Give us your “elevator pitch”:
Let’s start with why I do what I do, because that’s the most important part. My husband is a disabled veteran and we suffered for ten years after his return home from Iraq before we found out we weren't alone in our post-war struggles. We finally learned there actually are people and resources out there that could help us. I don't want anyone else to suffer like we did so it's my life's mission to help veteran caregivers like myself connect and find out they aren't alone in their struggle – there are 5.5 million veteran caregivers across the U.S. – and there are people and resources out there that can help make their lives better.
What type of products or services does your business offer?
I'm an artist so I gravitate toward using art to help caregivers connect. Art has a way of reaching and connecting people despite differences or struggles or how hard it is to talk about something. Art can transcend boundaries and walls we might put up, which can be very impactful. I have a variety of art and film projects I've created since I started down this particular path during graduate school in 2014.
For example, I have an ongoing Instagram project called When War Comes Home where I repost snapshots of post-war struggle I find on Instagram. Caregivers and spouses chime in with comments about how they understand, or ask questions and get help for a similar situation. I have some film projects I'd love to produce this year but for now they're on hold while I'm building a new business: New Rosie.
How did you get started with New Rosie?
I spent years, including two in an MFA (Masters of Fine Art) program at American University, learning everything I could about how to "make it" as a professional fine artist. Sadly, after years of research, interviews, classes, experiments, grant applications and failed businesses I realized it takes a long time to build up a full-time fine art practice that can fund a decent living. There are rare exceptions of artists who make it big very quickly, but I still have a hard time believing they didn't continue to struggle to pay their bills. Most artists earn their living by a different vocation whether teaching, waiting tables or working for 40 years and finally pursuing art when they retire. I decided I was not happy with any of those options so I began to dream up a business that could fund my caregiver art and film projects, and meet 2 other bottom lines: 1. Uplift and unite the 5.5 million veteran caregivers across the country in ways no other organization had before. 2. Help those caregivers earn income for their families by only sourcing products from military family businesses.
What’s been the hardest part about starting your own business?
Being patient! I have so many ideas and I want to bring them all to life immediately. But that's not how it works when you've decided to build organically by bootstrapping. If I sought investors and secured funding I could go straight to producing products in bulk, hiring full-time employees, paying someone to build an amazing website, advertising, and the list goes on. I've strategically chosen to build the business one idea at a time, one product at a time, because I'm making sure New Rosie products and services are something caregivers want and need. I'm testing products on a small scale and polling my community every step of the way.
When feeling stressed or overwhelmed, what do you do to unwind and refocus?
I’m the kind of person that thinks like a CEO – I'm constantly thinking big picture and 10 years into the future. This naturally causes me to get anxious when I feel like I'm not building my business as fast as I can dream it. Therefore it's super important for me to remind myself to take things one day at a time and focus on doing just one thing really, really well before I move on to another.
I'm so intent on this slow-building process because of my past failed businesses. I used to get (what I thought was) a great idea, spend time and money building it, and then try to find someone to buy it. It didn't work. I'm not saying that strategy could never work, but it didn’t work for me so this time around I'm not investing time, money or energy into any part of this business until I know it will give me the ROI I'm looking for.
If I still go over the anxiety ledge despite my best efforts, I make time for things that restore my soul: resting/relaxing with my husband, playing with my dog or taking her to the dog park, playing games with my niece and nephew, zoning out in a warm bath, and of course a good cocktail or prosecco always helps.
What resources have you found helpful in blazing your own trail?
My friend Jen Dziura, founder of GetBullish.com and the Bullish Conference, has been a large influence on me as an entrepreneur. I've met several other entrepreneurs (all millennials) through that community who have become my best friends. Do yourself a favor and go read everything Jen has written.
I also have an audible subscription and spend quite a bit of time on the road some weeks so I listen to audiobooks and podcasts. My favorites are Tony Robbins, Brené Brown, and Tim Ferriss, among many others. I recently wrote a post about the 13 books that helped me become an energy powerhouse, which lists more.
Regarding specific caregiver resources, I wouldn't still be alive or married without reading Wounded Warrior, Wounded Home and When War Comes Home by Marshéle Carter, both resources that came into my life because of my involvement with Reboot Combat Recovery. My husband and I also attended a Love Reboot course by Jon and Joanna Anderson that was life changing. You can learn more about their course and our story on Episode 12 of Jon’s Relationship Rewire podcast: Marriage Meets PTSD.
How does being a caregiver influence or impact your professional pursuits?
Clearly it influences everything! All of my work from art to film to New Rosie is designed to help veteran caregivers like me. My husband is also very involved in the community as the Operations Director at Reboot Combat Recovery so a day doesn't go by without discussions about veterans and caregivers. More than that, learning to move from lives full of post-traumatic stress to post-traumatic growth is a gift that touches all factors of my life. It's taught me how I’m more amazingly strong and capable than I ever knew before. It's made both my husband and I grow more and more fearless every day.
On the flip side, I am still recovering from secondary post-traumatic stress and my husband continues to struggle with post-traumatic stress symptoms sometimes, so we do have to pay more attention to taking care of ourselves than my non-military friends. Believe me, if I could sleep five hours a night and work the rest of the time I would do it. That’s how much I love what I do. But I’m forced to make extra space to care for my husband and myself so I simply can’t operate at that capacity. However, it’s made me more efficient than I dreamed possible and taught me to make sure something is 100% worth my precious time before investing in it, which is a blessing in disguise.
If you could spend one day with any famous person, who would it be and why?
Oprah Winfrey. She built an empire from nothing. More than that, her life began from a history of abuse, neglect and rejection. I would love to spend an entire day asking her a million questions about her lessons learned over the years so I can save myself a few decades of mistakes.
What’s currently on your radar? Tell us about your latest project.
My first step in launching New Rosie was building an Etsy shop to test products before I scale up to mass production. If you have an idea for a product you'd like to see me produce so you can buy it for yourself or a caregiver you know, please let me know! I'd love to make it for you and other caregivers. Once I list a few more products I'm going to start developing a RosieBox: a gift box that supporters, friends, family, veterans and caregivers could buy for New Rosies. If someone doesn't know a caregiver but wants to support the community, I have a long list of caregivers who would love a free care package in the mail made just for them. I can’t wait to get the RosieBox off the ground and running!
What advice do you have for today’s millennial professional?
The best advice I have is from Tony Robbins, who teaches we are all human beings, even the most famous, high-performing ones, so if one human can learn to do something or building something, so can we. If you want to accomplish a big dream or build something, simply find someone who has already done it and copy them. It’s as simple as that. Don’t listen to people who give you advice or comments or criticism if they haven’t done anything like that themselves. You’ve got to block those people out – they’re only going to hold you back. Instead, listen to the people who made it. They’ll help you figure out your path to get there if you trace their steps.
How can our readers connect with you?
Drop me a note on my contact page on my website, sarahdalestudios.com, if you're interested in working together or have further questions. ALL my work is collaborative so I'd love to discuss how we could help each other. I'm on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at sarahdalestudio and you can find New Rosie at NewRosie.com (new website and social media coming soon!).
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