If you’ve been following along here for a bit, you have surely heard a lot about my journey as an unconventional undergrad. I say unconventional, because I’m  a bit older than your regular college senior. By now, you’ve probably heard me cry about how stressful my college experience has been, how it gets in the way of my life, and how I’m so ready to graduate. Today, I wanna switch things over and talk about a really awesome, positive, and enlightening experience in my educational journey: my summer internship at Fred + Far.

Last June, I posted in a Facebook group I’m a member of that is composed of  working women in Los Angeles to put the feelers out for any potential fashion industry internships that might be out there. I got a couple responses, but ended up interviewing and landing an internship at a small jewelry company called Fred + Far. For those of you who arent’ familiar with Fred + Far, their mission is to empower women to make a commitment to love themselves. Their signature piece, the Self Love Pinky Ring, is meant to signify a commitment to love, honor, and cherish yourself. What initially intruigued me about this opportunity was that it was a business owned and run by women, and that I could possibly learn some great lessons about starting and running my own business someday.

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I definitely learned a lot about those things, and I enjoyed my internship because I felt valued for the knowledge I had coming in and what I could contribute with my time there. However, I learned a lesson that was far more important for me to learn; I learned about self love.

Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, really?! That’s it?! How did you not already know about this? If that’s what you’re thinking, congrats, you’re miles aheard of me I guess. However, last June when I had to start finding and creating content that was all about self love, I had no idea what this really meant. Frankly, the entire conept of self love was pretty foreign. I’ve always been very hard on myself, to say the least. In some ways, this has helped me push myself and reach my goals, but in other ways, this has been destructive. I can be my own worst enemy. Nothing I do is ever good enough, I’m constantly comparing myself to other people. So to me, these concepts of unconditionally loving yourself and accepting yourself, which are the core values of this brand I was working for, were so strange to me, but the more I researched and read, the more I saw stories of these powerful women who living in such a powerful and unbridled way, the more I wanted it for myself.

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  Learning how to retrain my inner monologue has definitely been a process, but through all my dealings with everything related to self love, self care, and just learning to accept yourself, it has really made me think a lot about the ways in which I talk to myself and try to be more careful with myself. To me, self love is learning to be forgiving to yourself. It is learning to stay in your lane and not look to the right or the left and use that as ammunition against yourself when you perceive others to be ahead of you. Most of all, self love is learning to accept that where you are is where you are meant to be, mistakes, flaws, triumphs, the good, the bad…everything!

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At the end of the summer, I made a promise to myself to love myself, no matter what. In the good times and the bad. Its a similar promise you hear when you go to a wedding, but I think we forget that we have to love ourselves first too. I wear a pinky ring every day as a reminder to myself of this promise, just as a wedding ring signifies your promise to the person you love. I’ve learned that you have to practice self love in order to come to a relationship whole.

I really owe a lot of these big life lessons to Melody Godfred, founder of Fred + Far, whom I had the pleasure of working for this past summer. To me, Melody was more than a boss, she kind of became a sort of mentor. I really admire her drive and her ingenuity as an entrepreneur and total #girlboss. I know that so many of you who follow my blog have similar aspirations, so I thought I’d pick her brain a bit and give you all some of her amazing pieces of boss babe wisdom!

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What inspired you to start Fred + Far?

In early 2015 I had hit pretty much every major milestone that was important to me: I had finished school (completing my JD and becoming a licensed attorney),  had a great career as an entrepreneur (I was running my own writing and brand consulting business, Write In Color),  was married to someone I loved, and was a mom (my twin girls Stella and Violet were about 2.5 at the time). At yet, despite “having it all” I was miserable and unable to enjoy any of it. I realized that I was completely committed to everything and everyone around me, but completely disconnected from myself. It had been years since I felt like I could answer the questions, “What makes you tick? What makes you happy? What does your essence need to thrive?” Plus, I had gotten in the habit of sacrificing myself – my health, my mental state, my time – in service to all those around me, without taking any care of myself.

I decided that I needed a reset, a physical reminder to make sure I was on my own priority list each and every day and engaging not only in self care but also self discovery. I chose a ring to symbolize this commitment, because I have had a lifelong love affair with jewelry, and had also experienced first hand the significance of making a commitment with a ring when I put my engagement ring on. I decided to wear it on my pinky because it is an often neglected finger when it comes to jewelry, and thus was perfect opportunity to reclaim myself.

So the very first ring was for me. I immediately felt a shift as I started changing my habits and mindset. When it worked, I thought it would help other women as well. That’s how Fred and Far and the Self Love Pinky Ring were born.

Many think the Self Love Pinky Ring is an anti-engagement ring or a ring for single women. It’s not. It’s a ring for all women, regardless of age or marital status. And it’s a commitment a woman can make at any time. The beauty of what it stands for, self love, is that self love doesn’t take the place of love for another: it fuels it.

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Was being an entrepreneur something you’d always wanted to do, and if not, what made you take the leap?

Being an entrepreneur is something that is in my blood. My father had been an entrepreneur since he was a teenager, and always instilled in us, his children, that anything is possible if you bet on yourself. This is probably where my company mantra, Choose Yourself, was truly born. My father always made me feel that I was capable of anything. I started my first company in 2010 after leaving my first career as an attorney. Being in law was more about following the rules and engaging in competition than it was about creating and collaborating, which is what I’ve since learned I need to do in order to honor my authentic self. I actually still run my first company Write In Color concurrently to Fred and Far, and though they are quite different in the service/products they offer, the mission is the same: to empower people. Write In Color offers career development services like resume writing but the underlying power of the service is helping individuals connect with and harness the power of their personal narratives, which is very similar to Fred and Far.

What were some of your biggest challenges when you started your business and how did you overcome them?

There’s a new company launched probably every minute, and jewelry is an especially saturated market, so standing out and growing is a challenge. That being said, I’ve found that when you come from an authentic, honest place, and share with your community and create for your community with integrity and love, it’s hard for people not to notice. I’ve had great fortune in that we’ve received a lot of organic press around the world. The current challenge is maintaining growth, awareness and engagement, once that PR dies down and also consistently offering new products and resources for our tribe.

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How do you build a culture around Fred + Far?

Witnessing, celebrating and sharing personal stories is something I’m incredibly passionate about. I think authenticity and vulnerability are the hallmarks of human connection, so in creating the Fred and Far culture I took great care to create a safe, welcoming environment where women feel inclined not only to share their stories, but to witness and celebrate one another. We’ve achieved this by including our pinky promise pledge card with our Self Love Pinky Ring, which women sign and share on Instagram along with their personal stories. I also take my responsibility to promote self love and care in an actionable way very seriously. It’s easy to say buy this ring and let it remind you to love yourself. And that is a great first step. But I consider it to be my role to give women tools for practicing self love and self care on a daily basis. We’ve accomplished this through our original content (short and long form on instagram and our blog respectively), as well as through events, self love challenges, advice from experts, and more. Every day I try to share resources that make loving and caring for yourself a little easier.

What would you say is the biggest factor in your company’s success thus far?

Love. There’s love in every detail of what we’ve created, from the design of the ring, to the packaging, to the way we connect with customers on social, to our customer service. We are authentic and vulnerable and that inspires our tribe to do the same. We consider every detail and infuse everything we do with meaning, so that our movement can transcend the physical products we’re selling. I also believe that our success is due to our originality. There’s no other ring like the one we’ve created, and I’m proud to have started a movement that has inspired so many women to choose themselves. Today self love is on the radar. We’re honored to have played a part in that.

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What do you think is the biggest mistake you have made and why?

Where to begin? Entrepreneurship is basically a series of failures one after the other, all of which lead you to being the best company you can be. Mistakes I’ve made include not having a strategic advertising campaign in place soon enough, not having backup vendors to facilitate our explosive growth when it happened overnight, and trusting other people to make decisions I should have been more intimately involved in early on.

What has been your biggest success thus far?

Any time a woman writes me and shares her story and says what I’ve created has made a difference in her life, I have succeeded. Each time is my biggest success.

How do you balance work and personal life?

Boundaries. I had to set very clear boundaries for myself so that the decision of whether to work or give time to my personal life is made in advance, rather than in the moment. I do not work once I get home (unless there’s an absolute crisis) so that I can give 100% of my attention to my family. If I have to work, I stay at the office so that when my kids see me, they know they’re getting 100% of my attention.

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Do you ever have moments where you struggle with self doubt or intimidation in your business, and if so, how do you push through that?

I have self doubt all the time. Nearly every day in fact. So when I feel this daily doubt, I push myself to create. I write some poetry, I write a blog post, I reach out to a tribe member to check in. When I’m creating I connect to my purpose, and when I’m connected to my purpose, I know that things will work out.

What do you know today that you wish you would’ve known when you first started out as an entrepreneur?

I would tell myself to pick a product that was easier to scale. With my first business I chose a personalized service (resumes) which is very difficult to scale, and with my second business I picked fine jewelry, which is not only expensive to produce (especially since we’re committed to producing in Los Angeles), but our jewelry specifically, the pinky ring, is especially tough because most women aren’t sure about their sizes, and a half size off can make a big difference. That being said, in reality I wouldn’t go back and change a thing because the services and products I’ve chosen have been integral to my success.

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Who is your role model and why?

My parents, without a doubt. My mother is a force of nature who breathes life and goodness into the world. There is no hurdle she can’t overcome with her perseverance, ingenuity, creativity and love. She is the definition of a wonder woman, and is especially altruistic, something I deeply admire about her. My father is also altruistic and on top of that fearless and relentless. He takes big risks and creates big things. Both of them have taught me the importance of being a good person and taking care of others however you can, while also being innovative creators who can make magic in the world of business.

Where do you see Fred + Far in five years and ten years down the road? What are some of your biggest goals for the future of your company?

My goal is to raise a generation of self loving women. To teach girls about self love before they go through middle school and high school and begin questioning their worth. My goal for Fred and Far is to take our symbol, The Self Love Pinky Ring, even further, so that when you see a woman walking down the street, her pinky ring will be as recognizable as an engagement ring. For the world to know that these are chosen women. Women who have chosen themselves and commit to practicing self love and care on a daily basis. Women who are whole.

What is your favorite part about running your business?

Connecting with my tribe. You can reach me directly anytime via email melody@fredandfar.com or on Instagram @fredandfar.

If you enjoyed this post and want more actionable ways to learn about practicing self love, I encourage you to follow @fredandfar on instagram for daily inspiration, and to join our Facebook group where you can interact with other women on the same journey.