As a part of the Morning Lazziness series about empowering women who are encouraging and doing incredible things with their ideas in society, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sonia Kahlon Founder, EverBlume
Many thanks for doing this for us; how would your besties describe you?
They would describe me as energetic, excitable, funny, super reliable, and…full of opinions.
How did the idea for your business come about?
I was sober for 5 years when I was blindsided by the breakup of my relationship of 18 years and had no idea how I would be able to maintain my sobriety and mental health.
For years I had been a lurker at recovery meetings, but now I found they were either too large for me to feel comfortable sharing or the feedback and conversation I wanted were discouraged. I needed a small group of people maintaining their sobriety through a life transition to listen, give advice, and encouragement.
So I created EverBlume, which provides online small group recovery meetings with a recovery coach facilitator where each group is matched based on the characteristics of its members. The goal is conversation and connection. We are building a community that leverages peer support.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
One of the most eye-opening experiences I had was selling my business to a private-equity group. I had heard about corporate bros but hadn’t had any real interactions with them. I knew there was a gap in investing in women minority founders, but it was the process of selling my business that really illuminated the culture behind startup funding. I felt out of place with these white, privileged, ivy league educated men and found myself saying and doing these that were so contrary to my belief system just to fit in.
If you had a magic stick, which are the three things you would change in the world?
I think the ease with which we fracture relationships in Western culture is staggering. I see the dangers of the opposite extreme, as seen in Eastern cultures where family is preserved at any cost. But in my life, I’ve had people sever the relationship when it gets a little tough.
The stigma of addiction and mental health – I think that if we reduced the stigma, we would see a huge shift of mindset and people seeking treatment who were otherwise suffering in silence.
Mass incareration – this is one of the most detrimental things to our communities, and the effects ripple throughout generations.
What part of your life experience would you alter if you had the chance to?
I try to look at almost everything that has happened ‘to’ me as something that happened ‘for’ me. Some days that is extremely difficult and doesn’t feel authentic. I wouldn’t necessarily alter anything, but I wish I were less sensitive to certain experiences. For example – my divorce, I wouldn’t change the outcome since so much good has come out of it, but if there were a way to change the damage it did to me and the pain it caused me, I would.
5 pieces of Jewelry that are essential for every woman.
- Chandelier earrings
- Diamond stud earrings
- A giant cocktail ring
- Something in rose gold
- A personalized necklace
According to you, what is the definition of “beauty according to you.”
Beauty, for me is about embracing the features that both make you uniquely you and also tie you to your ancestors. I used to see Indian brides wearing makeup that lightened their skin tone like 5 shades. And I understand culturally where that standard of beauty comes from, but it’s just incorrect. I also have a beauty mark under my eye that is pretty easily covered up with makeup, but I go in with q-tip and wipe makeup off it so it is visible.
What challenges did you face at the start of your entrepreneurial journey, and how did you overcome those?
Even though I launched, scaled, and sold a business in 2016, I have always suffered from imposter syndrome. I still think I still struggle with it, but I try to pause, take a deep breath, and focus on what is true and not the story I am telling myself.
In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?
Self-care and self-compassion are my greatest tools in times of doubt or adversity. Sometimes those feelings of doubt come from pushing against a brick wall, and self-care and compassion give us a moment to step back, reflect and redirect while also giving ourselves the space and love we need to be our best selves.
How do movies potentially affect our culture and our youth growing up today?
There is so much content out there, but I find there are so many good movies and bingeable shows, and it’s just up to us to make good decisions about what to consume. So many movies make powerful social statements and shift mindsets. Some of my most profound reflections have come from watching movies.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
I am active with several non-profit organizations. One that provides entrepreneurship training to the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated. As well as job skill training to victims of sex trafficking.
But mostly, I share my story of mental illness, addiction, and recovery with as many people as I can in hopes that someone will resonate and feel inspired to make a change.
What valuable advice would you give new entrepreneurs starting?
Set up a sustainable lifestyle that maintains and improves your physical and mental health. Make working a part of that lifestyle but not let it take over, which is easy to do. Setting up a workable schedule from the beginning is important to healthy habits.
What are your plans for the future? How do you plan to grow this company?
My plans are to continue to scale our membership and use data to hone in on what people need and respond to and adapt to these needs. The business changes every day, and my goal is to see, reflect and act on these changes.
What are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur, and why?
- The ability to self-reflect – and see your skills and weaknesses
- The ability to delegate – you need to be able to focus on growth and systems
- Relentless Passion – otherwise, you won’t be able to sustain the level of commitment and work it takes to build a successful business
What role do you think social media plays in the business world today?
I’m in that shoulder generation of the internet. When I started college, the internet was just coming out, I didn’t have a cell phone until I was 21 years old. So for me, social media is just a little less a part of my DNA and always feels a little strange, but I think it’s important for any company to be active on social media and engage with their customers.
What would you want to be if you were not a businesswoman today?
A journalist. As a child of immigrant parents, my career options felt limited to – a doctor, dentist, or pharmacist, and I picked the one in the middle. I’m not sure I ever had a burning passion for dentistry, and certainly not in the way I do for being a recovery coach. I have an unrelenting curiosity and get such joy from writing that I think would be well suited for journalism.
Lastly, where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
That is so tough because if I’ve learned anything in the last year, it’s that you never know where your life will take you. Given that, I think I will be making a positive social impact in a community with struggles I can resonate with.
What is your favorite quote?
“Between your greatest pain and your passion lies your purpose.”