love the art of hospitality, did I want to continue working 70+ hours a week, sacrificing weekends, evenings and holidays to delight strangers on top of feeling so disposable to the industry? 

With little to no money, I made the brave choice to work on my business fulltime in 2014. I've since begun working with an incredible company called Shopify, while running my business and the two go hand in hand. I spend my week working with a company that builds, creates, and helps entrepreneurs grow, while I also continue to build and grow my own business. 

Do you find you compare yourself to others often?
I think we all do sometimes. I try to always remind myself that it's not fair to compare yourself to someone else because their journey is entirely different from yours. 

What is something in your life that you have had to overcome, or that you are working to overcome?
That I own a real, thriving, business and not just a "hobby" tea company. We receive more success with each month, yet I still have not had the "we've made it" feeling. I know that's ridiculous at the same time, as we are in fact a truly thriving business. 

What always makes you feel better?
B+B: Bubblebath & Bourbon. It gets me relaxed, energized, and happier at the same time, every time. The bourbon has to be ice cold on the rocks and the bath piping hot with so many bubbles that I can barely see.

Is there anything about yourself- mentally, physically, or emotionally that you would like to improve? 
I want to improve on all of the above, everyday. I accept being a student for the rest of my life. Though if I had to pick one thing specifically, it's being late. I recognize that I have an issue respecting the time of others to the same level that I expect my time to be respected.

What is one of your insecurities?
My smile! Which is unfortunate as I laugh a lot. I have a very "gummy" smile, and super tiny teeth. They also happen to be in terrible shape, and I need several dental implants. 

How do you deal with jealousy?
I tell myself that instead of being jealous, I should be proud. That generally shifts the negative energy and thinking.  

Do you feel pressured by societal norms for your life to turn out a certain way?
I used to, a lot. Now I actually just don't care about how my life turns out. I really don't. As long as 1) My work involves doing something I love 2) I am in a healthy, mutually positive and loving relationship/partnership. 

Who has helped shape who you are? 
I never really had much of a mentor growing up. My dad was always supportive of whatever creative avenues that I wanted to explore such as acting, singing, etc. but in terms of who I am today - I would have to say my life experiences have shaped who I am rather than an actual human being.

What is the most important part of a romantic relationship?
Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook says it best:
"When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated, and ambitious".

"Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier. [and romantic]"

What are three things you are grateful for today? 

  1. I get to help entrepreneurs and be a better entrepreneur every day.
  2. That I haven't given up on my business yet, despite many challenging moments where I've questioned myself deeply. 
  3. Patrick, my other half - he is so incredibly supportive of each and every single day we share together. On days when It's hour 12 and I'm still working, there's no conversation - he makes dinner. On days where we have an obscene amount of tea orders, he's packing tea. On days where I need to travel for work, if he can, he's traveling by my side to work a trade show or support am media opportunity. On days I'm so stressed i could cry, he's got the B+B (Bubble bath & Bourbon) ready to go.

What book should I read and why? 
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Habits form who we are as individuals personally and professionally. This book helps to identify and create the habits that are going to help shape the best you on both of those fronts. My two favourite take aways: 

Do something. Stop sitting around and take action. Every minute you’re sitting around checking Facebook etc, you’re not taking action getting you closer to you dreams

Plan what you’re taking action about.  Don’t just take action willy-nilly.  Actually have a plan. Think things through.  Do one thing in the right order before you need to do the next thing in order to get where you want to go. This is something I still struggle with daily, though try to make it a habit to create more planning around my actions.

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