The Bright Side of My Business

By Armani Messner

Why I’m an optimist with everyone but myself.

I chucked my phone across my room like a football. I couldn’t even look. I didn’t know what was worse–if it buzzed or stayed dark and mute. 

“What am I doing?” I asked myself, burying my head in my pillow. I began to spiral, thinking of how people would be reacting to what I had just posted. I was afraid it would be negative – I expected it to be negative — which is why it had taken me years to finally create an Instagram account to promote my small business, The Daily Optimist. 

And yes, I totally know how that sounds.

I started The Daily Optimist in June of 2020, when I was in pandemic lockdown with my family in suburban Michigan. After trying every TikTok dance iteration and Chloe Ting YouTube workout available, I decided it was time to pursue the dream I’d had for years: starting my own clothing line. 

My days consisted of going out to my garage with piles of white sweatshirts and sweatpants. I would line my garage with trays filled with a different color dye of the rainbow. I’d spend hours trying different techniques of tie-dye until I mastered my skills.

But my business wasn’t going to be just a hobby tie-dye business started during the pandemic. I wanted—no, I needed—it to stand for something. I wanted to build a brand that could last. I immediately thought about mental health.

The pandemic had hit me harder than I could’ve ever imagined. The days were long and cold in Michigan, and I had been sent home from my freshman year of college, where I still felt like I was finding my way. I found myself struggling for the first time with anxiety, and it only got worse once I was stuck back at home.

After searching for weeks, I found a woman on Etsy who sewed handmade patches, and I gave her sketches of rainbows and smiley faces all covered with the word “OPTIMIST.” The patches were the perfect addition to my tie-dye sweat sets. 

I named the brand “The Daily Optimist” because my friends and family always called me optimistic. I was always the friend to give the glass-half-full attitude, the one who was everyone else’s cheerleader. Which brings me back to the irony of my business’s Instagram launch and my ability to enthusiastically support everyone but myself.

As a female founder, though, it’s not uncommon to doubt yourself. Many female entrepreneurs experience what’s called Imposter Syndrome. It’s when you feel so anxious about your success that you can’t embrace it – or even believe it.

I felt imposter syndrome at the beginning of my business. Even though I didn’t have an Instagram account, I made $30,000 in net revenue in the first year of my business and received over 200 orders. When I launched my website in January of 2021, I doubted I’d get any traffic, but I did, resulting in even more orders. Despite my success, I automatically assumed that everyone reacting to my account would be a troll.

I’m not alone. In fact, most women executives say they’ve experienced imposter syndrome – a article set the number at 75% — at various points during their careers. Many femaile founders don’t have a specific moment where they overcome imposter syndrome–it’s more like an ongoing journey, they say, that requires patience and perseverance. Katelyn Strumolo, CEO of her own marketing agency, wrote in a

LinkedIn article that she simply does her best “to ignore it and continue moving forward.”

I take this advice to heart now whenever I feel the familiar imposter syndrome anxiety creeping into my daily optimism. I remind myself always that if I believe in what I can do, I can do anything. Then I just continue moving forward. I keep doing the thing – designing, making, posting and selling. Whenever my phone buzzes, notifying me that someone has commented on The Daily Optimist’s Instagram, I’m never worried that it’s going to be negative. I’m actually excited to grab my phone and see what the commenter has to say.

Shae Walker

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