Kayley Reed: You're listening to episode number 47 of the Self-care Sunday Podcast. A Minimalist Media Project by Kayley Reed. Every Sunday, only on Sundays I'll release a new podcast episode exploring topics like mental health, entrepreneurship, sisterhood, and, of course, self-care. Today's episode is an interview with Melody Godfred, who is a writer, speaker, and entrepreneur.
After achieving the "dream life" great career, husband, kids, and a home, she felt herself feeling disconnected from her true and authentic self. She created the very first self-love pinky ring as a symbol and daily reminder of her commitment to herself. Her company Fred and Far was born in 2016 to empower women to choose themselves and practice self-love and self-care. Since then, Fred and Far and their self-love movement have been featured in the press like Cosmopolitan and Teen Vogue.
Her self-love pinky rings have been worn by celebrities like Lucy Hale, Viola Davis, and Rachel Bilson. Quick disclaimer for all of you podcast junkies, between minutes 8 and 10 there was a couple of very minor audio issues. I just want to apologize for that because as someone who loves podcasts and loves good audio, that really bothered me. It happens, it can't be fixed, and after the 10-minute mark, everything is totally golden. Thanks for sticking with it. I hope you enjoy this episode.
Kayley: Melody, thanks so much for coming on the show today. I want to start with your journey before Fred and Far. Who is Melody prior to starting this whole self-love movement?
Melody Godfred: Well, that has a short and a long answer. The short answer is that the Melody right before starting Fred and Far was a perfectly accomplished person. I had graduated law school and gotten a great job as a litigation attorney. I had started my own business. I was married. I had two kids. Yet, despite having all that I wasn't happy.
I think the reason I wasn't happy is because, long answer to your question of who is Melody, wasn't being honored. That's because the Melody who existed long before I started down the path of my career and becoming an adult was an incredibly creative person who experienced the world through self-expression and through being extremely self-aware. Somehow while climbing the ladder of accomplishment that we all try to pursue as adults, I had lost myself. That was the moment I was in right before I started Fred and Far and started my own self-love journey.
Kayley: You mentioned that you had achieved this "dream life". Like what so many women aspire to, which is the great career, the husband, kids, a home, and yet you were still feeling disconnected from your true self. Do you want to walk us through what led you to feeling disconnected? Also, if there was a moment or like a light bulb moment that went off where you thought I need to start embarking on this self-love journey?
Melody: Absolutely. I think for me two things happened in terms of understanding that this shift was necessary. One was very superficial. It was the start of a new year. It was the beginning of 2015. Like all women, when the new year comes around, we're bombarded with messages that it's time to embrace a new person, it's time to get on that diet, it's time to make a big profound shift. Somehow that triggered in me, not a desire to become a completely new person, but to reconnect with the old person that was there before I became an adult who was responsible for multiple people.
I think it was interesting that that New Year really triggered something in me. I think the real wake-up call that I was disconnected was the physical one. I didn't feel good in my body. I'd completely forgotten what it was like to even be in my body. From the very first moment that I opened my eyes, I was either in a fight for survival to keep my twin girls well or I was answering emails to an abundance of clients who I thought would suffer if they didn't get an immediate response.
I was almost a robot just trying to keep everyone around me taken care of and happy. My body was taking a toll. I was starting to experience stress and health issues and just a general dissatisfaction. That coupled with it being a new year made me realize it was now or never. I needed to do something big to reclaim myself.
Kayley: Tell us about Fred and Far and your journey with starting the company? You launched in 2016, right?
Melody: That's right.
Kayley: Yes, what has that journey looked like since 2016?
Melody: When I came up with the idea for a ring that symbolized self-commitment and served as a reminder to practice self-care, it was completely personal. It was something I did for myself almost as an act of rebellion against what I felt my life had become. Every day when I looked at this ring on my pinky finger, I'd never worn a ring there before. I thought, "You know what? I'm going to do me. I am going to make sure that I'm practicing self-care, whatever that may look like on a given day. I am going to start exploring creativity again because that was when I always felt most alive as a child."
Within a month, this thing that I'd done for myself had created such a big shift in my own life. I told a friend of mine who was extremely entrepreneurial and I said, "Hey, this is making a big difference for me, do you think it would help other women?" She immediately looked at me and I was like, "You know what? If you think it will, I'm sure it will. If you need help, I'll help you get started." That's actually where the name Fred and Far came from. It's a joint name that represents my last name and my best friend's last name.
Within a year, we had a product, Twitter brand, we had launched our social channels. We started getting the word out. It took a few months. The first article that we were able to get published was in the Racked which, unfortunately, is now a defunct website. We had reached out to a writer there and she wrote about us and then it just caught on like wildfire. We needed this idea collectively so much that women are allowed to choose themselves, that every publication around the world covered it. We went from getting one order a week to getting 100 orders in a day. That was where we started.
Kayley: I'm really curious what that first self-love pinky ring looked like. Did you just go to a store and pick something out or did you have something custom-made? It didn't start as a business, it just started as your own thing.
Melody: That's a great question. It started out with me going to my favorite jewelry store and picking up a ring. While I was in the store, I saw this one ring and it was a bunch of tiny little diamonds that when put together looked like one big mass of stone. I knew I wanted it for my pinky. This was a huge ring.
It was like a size six because who wears something like that on their pinky. At the time, the only pinky ring I think I had seen anybody wear was like a signet ring. They looked at me funny when I was like, "Can you size this down to like a two and a half?" That was my size and they did it. When I wore it, the impact on other people was like, "Hey, are you wearing an engagement ring on your pinky? What's going on?"
I loved that because I wanted this to be a conversation starter, I wanted it to grab people's attention, even when it was just for me. I loved the idea of it being as bold as an engagement ring. That was the first one. Then when I set out to design the actual self-love pinky ring, I wanted to this time actually get a big stone. That was an interesting thing for us to figure out. There were so many different factors that were important to me in designing a ring that was ethical and representative of the mission.
Diamonds have a lot of issues around them and so I knew I didn't want to get a diamond. Also, diamonds are really expensive. I thought it would make it difficult for women to join the movement. In my research, I discovered lab-created white sapphires. Lab-created stones are biologically identical to natural ones, but they are environmentally friendly.
White sapphires metaphysically are all about inspiring and honoring a connection with your true self and revealing your inner wisdom and talent. I knew it was the perfect stone. That's really how I began like, I am a writer, I'm a creator, so when I set out to make something, it's all about the meaning. Every aspect of the ring had to mean something. I'm really happy with where it landed.
Kayley: I love that so much. If you guys haven't seen these rings, you need to go on the website which I'll link in the episode show notes. They are so cute and stunning. They're like the perfect mix of minimal, but still being chic and statement enough.
Melody: Thank you.
Kayley: I am in love with them. I'm curious to hear your favorite things or milestones that have happened since launching in 2016 because even as I was reading your website, and going through some of your press mentions, it was pretty unbelievable like how much success and how much traction you've had in just, what? Five years I guess now?
Melody: Not even, I think it's been like three full years since we started, and about four since I came up with the idea. I still pinch myself. I think for me the first person who bought a ring that wasn't a friend, or a family member, the first person who just heard about us and bought a ring, that will always stay with me as a huge milestone. Her name is Dara. I still know who she is because that for me was amazing. It's one thing for people around you who know you to believe in your idea, but it's another for a complete stranger from across the country to buy in.
That was a big milestone and then getting that whirlwind of press all at once, it was the most I think exciting month of my life because every day you would get the Google Alert ping, or you would get an interview request via email, and it was global. A lot of the coverage we got was in other countries, and then women would reach out to us and share their stories. We would ask them when they bought the ring or even if they didn't, to tell us about what it meant for them to choose themselves, and what was the promise they were making.
Becoming a witness to women around the world in this moment of self-awareness and celebration was huge, and to this day remains one of my favorite moments is any time a woman trusts me with her story. Then figuring out like how can we serve this community and empower them so that we're not just saying, "Choose yourself," but actually opening up roads to make that something that's actionable on a daily basis. Most recently for me, I think a big milestone has been writing my book The ABCs of Self Love, which is really the culmination of everything I've learned throughout this process and journey so that other women know what it means to actually love yourself and care for yourself on a daily basis.
Kayley: I'm so glad that you brought up the book that you just published which was only a few months ago. I think it was published in November?
Melody: That's right.
Kayley: Tell us a bit more about why you felt the need to write a book because there's so much buzz on social media about self-care, obviously, as an entrepreneur you have a business that's based around self-love, why a book?
Melody: I think part of it is this was something I needed to do for myself to honor my own journey because I think at my core above all else, I'm a writer and self-expression is where I really thrive. Writing the book was a bit about me getting back to my roots because, after my stint as an attorney, the first thing I did to recover was write and publish a book.
For me, this is almost about coming full circle. More than that, I felt like we are in a culture right now where it's all about bite-sized information, and it's great, it's great that you can go on Instagram and immediately get that little hit of self-care inspiration through a clever post or a thoughtful caption. In terms of actually doing the work, in terms of creating space for yourself in your own life, it takes a little bit more commitment.
I think something I was running up against even on a personal level is I know I want to love myself, I don't always know exactly what that means. It was important to me to give women a really easy to read book that covers all the basic tenets that go into practicing self-love and care so that it can become part of their ritual. At the end of it, they'll actually be empowered not just with the surface level hit of inspiration, but this deeper exploration that helps them do the work.
Every chapter in this book starts with a letter, that's why it's called the ABCs, but it ends with an exercise. It takes whatever the theme was for that chapter, and it helps you put it into practice so that by the end of the book you've gained not only ideas but tools that you can exercise on a daily basis to experience the power of self-actualization.
Kayley: That's amazing, where can people buy the book?
Melody: I'm really happy it's available on Amazon, it's currently available in print, and it's available around the world, wherever you may be as long as you have Amazon it's going to be available to you. It's also available on our website fredandfar.com. Copies purchased through the website are signed and I can also personally write a note for you which is something I totally delight in doing.
One thing that I've loved seeing especially around Valentine's Day is that women were gifting the book to their girlfriends as a celebration of love on a holiday that traditionally might be reserved for love for another person. They were using it as a way to inspire self-love, which I thought was an incredible practice.
I'm already seeing people inquiring about Mother's Day, and it's just so powerful to see that the gift women want to give to each other right now is the gift of self-love. I just truly believe as a mother of daughters especially, that the greatest gift we can give to each other and to future generations is the notion that as women, we are whole; that as women, we are powerful; and that as women when we stand together, anything is possible. It's really incredible for me to be witness to that every single day through our community.
Kayley: You are at the forefront and a leader in this movement which I think is just so awesome, all the things that you've done. We've talked about a lot of really good things, milestones, and highlights, but I also want to talk about some of the harder lessons both in self-love, and entrepreneurship. Maybe let's start with self-love and self-discovery, what have some of those hardest lessons been for you on this journey?
Melody: I think for me one thing is that self-love isn't just about finding your best parts and embracing them, it's also about witnessing maybe the darkness that's in each person and learning to love that as well. I think growing up, a lot of what I felt was guilt or shame about parts of myself that I didn't quite understand or that weren't as easy to share with the world. Part of my self-love experience has been seeing all parts of myself and being comfortable with them, and that takes a lot of work.
Being in a relationship–that also comes to a head. I think until you truly love yourself, when somebody triggers you, your reaction is going to be really self-defensive, or to shut down. For me, I can be super numb if I need to be, just to get through. Learning instead, when someone triggers me, to sit with that feeling and actually feel it, and then have an adult conversation about what's going on instead of hiding from myself and another person has been really challenging sometimes, but I'm doing it.
I think with regard to self-discovery, I'm learning that as much as I may want to connect with the Melody that existed at seven, or ten, or twenty, there are parts of me that still exists, and there are other parts of me that have evolved. Having this fluid relationship with myself, who I am, embracing myself in all moments, and being okay even if I don't meet my own extremely high standards.
Just this past week something happened where someone had sent me a check in the mail, and I'm really bad at opening my mail on time, like very, very bad at it. It's to an alarming degree. I didn't open up a piece of email, somehow it either got filed away or it got thrown in the trash, and I had to call the person and say, "I'm really sorry, I lost the check. Can you please put a stop payment on it?
The amount of shame I felt because I had made a mistake, I wasn't responsible, and I had done something wrong, it was a lot. Even just telling you about it now, I'm a little emotional over something that's so small and unimportant. It was so easy for them to reissue that check, but I felt ashamed because I wasn't perfect. I carry that energy around all day long, and then I have to learn to be okay with it, we all make mistakes. Last week I thought about this for myself and I had to share it with you.
It's that we all crave perfection maybe because it's easier–it's easy to crave something that is other or outside of us. What we really should crave is authenticity, which is ourselves. I should be okay with the fact that I don't open my mail, it's not a defining characteristic. Maybe I'll establish some habits to overcome that, maybe I won't, and either way, I'm still whole, I'm still worthy, and I'm still okay. Just going through life through a lens of self-compassion and self-awareness has been really transformative for me.
Kayley: As you were saying that and describing how something so small can still make you feel so much shame and guilt even when you know logically maybe it's not that big of a deal but in the moment it's just this big weight on you, I totally get that. I'm really curious about your relationship with your daughters? You said you have twins.
Melody: I do. I have twin girls and they're six and a half and I also recently had a son who is almost a year old.
Kayley: As you are learning so much in this self-love world and have come to terms with authenticity within yourself, I'm wondering how you are trying to pass those same messages on to your daughters and to your son eventually.
Melody: One thing that's really interesting is how much they absorb without me even trying. They know that mommy started a company called Fred and Far that's all about self-love. The other day I caught my daughter Stella who is an artist, drawing and I'm like, "What are you drawing?" She goes, "Oh, I'm drawing more self-love products. This is a perfume bottle that says you do you."
Kayley: Oh my gosh and she's six?
Melody: Right, she's six. I was blown away.
Kayley: That's amazing.
Melody: Some of it is just absorbing and it's really the example we set where we're not even trying to teach our children something, but we're just existing in a space and they learn to embody that space as well. A lot of it is direct though, so we talk about things like, "What do you love about yourself?" When they make a list of who they love, they include themselves. I'll say, "Okay, who do you love?" They'll say, "I love my mom, my dad, my grandma, and my sister," and then will say, "I love myself."
That's something that is embedded within them. It's also about when things happen, how do I respond? My daughter is having a tantrum and you know what, Melody from maybe ten or twenty years ago before I learned about self-love and self-expression might have said something like, "Oh, you're okay." Like, "It's okay, don't worry. You're fine."
Instead, I said, "I see you're feeling something. It's okay to cry. Go ahead, feel whatever you're feeling and whenever you're ready to talk about it, I'll be here for you." She went in her room and she raged for about fifteen minutes and when she felt better, she came out and we talked about it. I think it's as much about telling them, you should love yourself and giving them the language to express that. It's also about giving them the practice of what self-love looks like which sometimes means throwing a tantrum and being comfortable with exploring those more complicated emotions.
I'm really excited to see as they go into their teenage years, what's going to happen then because I think that's when we're challenged the most. In terms of our self-worth and how we flow within the world. High school is rough. [chuckles] I'm hoping that the self-love will inoculate them against some of the more challenging pieces of that experience.
Kayley: Yes, and something that has come up to me recently as well is a contradiction between optimism for the future and feeling very pessimistic. The optimism comes from seeing how openly we talk about mental health now and how the stigma is really starting to fade away compared to even just a few years ago.
There’re so many amazing women doing really cool things in a public light. There are these self-love movements and so much talk of self-care. Then the pessimism comes from increased social media, just everything going on with politics right now. [laughs] Just being in this world at this point in time. I'm wondering if you are feeling more optimistic or pessimistic about the next few years? When you're looking at your daughters going into high school, are you fearful or hopeful?
Melody: It's a really good question because I definitely struggle with a lot of what you just described. I'm someone who operates from a place of constantly needing to feel secure which oftentimes has led me to really worry about the future because there are so many red flags politically, environmentally, socially. There's a lot going on that can make someone not want to get up from underneath the covers every morning.
What I've had to do in order to shift my experience in the world is to untether myself from a specific outcome and to actually ground myself in whatever experience I'm in. To be honest with you, I'm neither optimistic nor pessimistic. I am just here in the moment, living whatever is in front of me.
That has been my kind of coping mechanism so that I don't drown in despair over the things I worry about or get wrapped up in optimism that might eventually let me down because I've put together so many expectations for a future that is largely out of my hands. My way to experience the world right now when there is so much uncertainty is to believe that there is a lot of opportunity and the best way I can create space for that is to just really make the most of every moment that I'm in.
Kayley: That's a really good answer.
Melody: I have thought about that one quite a bit because I needed it. That's one of my self-care rituals is grounding myself in the present. That has really played a transformative impact in my life because I used to be so worried all the time that I would become immobilized. It's hard to move forward in the world when you're worried.
Kayley: I want to branch off of that even and talk about those same kind of fears and doubts and worries as an entrepreneur. Something that I really pride myself for talking about on this podcast and asking other women entrepreneurs about is the transparency behind the business and what some of those harder moments are?
For example, you, when we see the bio and the press highlights and celebrities are wearing your products, it's all so amazing but we also know that there can be really hard moments in running a business and starting a business. I'm curious what some of those harder lessons for you have been as an entrepreneur?
Melody: Oh, there have been so many. [chuckles] I'll tell you a couple really big ones. The first big one is when my friend and I who started this company together decided to separate, that was in 2017. It was really quick. It was within a year of us really getting going. For personal reasons, she needed to stop working and I immediately felt the sense of shame. How am I going to explain this name when the person that I started with isn't here anymore, how am I going to be able to do all the things that she was responsible for?
Initially, our dynamic was that I was going to be the creative and the community builder and really the voice and the heart and she was going to manage the operations because I had no experience running a product-oriented business. I had no idea how to even handle simple things like shipping, that was all her. When she left, I needed to all of a sudden wear every hat in the company myself and that was an extremely difficult thing because I truly didn't believe I had it in me.
Here we are now two years later and I not only did it, I really thrived in taking on more and learning that as much as I think everyone else is better than me at doing everything, I'm actually pretty nifty when I put my mind to it, I'm resourceful, and I'm able to figure things out. It's funny that it's a self-love movement and it took me having to break up with a partner to really learn that I can trust myself, and love myself, and be capable as an entrepreneur in ways that I hadn't stretched in the past. That was a very difficult thing to transition.
Then the other thing is I had my third child somewhat unexpectedly. I underestimated how much my life would change when he was born and I thought, "No big deal, I can still run Fred and Far the same way I always ran it." I also have another business called Write In Color that I have been running for the past eight or so years. It's a resume writing and career building company. I have my daughters and I have my husband and I have my dog and my household and friends. I thought, "No big deal. What's another baby, I can do it all."
Almost forgetting that it was my journey after becoming a mother the first time that pushed me so far to the brink that I needed to start the self-love journey and got my self-love pinky ring and took all these steps to reclaim myself. Just last month-- I'm stuttering because it's so hard for me to say. I decided to take a break from producing rings because it was just simply a little bit too much on my plate to handle as one person.
Recognizing my own boundary and recognizing my own limits and being able to communicate that to thousands of women that I know count on me was hard. It's still hard. People ask me every day, they DM me or e-mail me, "When are you going to produce rings again? When can I buy a ring?" The entrepreneur in me and the mission-driven leader of the self-love movement and me it's like, "Okay, Melody, you should start again."
Then there's this other part of me that set that's like, "No, you haven't healed yet. You had a C-Section a year ago and you haven't worked out yet to heal your body and get strong again. You need to take a minute and practice what you preach and put yourself first." That's what I'm doing right now. I worked out yesterday for the first time literally since getting pregnant. I felt really good. That wouldn't have happened if I hadn't set this boundary as an entrepreneur and taking a little break so that I can really truly be whole the way that I ask other women to be.
Kayley: I love that and I think it reminds me a little bit about what you said in relation to teaching your daughters self-love. It's emulating that as an entrepreneur when that is your business mission almost. For you to take time off and to focus on yourself, I think shows more than if you were to try and keep pushing through.
I definitely relate to that because I think a lot of people in this space online, mental health advocates, writers, people that are creating content around self care and mental health often feel like they need to put on a face and be there to support the other people that have joined in on their journey, when sometimes you really need to take a step back and focus on healing yourself so that you can show up for those other people.
Melody: That's absolutely true. To the credit of our community and the people around the world who really want to be part of this movement, I have found the more real I am in the content that I share, the more honest I am in the sentiments, the more raw, the more I'm willing to really go there and talk about the parts of myself and my experience that are a little bit scary for me; the more engaged people are, the more people share, the more people really connect with what I'm putting out into the world. To answer your earlier point about whether I'm hopeful or pessimistic about the future, that makes me hopeful–the fact that authenticity resonates. It does make me believe that we are absolutely heading in the right direction.
Kayley: Yes, I feel that too. To wrap up, I would just love to ask you if you have any advice to women that might feel stuck or lost or disconnected with themselves in where they're currently at in their life? If you were to look back at yourself prior to Fred and Far or even maybe over the past few months, as you alluded to, what would you tell those women?
Melody: So much. I think one is that until you create space, nothing is going to change. If you see that you're just kind of going through the motions and you're not creating space to connect with your mind or your body, or to experience self-reflection, or meditation, or just anything, any pathway that you can achieve towards your inner world, if you don't create that space, it's not going to create itself for you.
That's something I'm really experiencing right now in such a powerful way. My intuition has never been stronger. I keep having these magical experiences of human connection and just things working out. I think it's because I don't have 6,000 emails in my inbox at any given moment that I think I need to respond to within 20 minutes.
Me creating a space-- a lot of people ask me, "Okay, so when are you going to start again? What are you going to do next? What's your plan?" Being able to say, "Actually, I don't know. I'm just creating space and we will see what happens." A lot has been happening. I think the first thing I would tell women is carve out a little time.
Time that you're not filling with distractions by reading news articles, scrolling on Instagram, or watching Netflix. Just time like put on some music, go for a walk, let your mind wander, do some gardening, get your hands in the dirt, feel the earth, do something that takes you out of your digital experience of the world and gets you into the real world. I think you will find yourself there. I think you never left and you've always been there waiting for yourself. You just forgot. I think one is to create space.
Another thing I would say is that little changes lead to big ones. If you're feeling stuck or lost, don't fret because all you have to do is take a little step and it will snowball and you will get exactly where you need to go. Sometimes we get intimidated because we think we need something huge to happen in order to feel different. For me, all it took was putting a ring on my finger with intention and everything changed my entire life, my work, my family life, my marriage, my relationships with my friends.
Everything about my world changed from that first moment because it signaled the shift that snowballed into a lot of different changes. It started with just the slightest of shifts. I think that's something that everyone can create for themselves. Like I said, it can be as simple as taking a walk. That would be my advice is today if you're feeling stuck, go take a walk, and let that be the first step you take towards discovering yourself.
Kayley: You just heard from Melody Godfred, who is the founder of Fred and Far. Her new book, The ABCs Of Self Love is now available on Amazon or you can win it in a giveaway on our account at Self-care Sunday on Instagram, so go follow, enter, will be running it from today until March 24. Good luck and happy Self-care Sunday everyone.