Creating a Mental Wellness Empire with Meha Agrawal, Founder & CEO at SILK + SONDER | withsarina.com

career memos

Creating a Mental Wellness Empire with Meha Agrawal, Founder & CEO at SILK + SONDER

June 16, 2021

On taking risks, raising capital, and building a business.

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EPISODE DESCRIPTION

Today’s guest, Meha Agrawal, is the Founder & CEO at SILK + SONDER, a self-care membership experience for modern women that makes the art of daily and proactive mental wellness easy and fun, from the comfort of your own home. 

Meha shared the inspiration behind the company and how she was actually a software engineer for many years before developing her unique journaling framework. SILK + SONDER has since raised over $4 million dollars, grown to a full-time team of 8, and seen double digit growth for the past couple of years. 

Listen to Episode 31 now on The Career Memos Podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Meha’s inspiration for founding SILK + SONDER.

Meha wandered the aisles of Target and perused Anthropologie, taking interest in the beautiful stationary and journals on display. Frequently experiencing racing thoughts in her daily life, she knew she needed to channel that anxious energy, but therapy, meditation, and coaching didn’t feel like the right fit, and most journals only offered blank pages without any sort of structure.

So she created her own guided journaling structure, putting pen to paper and jotting down what she was grateful for, what she needed to accomplish that day, and what was making her anxious. It was in that unraveling that she realized she wasn’t happy working as a software engineer, even though she was holding roles at prominent companies like Goldman Sachs, Muse, and Stitch Fix. There was something missing.

This blended framework of reflection, productivity, focus, and action became the heartbeat of SILK + SONDER, giving women an opportunity to channel creativity, intention, and play.

Today, it’s now more than just a membership – it’s a social network where everyone can be themselves and celebrate their vulnerability in a safe space.

You don’t need a safety net if you already have one.

SILK + SONDER grew their initial customer base from friends of friends, the influence and reach of bloggers, and later through a modest $250/month Facebook ads budget. Experimenting and iterating with ads taught Meha more about who their ideal customer actually was.

But taking the leap from full-time work into SILK + SONDER took some convincing. Meha grew up in an Asian American family that prioritized job security, but she knew deep down that she had infinite safety nets. Other jobs and opportunities would always be there if her company didn’t take off. So she gave herself six months to go all in, reflecting that the emotional risk far outweighed the financial risk.

If you’re weighing the excitement and fear around whether or not to take your business full-time, recognize that you may have a completely different comfort level with financial risk than someone else. Take baby steps if you have to, create a solid game plan, and give yourself the permission to carve out your own path.

Raising money will help you fine-tune your business model.

While Meha bootstrapped SILK + SONDER initially, it was a humbling experience as a woman of color trying to raise that first round of capital. She sought faster growth and knew she needed more people around her that were smarter than her, to help carry out the vision. 

Her first check came from an Asian American woman who was initially skeptical and asked a lot of questions. Getting her support early on boosted Meha’s confidence, while all of the initial pushback helped her fine-tune her business model. Of course, there were frustrating moments and getting caught in the comparison game, but it was being strategic and iterating her approach that ultimately led to securing $4 million dollars in funding.

When you’re in the early stages of your fundraising journey, be thoughtful about who you’d like your investors to be. What are the values you’d like them to have? Could you picture them being one of your customers? And don’t take everyone’s feedback to heart. Distill which is helpful and which is irrelevant.

It’s amazing to see how Meha blossomed SILK + SONDER from a nights and weekends project just a few short years ago, to completely skyrocketing her growth.

NOTABLE QUOTE

“I had finally created this facade that life was great, but inside, I was waking up anxious. And that was a pivotal moment for me because it made me realize I’ve chased the gold stars, I built the safety net, but I’m still not happy. And when I look back on it, it’s because I was living somebody else’s story.”

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Over the last 12+ years, I’ve done everything from work as a global human rights activist to lead marketing & partnerships initiatives at companies like Postmates and Apple. I’ve started businesses, lived in multiple cities around the world, pivoted careers more than once, and know what it takes to turn career goals into a reality. As a career coach & consultant, I’m passionate about sharing all that I’ve learned with you, helping you define tangible goals, and providing you with the tools and direct feedback you need to achieve them.

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