Each week, our Friday Feature celebrates powerful women from our tribe who share their magic with the world in unique and inspiring ways. This week, we chatted with Cheryl Sutherland, CEO & Founder of PleaseNotes. This powerhouse shares her experience building a brand that empowers individuals through personal development.
When you were a child, what made you the happiest?
Spending time with my nephew. We are only 7 years apart so I was his designated babysitter, and at times he was my best friend!
What inspired you to do what you’re doing today (day job or side hustle or both!)?
I followed the thing that made me feel the best. I fell in love with personal development when I went through an amazing experiential course through PSI Seminars. My world shifted dramatically because I could now see more of the possibilities of what my life could look like and that I was the one who had the capability to do with it what I wished.
As I continued, those possibilities kept multiplying and, along with that, the feeling of freedom, joy, playfulness and glimpses of true happiness. I took all the knowledge I accumulated and used it on myself when I hit a roadblock in my own life. I knew I had to step into the next phase of my life which was entrepreneurship.
The difficult thing was that, at that time, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I didn’t feel confident enough to follow through on any ideas that did pop up. So I took time out and worked on me. I did a deep dive into affirmations, journaling and doing even more personal development, until one day I got the idea for PleaseNotes and I knew that it was it. Personal growth work, helping people and high quality products? I started building and I never looked back.
Can you give us a story that exemplifies why you get fulfillment out of the work you do?
The most impactful story that I've heard was right after my Kickstarter campaign to release the Journal. One of my friends back in Canada had gotten a set of them and a friend of hers had just experienced a tragedy, to the degree that it shakes a community. She thought a great way for him to process his loss was through journaling and, when she gave him the Journal, he broke down and burst into tears. I feel like my items are a beautiful way to communicate care in the world today: a way to remind a person that, "I see you as such a great, powerful deserving being, and I want you to see that too."
Is there a roadblock you had to overcome to get where you are today? How did you do it?
The biggest roadblock was my own self-doubt. I feel like being a business owner continually asks you to step outside of your comfort zone and believe that you can do it and that you are supported. I overcame it by focusing on my why: that this business is about giving people a new set of tools and letting them create their own opportunities, about empowering people with the knowledge I had to re-orient and build myself, one step at a time.
When’s the last time you had to be super brave?
The last time I had to be super brave was when I exhibited at the National Stationary Show in NY. It was my first really big show and I drove down from Canada with my booth and samples in a U-Haul trailer. Since it was 8-12 hours each way in addition to having to go through US customs, some of my family and friends were nervous I would have difficulty. I just stayed clear that it was going to be amazing and it turned out to be a great solo drive!
What does choosing yourself mean to you?
Choosing myself means understanding and honoring my feelings. For the majority of my life, if there was something I didn’t feel good about or had difficulty doing, I would judge myself and push through it. Now I know, when I feel incongruent with something, to take a look at it, figure out why and change course if necessary. Listening to and cherishing my intuition has been a game changer for me and has made making decisions and running my business so much easier.
Was there a turning point you reached where you decided you had to choose yourself? What was it?
My turning point was at my last "job." I had stuck it out because my boss at the time was a really close friend and I felt like it was up to me to produce the business results she needed to make the business flourish. I felt internally that, in sticking around, I was only extending hurting her and myself. I knew she was going to be mad. I was even mad at myself for wanting to leave. I had just come back from a personal growth workshop and decided I was going to quit, even though I didn't have a back up plan or an idea. I trusted myself, took the leap and my life took a beautiful turn.
How do you practice self love and care on a daily/weekly basis?
I pour into myself with exercise and paying attention to my physical body. In the past, I’ve always felt at odds with my body. It felt like it was constantly betraying me and never did or looked the way I wanted it to. Now I consciously nurture, work with, and listen to my body. I drink a ton of water, feel powerful through exercise, nap when I feel tired and even play with my rolls and my cellulite.
What is your favorite way to express yourself, and why?
Dancing! I love being on the dance floor and cutting a sweet rug. I feel so much synergy and excitement when a great track comes on.
What is your advice to your 10, 18, and 25-year-old self?10-year-old me: You are loved unconditionally, even if you don’t see it.
18-year-old me : You are worthy of everything that you want.
What do you love most about yourself?
How resourceful I am. I feel like the female MacGyver, I can always figure things out and I enjoy when I do!
What is your message for our tribe?
Mindfulness, self-care and self-love aren’t just buzzwords. Once you start practicing it from a place of “I am worthy of this” or “I love myself enough for this” that’s when it makes a difference. When you go to yoga or meditate to check something off of your to do list, it feels different. I would love people to practice seeing and treating themselves the way they want their soulmate to and go into those practices with that feeling. The world absolutely shifts after that.