By Stephanie Morimoto
"The measure of achievement is not winning awards. It’s doing something that you appreciate, something you believe is worthwhile." - Julia Child
A friend of mine once said, “There are seven seminal moments that define your life.” These are the moments that catalyzed new ideas or adventures that led you to where - and WHO - you are today.
I’m hopeful that I have many decades ahead of me still so I haven’t experienced all seven moments yet. But there are certainly four moments so far that have given me my sense of purpose - who I want to be in this world, and how I want to run my business, Asutra.
I’m sharing my journey in case it helps you reflect on how to build a purpose-driven company and life.
Moment 1 - Grandpa
My grandpa Paul was a huge influence in my life. He lived the “golden rule” - treat others how you want to be treated - and always advised me to do what I loved, and the rest would follow. Despite being incarcerated as an 11-year-old by the US government in internment camps during World War II simply for being Japanese American, he later joined the National Reserve, worked his way through school to become an ophthalmologist, and served his community including prisoners without access to eye care. He was also an entrepreneur: he built his medical practice from the ground up, employing over 30 people in a town (Joliet) where good jobs weren’t easy to come by. And he was a constant learner, a voracious reader and lover of new adventures.
My grandpa showed me how to find joy and satisfaction in caring for others while also building a successful business and devoting time to not just your vocation but also your avocations. Ultimately, he showed me how to live a life of purpose, with your passions fully integrated.
Moment 2 - Burnout
Earlier in my career, providing equitable access to high-quality education was my passion. I went to a mediocre-at-best high school but was fortunate enough to get into a top university. When I got to college I realized the huge inequities that exist in our US education system. I dedicated myself to working at two nonprofits whose missions I loved: training teachers and principals for schools that needed them most. I worked like crazy at these organizations, always focused on doing better for the kids we were ultimately serving.
After a dozen years working endless hours and criss-crossing the country, I burned out. I was sleep deprived, stressed out and unhappy. I was only focusing on my work and ignoring hobbies...and pretty much everything else that refueled me. I needed to change.
Moment 3 - “Retirement”
I was super fortunate to be able to take some time off of work. Even though I was in my 30’s at the time, I fondly refer to that period as my “retirement”. I purposefully did nothing: no volunteering, no projects, nothing scheduled. Despite being deeply skeptical about self-help books, someone recommended to me The Artist’s Way, and I read and “did” it wholeheartedly. It’s a guide to a 12-week process on how to reject self-doubt, recover your creativity and decide for yourself how you want to live. In an age where everything is public and goal-oriented, the very idea that you can, and should, take creative risks privately and just see where it goes seems revolutionary.
I pushed myself to relearn who I was, what brought me unbridled joy, and most importantly: WHO I wanted to be in the world vs. WHAT I wanted to accomplish. It was transformative. I had my grandpa as a model and this new framework as a guide. I now had a vision for a purpose-driven life, a life that integrated professional and personal passions and joys. It wasn’t about finding this perfect work-life balance. It was about having control over how I spent my time and who I spent it with.
Moment 4 - Asutra
We, especially women, often multi-task intensely and care for others at the expense of ourselves. During my “retirement”, I had to re-train myself to prioritize sleep and exercise, to wind down from a stressful day, to put good things in and on my body, and to take time for me - and not feel guilty about it. I still don’t do any of this perfectly, but I'm passionate about sharing active self-care routines and products through my company, Asutra, to help as many people as I can.
At Asutra, we help people take care of themselves on purpose so they can get the most out of life - what we call active self care. At Asutra, we believe that active self-care isn’t selfish - it’s important. It’s not an escape from your stresses. It’s an ongoing practice that’s essential to being your best you, so you can be even more bad-ass!
As a women-owned, women-led and diverse team - which includes Venus Williams as our Chief Brand Officer - we know how to formulate products that work for a variety of needs. We offer over 50 organic products – from natural solutions to help with pain relief and sleep to skincare to bath & body – so you can care for yourself the way you want.
It’s taken me 20 years to figure it out, but at Asutra, I get to lead a life of purpose while integrating the things I love. And the best part is our team feels the same way.
We get to help people do everything from get a good night’s sleep, recover faster after running a marathon, play with their grandkids without pain or boost their mood while working from home with our aromatherapy. We get to cultivate a culture built on our core values, like “one team, one goal”, where we all pitch in to get the job done and make sure that our customers are happy.
We also get to create opportunities for Team Asutra to be THEIR best. Part of our purpose at Asutra is to create good jobs and career paths for people who need them in Chicago, my hometown. It’s been awesome to see folks start on the assembly line and grow into leaders. We felt deep gratitude to be able to take care of our staff during the height of the COVID pandemic: we shut down so people could stay home and be safe, and we paid everyone the whole time.
As a small business, we have a constellation of partners - graphic designers, a PR agency, influencers, outsourced accounting, a web developer - who we consider part of Team Asutra. It’s been inspiring to see how motivated they are by our mission of active self-care. When your bookkeeper is glued to the TV to watch the Asutra segment on Good Morning America, you know you’ve done something right!
Ultimately we get to help people realize that self-care isn’t just about taking a bath (although that can be great too). It’s about taking care of your mind, body and soul and being intentional about it. What could be more important now?
“In performance, we have a greater purpose. The greater purpose is that we're communing together, and we want this moment to be really special for all of us. Because otherwise, why bother to have come at all? It's not about proving anything. It's about sharing something.” - Yo-Yo Ma
This is a repost from Venus Williams' blog The Vee.