Getting a Leg up by Putting Intention Behind Your Business
Instead of growing up with the golden ticket, Tasha Kendall, Co-Founder and CE sOul of How We Soul, grew up with a golden pineapple. With a smile, her mother told her that by placing a golden pineapple in front of their home, people will know they are welcome there. This concept came full circle for Tasha in college while she was volunteering in Botswana, a year that has shaped every year since – you’ll find out more about this in her interview below! She has since moved through life practicing this pineapple principle because she “saw first hand how much feeling wanted, welcomed and cared for meant” to each person.
For Tasha, the experience made her realize hospitality goes beyond the home – she’s dedicated herself to living with a gold pineapple painted on her life.
This is where her business, How We Soul (HWS) comes in. This Gem creates chic, active leggings (they hug your body in all the right places and are ridiculously comfortable!) and uses them as an avenue for bringing more soul to the world. HWS is a profit company that chooses to donate 100% of profits to the Botswana Orphan Project, which offers daycare, food, clothing, and a safer place for orphans and defenseless children.
So when you are putting on a pair of Stardust or Vino leggings, you can go through the day (whether you need to work, play, or practice yoga) knowing you took part in How We Soul’s mission to help more children to feel wanted, welcomed, and cared for.
Read on fellow Gems, read on.
How did you come up with the name for your company?
I’m a huge fan of puns and play on words, so I had originally suggested How We Soul in a brainstorming session half joking. We were discussing our desire for the brand to have depth, meaning, and heart; that we wanted to encourage people to put their soul into how they roll. Suddenly anytime I would ask myself why we made a decision a certain way, I’d think “because it’s how we soul”, and the name just stuck.
How did the idea for your business come about?
I live in my yoga pants. It started when I was heavily into athletics in high school and college (mostly acrobatic gymnastics and basketball) and then continued when I had two boys who give the energizer bunny a run for his money. My only wish was that I could make them look “nicer” when I wore them outside of the gym (which, let’s be honest, was most of the time). So I pitched the idea to Ryan and he graciously helped make this wish a reality!
You have two other team members, Eunice Reyes and Ryan Williams. How did you meet them, and what are your favorite traits about them?
I met Ryan Williams in 2001 while I was volunteering in Botswana for a year. Fast forward to our reunion (thanks to Facebook) 14 years later where Ryan shared that he’d spearheaded the Botswana Orphan Project. I knew immediately I wanted to help in any way I could. He then introduced me to Eunice, a friend he met while working in Seattle, and she and I clicked right away. It wasn’t long before I knew we had a dream team on our hands. Ryan is incredibly organized, grounded, and dedicated. And he knows everyone! When he travels, no matter what country and city, there’s someone there who says,“Let’s have lunch when you’re in town!” Eunice is incredibly passionate, knowledgeable, and stylish. And she’s continually brainstorming, which I love!
What practices, programs, and tactics do you three use to keep yourselves organized and on the same page?
I think the biggest thing we do is communicate. Eunice lives in Seattle, Ryan is in Portland, and I am on Maui, so staying in touch is crucial. We had planned on weekly check in’s, but ended up brainstorming, asking each other questions, and just sharing our highs and lows almost daily. When we don’t immediately agree on a decision or idea, we hash it out until we do. Depending on what info we’re sharing, this is done on Facebook Messenger, email, Google docs, or dropbox.
What are the most crucial things you have done to grow your business?
Seek genuine relationships. My favorite thing about social media and getting our name out there is meeting like-minded people who inspire and challenge me. These people help refine my ideas and lift me up when I’m having a rough week. And I’ve found that intentionally being open and real has created more partnerships than any well-worded advertisement ever could.
Here at the Gem, we love to see people helping people. Where does your passion come from to help the children of the Botswana Orphan Project?
I took a year off during college and spent it living and working in Gaborone, Botswana. Two friends and I started a pre-school in our garage that has blossomed over the past 15 years into a k-8th grade school on its own campus and with its own pool! The year we spent overseas really shaped every year after it. When I try to explain my experience, I often say, “we’re all so differently the same”. There were some pretty obvious differences between myself and the people I met in Botswana. However, after getting to know my neighbors and the community, I realized the ways we are the same are even more obvious. We love our families, we love to laugh and dance, and we want our kids to grow up to be great people. This is a community that I know well, where I have connections, and where the path to help is clear. I believe everyone should look for ways to give back in their area of influence, and this is mine.
Sustainability is a major problem in the fashion industry. What would you like people to know about what they can do to be more eco-conscious?
Purchase with your eyes wide open. Know that as consumers we can make a huge difference, good or bad, in our environment. Pay attention to the brands you shop. How do they source their products? I love a sale as much as the next girl, but once I became aware of WHY a clothing item or piece of jewelry was so cheap, my desire of purchasing it slipped away. It feels incredible to purchase items I know were created responsibly and ethically.
What’s your favorite quote for describing entrepreneurship?
“A strong woman accepts both compliments and criticism graciously, knowing that it takes both sun and rain for a flower to grow” –Anonymous (found on Pinterest)
So often we take criticism (or anything we deem a “failure”) towards our business to mean we aren’t good enough or that there are cracks in the foundation of our idea. Instead, struggles should be looked at as they are, opportunities to get stronger. Refinement and growth rarely take place when things are going smoothly. Let doubt be what sparks your creativity. My favorite example of this is a Ted Talk by Phil Hansen called “Embrace the Shake” (you can find it on YouTube). Let both the rain and sun help you blossom!
Who doesn’t enjoy an inspiring TED Talk? This one especially hits home with crafting your story… Literally with art. Take a look at the video and comment below on what you took from it!