Lily Bekmezian – Rebuilding Life After Divorce + Becoming A Single Mom

IW 4 | Rebuilding Life After Divorce

 

Divorce is a horrible event for a family and it is more impactful to the children caught in the crossfire. Host, Greta Gasparian, sits down with Lily Bekmezian, the owner of House of Sofella, to discuss this common yet taboo issue in the Armenian culture. Lily talks about her life’s journey—from going through divorce, to rebuilding her life and starting an online business. She then shares her opinion about the worst part of the entire process and how pressured she was as a woman in a conservative community. For Lily, being a perfect example to her children as a mom is the critical thing to achieve even after divorce. Know more about this powerful woman who is in her mid-thirties, divorced with two young children, and a single mother working full time.

Listen to the podcast here:

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Lily Bekmezian – Rebuilding Life After Divorce + Becoming A Single Mom

We have Lily and she is going to talk about the topic of divorce, rebuilding life after divorce, starting an online business and all that amazing stuff. Lily, welcome to the show. 

It’s good to be here. Thank you for having me. 

Here’s a little backstory. Lily and I met on social media. She approached me. She wanted to send a cute package from her adorable boutique and we’ve been connected ever since. I spoke to her on the phone to browse about topics we could talk about something that’s inspiring. The one thing that inspired me about her was her positivity and the amazing way she came out of a divorce. I thought it would be nice for an Armenian woman especially, to talk about such a taboo subject or actually it’s taboo when every culture I feel. Even though it’s a lot more normal these days, I still feel like it’s something people don’t want to talk about because it’s uncomfortable. It brings up a lot of emotions that no one wants to go back and deal with. Thank you so much for being brave enough to talk to us about this topic. Tell us what was marriage like for you? Give us a little recap of what it was like.  

Marriage was great. It’s that whole idea in our culture, you’re raised, you’re going to get married, you’re planning your dress, how many kids do you want? You have these imaginary timelines setIt happens but it doesn’t always plan out the way it’s supposed toI married my high school sweetheart. We were friends all of our lives. I want to say since like twelve, thirteen years old. Everything was super simple, very fluid. It was easy. We had the same friends, our families knew each other. It was safe choice I wanted to say. You don’t know any better. You know that this is what you’re supposed to do 

That’s like your home in a way. It’s like your safe haven. It’s what you know.  

You have similarities. Your families are similar, your culture, your language, your traditions. It’s easy that way. It was great. I was married for about nine years and I had two great kids out of that. They are the inspiration behind House of SofellaWith me married and working and having kids and the stress that life brings altogether, there are a lot of financial burdens. There are a lot of things you’re figuring out. lot of that sometimes you do behind closed doors. lot of people don’t know the struggles because I can guarantee every young married, everybody. 

I can’t think of one person that doesn’t go through struggles in a marriage. That’s impossible, whether it’s financial or communication or trust or whatever it is. Everybody goes through some form of a struggle in marriage. 

You’re taught to not talk about your problems. You’re taught to work them out, “It’s okay. Everyone goes through it. It’s not a big deal. You’ll figure it out. You’ve got kidsWhat will people think? What will people say? This is almost as if it’s like a lot and you abide by it like citizen. 

We all live with it. It’s okay. It’s fine.  

Because in our culture there is no divorce. There is but it is taboo. It’s hidden. 

It’s super taboo. I feel like couples who are Armenian that I know who have gotten divorced, you don’t even get a warning sign. You don’t get a, “We’re getting divorced. It’s like you hear it from the grapevine and then you’re like, Are you serious? In our culture, we always put up a front. You could be miserable, but you’re smiling because you’re obligated to. 

Also, you’re still in love with the person you may or may not divorce. Youre protecting. You’re in protection mode because at the end of the day, that’s your family. You still don’t want anyone disrespecting your family. The one thing I’ve upheld and the one thing I’m a true believer in is karma. I don’t want to speak badly about anybody. This was my husband, the father of my children. I want everyone to respect that and I respect that. You go through things and you move on and you forgive or you don’t, depending on who you areI have chosen to completely de-stress my life. With that, comes forgiveness. With that, comes no anger, no hatred. I want to be that one in a million divorcee who you go to your kids’ games together, your vacation together, you have family dinners together, why not? Why can’t that happen? I absolutely want to touch on the fact that we didn’t divorce on such healthy terms. In a marriage where one partner isn’t always present or healthy in their own rightI feel like it’s important to talk about addiction because that’s what we experienced in our marriage, gambling addiction. In our culture, that’s not an addiction. Everybody does it. It’s no big deal. It’s not a big deal because some people can handle it. It’s not addiction if you can handle it or is it? I’m not sure.  

You’re oblivious to it, I feel. Most of the women whose husbands clearly have an addiction of some sort are oblivious to it because it’s easier to close your eyes and act like, “Everything’s fine. I can put a smile. My kids will never notice and I will deal with him. I got this. I’ll deal with it. 

You’re a fool to think that. It doesn’t make the person who has that burden any less or more of a human being. He’s no better than I am, I’m in no better than he is. The fact is that you have illnesses and sometimes there could be cancer in a marriage and that could take a toll. Sometimes there could be cheating and fidelity and that takes a toll. Sometimes there’s an addiction. There are so many different things in marriage and so many components that you have to juggle. Honestly, you throw your hands up in the air and pray, I hope it works out,” because sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. You fight for it. I fought for it. I did fight for it and I’m proud of myself for that. 

You don’t wake up and say, “That’s it. You pissed me off. I’m getting a divorce. 

There are a lot of bad days before that one judgment day. People don’t see that and people judge you for it, “Did she do everything she could? Did she try to help the situation? Is there anything else she could have done? Why couldn’t she have tried harder for the kids?  

[bctt tweet=”You go through things and you move on, and you forgive or you don’t depending on who you are.” username=””]

That’s the worst part is people’s assumptions. It’s like, Lily, are you sure you tried hard enough? I know this one couple and they went through the same thing and then they tried hard.” You’re like, I don’t need to tell you that I went to therapy and this and this. What do you think I did? I have two kids. You think my first option was divorce?” People are crazy. 

Here’s the thing. There’s an imaginary hierarchy of importance in a family. The moms, the wives, somehow we’re always at the very bottom and we’re okay being there because it’s our nurturing way to take care of everything and everybody. Once there’s time left over, I’ll get to me. It’s okay. I haven’t slept. It’s okayI’ve been crying for like three days but it’s okay. I haven’t eaten yet but it’s okay. Then it’s not okay because you have to take care of yourself no matter what as a woman, as a mom, as a wife. Mine came at a little later date, but it finally came. 

What do you think is the worst part of divorce? Is it the family dynamic changing? Is it all the people with their assumptions and the rumors? 

Honestly, it’s like a death in the familyThat’s what they say. I didn’t believe it because when we decided to mutually end our marriage, we were still living together for a little bit. We had a garage sale together. We were still taking the kids to school, picking them up on the important dates. We were doing things because we’ve been friends for so long. Here’s the thing, it wasn’t unnatural for us to be friends together. That’s what we knew. That was the easy part. The hard part was trying to make it work as a married couple. When you have such different personalities and I’m sure I was probably called crazy enough for a couple of times where you believe, “Am I crazy though? Maybe I was a little crazy. Of course we’re all a little crazy. There’s nothing wrong with that.  

I’m psycho if you ask my husband. 

I was okay with that. He would always say, “You’re like a robot. I’m like, I know. I don’t want to be a robot. I want to break out of routine, but someone’s got to keep it together.” That takes a toll on a marriage too. I played a role in there. I’m not ever going to say I didn’t play a role in the demise of my marriage. He had his own issues. Those were his, but I had my own as well. The combination of that together is explosive. What do you get? What can you do?  

It’s hard to navigate two different personalities. You said you’re a Capricorn. My husband’s a Capricorn. I’m a Virgo. He’s very chill, very down to Earth. I’m like, “You said 3:00I’ll go at 4:00.” I’m like, “No, but you said 3:00. 

That’s interesting because that’s Capricorns. 

Not him. 

He’s a very special kind of Capricorn. 

He is a special cookie or maybe like the male and female version have some discrepanciesThey say opposites attract and we’re opposite, but we’re notThis is my opinion on marriage. I think you need to have arguments or more so conversations, but also you need to learn each other’s language. That’s the hardest part is that if there is an issue, let’s say a financial issue and you’re screaming at me but I’m talking calmly. We’re never going to get to a happy medium ever. If we’re both talking calmly but you’re zoning out, that’s not going to do. You need to learn each other’s language. If something’s upsetting me, I can’t come screaming. My husband zones me out. 

They completely shut down. I remember in one of our therapy sessions and we did couples therapy and I don’t think we needed the length that we did at for, but we loved going. We loved our therapist and he was so great. He became almost like a mentor, like a marriage counselor, let’s say. It was fun. We both looked forward to that. He was always so willing, which was nice and surprising of an Armenian manThat was nice. I remember clear as day, we were talking about a topic. I can’t remember what the topic was, but I remember they both zoned me out and I was like, “Have I lost both of you? My therapist turns to me and says, “We’re going to have to teach you to stay within a certain timeframe to make a point. He was nice about it but it’s constructiveHe’s like, “There’s going to come an actual time in whatever you’re trying to get across. After that point, everyone shuts down. We start thinking about dinner, we start thinking about work or whatever or what buddy we’re going to go seeHe’s like, “You did it and it happened, so I’m going to bring it up. My ex-husband said, I’m so glad I was not the only one here because I think I stopped listening five minutes ago. You learn each other’s language to communicate. You have a short window there. 

The hardest part is when you have these conversations and you still disagree. That’s like, Okay but we can agree to disagree because this is both of our lives and now, we have a baby or more than one kid. Marriage is always difficult. We were together for a number of years and you think you know a person but you don’t until you get married or you live together. Armenians, it’s differentYou don’t live together unless you’re married, I didn’t know you did this. How did I know?” It’s a shock and then you have to adjust to this person and how they are from their daytoday life. Are they messy? Do they clean? Are they OCD? It’s hard. 

It’s all fun and games until you live together. 

I always talk to my mom and my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law about this and I’m like, I don’t want to talk big, but when I have a daughter and she wants to move in with the fiancé or something, I think I’m okay with it,” even though my husband will probably shoot me when he hears this. I think I’m okay because I don’t want her to get married and then say, “Mom, I don’t think this guy was right for me or I can’t deal with him because he’s too OCD or he’s messy. He doesn’t help around the house. I think it’s healthy. You’re Armenian and there are there are rules in a way. 

We’re too sheltered from what life is like. It’s like everybody we know married the first guy they dated and that’s it. It’s like, “Why?” I don’t understand. 

I’ll tell you what it is. They don’t want people talking because if you have more than one boyfriend or more than one fiancé, then they label you and then no one wants a labeled daughter. 

The family name is completely tainted and that’s it. 

IW 4 | Rebuilding Life After Divorce
Rebuilding Life After Divorce: There is an imaginary hierarchy of importance in a family. The wives somehow are always at the very bottom because of their nurturing ways to take care of everything.

 

It‘s more defining, it’s their reputation but it’s like, “Okay?” 

I have two daughters and the one thing I want for them, honestly, is to experience life, be successful, financially and 100% independent. If they choose to share that with a life partner, then they choose to share that with a life partnerI remember my dad. Maybe your dad probably said this. “Dad, I want to do this.” “Get married and then you’ll do it.” “Dad, I want to tattoo.” “Get married and then have a tattoo.” “I want to go to China.” “Get married and go with your husband. I was just like, “This is completely going backwards. I’m vowing now. This is on air and completely on there foreverMy kids can’t see this until they’re 30. I don’t want to do that to them. 

Going back to the hardest part and this is honestly the hardest part for me as a mother going through a divorce. I don’t know what it’s like when you don’t have children going through a divorce. I’m sure it’s hard, but it may be not as hard. It’s sharing your children in two different residences. It’s explaining to them why you’re not living in the same home anymore. It’s seeing the questions in their eyes, but they’re not old enough or they’re not mature enough or they’re not brave enough yet to ask the questions that need to be asked in the proper way. You don’t know what answers to give them anyway, so you come up with these things, these reasons, whatever it is. 

I don’t even know half the things I told my kids, by the way. It was like, I would pray every night, “Please don’t ask me. I don’t know what to say. It’s also somewhat staying as honest as possible. You look at their age, you look at their intellectual level, what they can handle, what they can’t and their emotional state. You are honest based on that. Every child is different. Every parent is different. What’s not different in every divorced family is the divorce part. There’s always going to be a separation there. You can’t do anything about that. I think kids do, they see honesty and transparency and they don’t like to be lied to no matter the age. 

That’s a given fact that children don’t want to be lied to because they’re so much smarter than we think, that we give enough credit for themThey’re so much smarter than their age and they feel these things. When you and dad are not close to each other and you’re mad, your face shows that the vibe is there. They feel it. They know. 

They don’t know how to process that. It’s emotion, it’s not logic with them. That is the hardest part of divorce is having your kids be okay. Mom and dad will be okay. We’re adults. You do this, you work at it, you do it mutually, knowingly, you know the repercussions, you know what you’re getting yourself into in a sense. The kids have no idea, especially young kidsIt’s doing everything for them.  

What’s it like for them now that they’re a little bit older to live at dad’s and at mom’s? 

My kids love it. Do they wish mom and dad and we were all living together? Of course they do, absolutelyAre they struggling and are they crying and stressed? Are they emotionally affected by this? Time will tell. You don’t know yet because they’re little. My girls are almost seven and nine years old. With the nine-year-old, she gets a lot more than the little one and she’ll ask questions in a very nine-year-old way. I feel like she’s 29, honest to God. 

I already just imagined her asking a question like, “Mom?” 

It’s a matter of fact or it’s like, “How come this? How come that? I think they like it because they get away with things at dad’s house that they don’t get away with at my house. There’s always that good cop, bad cop. Dads are fun and he’s good with keeping the routine and the structure. I laugh about it because he and I laugh about it. He’s like, “Come on.” I’m just like, Now it’s completely out the window. They use it to their advantage. These kids are so smart. They get double the gifts, birthdays and holidays. Birthdays are like a week and holidays are like a month, so they’re good. 

They’re fine. We don’t have to worry about them.  

I want young women, older women, middleaged women, women of all backgrounds, religions, nationalities and just women. I had to learn a lot on my own. I didn’t have anybody guiding me through thisMy mom has always been very strong because she didn’t have a dad growing up and there was divorce in her family. She’s always been strong. I never cried ever in front of my parents. I’m almost divorced now for years. I shed some tears and she was shocked and blown away. She was like, “We thought you were so strong. We thought nothing bothered you.” I was like, “How could you think that?” She’s saying this and I’m crying, she’s crying. We had a moment there. My one advice, don’t go through it alone. Find somebody, not necessarily someone who’s gone through it but it’s preferred because I feel like you can probably get a little bit more constructive advice and guidance. Something to bond with them on. If you can’t find somebody, don’t hold anything in. Talk about it, cry about it, yell about it and break things. 

I’m huge about dealing with your emotions. 

With Armenians, it’s suppressedIt affects your health in ways you will never imagine. If one thing I could have done differently was open up a lot sooner, talk to someone a lot sooner. Talk to somebody. It’s so common sense-like but it’s so overlooked. I held so much in and not just with the divorce aspect. I’m that kind of a person. I hold everything in until I explode from it. The minute I do it, it’s almost a thousand pounds off your shoulders. It’s like giving birth to this problem that you’ve been growing and keeping it in you for so long and then you give birth. You’re like, “This feels so great. I think it’s because we’re so afraid of being judged. We’re so afraid of being criticized. 

If you don’t have somebody to talk to, investing in therapy is helpfulI’ve gone to therapy before I got married to get some insight and no one even knows this, except my mom because I ended up telling her way after I even went. I don’t think my husband even knows. I went to therapy before we got married and I was confused about certain things. I talked to therapists. I got a completely different person’s perspective. You can talk to a girlfriend, you can talk to a mom and I have great girlfriends and my mom is very supportive. There are things you feel weird even though there’s nothing wrong with it, to talk about your mom because she’s a mom. She was like, “Why do you have these thoughts? Is there a doubt in your mind? Your friends will always remember this. 

therapist is a professional and I think it was helpful. Also sometimes, your mom and your friends will be like, “No, you’re not the problem, but I was the problem. At the time, whatever it was that I was talking to her about was an issue that I wasn’t seeing. Nobody said, “Greta, you’re approaching it all wrong. It wasn’t until this therapist said, “How can you do something and he can’t do something?” I was like, “What do you mean?” She was like, “Why are you allowed?” I’m like, “Because.” She told me what I didn’t want to hear and I stopped going. I stopped going because I didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want to hear that I was thinking wrong. This entire time, if I was thinking about it or talking to a girlfriend about it, I was like, “I’m not the problem. It turns out I was the problem. That’s a tough pill to swallow. 

This is crazy for me to say this. I started seeing a therapist, a whole different one. This was about me getting better and trying not to be codependent, which by the way, she told me to read this book, which is life-changing and amazing.  

[bctt tweet=”Every child is different. Every parent is different. What’s not different in every divorce family is the divorce part. ” username=””]

What’s it called? 

Codependent No More. 

Who was it by?  

I don’t know. Go on Amazon. It’s amazing. I feel like I was codependent to the extreme and not towards a specific person. In generalI was codependent upon people’s opinions about me, thoughts about me, emotions about me. I was a peoplepleaser. I was trying always to do the right thing, so I was pleasing everybody. Going back to if there’s time for me, I’ll take care of myselfMaking decisions based on the wellbeing of others. Not my children of course, just others. This book is incredible. It opens up your eyes. It’s basically a slap in the face like, “Wake up, self-care, take care of yourself now.  

What’s the main message of the book?  

Self-care. 

It’s like you’ve got to look after you 

You look after yourself, you do you and stop being so codependent on everybody else, on anything else. If you can’t take care of yourself, if you can’t be alone with yourself and be happy with yourself and be content and that’s enough for you, then you’re co-dependent somehow some way in some shape or form. It’s teaching you how to completely cut yourself from that because that’s an addiction too. I didn’t want to hear that. She told me, “There are things you need to do by this time. You’re so way behind on doing things. We’re going to do this, this and this. I thought to myself, as you said, you don’t want to hear it and you’re just like, I’ll deal with that later,” but I couldn’t run away from it. It’s like that book is like a mirror. It’s really good. Anybody out there, please, you would love it and then maybe you should talk about it. It’s amazing. 

We do this completely unconsciously and until somebody doesn’t get background and say, I see what this is,” and points it out. You’re like, “What? No, that can’t be.”  

“Why are you so angry all the time? Why are you allowing people to completely navigate your emotions or your decision making? What happened to you? I was never that person. You’re never that person until you are that person and then you don’t want to be that person anymore. 

Then you work towards not being that person. 

That’s where I am now. Everyday you’re working on yourself. 

Honestly, I stopped going but I realized after I had my son that I wasn’t where I wanted to be. There was so much more I could do, I could give. I don’t know what happened. It was like my hormones went back to normal after a few months and then I got some clarity and I started to do me things, like go to the spa once a week without feeling guilty. Guilt is the worst part. It kills you inside. 

What do you mean you’re going to have coffee by yourself for an hour? 

I will feel embarrassed sometimes. When I wanted to get a babysitter, I felt embarrassed asking for one. 

I had a fulltime nanny. I had to. We needed two incomes in our household. It’s very difficult. When you’re trying to raise kids and work and you got mortgage or your rent and utilities and you want to go out once every so often with your friends and have a great dinner, somewhere nice and trendy and fun or a vacation once a year. I didn’t realize after getting married, because when you’re not married, you’re at home. At least in our culture, your parents take you everywhere. We do vacation with them everywhere. You’re on their health plan. It’s great. 

IW 4 | Rebuilding Life After Divorce
Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself

I’m still on my mom’s health plan. They’re kicking my ass now. They’re literally kicking me out because I’m turning 26. I’m like, “No, keep me for another year. You don’t realize these things until you get married. 

Vacationing once a year, we have to save for that? We have to not go here? Even the whole working and I had the nanny and I felt guilty. You feel so guilty. You come home and your baby’s about to go to bed and you leave before your baby sometimes wakes up. It’s mom guiltIt would drive me crazy being home. 

That’s okay. For a while, I felt like a crappy mom because I was going crazy because my mom works, my mother-in-law works. I had no babysitter and I was home with the new baby all day, every day with no help or little to no help I should say. I’m also not the type to call my mother and I’m like, I need an hourPlease come, because I feel bad. I don’t want to ask for help because I don’t want inconvenience.  

You want them to know and call you and should miraculously show up at your front door. 

It’s something like that. 

Would that be so terrible?  

It’s hard to navigate. I don’t think I know anyone who’s been married and not even contemplated separating because it’s not always fun and games. Sometimes there’s an issue that you can’t see eye-to-eye on and you feel like, I’m done. I don’t want it anymore. 

There are a lot of those issues, by the way. I think she was like maybe five but there are twenty.  

The problem is nobody gets to the root of the problem like, “Why are you doing this that it’s making me feel this way? Why do I hate it that you’re out late?” If you’re arguing or speaking or conversating, you don’t get to the root of the problem. Naturally, it keeps coming up and up and it’s this vicious, disgusting, repetitive cycle of the same thing and then you get fed up. You’re like, “I don’t want to talk about it anymore. It’s not getting anywhere. 

remember every time I’d get into an argument at home with my ex-husband, there was always an event right after. I’m just like, “Why can’t I just stay home mad? I want to stay home and wallow in my madness, my misery and my anger a little bit, but no, I’ve got to throw on that happy face, get dressed and go and smile. 

You’re a trooper. I’d be like, “I’m staying home. I’m not going.” You learn to maneuver your personality. I bet you, God willing, down the line if you were ever to get married again, I don’t know if you would or if you’re dating someone, now you know how you are because you’ve done all that inner work and that’s important. Sometimes you don’t realize it until you get married or go to therapy. 

The most important part, I swear to you, is learning to do things on your terms. It’s non-existent sometimes. It’s not culture. It’s like, “What do you mean your termsIt’s not you. It’s us. Who’s us when you’re having the meltdowns? Who’s us when you’re completely falling apart? There is no us, it you. 

There’s too much pressure in our culture. 

I’m over the pressure. I’m so done. 

I’m sure other cultures have this, but it’s too much pressure and people put their happiness on the line. Then they’re 35 and they’re like, I get divorced now and then what? Do I ever get happy again?  

I was 34. 

[bctt tweet=”Connecting to somebody feeds your soul. ” username=””]

Did you ever feel that way? 

Yeah. That’s why sometimes it goes for so many years. There’s a statistic out there somewhere, I’m sure of it. The first thought of divorce hits the first year of marriage. The second thought of divorce hits like the second. It’s this crazy timeline of how often you contemplate it until it’s done. It’s nuts. it’s like 60% now of all marriages are ending in divorce. 

I read a crazy article that Millennials are changing that, which was a good thing. I think it was Time Magazine that put out an article that Millennials are getting divorced less and they’re changing that. 

Maybe they’re getting married later. 

It could be. I never went into it. I got married at 23 and I felt ready, but I don’t think anyone’s ever ready for marriage. Being financially independent as a woman is important and my mom always told me that and I was always, “Mom, relax.” 

It’s like if you have a little safe or a stash somewhere. 

I didn’t even listen. I was such an idiot. Then I had a baby and I was home. My job at the time was social mediaI had left my makeup business and all that and I wasn’t teaching anymore and I was a full-time mom. I’m like, “What do I even have? I have nothing.” Blogging is an income if you’re hustling and on Instagram all day and every day. I don’t want to do that. That’s not me. I had to pivot and that’s where Plan Chicly came to be. I thought this is amazing and I want to do this.  

I can’t wait. I’m so excited about that 

I can’t wait to show you. I’m excited because this is me almost coming into my womanhood, if you will, with this business. This is the one thing I’ve thought of in my life and never once thought of dropping. There are so many problems. 

I wish I was you. I was 25 when I got married, by the way. I wish I had your driveBack then I had a great job. I loved my job and it was amazing. 

I wasn’t always like this. 

No, it’s always been in you.  

I’ve had this fire inside me where I can get passionate about something. My problem before was I’d get passionate and then I’d start to do my research and then maybe start designing and all that. Once I had my first failure, I was so weak that I can’t handle it. I’m not doing it. It’s so scary. Everything in life happens for a reason and when it’s supposed to. Right when I got married, I knew I was going to start a business because I’ve always wanted to do something like thatI didn’t know what it was. I’m a creative person. I could think of 50 completely different things and get passionate about all 50. I picked one and then I found out I was pregnant. I didn’t think twiceI dropped it. I had to drop it because in my mind I thought there is no more important role in your life than being a mom. Not everyone thinks like this. 

Some people would be like, I’m not dying because I’m being a mom.” I can go to work. I’m a very extreme personalityI’m literally either this or I’m that. There’s no in-between Greta. You either get all-iGreta or you get zero. If I do something, I’m 1,000% in but if I don’t, don’t even botherThe minute I found out I was pregnant, I was like, I’m done, completely. I don’t regret it because I needed to go through nine months of Zen and relaxing and doing nothing but worrying about creating life. That’s what I did. I did things that made me happy. It came naturally and I felt great and I read the books I wanted to read. I woke up when I wanted and I cooked and I did all this. I was off of social media for maybe seven of those nine months. I would like to come in, post and then a week later I’d post. I was in tune with myself and my body and growing life. That’s just me. I dedicated all of those nine months to creating Levon. He’s so perfect. 

He’s so cute. I have to tell you, I love having girls. I actually had always wanted a boy. Maybe he could be like ours and I’ll spoil him and stuff because he’s so cute. I miss that age. I miss it like crazy. 

I enjoy him so much because he talks now. He’s like a little human. He has a personality of his own. I took on that role and I took it from very seriously. I’m very extreme. 

It comes through your social media platform. It really does because you do your cooking segments with your son. Anything that you’re posting through your social media channels, you can very plainly see that you’re very devoted and dedicated. That’s why I had such a connection with you. That’s why I followed you for so long. That’s why I wanted to meet you. Did I harass and stalk you? Maybe a little bit. 

IW 4 | Rebuilding Life After Divorce
Rebuilding Life After Divorce: People put their happiness on the line to satisfy culture.

 

I love it when people do that. 

It worked. Nobody do that, though. 

We talked about this even on the phone. I love talking to people. I don’t want it to come off as like bragging. 

Do that, it’s fine. Reaching out for help isn’t easyIt’s hard, it’s intimidating, it’s terrifying. You feel like, “Look at all her followers. Is she even going to read my message? Is she even going to have time?” You start having all these scenarios in your head. You start not liking the person. You’re so overthinking and creating something that doesn’t even exist. With you, it was different because there are so many bloggers out there, there are so many influencers out there. Sometimes you go through their pages like scroll through them, nothing draws you in. With your page, immediately something drew me in. I felt some warmth through it. You do need to know. I’m sure you get these compliments all the time from your followers, but it’s true. You’re doing something right. Good for you.  

I’m very conscious when I post. For a while, I feel like I lost my mojo and the real purpose of what I was doing, which is why I took a few months off. 

Because it becomes like popularity contest 

I didn’t care. I never cared. In fact, I lose followers all the time. I went from 80,000-something to 60,000-something. I could care less. It doesn’t define me. It doesn’t make me happy. If someone’s meant to find my page, they’ll find their way to my page. If someone connects with me as a mom, but not a business woman, they do. They connect with me. If someone could care less about me and loves my cooking, which I get a lot actually. 

We’ve got to cook together, by the way. 

We should do that. 

You’ve got to check out my cooking blog. I’m not very active on it now because it just started.  

What is your cooking blog? 

It’s The Gourmet CutI’ve been in hospitality all my life in the restaurant industry. Honestly, when you talk about passion, that’s passion of mine. We’ve got to cook together. That would be so much fun.  

Lily and I are going to come at you soon. We got this. Going back to the topic of divorce, tell me how you rebuilt your life from nothingYou left the marriage clean slate, no strings attached, no financial strings, nothing. What was that process like for you to rebuild your life from scratch at 35 and with two children? 

I’m still in the process. It’s that neverending process. What it’s like is it’s unpredictable. It’s terrifying. Maybe it’s our culture going back to it, but I was lucky enough to have the parents that I have. I was able to go and stay there with my two kids. They have space, they have the means to take us in. I never missed a day of work in my life. I’ve never stopped working. I didn’t let it cripple meIt’s hard. 

It’s horrible because that’s hard. 

You have your tantrums in your car in private as a normal strong woman does. You look crazy in your car and then you wipe yourself, put your glasses on and get out of the car and keep going. That’s what it is. Keep going. If you stop, that’s the scary part when you stop, when there’s silence around you because you don’t know. That’s when you get lost. I didn’t do that. I kept going. I kept going blindly, but I kept going. That’s the trick. Going back to having kids and not having kids with divorce, I think at that point you’re doing it sole survival for your children, for them, for you. You’ve got to you got to clothe them and feed them, take them to school. 

What an amazing example to set for your two daughters that you don’t lay down and die. 

You want to but you don’t or you do it in private. That’s fine. People do it every day while married. How do you not do it when you’re not? 

[bctt tweet=”The hardest part of divorce is trying to have your kids be okay. ” username=””]

Even when you’re single, wall go through it. 

Let me tell you, it is starting from scratch but there’s this nice saying when nothing is for sure for certain, then the possibilities are endless. That means every single day, you can create something new. Every single day can have its own blessing. It can have its own setbacks but it comes down to the way you look at it. Were we lucky to be able to have a home and a support system? Absolutely, because without that, it’s terrifying. That’s how you see the single moms with kids in shelters. That’s what happens.  

I would assume so if you have no family and nobody to turn to. 

Life throws you these crazy odds. If you don’t have a support system or a family to help you, then what else happens to you? My heart aches and breaks. By the way, I talk to my kids about this all the time. I always tell them all the time there aren’t 1,000 peaks and valleys out in the world for everybody and we’re very lucky and they know. It’s not easy. You start from zero and you keep going. You fake it until you make it. 

Everybody does, you fake it until you make it, especially in business. Tell us how the House of Sofella boutique came to be. 

It’s mthird baby. I’ve always wanted to be a business owner, something of my own because I know my integrity and my work ethic. You know who you areLook at what you’re doing at 25. I’m 37 and this project was conceived when I was 36. 

By the way, to our audience, you’ll see from our YouTube channel that she does look 26. 

If you ask my kids, I’m 27. For a long time though, I kept lying and lying and then I go, I’m 37. I am 37 and I’m so proud of it. 

She looks beautiful, so it doesn’t even matter. Age is just a number. 

Sofella was conceived a few years ago and I’ve always known I wanted to be a business owner. I just didn’t know what business. I came from hospitality. I wanted a little restaurant, a little eatery. You put the numbers together and then just cry a little bit and say, “Let‘s do something more practical.” My eldest has always been a fashionista. She is my inspiration. They both are but her love and drive behind making her own clothes, she would cut up her little clothing and make sometimes very inappropriate styles. I’m just like, “Are you out of your mind? That’s crazy. This is not happening. Trash.” Then I’m like, “This kid has got something pretty amazing. Let me do something with kids’ fashion.” That’s how it was. I’m like, “Sofella. My daughter’s names are Sophia and Stella. The house came from building a brand that they can add on to if they want to add onto when they’re older. Maybe do like a collection where they’re designing or maybe do like a cookbook with kids in mind. I wanted to build a brand, an umbrella that I can shove things underneath when I need to. The clothing, so that’s how it came about. 

She has my favorite designers. Tell me about some of the designers you have. 

By the way, the designers that I’m with are the designers that my kids grew up with. It reminds me of back in the day, “Remember with the cute little lace dress you wore that summer?” It’s reminiscing. It’s fun for me to go back memory lane with that. The designers are unique. They’re so special and they’re all European. I have maybe two that are American, but that again have the materials, the longevity, the designs and the patterns. 

She’s very picky with what she puts in her boutique. I love that about her. 

Thank you. It takes a lot of time because I do this by myself, so I’m always thinking about what do I want my brand to represent? There are so many incredible brands out there and incredible brick and mortar stores for children’s boutiques that I love and I’m a fan of and a customer of, by the way, but they all look the same. They’re all carrying the same black and white themed outfits and the taupes. love those. Don’t get me wrong but I wanted something different, a little colorful. I bring life to kids clothes. That’s why I went with what I was comfortable with, European brands. I carry Jean Bourget. I carry this unbelievable brand from Paris, designed and manufacturedLili Gaufrette. 

The story behind that is amazing. It’s about this imaginary figure, Lili, who’s roaming the streets of Paris as a little girl and the story behind her outfit choices. Every brand has a story and I connect with it and I think it’s amazing. If you were to walk into my store, which who knows maybe a year from now I may have a boutique. Who knows? I would sit you down and say, “Let me talk to you about this brand. This is how I amMy passion, you can feel it. You can sense it. Of course, when you’re sitting across from me, my face is probably lighting up because the clothing, you connect with it. It’s incredible. It’s a little bit more on the pricier point but you get quality. 

One thing with quality is you can pass it downWhatever my nine-year-old wore, my sevenyearold wore. All throughout their lives, we’re recycling these and then I gave them to my cousin’s kids. By the way, something I had about seven years ago, my cousin’s daughter ended up wearing, it looked brand new. I’m not saying this because I carry these clothes. I’m saying this because my kids wore it. It’s an actual experience as a consumer. I was a customer for so many years. All the boutiques that I shopped from closed. 

IW 4 | Rebuilding Life After Divorce
Rebuilding Life After Divorce: When nothing is for sure or certain, the possibilities are endless.

 

There was Sunset Kids. I remember my mom used to buy me a lot of stuff from there when we had special occasions. There was actually also one on Fairfax that had some nice European brands. I can’t remember the name. You’re right, they all closed down. 

They’ve all closed and they’ve all gone online. I wanted to bring them back because I looked for those brands. You can’t go to Neiman’s, you can’t go to Barney’s. You can’t go to Nordstrom’s or Bloomies. These brands are also special because you can’t find them in stores. That’s the proThe con to that is you don’t see them until you purchase themI promise you, once you purchase them and they’re in your possession, you’re just like, I can’t wait to wear it.”  

Tell us how you do popups. I think that’s a great way that you bring these brands to consumers. Talk about the popups. 

The popups are my favorite. There’s so much work because I have to solicit family and friends help me for free. Why not? They are hard. They’re not easy to put together. It’s so much fun because you get to go into the neighborhoods. Every city that I do a popup in, which Glendale is they love all the fancy stuff. The Beverly Hills, I want to say they’re more colorful very surprisingly. The West Hollywood crowd, they love the monotone, the minimalist collections that I have, which I’m obsessed with. I’m dressing your son in that collection until he’s old enough. 

She got me the cute clothes. I’m going to unbox it on Instagram. 

That line, by the way, only goes up to 36 months. We’ve got to get on it. Every city, you get to see the people, what they’re like, the clothing they like, the colors they go for, the styles, the hip, the trendy, the classy. 

You built connections, I feel, as a business owner.  

I pass out my business cards. I sometimes have my kids with me. They pass out my business cards. They get to see the inspiration behind it. It’s truly a family business. At the end of the day, my kids need to know, nothing is going to be given to you for free. I’m not giving you anything for free. I will love you, take care of you, cherish you, be there for you for emergencies and everything, but I’m also going to be the hardest one on you. I’m going to tell you that if you want something, you’re going to work for it. You’re going to get it yourself. You’re not going to rely on any man, any woman, any father, any mother. You’re going to rely on yourself. 

I love that you’re an excellent inspiration of that to your daughters. That’s why I loved your story because I feel like you can tell kids, “Do this on your own,” but if you don’t do it on your own and they don’t see it and you’re not a physical representation of what you preach, how do you expect them to do that? When a parent smokes but you tell your kid their whole life, “You can’t smoke. “My mom does it.” 

It’s like my parents aren’t business owners. They’re modest people who worked for the county. Me opening up the business, they’re very supportive and they helped me with every popup. They’re like my groupies. They pack up the car with the bins. They help me set up. My mom is always there, very supportive. It’s so great to see that. They don’t know what it actually takes behind the scenes. Sometimes they’ll say, “Does it normally take this long? I’m like, “It takes long. They don’t understand social media. They don’t get blogging. They don’t get what are the blogs on the website. They don’t get why I’m constantly changing the design of the website, trying to be relevant. They don’t get Google marketing, the SEO factor of itI didn’t get it until I had to learn it singlehandedly by myself, by the way, “What is SEO and why is it ruining my life? It’s completely ruining my life. It’s making me bankruptdriving me crazy. You need it if you’re going to exist in the online world.  

I think that’s how and you connect because we’ve learned from nothing. We’ve done trial and error and then here we are still pushing through, still hustling. 

From finding the showrooms, your reps to what’s a marketing developer or a poster designer? What do they do? What do they tell you they’re going to do and don’t do? What’s SEO? Why do I have to pay for all this separately? Why can’t it all be done at the same time with the same person?  

There’s so much that goes into a business. We’re going to have a separate segment that Lily does on our YouTube channel where she talks about how you can start your own online business and some mistakes that she’s made that she can teach you. Keep a look out for that. Go on our YouTube channel for that. I’m so inspired by you. You’re an amazing mom. You set an amazing example for your two girls and you got this. She’s going to have a boutique soon. We’re putting it out there in the universe. It’s going to happen. 

My boy model, can he be my model?  

Yes. Levon is so good at stuff like that.  

I have my kids model everything and by the way, it’s like child labor at its finest.  

Her daughter is so cute at it. She’s like a little blogger. She’ll go in her dress and be like, “Mom, I like this because of the inner lining and the cotton.”  

“It’s so soft. It’s not seethrough. I love the ruffles.”  

[bctt tweet=”You can’t take care of yourself if you can’t be alone and be happy with yourself. ” username=””]

She’s your best asset. 

She was like, “Mom, what about the boy stuff? I’m like, I know. I need it. I was going to bring like a duffle bag for the clothes and we’re going to give him chocolate all day. I’ll babysit if you want to go out that night from all the chocolate. We’re doing that. 

I’m excited. You have a bright future. You’re so positive, you’re so inspiring. You’re an amazing mom, amazing business owner. Be sure to follow Sofella Boutique. Thank you so much, Lily, for opening up, being honest and raw and genuine and talking about your process, the process of divorce and rebuilding life. I’m sure it’s not easy. 

Anybody out there who knows me, who’s met me, who’s talked to me, who’s confronted me, I’m very honest. There’s nothing to hide about me. I tell you because if someone comes up to me and genuinely says, “I heard you got divorced, what’s that like?” “I heard you’re a single mom. What’s that like?” “You’re starting a business by yourself. What’s that like? Ask me. I would be more than happy to sit with you and talk. I’m so open about things like that because if I can connect to somebody else and if I can somehow make them breathe a little bit more easily, it feeds your soul.  

That’s what I’ve been like feeling on social mediaWhen I tell people, DM me, I respond to everybody and I love that you are like that too. 

This is so true. She’s so genuine and warm. 

I can’t not be genuine. If I’m not genuine, you’re not going to get a response.  

I like the feisty Greta too. 

That’s my extreme personalityI’m super genuine, but you rub me the wrong way and feisty Greta comes out. 

I like feisty Greta. I got a little glimpse of that and I think I messaged you, I’m like, “Who is this? That’s actually real time, real life people. 

No one is always that nice. 

Airbrushed, polished photo and my life are like a boutique.  

IW 4 | Rebuilding Life After Divorce
Rebuilding Life After Divorce: There’s nothing wrong with wanting to help inspire and advocate.

 

I do my best to put both out there, although no one’s given me a reason to be feisty and show my feisty side. Maybe I’m just lucky, I don’t get any nasty DMs. I don’t get rude, mean girls. 

I don’t think you would, but it would be nice to see a little. 

If someone comes at me wrong, what should I do? I’m very genuine and I’m proud that I am. That’s why with this, that’s a requirement of mine, is that if you’re coming here, when we’re talking about a certain topic as taboo and as personal as divorce, if you’re not going to be honest and real, there’s no point in talking about it because it’s not going to help anybody. It’s not going to give any insight to somebody going through it. I don’t want it, not here, not now and not ever. 

I am proud of you. I had no idea you are only 25. What you’ve accomplished is incredible. You’re inspiring. 

I’m just starting. This is the beginning. 

When they say influencers, you’re inspirational. It’s good for you.  

Do you know how many times I wanted to chop the idea? 

No. 

I did because I thought I don’t know if I can do it. I went for it and my first interview, How do you think it went? She said, “Awesome. I was judging myself a little too hard in that.  

We’re all going to do that to ourselves. 

I’m my worst critic. When I think of the conversations I have with people like you and all the others, I’m so proud that I can be the mediator to talk about these things. It’s in the realms of what all women care about. Business, divorce, finances, it’s marriage, children, motherhood, and that’s the whole point of Inspiring Women with Greta. I hope I’m inspiring you. I hope my guests are inspiring you. If I’m doing something wrong, I need an email right nowI need you to tell me. 

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to help inspire and advocate. 

I hope that’s the message people get. 

It’s absolutely supporting one another. How can you go wrong? 

That’s how I feel. 

If I can do it, in your mid-30s, being divorced with two young children, single mother, working full-time. If I can do it, anybody can do it. I always say that you just have to do it. It’s possible. You said“You’ve got two kids. What is the message you want them to know? What are you leaving these kids with? Don’t you want them to brag about their mom? Don’t you want them to say, ‘My mom? I brag about my mom all the time. She is strong. 

She was the perfect example growing up and that’s why it’s important to actually put in what you preach and show your children. It’s a new era. I love it. Thank you so much, Lily, for coming on. Keep a look out for her YouTube segment. It’s going to be amazing. It’s how to start your own online boutique. We’ll talk to you soon. I love you.

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Suzy Sogoyan- IceLink Co-Founder Shares Startup Struggles + Son’s Leukemia Battle

The presence of illness in the family can definitely change our perspective in life. In this episode, host Greta Gasparian interviews Suzy Sogoyan, the Cofounder of the jewelry brand IceLink, about her startup struggles and challenges in caring for her son battling leukemia. Suzy shares the amazing moments she had with people who supported her and her son towards healing. With what she has been through, it was normal for Suzy to question God. As she shares how her faith was lost and how prayer gave her the strength for her son, she offers her advice to other moms who are going through the same situation as she is.

Listen to the podcast here:

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Suzy Sogoyan- IceLink Co-Founder Shares Startup Struggles + Son’s Leukemia Battle

I’d like to introduce you to Suzy Sogoyan, the Cofounder behind the incredible jewelry brandIceLinkWelcome, Suzy. 

Thank you. 

I’ve known Suzy for quite some time. We started following each other on social media several years ago. It turns out our husbands are friends. Then we started seeing each other in social settings. That’s the best part of social media. I tell you that every single time we meet because it’s incredible how many great relationships I’ve personally formed with people through social media. I’m sure you can relate. It’s a blessing and a curse in some way. I know people who follow you feel like they know you. I know this because I’ve talked to many people who follow you and I feel the same way when I follow you. You’re a huge inspiration to Armenian women in general. I want to pick your brain a little bitI want to talk to you, get to know you. Tell me how you got your start at IceLink. 

I was a senior in high school. I went to BellJeff. My dad has been in jewelry for several years, mass production, jewelry, chains, 14 karat gold, like in the gold market business. I remember he came up to me once and he was like, “You’re about to graduate high school, what are you going to major in? What‘s your goal? What do you want to do? Business, right?” That’s what he told me, “Marketing, right?” Nudging me in that direction. I did see myself always doing something in marketing. At that time, we didn’t have social media and all these things. I can’t remember when Myspace came about, but it was more like journalism. 

I knew I wanted to be in that field. I’m telling my dad, I’m going to go to Woodbury. I’m going to major in Business, minor in Marketing. He’s like, “I have this idea. I feel like I can mix jewelry and watches into one and make him like cool. At that time, 2003 or 2002, it was when all the blingbling was going on. Those on blingbling in every song. He’s like, “I can make watches for those guys. I can do all of that. I want to put diamonds in them. I want to put floating diamonds in them. I can do so many crazy things. My dad is a doer. He’s one of those not afraid to try new things. He was like, I want to start a brand. It’s going to be called IceLink. You can come work here.” The rest is history. It happened and I started going there after school. It started off with me organizing and me tagging products. We had a whole team of peopleI’m this little sixteenyearold and I’m only going there after school. I worked all of the summer before I started Woodbury. I started Woodbury and I had classes. I would take classes like three days and the other two to three days, I would go to downtown. We were at downtown at that time. 

I watched my dad take nothing and build a brand. It was at a time when there was no social media. You had PR companies. You had cheesy gifting sweets. You gifted 100 celebrities at the same time. They took pictures in easy little ways and it worked. It was so easy and not that it was easy, he hustled. He opened up 400 retail doors in the US within one year. It was a great time. From 2003 to 2006, it was a beautiful time, money-making time. IceLink was flourishing. We were everywhere on every celebrity’s wrists, on every red carpetParis Hilton. It was that good time and then the crash, the recession. When I’m finally graduating Woodbury, ready to take on the reins, then there’s no business, everything is slowing down. 

We had made these marketing efforts to go more highend in luxury because when we first started, we had mid-range watches. We were in the doors. We got the 6 Time Zone watch and all these retailers in Dubai and Ukraine, these highend retailers wanted to carry our line. We spent all this money to brand and go luxury and the market crushed. I was graduating Woodbury and I was about to take on the reins. It’s like there’s nothing. It’s a crazy stop to everything. Long story short, I was able to rebrand the business. I was pregnant with Christian when I did all of that. I was pregnant with Christian when I was working on the relaunch of the 6 Time Zone in the Affordable Collection, the Gen 6TZ line, which was me taking my dad’s super $20,000 line and making it $700 to $900. That was going to be a huge rebranding thing for us. New imagery, new website, bringing eCommerce into the game, which changed obviously everything and social media content. My belly was growing as all of that was happening. Christian was born in 2015 June and we launched in October. It was a crazy time in my life. 

I don’t know how you did it. I was nested all my pregnancy. 

I didn’t and I feel like that’s why Christian is so hyper because I was nonstop while I was pregnant. 

I was so ZenI was like, I don’t want to work. I didn’t work at allI was psychonauseous for the first four months and I couldn’t keep my head out of the toilet. Something in me said, “Don’t do anything. I also had the luxury to do that. followed my gut and I was very Zen about it. You’re amazing. I can’t even imagine doing that. 

I had the energy, it’s weird. I was good and I had to do it. It was like, “Do this or close IceLink because we’re not going to sell $20,000 watches right now. 

What gave you the idea to rebrand or what gave you the idea to specifically do the 6 Time Zone watch and rebrand that? 

The 6 Time Zone watch, my dad created that a long time ago. It started off with diamonds $20,000 and up. I was like, I either come up with brand new collections, brand it from scratch or I can take something that works for us and that people are loving and wanting so badly.” I would wear the watch because I couldn’t afford it, but I could wear it because it’s my dad’s line. My peers would see it and they would be like, “How much does that cost?” I’m like, $7,000. I was thinking, “Why not take something that people have been wanting for so long and make it accessible because it’s super unique?” I feel like it’s not just us, like Gucci did that, all the luxury brands started coming out with $400 shoes and all these things. Back in the day, you couldn’t get anything for less than $10,000. I feel like we’re still a luxury brand, but obviously more accessible and bringing cool new products. 

IW 3 | Startup Struggles
Startup Struggles: Before social media, marketing was about gifting celebrities and hiring PR companies to lift off your business.

If you follow IceLink, she’s always coming out with nice dainty designs and stuff that us women are attracted to and love. 

Dainty yet strong and still unique, I try to come out with things that not flooded in the market. 

Talking about Christian, tell me how it was like when he was born. How did motherhood change you? 

It so completely changed everything. He was the light of our lives, the first grandchild on both sides. Was that for you too? 

No, not for me but definitely I can relate.  

Having a child makes you want to work harder because people are like, “How are we going to do all of this when you have a child?” It’s weird. It gives you a boost. You’re doing it for someone else. It’s not just about you. 

I had a little bit of postpartum depression for a few months and that was the hardest thing for me to go through. The minute I came out of that, it was like, “What are you doing now for the rest of your life? It put my entire life into perspective. All these years, all these ideas I had, I wanted to do but never did, completely everything I thought about put into perspective. Honestly, he gave me the push to start Plan ChiclyI have to dedicate that business to him because he gave me that strengthHere’s a fun fact. Before I got pregnant, I had a whole other concept of a business, which I was going to call Chicly, oddly enough. The minute I found out I was pregnant, I dropped it. I had samples and everything ready and I dropped it. I’m good at listening to my gut and something inside of me was like, “It’s not the time.” It wasn’t because now, here I am on a whole other path. For those of you who don’t follow Suzy, it’s a little bit of a tough subject for anybody to talk about. Thank you so much for even being open to talking about it. Her son was diagnosed with leukemia when he was fifteen months. Tell us how you found out. 

It was September 14 of 2016. It was a little bit after his first birthday and all. I don’t want to get into the signs and all of that because I explained to you that. I want all parents to know that getting blood work is the most important thing. If something is off, get blood work, ask for blood work. I don’t like to get into signs because I don’t want to freak anyone out and say like, “He was weak.” Every time you see your child is weak, you’re going to think like, “Something is terribly wrong.” I’ve had a couple of DMs like that and it’s like, “No, just go get checked. I was getting ready to go to the Beyoncé concert. He kept holding his ears, so I think he has an ear infection. Something in my gut told me not to go to the concert. It’s weird how that happens when they say that mother instinct and all of that. Long story short, something in my gut told me to take him to the doctors. He got blood work done. They sent us to the ER and all of that happened that day. He was confirmed two days later with a biopsy. Our lives turned upside down and inside out. It was the craziest thing ever. I’ll never be the same person again after that. I blocked that time out. 

We all do that with trauma. We don’t want to remember any of that because it’s too hard.  

I knew I was going to talk about this, so I started thinking about it. I was like, “We went through a lot.” When you look back, you’re like, “How did I climb out of that? 

You don’t have a choice and it’s your kid’s life on the line. After that initial shock of, “What?” it’s like, “What’s next? 

It’s weird because we were at the hospital from that day that we were there, the day of the concert. had to go to a Beyoncé concert lately and it brought back so many memories. I was like, I’m going to try to go and conquer this fear, because you know how you remember things. I’m like, “Do I want to go to a Beyoncé concert?” It reminds me of that time again. It was 60 days that we were at the hospital before we could even go home. literally had a calendar and whoever followed me on Snapchat knows I was crossing off the days of that calendar. In that calendar I received were lists of surgeries and treatments that my little child had to get. I’m like, “What the heck?” He’s a strong boy. 

[bctt tweet=”If something is off, just get a blood work. ” username=””]

First of all, I heard through the grapevine. For some reason my instincts said, “Can you ask your husband?” which is my husband, because he knows everybody, “He has to know her husband somehow.” I don’t think I even knew that they knew each other back then. I was like, I heard Suzy, I don’t know if you know her. She’s the cofounder of IceLink. I heard her son has leukemia. I was scrambling and I had only known you through social media. We had never met. I didn’t even have your number. Once it was confirmed, I vividly remember the picture you posted of his little finger wrapped around yours and you said, “We got this.” The minute I saw that picture, I ran to church and I lit a candle for him. 

That time it taught me that there’s good in life. I had Snapchat and I had a lot of followers. My good amount are close people that I share things with and the prayers were flooding in. Everyone was going to church. I don’t think I’ve felt that much worry from people like. It was crazy to me that so many people and strangers could do this. Everyone tells you like, “How are you going to handle it?” You get into mom mode and you figure things out. They say that about sleepless nights and all these things but no one warns you about like, “Trauma can come anytime.” It’s weird that those days that I was in the hospital, I didn’t have a moment where I broke. I was in full survival instinct mode, “Get it done. What’s next? Learn every medical phrase that I need to learn, learn about the side effects, learn about what I can do to make it better and learn about his diet. I after I left is when I crushed. That came later. You know when there’s a death and you don’t feel it until later? They tell you, “You don’t feel it yet. You haven’t processed it yet.” You’re like, “I’ll process this later. It was the same like that. I didn‘t process it then.  

I can’t be sad, cry, sleep and get depressed. I have so many things to do. I need to watch him every second while the nurses are coming in and out. I need to be aware of every single thing that is going inside of his body. I need to know everything. I need to be alert 100%. I was so on it and I didn’t let anyone get in my way. You know how Armenians areIn the Armenian culture, people are dramatic as hell and they are invasive and negative. I’m the one going through it and I’m giving you hope that everything is going to be okay. Anyone who would come and had that negative thing, I was like, “Please leave.” I didn’t care that I was going to hurt anyone because I couldn’t have that negativity around me, my husband and my child. He needed to see me in positive spirits. Believe me when I say that there were times that I would want to cry and break down and I would literally run out of the room and go to the public bathroom, not the bathroom in our room because I did not want him to see me like that because he vibe off of me. It was crazy. 

We went through a lot and so many treatments for such a little body. One thing that I learned is one, Armenians can be invasive. Not everyone was truly coming there to visit us for the right reasons. Some people are nosy. The rest of my family were bringing Christian organic soups because he was on a strict diet. Everyone would come over like my mom, my sisters-in-law, my brother’s wife’s mom, my aunt, everyone would come and take the diet piece of paper, take it home, come back with so much food. Mmom would come with the sweeper and a mop and make sure that the room is clean, dusted and sanitized until the end. I don’t know what I would do without my mom. My mom, my aunt and my grandma were there every single day. They would come and I would literally go have my Starbucks, watch an episode of something on Netflix and come back after an hour. At least I could go away for an hour. That’s still something. 

That hour keeps you a little sane and gets your mind off of what you’re going through. That one hour is important. 

The support from my family and I would see the other patients and no one had that. I not only had like the physical support, but I had everyone on Snapchat and Instagram praying and giving me all that positive energy and push that we’re going to get through this. 

Did it help you? 

Beyond and I know social media has a lot of negative that comes with it, all the pressure, all the competitiveness. The good thing that it brings is in times like thisthere’s massive support and the fact that I was able to start Christian’s Toy Drive and raise money for kids in Armenia who can’t afford. 

Suzy is doing something incredibly amazing with the journey. I’m so inspired that you found that strength within yourself because as any mom who can close their eyes and imagine, you can’t hold back your tears imagining something like that happening to your child, especially a child so young like that. 

People always send me messages like, “You’re so strong. You’re positive.” It’s not always. I’ve gone through much stuff with Chris. It’s hard. He’s my kid. It’s life. He’s not the only child going through it. There are many kids who are going through it. As a mom, you’ve got to do what you got to do. 

What do you think is the one thing that helped you get through it? Was it positivity, God? 

I almost lost my faith. 

IW 3 | Startup Struggles
Startup Struggles: You can block time with trauma.

You’re questioning, “Why me? Why my kid? 

One of the moms helped me so much. Her son was diagnosed. Mfather-in-law knew them and some of my cousins’ cousins knew her. She had gone through it. She was still in the middle of it, but she had gone through most of the hard times because it’s a three-and-a-half-year treatment for boys. I remember it was two weeks in and I spoke to her. I started talking to her continuously. I was like, “They brought me this piece of paper and they told me that he’s going to start a new chemo. I’m reading the list of side effects. The side effects say this and this.” Literally the side effects are telling you the worst things ever. She’s like, “Read it, pray, throw it away, everything will be fine. They come in and they tell you all those things. You pray and believe it, believe everything is going to be okay and it will.” That’s what I would do and it was so weird how the prayer would calm me. There’s a church at Cedars. I would go there every single day. There’s a universal for all religions. It’s crazy that we’re all in there. It doesn’t matter, we’re all fighting for the same thing, health. 

I can’t believe we have to fight for something like that. 

I would go there every single morning and there was a man who would sit there and the little journal and he would literally write. He wouldn’t give that book to anyone. It’s where you write your wishes to God. I would go on there and read after he left. It was wishes for his wife to be well. That man would be sitting there at the same time I was there. In general, during this process I met so many different people, breast cancer, different things with children and adults. It doesn’t matter. The people that I was connecting with were the positive ones because the negative ones were in their room, not wanting to communicate with anyone else, which is understandable. You’re going through so many things. 

That’s when I realized, I could be miserable and complain all the time and keep asking why did this happen or I can be like everyone else who’s trying to make the best of it. They’re trying to make the best of their time here so that they can get out and continue with their life. I found strength through God. Once I started praying again, I started connecting with the nurses. Everything started flowing better. I needed the faith back. I feel like when I lost the faith a little bit at the beginning days, I fell apart and when I started praying again, it called me enough for me to slow down and be calm with the nurses, be calm with the other patients there and connect. The connection helped me. 

What was it like to work? Were you working during this time? 

It was a hot mess. People don’t see that stuff. Thank God I had the best assistant at the timeI still keep in touch with her. She was running errands for me like no tomorrow and everything. It’s your business and you’re not there. It’s tough. I’ll never forget this, two weeks in and I was in the parents lounge and getting tea. My dad walked in. He was like, “You’re here.” He gave me a hug. He was like, “What can I do for you? What can I do to make it better?” He doesn’t talk about emotions and things like this. He’s like, “Pay your bills,” or something. He’s like, “Tell me.” I’m like, I can use my laptop.” He’s like, “You don’t have to work. You don’t have to. I got it. Don’t worry.” He’s thinking I’m saying it for him. All these tasks are left about. I’m like, “No. I want to do so work emails, Excels. I need it. I want it.”  

Did it feel like an escape for you in a way? 

I noticed then how much I love work. It’s not only an escape, I love it. It‘s a huge part of my life. Even through that I’m like, I want it. I crave it. I need it.” 

What is your work on? Were you designing things? 

It took me a while to get creative again. I lost my creative mojo for a little bit. I first started getting back into emails, getting back into clerical things and stuff like that. Once we got home and once I started going back to workI started to get a little bit my mojo back. 

How do you feel like this whole experience has changed you for the better and for the worse? 

On my StoriesI asked, “What is your purpose? I think we don’t really think about that. Everyone says that we want to help people. I feel like the way in which I help people, judging from my DMs and stuff like that, is I’m very open about my mistakes, my vulnerabilities, bad things in my life, not so perfect things in my life. Every time I am, I feel like I give courage to those to do the same. 

[bctt tweet=”Connecting with people around you gives you a better flow in life. ” username=””]

I felt that same thing. I know exactly what you’re talking about. It could be so small as I’m struggling with losing weight. You get so many DMs. I’m very open with it. 

I don’t think you realize how open you are until you get the DMs and you’re like, I didn’t realize I’m being so open. 

I tell myself every time, this all happened after Levon and I don’t know, something shifted in me. I feel like that happens a lot with moms that something shifts in you. I became very vulnerable and I was like, I’m fat. I have a double chin. What do you want me to do? I can either be real about it and tell people and share it and it might help somebody or inspire somebody, or I could sit at home and be self-conscious and not want to take pictures. I did do that for a while. I let myself live through that traumatic time or that self-conscious time. People probably noticed that when I go MIA because I’m dealing with something. I come back stronger and I’m openingI opened up about it and people go, “I’ve been going through the same things and I haven’t had anyone to talk to.” “Talk to me. Tell me, let me help you. This helped me or this didn’t help me. Don’t bother with this. 

People crave that connection. When you are vulnerable and you’ve shared this entire process with Christian and you talk about so many amazing things and so many bad things that you’ve gone through and how you’ve came out of it and people connect with you like that. You have to be vulnerable because we’re all human. I don’t care if you’re black, Asian or white. We all go through the same struggles and we all have different perspectives. Three different people can say something right the same way, but it’s the way you might word it that might catch me. I might listen to you even though I’ve heard it three other times and that’s important. 

If you have a platform and you want to do good and you want to be vulnerable and you’re scared, don’t be. There might be some people who might roll their eyes or whatever, that’s a given in life. I’m happy that you’re that person. It’s important especially because you have a platform and especially because it’s helpful. You don’t know how many women you’ve helped. You don’t know how many moms who have gone through this who have went and checked their kid and maybe they had another issue. I applaud you for that because it takes bravery to do that. 

In general, I can only speak for the Armenian culture because I am Armenian. We like to hide problems, not just us but I can only speak for ourselves. It’s crazy. I was talking about something that I purchased for Christian like the Dome. I started talking about how we’re building his fingers strength and feet strength because chemo knocks out your joints. When I started talking about it, many moms DM-ed me that their child has sensory delays, developmental delays that affect their fingers and here are the toys. You don’t need to be open about everything. Many people DM-ed me like, “Thank you for talking about this because no one ever talks about that. Everyone talks the posts of like the milestones, “My child is walking. My child is speaking.” No one ever says like, “My child is delayed.” That’s so true. 

It’s a tough pill to swallow as a parent. You don’t want to admit that your kid is behind on something. 

I don’t have a problem with that. I feel like maybe I would have, but because Christian has gone through so much and his life was at risk. The fact that his life was at risk, everything else seems so small that I’m like, “He’s a child.” 

I‘m also very logical. No two children are made the same. No two children will talk at one or walk at one. I’m logical in the sense that, “It’s okay that Levon spoke a little later or he did this later. He had his teeth later. Parents should stop judging themselves or their children for stuff like that because it makes your life worse. 

It’s hard not to judge yourself when you go on social and everyone’s raving and not talking truthfully about things. 

It’s hard to filter that out. How do you think it has changed you for the better or for the worse? 

For the betterthey say cancer is bittersweet. It puts life into perspective. It makes you appreciate every single moment. I swear I’m not being cheesy. I wake up every morning like, Thank you, Lord. I woke up now. I have a job. I can go to work. My child is smiling. I have a sitter. I can afford it.” I’m literally grateful for every breath that I take and for every single moment. I’m human. I get annoyed sometimes I get this, but I truly live in the present. I enjoy every little thing. I’m happy to be alive. I’m happy to be living after all that stuff that’s happened. 

IW 3 | Startup Struggles
Startup Struggles: We are all fighting for the same thing which is health.

That happens after any trauma you go through. That happened to me after my dad passed away. When girlfriends would complain about something, I’m like, “Are you joking? Be grateful you have a husband, he’s alive, healthy and you’re healthy.” When you go through trauma, whether it’s life or death, it’s a huge game changer. It changes you to your core. You’ll never ever be the same person. 

As far as the worst goes, I’m more paranoid. Every little cough sneeze, I’m like, “What’s going on?” My husband is annoyed at that, “You’re psychotic. You’re crazy.” I’m extremely alert. Sometimes I let it get the best of me and I know that and I’m aware of that and I have to apologize afterI have to literally be like, I’m sorry, but I have PTSD. I have to see someone for it. I’ve gotten therapy, but I feel like I need to see a PTSD specialist because I visualize bad things. 

I have that same problem. It makes me wake up at the middle of the night. 

I’m sure all moms have that. 

I would assume most people do, but mine is like insane. I can visually see it happening and that terrifies me. Birth for me was traumatic. For a long time, until now, I‘m scared to get pregnant again. I can only imagine what that feels like for you. It was traumatic. Seeking a therapist for that specifically would be definitely helpful. The paranoia, most moms have it, but I’m sure it’s worse for you. I can only imagine. If Levon has a fever, I’m like, “Why does he have a fever?” I‘ll literally take him to Urgent CareMy husband is like, “He’s teething.” I’m like, I need to make sure he’s teething.” I took him to the doctor three times for an ear infection. My husband was like, I’m not coming with you. I know he’s fine.” I’m like, “You don’t have to. I’m still taking him to Urgent Care. I was there three times in one week. The doctors were like, “He has an ear infection.” He dumbed it down. I’m like, “No, but he’s been on antibiotics for three days. It should be better. I feel like he’s worse.” I’m a little too much I feel or people tell me I’m too much. I’d rather be safe than sorry because I just rather. I feel like the next question is, what is one advice you would give to a mom who might be going through such an unfortunate circumstance? 

Definitely talk to other moms who are going through the same thing. That helped me tremendously. If you are going through anything like that, my Instagram is @SuzySogoyan, definitely reach out to me. That’s one of the good things that happened. A lot of moms were able to reach out to me. I never thought that when he was diagnosed that I can do what the moms did for me. I was like, I’m never going to be as strong as them.” You get through it and have faith if that works for you. Definitely talking to someone who’s been through it and can walk you through it because it’s a lot. That helps a lot. 

Do you have to teach yourself things? What did you have to teach yourself? 

I had to inject at home. He had a PICC line so I had to flush his PICC line every day. I had to know about all the side effects and everything. That’s a lot. 

What do you think was the hardest part? Is it his diet? 

Watching him get the side effects was the hardest part. Him being nauseated, those were the hardest parts. He’s a tough cookie. 

He is, thank you God. I feel like the positivity around you, your family and random people being so positive and praying is a big thing. 

He’ll forget, we’ll remember. 

[bctt tweet=”Cancer makes you appreciate every single moment. ” username=””]

Thank God, he’s okay. How is he doing now? Tell us that. 

He’s good. He started daycare. It’s exciting. He was in isolation for a very long time. He’s obviously delayed because he has not seen kids or been around kids. That is one of the hardest things we went through because I couldn’t go to events. I couldn’t go to anyone’s house. For a while, his immune system was so low from the chemo that he couldn’t be around anyone. Slowly, it was one child at a time and all these things, but now he’s okay. He’s in maintenance. He gets monthly treatments and hopefully by next year we’ll be done, fingers crossed. He’s doing good. He’s feisty. He throws tantrums. He’s energetic.  

Does that make you happy? I feel like that would make me happy.  

Yes. Since at the hospital he was so quiet and sweet, I would almost want it to be like, I wish he was a bad kid.” You don’t want them to be so sweet. You don’t want them to be feisty and energetic. NowI’m paying for that, “Why did I say that? 

My mother-in-law always tells me, “Be grateful your kids running around screaming and pissing you off. I’m like, “You’re so right.” Because anytime they’re sick, I’m sad when he’s sick, I’m depressed. I go through the same thing. If he has an ear infectionI have an ear infection. I can’t work. 

I know, when Christian’s sick, I’m depressed too. I feel you.  

Talk to us about the journey and how all that came to be and what we can do to help. 

met Taguhi from the journey before Christian’s diagnosis. When I created that line, the 6 Time Zone, it was the Moscow edition. It always had the New York, Moscow, Tokyo and the home zone. I had this idea, “There’s this girl, Taguhi, she has the journey. She’s helping out the soldier’s families. We started donating 15% of proceeds from the Yerevan Edition watches which said Yerevan instead of Moscow to the soldiers families that at that time was like the war in Armenia and everything. After Christian was diagnosed, it all started because after a month when we went home, they called us and told us that Christian is cancerfree. Kids usually are cancerfree, leukemiafree within a month. The rest is maintenance. It’s still hard but at least it’s gone. 

The day that we found that out, my mom’s like, “Let’s make a donation, and I said, “Yes, I want to make a donation and help another child in need.” Taguhi is in Armenia. Maybe she can go to like the cancer center for the kids over there and sponsor a child anonymously or something. I called her, “I want to donate some money and how much would it cost to do like a course of chemo for a child?” She said, “Approximately $1,000.” I said, I’d like to make that donation.” She reached out. She told the child. She posted it. She got flooded with DMs of people who wanted to help children in Armenia. It snowballed into this huge thing. That year we did Christian’s Toy Drive. We collected toys. Taguhi is amazing. She physically took toys to the cancer center in Armenia.  

They record all this. You know your money is going where they say it is. 

She has to pay for extra luggage. She gets the receipts for those. She sends me receipts of the chemotherapy that is purchased. I speak to all of the parents and I know that the chemo is being delivered. They are being taken care of and that they’re not paying for transportation back and forth because they have to drive to the pharmacy and pick it up themselves. Everything is documented and everything is recorded. All of the parents are beyond thankful that they have this helpChristians Toy Drive year one, we did $8,000 but year three we did $40,000. It was $20,000-something on the second year. We’ve been literally doubling. 

Taguhi went to Armenia. She threw a huge party for the children who were done with treatments. They have all the little characters and everything like that and open up their toys there. We had so many toys that she literally went to other hospitals that are not cancer patients. It was to the point where the moms were seeing Taguhi and crying because they thought their child had a cancer. She’s like, “I didn’t think it through, but she said, “We had so many toys. We were dropping off toys in the elevator and everything. That’s how many toys. It was unbelievable. It turned into this huge thing. We’ll do Christian‘s Toy Drive again. We don’t have a date yet but basically, it’s a day where we all get together. We bring toys. We tell everyone to bring one toy, everyone brings twenty toys. 

We have amazing raffle items. This is what social media does. I say, “We’re doing Christian’s Toy Drive,” and I get 100 amazing raffle donations. It’s beyond amazing, which helps us raise much money. That’s going to happen. I will announce those things on my Instagram and on Taguhi’s. She has GoFundMe link for the kids on her page. You can always donate. Right now, she used the money from Christian’s Toy Drive. She sent me the amount to buy a year’s worth of chemo from Germany, which is kept in a huge ice chest, so that they don’t have to go to the pharmacy. They literally go to their office, pick it up and take it to the hospital. That expires in 2020. The chemo is literally one or two kinds. They basically bought a bulk of it, which saved money. We were able to buy a bunch for the kids. It’s accessible becausthe volunteers are amazing. They literally drive out far and they keep going in and coming.

IW 3 | Startup Struggles
Startup Struggles: It’s hard hen you go on social media and everyone is not truthful.

 

For those of you who don’t know, Armenia is still a third world country. These things are not accessible to people who can’t afford it. 

You have to buy your own chemo. You have to go to the pharmacy yourself. Here, I am so lucky. Even all the crap we went through, I am like, “We’re here. You need blood, they bring blood. You need platelets, they bring platelets.” I was a mom who read all the labels.  

Could you imagine that you didn’t have the opportunity or the luxury to save your child’s life with chemo? They don’t. That’s so heartbreaking. That’s why I’m so proud of you for doing something amazing for other people. 

Everyone reached out and did it. They did it for me. 

Thank you so much for every person who donated. Thank you so much, Suzy. Thank you for coming on. Thank you for sharing your story. Tell everybody where they can follow you. 

You can follow me on my Instagram, @SuzySogoyan. You can shop on my website, IceLinkWatch.com. We come up with new jewelry and watches all the time. We have cool gifts, so check us out.  

We’ll talk to you soon.

Important Links:

About Suzy Sogoyan

IW 3 | Startup StrugglesWith a passion for business and a knack for style, Suzy Sogoyan is the epitome of a young, fashionable, businesswoman hungry for success and prestige. Suzy’s industry acumen and appreciation for luxury accessories were developed at an early age, when she persuaded her father to let her work on a developing project of his: luxury gemstone watches.

Suzy’s father, Andy Sogoyen, launched IceLink in 2003 to incorporate his expertise in jewelry into watches and craft pieces that celebrate life without boundaries, luxury without modesty. At just 16 years old, Suzy began taking on responsibilities for the company, which eventually shaped her future education and career choices. After high school she went on to graduate from Woodbury University with a Masters in Business Administration and returned to IceLink to continue to grow the business she and her father started together. Now,, she serves as the company’s creative director and owner.

Having literally grown up with the brand, Suzy has been an integral force in the brand’s direction and identity since day one. As Director of Brand Development, Suzy ensures that the essence of IceLink – pride, beauty, and luxury – is at the forefront of every step the brand takes, including working with press, celebrities, and special events.

Suzy comes from a family of extremely dedicated, hard-working individuals, a trait that was certainly not lost on her. She has distinguished herself as a quick-witted, astute woman within a male-dominated industry, all while wearing stilettos. She understands style and class, but more importantly, how to run a successful business.

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The Biggest Problem In ALL Relationships with MFT Gayane Aramyan

It takes a lot to be in a healthy, good relationship, especially when you’re young. There are a lot of stressors and a lot of change happening as you grow together. Marriage and Family Therapist Gayane Aramyan joins host Greta Gasparian to talk about the biggest problem in all relationships that she’s found through her experience working with couples. Every step of a relationship changes and sometimes people grow apart, especially when you’re not communicating with each other the right way. If you’re in one of these disconnected relationships and you want to make things better, don’t miss out on this episode with Gayane as she shares how you can take your relationship to a good and healthy place.

Listen to the podcast here:

[smart_track_player url=”https://www.podetize.com/statsapi/www.podetize.com/wp-content/uploads/fileuploads/11-5b145ef137b51b3d1af0633e9305c43d/09/2019/8f8e4c2c5c81c17b7fa63ad218807854.mp3″ title=”The Biggest Problem In ALL Relationships with MFT Gayane Aramyan”]

The Biggest Problem In ALL Relationships with MFT Gayane Aramyan

We have Gayane Aramyan who is a marriage and family therapist. Welcome, Gayane. I’m excited to talk to you because I come from a psychology background. I studied psychology as an undergrad. Usually, when you study psychology, the next step is to get your Master’s and become a therapist or a psychologist. Although that wasn’t my personal dream, I enjoyed every second of learning about human psychology, relationship, children and all that stuff. I’m fascinated with it. I’m very excited to have you here. I have so many questions for you. 

I’m excited to be here. Let’s get started. 

The first thing I want to know is what inspired you to be a marriage and family therapist. 

My story is a bit cheesy. I’ve been with my husband for many years. We’re high school sweethearts and at the time I took a psychology class and it was happening at the same time. I was very fascinated by psychology. It was interesting, but as I started going through my relationship, I realize how much it takes to be in a relationship, especially when you’re young. There are a lot of stressors and a lot of change happening. You grow together. Sometimes people grow apart. A lot has happened. Even though I’ve been with one person and he’s been my only boyfriend and now he’s my husband, I feel like we’ve learned so much about each other. It feels like ten different versions of us. We’ve learned a lot about each other and also learned how much it takes to be in a healthy, good relationship.  

As I started going through the psychology path, I realized that this is something I want to do and I help other couples. I was doing what we all do as girls, helping friends. That’s pretty common for us to do, but there was something inside me that I was like, “I want more out of this.” At eighteen, I volunteered to be an admin assistant to a therapist. That’s who my supervisor is, Anita Avedian. I’ve been working alongside her since I was eighteen and I learned so much from her. I was like, “I want to this.” I want to become a therapist and help others with relationship issues. That’s what I do. I specialize in helping couples, but as well as women in their twenties and 30s who are figuring out how to be in a relationship, life choices and things that come in the way that they want to work on. 

I’m a huge believer in therapy. I’ve gone to a few sessions myself. I went before I got married because I was nervous. The thought of marriage scared me and it was a dark place in my life. What do you do if you feel like you can’t talk to anybody? You go seek a therapist and I did. The one thing I want to touch on is how important it is to connect with your therapist and like them. I remember going in and immediately I had judgments about her. For some reason she looked very unhealthy as if she had an eating disorder. I don’t want to feel that way. As a layperson, I’m not even thinking from a psychological standpoint, I’m thinking how can somebody who’s maybe currently battling eating disorder help me? I ignored it and I went to her. I didn’t mesh with her. I didn’t like her. I was always fighting her questions. Eventually, I stopped because it wasn’t beneficial to me. Every time I suggest therapy to somebody, I tell them, “Make sure you like your therapist, you connect with them and you feel comfortable,” because I didn’t feel that with her. If I feel like I need to go to therapy, I’ll definitely go again, but I’ll be conscious of going to somebody. I’ll do my research and maybe try a few people out. Is that weird? Do people do that? 

That’s a great point that you bring up because the success of therapy, for the most part, depends on the connection between the client and the therapist. Some people think of age. For example, I’m pretty young, so a lot of people might question that. My expertise and experiences, there are all these things, but it’s the connection between the client and the therapist. 

I think that’s so much more important because it doesn’t matter how young you are, but it’s the connection. This person’s a professional at the end of the day. They are licensed to do what they do and give the advice that they give based off of research. I can understand how I made that initial judgment. For example, for you, people think that you’re too young. That’s important to have a connection with your therapist. My next question is what is the number one problem that always comes up in a therapy session with couples? 

There are so many things that come up, but at the root of it all is miscommunication. 

[bctt tweet=”The root of all relationship problems is miscommunication. ” username=””]

I couldn’t agree more. 

When two people who were raised differently have different filters on how they view the world, they come together and then they’re not able to talk the same language with each other, a lot goes wrong no matter how long you’ve known each other. A lot of people think it’s just because they’ve been together for a long time or maybe it’s in your relationshipThey call it the honeymoon phase. It’s an actual thing. In your brain, there are chemicals being released during that first six months to a year. That’s why you’re very excited and you look at things differently. Once those chemicals go away, you’re like, “Now I see the true colors.” That’s when miscommunication starts happening. People start communicating with each other in a real raw way. Instead of turning to each other and being very vulnerable, they begin to turn against each other and they start miscommunication. 

It makes sense. Sometimes you don’t feel comfortable enough. It’s only been a year and that might seem like a lifetime. I totally agree. The honeymoon stage is what messes people up. When that goes away, you’re like, “I want to be obsessed with you like I was when I first met you.” I had that same issue with my husband. I was like, “Why aren’t you obsessed with me anymore?” He was like, “What do you mean? I am.” I’m like, “No, I want it to be like when we were eighteen.” He’s like, “Yes, but that’s not realistic. This is life.” That was the hardest change for me personally to adjust to. I was listening to a YouTube segment or a podcast and it talked about these unrealistic romantic expectations women have and how it always screws themselves over in a relationship. That was me. I totally had these unrealistic expectations that we’re going to be obsessed with each other until the end of time. Yes, you’ll love each other like adults, but it completely changes. 

Every step of a relationship changes. 

We were together five, six years before we got married, then we got married and I was like, “This is so different. I thought I knew you. I thought five years was a long time.” I’m like, “You’re like another person. When I live with you, now I know you.” That’s a huge change in a relationship to go through and I think miscommunication is something all relationships have and go through including mine. 

Including mine too. A lot of people think just because I’m a therapist, I have a perfect relationship. Both of us have changed 10,000 ways. It’s taken a lot to grow together and be with each other. It takes a lot of effort. It’s never easy. No relationship is easy. No matter how much knowledge you have about relationships in general, it doesn’t matter. When it’s your own relationship and your own emotions come up, you’re like, “What knowledge? 

All that flies out the door. 

I think the most important thing is what you said. A lot of couples instead of saying, “I feel that we’ve disconnected. We haven’t been obsessing over each other and there hasn’t been that passion.” Instead of saying that, they end up turning away. They end up either ignoring their partner or they start nagging or they start criticizing their partners. 

IW 2 | Biggest Problem In Relationships
Biggest Problem In Relationships: Every step of a relationship changes, and it takes a lot to grow together and be with each other.

What do you think is the right way to get that message across, that I want more out of you or out of this relationship? I feel that what we’re ideally asking for is more attention, more everything. 

We’re just needy. 

I feel like we’re needy emotionally. I want you to tell me you love me every second of every day. Am I asking for too much? 

We want to connect and we want to feel our partner is there for us. I think at the core of all issues with your partner is that need and desire to connect. Instead of saying, “I want to spend more time with you,” we end up saying “You never take me out. You never do anything for me.” 

I’ve been there, done that. 

If someone was to ask me what’s the one thing that helps relationships be in a good place and be in a healthy place, it would be to change how you talk to each other. It’s the language. 

I’ve learned that along the way because thankfully my husband has stopped me and said, “You’re asking it completely the wrong way. Because you’re asking it that way, I’m not receptive to what you’re saying.” When a man says that to you, you listen. I started to reword it in a positive way because I can only imagine if he came and said, “You don’t do this, you don’t do that.” I’m going to fight back. That’s your initial reaction. 

You get defensive. 

[bctt tweet=”The core of all issues with your partner is that need and desire to connect. ” username=””]

That’s human nature, but instead if he comes and says, “Why don’t we go out on a date?” I’m like, ”You’re so cute. Let’s go.” You’re right. The way you word certain issues that you’re having is extremely important. One way to word it is how would you want him to tell you that? Would you want him to nag at you or would you want him to say, “I feel like we’ve been disconnected. Let’s go out on a date or take a day off this weekend and let’s do something.” 

Because of society or how we were raised and the messages we were given, it’s hard for some people to get to that vulnerable place to say, “We haven’t spent the week together. I miss you. Can we do something?” Instead of that, we turn against each other and we put up this wall and we’re like, “He or she hasn’t even asked me to spend time together clearly.” We come up with this narrative. We assume. 

I hate that and we do this all the time. Is it the expectations that we grew up with that media has planted in our heads, the full Cinderella story we’re all searching for? What do you think it is and how do we stop ourselves from doing that? Because I know I have expectations and then I have to stop myself and be like, “That’s not reality. You can’t spend every waking second of every day together.” What do you think we do to screw ourselves over in a way? 

It does come from what we saw at home. Maybe one parent needed the attention, the other parent was rejecting. It could be social media. We see all these perfect pictures and perfect couples and nobody knows what happens behind closed doors. A lot of that is expectations set, but the other part of it is it feels like we look for the right or wrong in relationships. We’re constantly like, “No, you made a mistake and I’m right and this is the way it is.” Instead of saying, “I’m curious to know what happened there. I noticed you walked in and you were upset.” Instead of that, we immediately put that defense wall up and we’re like, “How could you even look at me like that? You’re giving me attitude for no reason. You’re wrong.” It becomes a competition with the person who’s supposed to be the closest person to you. The second you start shifting it from that perspective of it being a competition or putting the blame even on your partner and switching that to, “How did I contribute to this situation?” Because it takes two people. A conflict is created by two people. 

Nobody’s perfect. Even the wife has things to work on. I don’t know if you saw, I don’t know which late-night show where Michelle Obama was on. She was talking about therapy that she and Barack Obama went to. She said, “I thought I was taking him to therapy. Little did I know I was the one who needed to work on myself as well.” That’s a big eye-opener because it’s true. We are not perfect and we think all these things that our partner does is being done to us. What would you suggest to a couple going through infidelity issues? I feel like besides miscommunication, infidelity might be another issue that comes up a lot, unfortunately. 

Infidelity might happen from the miscommunication. 

I never thought of it that way, but you’re right. 

If I could think about it, the actual core of it is miscommunication and so many different things happen from that. Infidelities are not always because of that, but it could be. I feel I always sound like a broken record. I’m like, “The answer is going to therapy.” Therapy is one way. Another way is if both partners want to work on their relationship and they want to continue their relationship, it takes a lot of effort and work. You have to get super real and raw with each other and super vulnerable and figure out where something went wrong. Infidelity is when there’s a disconnect between two partners and instead of turning towards each other, they looked the other way. 

IW 2 | Biggest Problem In Relationships
Biggest Problem In Relationships: If both partners want to work on their relationship, they have to get super real and raw with each other and figure out where something went wrong.

Do you think it’s a sexual disconnect or a disconnect emotionally? 

Infidelity is probably defined differently by different people. Cheating means different. For some, if it’s emotional, it’s the end of the world. For some, any type of cheating is the end of the world. It depends on the person and I think the root of it is if it is a betrayal, if it’s something secretive. 

I think it’s how you perceive it. 

One way to work through it is to talk about it and have a conversation and figure out what happened. One great resource is Esther Perel. 

After we spoke on the phone, she did a TED Talk with Jada. She blew my mind. 

Her books are the first thing I recommend to any client going through infidelity. 

After listening to that, I started to watch her TED Talks and all her interviews and I was like, “Tell me more.” She’s so interesting. 

She has a great point. The society and what we’re used to hearing, the second any sign of cheating happens, it’s like, “Leave him, leave her, get out, run.” It’s a little more complicated than that. When two people want to work on their relationship, things are a little bit different as well. 

[bctt tweet=”Any type of cheating is the end of the world. ” username=””]

Do you think couples therapy is a necessity for everyone or do you think it’s just for certain couples with certain issues? 

It depends on the individuals. Sometimes I might see a couple and I will recommend for them to seek individual therapy because they have traumas and issues that are coming up from their childhood and past relationships that they haven’t worked through. If two people have a lot of insights and they’re very good at communicating, they might benefit. You can always benefit from any type of therapy, but it might not be necessary. Anyone who’s having any type of miscommunications or they’re not getting their point across and they need someone who’s not in the relationship, doesn’t have that bias and has knowledge about how to make things work, they definitely have to try couples therapy in that case. 

That’s an important thing. You’re a person who’s not invested in this relationship like a friend or a parent. That’s where therapy can become beneficial because you can call them out like, “No, you’re not right.” Girlfriends are always like, “You’re right. He’s wrong. Tell him how it is.” Your mom might be like, “I can’t believe he did that.” As a therapist, you’re looking at it from not only a professional scientific point of view, you’re looking at it as a layperson who has no idea and is learning about this couple. Instinctively, whatever comes up you’re like, “I noticed you’re doing this.” I think you’re right, it’s important that if there are issues that have nothing to do with the relationship, people should seek therapy for themselves alone. 

It comes up a lot. Sometimes I’ll even say something like, “I want you to get individual therapy before we can continue this.” Because sometimes it can be so heavy and not processed. It’s still sitting there and your partner can heal you from a lot, but not everything. You have to do your own work before going into a relationship. 

What does a typical therapy session look like? How does one start the process of therapy? 

It’s important to find the right therapist for you. If you have friends who go to therapy, ask around if they know a therapist. Another way is through social media. There are a lot of therapists on Instagram, Facebook and you get an idea of what they’re like. PsychologyToday.com is a great resource. It’s a directory for therapists. You can find out what their specialties are, what their experiences and what school they went to, all of this information. The last step is to call and do consultation with a therapist. Most therapists offer free consultations so you can get a feel. It’s hard on the phone, but you can get an idea. If after the first session you feel like it’s not the right fit for you, don’t push it.  

Find a different therapist because that’s going to be something that’s so important in the process of you receiving the help that you need and being open to it. What does a therapy session look like? Every therapist has a different approach. The way I like to start my therapy sessions is going all the way back to childhood. I want to get to know who you are. I want to connect with you. I want to learn about you. Sometimes people come in with presenting issues like, “I’m in a very toxic relationship and I want to work on that.” They might want to talk about that and focus all the therapy sessions on that specific issue, but I want to know who you are. I want to go all the way back and I want to know who your parents are, how you’re raised, what messages you were given as a kid. 

Believe it or not, when that therapist asked me that, I was annoyed with her because I felt like I had a great childhood. I need to talk to about this specifically. That turned me off about her because she wasn’t getting to the point, but in hindsight that’s extremely important. How were you raised? What was your parents’ relationship like? Was there abuse involved? It’s so important, but at that time I was like, “I don’t want to talk about my childhood. I’m fine. I had a great childhood.” 

It could be that you already had this judgment beforehand. 

IW 2 | Biggest Problem In Relationships
Biggest Problem In Relationships: Every therapist has a different approach. If after the first session you feel like it’s not the right fit for you, don’t push it.

I was blocked off. My experience was not the ideal one and it was my fault. I’m on a whim found somebody. I also want to mention, you can call your insurance companies and they can list people that accept your insurance. That way you’re not paying maybe full price and you have options where you can pay a co-pay of $45 or whatever your insurance policy is. You made an excellent point. It’s important to go back because then you might remember something and be like, “I didn’t think this might affect me in the long-term.” The therapist gives you all this scientific knowledge and you’re like, “Is this why this has been happening?” If you’re like me where you’ve ever gone to a therapy session and you feel weird or you don’t want to talk about it, just let go of that fear or any fear you have because this person is a professional and everything is confidential, but it’s scary. 

I’ve gotten that before, they’re like, “We get it. I either had a good childhood or didn’t. What does that have to do with anything?” The truth is our life is all about patterns. The way we do things, the relationships we get and the people we associate with, it’s all patterns. 

It’s what you’re conditioned to respond to. In your own conscience, that’s something some people don’t think about. That’s just how it is and your childhood has a lot to do with it. How did your parents react when you got in trouble? Did they hate you? Did they get mad? Be open and finding the right therapist is important. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Tell people where we can follow you, how we can book you if you want to if we’re in LA. 

My Instagram is @TherapyWithGayane. My website is also TherapyWithGayane.com. I have offices in Glendale, Sherman Oaks and Woodland Hills, and you can find my number there too. 

Thank you so much. 

Thank you.

Important Links:

About Gayane Aramyan

IW 2 | Biggest Problem In RelationshipsMy name is Gayane and I am a Registered Associate Marriage & Family Therapist (#107735). I am supervised by Anita Avedian, LMFT and have offices in Glendale, Sherman Oaks and Woodland Hills.

I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Loyola Marymount University. I continued my education and graduated with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage & Family Therapy from Pepperdine University.

I am passionate about helping individuals, couples and families achieve a well balanced life. Together, we can work through the roadblocks that are in your way.

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Suzi Weiss-Fischmann on Immigrant Struggles, Building OPI & Balancing Life!

OPI is a nail lacquer brand known for its witty color names. Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, a second-generation Holocaust survivor and the Jewish mom behind OPI, talks about her immigrant struggles and balancing life to being globally recognized as the First Lady of Nails. She introduces her book, I’m Not Really a Waitress, where she writes about her journey to changing the beauty game. She recounts how they stumbled upon a hole in the beauty market that they could fill, as well as the sacrifices and the discipline it takes to running and growing your own business.

Listen to the podcast here:

[smart_track_player url=”https://www.podetize.com/statsapi/www.podetize.com/wp-content/uploads/fileuploads/11-5b145ef137b51b3d1af0633e9305c43d/09/2019/83774f02b9bf49f526f890ef3ea02704.mp3″ title=”Suzi Weiss-Fischmann on Immigrant Struggles, Building OPI & Balancing Life!”]

Suzi Weiss-Fischmann on Immigrant Struggles, Building OPI & Balancing Life!

I’m so excited for our very first podcast episode and this new journey we’re about to embark on together. Here to celebrate the start of something amazing, we have OPI Co-Founder and nail mogul, Suzi Weiss-Fischmann. Welcome, Suzi.

Thank you. I’m honored to be here.

I’m honored to have you. I don’t know about you, guys, but I have seen OPI in every single nail salon I’ve ever been to. Global nail salon, I’m not talking just local. I’m talking Armenia, Paris, Milan, everywhere I’ve gotten my nails done, OPI is front and center. I’m sure that’s such an amazing thing for you to see when you visit nail salons. Tell us about that little bit.

It’s one of the great pleasures when you’re walking down the street of Paris or Milan or anywhere in the world and you see a salon and there’s OPI.

I can only imagine what joy it brings to your heart and what a smile it puts on your face.

A huge smile and it’s always fun. When people find it, they will say, “That’s OPI.”

Do they call you that? Do they say, “It’s OPI?”

Yes, but it’s still exciting and definitely a big smile on my face.

[bctt tweet=”Women are always asked to be multitaskers because they can do many things.” username=””]

I can already imagine what I would feel. A fun fact, I used to work at a receptionist office. Naturally, sometimes people come in confused because they’re like, “What’s new? What’s popular? What do people get?” They’ll show you a dress they’re wearing for an event. They’ll say, “I’m getting married,” and they ask for suggestions. At the time a few years ago, the most popular color that we were always had to have backups was Mod About You. This was maybe 2011, I don’t know if that was a new launch or what it was, but it was the number one color in our salon. I remember the one thing we had was backups in the back. I never had to check. I knew we always had that color. Another favorite was Cajun Shrimp. That was my favorite summer color. Tell us some of your favorite colors.

There are two answers to that question. My first favorite is always the one that equaled the most dollar signs. I always love reds and Cajun Shrimp, I still wear it sometimes. It’s an amazing summer color. I love reds but in the past, I’ve worn every color that I would have never imagined several years ago that I would be wearing like blues and greens. I even tried yellow, not just on my toes but on my hands. They’re such an amazing way to self-express and they become such conversational pieces. Changing colors excites me and excites people who see me.

The names that these polishes have bring some emotional factor to it. I know sometimes when I’m down or something, I might wear Lincoln Park After Dark or if I’m in a fun mood, I might do something funky. Do you sometimes pick your polishes based on mood or you go in, you know what you want or is there something you always do that’s a staple for you? For me, Tiramisu for Two, at least once a month I have that. It’s the one thing that I know is neutral, it goes with everything and it’s a staple for me.

The names have become such a huge part of the brand’s DNA. They make it so personal for women when they’re choosing their colors and even for the nail technicians to suggest it. Honestly when I go, it’s such a relaxing thing for me to get a manicure and I get a massage and then they ask me what color. I’ll say, “Whatever you want.” I love what they pick for me. Sometimes I know I want a special color, let’s say for a wedding or a party or something, but normally I would have fun and have the nail technician pick the color for me.

I like that. That’s cool. Who would have thought a nail mogul would let a technician pick their color? That’s interesting. For anyone who follows me on social media, then you saw that I went to Suzi’s book launch/reading in LA. She read the introduction to her book out loud in front of a crowd of editors, bloggers and family. I was so inspired by your story and your journey that I immediately turned to my friend, Alina, and said, “One, I can’t wait to read that book. Second, she has to come on my podcast. This has to happen.” First of all, I can’t forget the suit you were wearing and your nail polish. I don’t know why that stuck with me. You were the epitome of what I expected an OPI mogul to look like. You know how satisfying it is when you have an image and then you put a face to the image and it’s exactly what you imagined. I was so inspired by your presence, the book and your story. Tell us about it. Talk to us. Tell me how it was like growing up in Communist Hungary.

I was born in Hungary and I lived there until I was ten years old. It was a childhood of fun, but also lots of what you would say stress and worries and it’s not an easy life for sure. I day-to-day go to school with friends and play but then so many times at night, the secret police would come and take my dad and mom. It was a scary time but as a child, it was a little bit normal. I have very warm, loving, parents and I have one sister. That’s all I knew exactly. I didn’t know anything else. Now looking back was like, “Wow.”

I can’t believe that. I’m from Armenia and that was under Communist rule for so long. I don’t remember because we came to America when I was five. My mom always tells me stories of how we could go days without any light, days without water and she had me, a newborn. She had to bathe me, she had to feed me. Like you mentioned in your book, you become so disciplined by these circumstances you’re forced to be in. I can only imagine what that was like for your parents to have to support two children and to go through things like getting thrown out of their house in the middle of the night and taken to jail. Tell me how those childhood experiences shaped you.

Certainly, discipline is a huge part of my upbringing. For example, the discipline of my mom, making sure that we have food. We had this basement food, it was very cold and I remember her putting away potatoes for the winter and onions and all kinds of things so that we would have food for months. That discipline, even though I probably would have loved some freedom, it has served me in my adult life and certainly in business and in my career. Part of my success is being a very disciplined person.

IW 1 | Balancing Life
Balancing Life: Discipline is a huge part of starting, succeeding in the business, and growing a business.

How would you practice this discipline in your business? How do you think it applied?

The discipline of hard work.

To push yourself. I feel like I struggled with that for a while because when you own your own business, no one tells you, “You have to do this by this time.” You give yourself deadlines, you give yourself work to do. I found myself when I was younger struggling with that. Now I’m a mom and I feel like that’s changed a little bit. I’ve become more disciplined. For me, it was after I became a mom that this was the new me. I gave myself discipline. I told myself, “By this time, by this day, this needs to be done.”

I always taught my kids, “In order to be successful in school, you need to learn study skills.” Study skills are part of that discipline that you don’t leave the assignment until the last minute and you finish your reading. The same thing applies to business. Sometimes you have late nights when you have to sit there to finish whatever you need to do, whether it’s putting labels on a bottle or filling up some bottles or in the beginning, putting together orders or writing invoices or piling upsells. Little things like that may seem tedious but they are such a huge part of starting and succeeding in the business and growing a business. That’s the discipline that was very important especially early on throughout my life, but especially when you’re a startup or starting business as you experience the same and so did I.

Many times with the first business I had, we taught makeup classes in LA and New York. I taught them in LA because we couldn’t afford to pay for a teacher in LA and it made more sense. I remember we had note cards. We had to print every single day on the day of class, an hour before I had to leave. I would go to the printing place and print it. Every single time I’d tell myself, “Why do you leave it last minute? You don’t have kids. You don’t have anything to do. This is your job.” That was hard for me. If a girlfriend called while I was trying to look for sponsors or people to print the gift bags, I’d be like, “I’ll be right out in five minutes.” Now I’m like, “I can’t talk to you. Call me in an hour when I’m finished.” Now, I have a child. I have limited time, especially because I’m so present in his life and I’ve learned to be disciplined. You’re right, it’s absolutely important in school and in business and in order to succeed because you have to put in the work. If you’re disciplined, I feel like you will.

That again is a huge part of success.

In your book you mentioned a mistake that OPI had made, and that was branching into the makeup industry. I’m sure that was hard for you and the business to go through. Talk to us about that. Tell us how you overcame that.

In specific, we got into lipstick. It was a time when people love to match the lips and nails, whichever came first, in our case nails. We thought it would be nice to expand the category. In beauty, lipstick seems the right way to start. The mistake we made is we did not input enough research on what exactly happens to lipstick and the time of the year to ship lipstick. As you read in the book, there was a huge issue. They bloomed. They had sweat marks on them. They truly looked like they’re having some horrible disease. It was in the middle of the summer and it had to be a huge recall and everything was to be trashed.

[bctt tweet=”Hiring people who can do things even better at certain tasks than you are is when any business can grow and be healthy.” username=””]

The good part was that when you do something like that, when you do want to branch into something new, make sure that your core business is grounded and somewhat established. OPI was well-established at that point, so it was okay to take this risk, which we didn’t think it was going to be a risk but it turned out to be a huge one. Even though financially it was hard on the company, but since we had OPI Nail Lacquer and the other products as our core business, it allowed us to get through this time of financial setback and immediately figured out what else pushed our core business forward even harder. If we had some things in the back burner, we put that in the front burner now and accelerate a new launch or a new promotion to get back to positive cashflow.

Was that a stressful time for you?

Extremely because OPI was the darling, we could do no wrong. Everything we were launching was a success. I always say we were smart, but very lucky. There is this setback. It’s very stressful. Are we losing our mojo?

Did you ever think about that?

No, I didn’t. I’m an extremely positive person. I always say that and I mentioned it in my book. It was a stressful time. Certainly, when you sit with the financial team, it makes it even more stressful when they give you the facts as they are, but you push forward.

I feel like everything is a lesson learned. It’s wrong to call it a failure. It’s a lesson that you learned that you need more research before you branch out and you add a new branch. Companies make that mistake now. They are too quick. They don’t do their research and that’s when the mistakes can happen. I want all my guests to get raw and talk about their struggles. What was your biggest struggle when it came to business and your personal life?

The guilt is a huge struggle having two kids and having my private family and my business family, the OPI family. There was always guilt when you have to travel, when you have to go on the trip and then your kid says, “Mommy, please don’t go,” and you say, “I have to go.” Women are always asked to be multitaskers. We can do many things. We manage the household, we work with the children. My husband is super smart and if I tell him two things I go, “I tell you two things so when you finish the first one, then you know what to do. There’s the second thing.” I would never say that when I’m told what I have to do. I go one at a time and I’m happy to go to my next task.

That’s why your story is especially inspiring because you are a wife, a mother and you ran this multimillion-dollar amazing company. You’re right, women are superheroes. We do it all. We keep our mouth shut, we do it perfectly and we get it done. We sacrificed so much for our family. Tell me how you sacrificed for your family.

IW 1 | Balancing Life
Balancing Life: It’s important to study and learn the category that you are launching and have the patience to carry something through.

There are a couple of things. My first sacrifice and it was always my choice was me time. When people ask me, “When did you have a facial?” I said, “Twenty years ago,” but that was okay. Those were the choices I made, but I also had help and I mentioned that in my book. I’m a mom. I always say my kids are my greatest passion. I love every day what I did and do. My kids, my husband and my family are always first. I had help, my parents, family, it’s extremely important. If you have a family to help, it makes it easier. There are a lot of expectations of us women that is out there of us but we need help. That’s okay to ask for help. I want the audience to know that it’s certainly okay to ask for help.

I wished I heard that advice when I had my son because at the time I was like, “I can do it. I can watch him all day and then stay up all night trying to do something, build a business and build a brand.” I realized I was slowly getting depressed and then nothing was happening. I was being overwhelmed and more pressure was put on me. You fall almost, you collapse into these negative emotions because you’re overwhelmed. The minute I acknowledge that it’s okay to ask for help is when I felt a little free. My babysitter has been gone for one month and I’m drowning. She comes three days a week. Three days of help for eight hours made a significant difference. It’s not like I was doing me time like a spa. I haven’t been to the spa in months, but I was working in that quiet time where I can focus on work made me a better mom, made me more patient, made me miss him and made me more present. You’re right, it’s okay to acknowledge that you need help. We’re super women, superheroes, but even superheroes need sidekicks.

Even in business, part of OPI’s success, while we were growing, is to recognize that I needed help. At first, you want to micromanage everything. Then when you realize that you can hire people who can do things even better at certain tasks than you are, is when the company or any business can grow and be healthy. It’s the same thing in my personal life with the kids. I recognize I needed help. I have a housekeeper, my sister and my mom was my greatest help.

It’s like a family business. I feel like everyone who had a little bit of part of OPI, it was very family-oriented and I respect that so much, especially being a huge global company that you are and were at the time. That’s special that everyone was a part of it.

There was a family culture at OPI. I tried to stress this in my book and recognize people. There are so many more, but I want to recognize all the people because I always said if it wasn’t for them, I would not have been able to do what I did in business. If it wasn’t for my family, I would not be able to do what I did.

You definitely need a support system to grow.

The sooner one recognizes it, the better it is.

In this day and age, I feel like everyone’s an entrepreneur or that’s the goal. What is one common mistake you see many entrepreneurs are making?

[bctt tweet=”Patience is a virtue of a successful person.” username=””]

Having no patience. Patience is such a virtue of a successful person and it’s important. In this day and age, where we must have instant gratification because of our iPhone, that device that we cannot live without from morning to night and everything is so instantaneous. If you don’t respond to something instantly, if you don’t acknowledge something instantly, if you don’t find something that you’re looking for instantly or if you can’t buy something. Many times, entrepreneurs or startups don’t have the patience to grow the business and to give it a good base. That is so important. You have a vision. You have to follow that vision. I always say it’s important to know competition around you. It’s important to study and learn that category that you are launching, but have the patience to carry something through. If it doesn’t happen in the first month, second month, then it’s okay. As long as you’re going on some path that you set out for your business, for yourself, personal goals, business goals, see it through before you jump around and move around and start other things.

I want to say I’m one of those impatient people. For me personally, it’s that I’m so excited about a concept that I want to go full force. I want to jump in. I come across hurdles and then I’m like, “Why is this happening? You need to slow down. Take your time.” It’s something I’m still learning, but I’ve taught myself to take a chill pill a little bit, calm down, slow it down a little bit and take all the necessary steps so that something is successful because I not will regret it, but it won’t be a nice feeling. I know if I take my time with something, I’ll perfect every detail, micromanage every detail. Did you have trouble with that? I feel like I would suffer from that when I needed to hire.

It’s very hard in the beginning, especially when you start a business to let go of certain tasks. It’s probably one of the hardest things.

What was the hardest task for you to give up?

Everything. I used to place the orders for bottles, for labors and for everything. I thought if I don’t do it, somebody’s going to mess it up and we won’t have the inventory we need, but it was better than when I was managing it. The other thing is if you can have a mentor, when you face those challenges, if you can discuss them as you go along building your business, that’s an amazing thing to reassure you that, “Stay the course, you’re doing fine.” Those things along the way become very important words to somebody who’s starting a business.

Did you have a mentor with the business?

George Schaeffer and I are partners. If it’s possible to have a partner, it’s also important to find the right partner to do different things in the business. I had somebody to discuss things and he had somebody to discuss with as well, so it worked for us. Many times, when I speak to young people or entrepreneurs who are starting out, mentors are extremely important.

It never crossed my mind to have a mentor. I usually talk to a girlfriend who was more knowledgeable or ask for advice from fellow entrepreneurs that are friends. A mentor is an awesome thing to do. With partners, which I want to touch on a little bit, it’s definitely important to have the right partner where you balance each other out and you’re stronger together. That’s another mistake young entrepreneurs make or I see people make is they partner with the wrong people. They don’t see eye-to-eye and then the business flops. What can you tell us about that?

IW 1 | Balancing Life
Balancing Life: When you are fortunate enough to move up the ladder, take other people with you, teach them, and help them grow.

If you have a bad feeling and it’s doesn’t work, don’t go for it, if you have some doubts. The best partnerships that worked for me, it was that George did one side of the business, more of what I call the infrastructure, machinery, the warehousing, all those details, financials. I was more the creative side, the marketing, the public relations, creative as far as colors and all those things. The partnership worked well for us. Don’t try to do everything and oversee your partner. Have weekly meetings or twice a month, whatever works or needs. It doesn’t have to be written in stone. You could meet every day and bring what each of you brings to the table and see what the next steps are. Put out a vision, a goal of what you both want to achieve, and see through it step-by-step.

There are many places for networking in the beauty industry or in any industry, which is nice. I was in San Francisco and there were 150 young women that came. I told them, “No matter what I say, you showing up is the first of your success going forward because you’re going to meet people, maybe your mentor, maybe a friend and maybe somebody who can recommend you to another job. It’s important.” What women do best is tell our stories and relate to each other, to our struggles, to our highs and lows, through what works, what doesn’t work and we share that and we all grow and we all learn from each other.

I want everyone to take away that women should always help each other. We should never be against each other. It’s always community over competition because it doesn’t hurt to give a helping hand to someone next to you. The first step is showing up. If you’ve made a decision that you want to go to a networking event or maybe a seminar of some sort, the first step is to buy your ticket, show up, be present, learn and be kind to those around you. Have you ever experienced unkindness in the industry?

Many times and people ask me, “What’s your advice to people who are growing and are up the ladder?” I’ll say, “Be nice.”

I think so too. I don’t know why you wouldn’t be.

Many times, people turn out not as nice as they move up the chain or the ladder. Be nice and take people along the ride. When you are fortunate enough to be able to do that, take other people with you, mentor them, teach them and help them grow. It is such an amazing satisfaction.

I feel that instant gratification when one person can even message me saying, “This was insightful or helpful or resourceful.” That’s how the podcast idea came.

That keeps you saying, “Let me do the next podcast.”

I feel your book touches on that so much. It’s inspiring and there’s so much that people can learn from it. I wanted to mention we will be having a giveaway. We’re going to have two signed books from Suzi. All you have to do is subscribe to the podcast and rate it and that’s how you enter. We will pick two winners and you are going to love and enjoy this book so much. Suzi, thank you so much for coming. It’s such an honor to have you here. To our audience, we have a YouTube channel. We’re going to offer a separate business segment that Suzi will be doing, so keep a lookout for that. We’ll chat soon. Have a good one.

Important Links:

About Suzi Weiss-Fischmann

IW 1 | Balancing LifeBorn in Hungary, Suzi was attracted to the beauty world at an early age. She cultivated her instinct for color and style in the garment industry of New York City, where she also attained a degree from Hunter College. Suzi’s passion for fashion translates into year after year of on-trend nail lacquer shades, worn by celebrities and consumers alike to accessorize the season’s hottest looks.

“This is the era for nails. Gone are the days of wearing dark colors in winter, bright shades in summer, and neutral hues for work. Now, color, shape, and texture of all varieties are being embraced. Nothing is taboo when it comes to nails!” exclaims Suzi.

Suzi places a strong emphasis on philanthropic contributions through the Fischmann Family Foundation, which focuses on education. The Fischmann Family Foundation provides scholarships and financial aid at various institutions. “I strongly believe that education is one of the most important things we can provide our children. No one can take away from you what you learn, and with education comes so many other opportunities,” Suzi explains.

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My Favorite Podcasts

I don’t know about you but I am a huge Podcast listener. I’m actually starting my own Podcast very soon and I am SO excited about it. We’re currently renovating the perfect set 😉 and that’s all I’ll say for now, but mark my words it’s going to be INCREDIBLE!!!!

When it comes to listening to Podcasts there are a few things that I’m truly interested in and that is motivational (or “lesson-worthy”) stories and business advice! Businesses and their success stories are a true inspiration of mine. I enjoy listening to the journey of how a business came into fruition, it’s so motivational.

Since being a businesswoman/entrepreneur is who I am/aspire to be I love listening to informative and motivational podcasts that provide quality content and quality information. Also, it’s the most productive thing to do when you’re washing dishes or chilling in bed.

That being said here are some of my favorite Podcasts…

Jenna Kutcher is a total boss babe and provides so much useful tips for IG and your business. I love that she gets to the point and explains things thoroughly so she doesn’t waste your time being in your ear. You never feel like a question was left unanswered if that makes sense. I hate when audio hosts beat around the bush but never really ANSWER the question at hand, it’s annoying.

FAV EPISODE: “OUR BEST INSTAGRAM TIPS EVER”

The Ikonns have easily become one of my favorite couples on the internet. I have been following Mimi and Alex for years and I was so happy to hear they started a Podcast. My goals and how I view things are so aligned with their thought process, that I truly enjoy hearing all their advice. One of my favorite episodes was “How We Built, Scaled, and Sold Our Multi-Million Dollar Luxy Hair Business” because of the incredible story behind how they became so successful but also because it teaches people a valuable lesson on money. We automatically associate money with happiness and that’s rarely the case. Yes, money can buy you a nice life but it can’t fix your internal struggles. Money can’t take away your negative emotions, it’s just paper. All that extra work needs to be done by you and only you.

FAV EPISODE: “How We Built, Scaled, and Sold Our Multi-Million Dollar Luxy Hair Business”

Lauryn is literally my spirit animal you guys. She’s witty, funny, and oh so cheeky. I love her vibe, her style, and also her content. She’s one of my favorite bloggers on IG because of her fabulous pink aesthetic and amazing content and she is also a great host alongside her hubby Michael.

FAV EPISODE: “HOW TO GET MOTIVATED- TIPS TO MOTIVATE YOURSELF, HOW TO STAY MOTIVATED, & MORNING ROUTINE.

OK, anything Tony Robbins does please count me in! He is truly one of the most inspirational people I’ve ever come across to actually change my outlook on business and life. I love his tough love and straightforward approach to situations and I love his crazy energy and drive. Watch “I’m Not Your Guru” on Netflix if you’re in need of an awakening, it’s so powerful!

FAV EPISODE: “STRATEGIC INNOVATION | THE #1 SECRET TO GETTING AHEAD”

I discovered Gary Vee on social media and instantly fell in love with his hustler personality. He is a multi-millionaire and a serial entrepreneur and I love that he answers real questions from regular people in short episodes (max 10 min long). He also gives great advice on his social accounts.

FAV EPISODE: “THE VALUE OF PURSUING YOUR HOBBY”

I am a huge fan of Diana’s and her inspiring posts on social. What I admire about her the most is that she is an Armenian entrepreneur, a mom, and a wife who hustles every day and sets goals for herself and really pursues whatever she puts her mind to. I was so excited for her to start her podcast because she’s such a boss babe! You’ll really enjoy listening to her and her guests speak.

FAV EPISODE: “PETER CRONE- HOW TO SHIFT MIND FOR SUCCESS”


Comment below with some of YOUR favorite Podcasts or your favorite episodes that really made an impact or lasting impression on you. I would love to hear your suggestions.

Till next time babes!

XOXO,

Greta