Sarah: Good evening and welcome to CU@USC. I'm your Friday night host, Sarah Rosenthal, and tonight, we welcome Melody Godfred, the CEO and founder of the self-love movement, Fred and Far.
Sarah: Hi, Melody.
Sarah: Welcome to CU. Thank you so much for joining us tonight.
Melody: Thank you.
Sarah: Can you tell me a little bit about the moment that you were inspired to start a self-love movement?
Melody: Absolutely. I think like a lot of people at USC, most of my life I knew exactly what I wanted so I had gone through all the series of accomplishments. I went to SC, I graduated, I went to law school, I became a litigation attorney, got married, I had kids, I started a business. At the end of all of that, I lost myself a little bit. I wasn't taking care of myself. I spent every day taking care of everyone else. I realized one day that I needed a change.
I've always loved jewelry and I thought, "Well, what if I had a ring that I can look at every day and use it as a reminder to check in with myself, to practice self-care, and to start remembering who I am underneath all of the labels I had acquired in my life?" That's how it started.
Sarah: It's amazing. Do you have a ring right now?
Melody: I do. It's right here and it's a pinky ring because the pinky is the most neglected finger on the hand. We figured if an engagement ring is there to symbolize your commitment to someone else, why not have a specific ring on a specific finger that's dedicated to reminding you to choose yourself and commit to yourself with the same level of love that you would for another person?
Sarah: Did you design all the rings yourself or do you work with someone else?
Melody: No, I design all of the rings. I did a year of research because I wanted to ensure that the ring really lived up to the commitment that we were asking women to make. We use triangles because it's an ancient symbol of the Divine Feminine. We harness that really powerful woman power that's been around for millennia. That's why we use that shape, and then we use lab-created stones because we wanted to make sure they were conflict-free.
We wanted the ring to have a pure energy and not to be something that was derived on the backs of other people's labor. We didn't want to rob Mother Nature of minerals if we didn't need to. We use white sapphires that are metaphysically charged to promote a connection with your intuition, your talents, your inner wisdom. We make them in Los Angeles, because it was really important to support the local community.
Sarah: Incredible. You started off as a litigation attorney and then transition to a writer, what inspired you to make that switch?
Melody: Sure. I got the dream job straight out of law school. I worked at one of the best firms in Century City. Although, I really excelled and enjoyed being an attorney, I realized that the two main parts of the job were competition and also a little bit of destruction because law is not always about creating. I have found that I am most at home with myself when I'm creating and collaborating.
When I realized that law wasn't going to give me that opportunity to be creative because if you're too creative in the law, you get in trouble, I realized I needed a shift. I had always had this dream to write a book so I took a leap of faith, left, wrote and published a book and along the process of doing that, realized that writing was something I was really passionate about and started Write in Color, my writing business.
Sarah: I was going to ask so talking about a little bit like about Write in Color and how you are a career coaching in addition to this self-love movement.
Melody: I am. I realized that my big purpose in life is service and to help people recognize and harness their talents and their power. Career coaching is something that I'm really excited to be able to do. I've been doing now for about six years by working with people all around the country to develop materials like resumes or cover letters that really tell their story and give them the conviction to go after the dream careers that they deserve.
Sarah: Amazing. You work with both men and women for your career building service.
Melody: I do.
Sarah: Because you're so connected with self-love and for womanhood, do you see a difference between the way men are approaching industries and women are as well?
Melody: It’s a great question. I absolutely do. After having worked with over a thousand people, I've noticed that men come to the table very clear about what they want and even if it's something they're not qualified for, they have no problem going after it. They'll bring a job post and even if they only have 25% of the qualifications, they'll ask us to help them go and apply for that job whereas for women, they look for almost 100% alignment between their backgrounds and the job post before they'll have the belief that they are worthy of applying for that job.
Also, another difference is that when men talk about their accomplishments, they say, "I," and when women talk about their accomplishments, they say, "We." They emphasize the team. They very rarely want to take that credit for themselves. There is that difference and that was another reason why I thought the self-love pinky ring is so important for women specifically because even though self-love is important for everyone, I think women especially need to remember to love themselves first and really go after their dreams.
Sarah: Incredible. Have you heard any positive feedback or personal stories that really stood out to you during your time working in both of these companies?
Melody: Absolutely. One story that just happened this past week with Write in Color that has really stayed with me is I heard from a client that I haven't heard it from in about two and a half years. When we had started working together, he had been searching for a job for two years with no success. He just sent me an email and said, “It's been two and a half years since we spoke. Shortly after we worked together, I got my dream job at my dream company after 137 failed applications."
Now, two years later, he's on his third promotion, is going to be managing a team of 20 people, and he basically said that I changed his life. That was an incredible moment for me to witness that he had really changed his life by asking for help. To have been in the position to help him really changed my life. Then with Fred and Far, the beauty of the pledge that we asked women to make when they joined the movement is they always share their stories.
We've had women from all around the world of every age talk about what choosing themselves and making this commitment means to them. I think one story that stood out, again, that's relatively recent is a woman told us that she bought this ring with her first paycheck in 10 years. This, for her, was a symbol of her financial independence and the fact that she had gotten through the darkest, hardest period of her life.
She was celebrating herself and wearing a symbol and a reminder of what she is capable of and what she's been through and also where she's going. I'm lucky to hear those stories every day.
Sarah: For someone who hasn't visited Fred and Far yet, what do they expect to see when they visit your site or your Instagram page?
Melody: Sure. Fred and Far is interesting because although we are a jewelry company, we're also very much a women empowerment community. We are the self-love tribe. When you visit the website, you'll see two things. You'll see beautiful things that you can buy like the self-love pinky ring and other accessories that we've developed that promote our self-love movement such as enamel pins and greeting cards. You'll also see a really robust blog where we share stories from our tribe where women get to tell their stories.
We provide self-care tips and resources. We have a psychologist that we work with to anonymously provide tips and answer questions. It's a really, really rich space that's dedicated to self-love and care, and Instagram is very much the same. As a writer, I put up original content several times a day, inspirational quotes and messages to help women honor the commitment they make when they join our tribe.
Sarah: Amazing. How does one join the tribe and get involved?
Melody: There's really no one way. If you follow on Instagram, you become part of the tribe. I really urge people to start there because the feedback that I've gotten is those daily motivational messages. Also, the stories they read about the women who share themselves with us is a really great way to feel connected with yourself and also, with women around the world.
Another great way is to, when you're ready, buy the ring and make the pinky promise we asked women to sign which is to honor, choose, and remember themselves daily so then the ring really becomes your daily commitment and symbol to the world that you are a woman who's chosen herself. Then beyond that, I give my email address to every customer and I'm available to them personally because self-love is a journey. Sometimes, it's really high and sometimes, it's really low. I think, for some, people just knowing there's someone there to witness and celebrate and support them is a really big step forward in that journey.
Sarah: We're here at USC surrounded by girls who are just trying to get out of school and make it. Finals are approaching and I notice that all of us start to the self-love kind of tends to go away by the end of the semester. Do you have any tips to stay strong in school and after?
Melody: Absolutely. I believe that self-care is the tool that you can use to ensure that you're connected with yourself so that you can experience self-love. Self-care can be something as simple as meditating for 15 minutes in the morning, making sure that you're exercising a few days a week, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep. The trick really is to commit, to make sure these things are scheduled in your calendar and what I would say is being that you're on campus surrounded by a lot of other people going through the same thing, get them to sign up with you. Make a self-love, self-care pact and commit to practicing it on a daily basis.
Sarah: Great. For in terms of career building, do you have any specific advice to someone-- Well, you're an entrepreneur. Do you have any advice to someone who wants to become an entrepreneur?
Melody: Absolutely. Everyone thinks that you need to follow some formula for success or that you have to have a perfectly fleshed-out business plan in order to have a successful business. The best thing to do if you have an idea that you believe in is to start working on it, even if it's an incremental growth that happens on a daily basis. There are so many resources now with online e-commerce platforms like Shopify that allow everybody to access an international audience, to social media where, again, if you have a voice and you commit to sharing it, people will find you and people will listen.
I would say the biggest tip I can give is to pick a business that's really authentic to you to make sure your story is really yours and really infuse yourself into that because today's consumer doesn't necessarily want to buy from a big brand. They really want to be part of something and buy from someone they can stand behind. To make yourself part of the business I think is the biggest opportunity for today's entrepreneurs.
Sarah: Incredible. What's a typical day like for you because you work in two major different things? How does that reflect in your daily life?
Melody: Well, I have two different businesses and I also have two kids. Most of my day is spent being kind to myself and understanding that I'm never going to be able to do everything on my list. I wake up, take the kids to school, head to the office, and throughout the day, I designate time where I'm doing my work as a career coach and then spending my time on my other business as well, making sure that my team has the support they need from me to be able to thrive in their roles. I think the biggest tip I can give anybody in their careers is to have boundaries and make sure that you're creating a healthy work-life balance so you don't get burnt out.
Sarah: Incredible. In terms of social media, it's helped you a lot in a positive way, but I know for many women, it's affected them negatively. How do you advise women to go about using their social media in a positive way?
Melody: I think one of the first things you can do is really look at who you're following. If you find that you're scrolling through your feed and you see someone's account who just makes you feel bad, whether it's because you feel like they're way ahead of you or because they're posting content that doesn't really make you feel good and you're only friends with them because you went to high school with them, not because you actually have a relationship, unfollow them.
I tell everyone to do a regular social media purge and to make sure that the accounts that you're following actually contributes something to your life, because it's really easy to get into a digital cycle where you're just scrolling and scrolling and consuming content regardless if it actually makes you feel good. I always invite people to find accounts that are devoted to telling a real story and making you feel good.
Sarah: Amazing. Thank you so much. We'll be right back.
Sarah: Welcome back to CU@USC. Once again, we're joined by Melody Godfred. Melody, thanks again for being here.
Melody: Thank you.
Sarah: I was wondering did you ever expect your businesses to grow to the extent that they have?
Melody: When I started Write in Color, all I told myself is, "I love to write and so I'm going to do that. If people need a writer, I'm going to be there for them.” I could never have anticipated that we would become a career development company and to support as many people as we have. I'm of the mindset that with business, you start and when the opportunity comes, you say yes instead of no. That's very much how the business grew. Fred and Far was the same thing.
When I started it, I wasn't trying to start a business. I needed a shift in my life and when it worked, I thought, "Well, maybe it can help other women too." We were really lucky in that we got an incredible amount of press because the idea resonated. All of a sudden, we were getting orders from 30 countries around the world. We had to figure out how to accommodate that so when that opportunity came, I said yes again and I'm so grateful that I did.
Sarah: Knowing what you know now, what would you tell your 20-year old self?
Melody: I would tell my 20-year old self to not let go of the 7-year old self because I think when I was young, and I see this now in my kids who are 5-years old, they are so authentic. They know what makes them happy. They know who they are. I did too. I think when I came to college and you see all these opportunities and all these people, you start doing what you think you should do instead of what really feels right. I'm getting back to that place. It's really, really exciting to come home to yourself. I would have told my 20-year old self, "You don't need to look outside. Look within. You are already everything you need to be."
Sarah: Where do you see yourself five years or 10 years from now?
Melody: It's such an exciting question. If you'd ask me this a few years ago, the uncertainty of that question would have eaten me alive. I've recently replaced the word uncertainty with opportunity in my mind. I'm not exactly sure what the next five or 10 years hold, but I'm so excited to find out.
Sarah: You're obviously very good with interviews and talking. Would you ever do something like a podcast or something where you could reach out to people who really want to hear your voice?
Melody: That's a great idea. [laughter] 2018 podcast.
Sarah: I highly recommend. I love talking to you and I'm learning so much.
Melody: Thank you.
Sarah: Going back to girls in college, and we talked about social media earlier, what do you recommend in terms of especially now, you open the magazine and you see models, in terms of physical and self-love in that retrospect, what is your advice for that?
Melody: I think the most important thing is to be connected to your body. I think especially now when we spend so much time on our computers and our phones, it's really easy to only exist in your head. When you're in your head, that's where your insecurity lives, that's where your anxiety lives, that's where your depression lives. None of that exists when you're in your body.
I would tell girls to get out and move, take a dance class, go for a walk, go for a hike, get out there and get physical because when you connect with your body, you start loving it intuitively. It just happens. It's a lot easier to combat comparing yourself to other people when you feel really connected and healthy as opposed to when you're just disconnected from your physical experience and living only in your mind.
Sarah: Great. I realize a lot of your page connects with moms and motherhood and going through that, has there ever been a moment where you're like when you lose self-love so much in motherhood, you have to work to get it back. How do you do that and what do you recommend to do?
Melody: Number one thing to do as a mother if you want to be happy in your life is to stop feeling guilty. I think this is especially true for working moms and it's a message that I am, especially in the past few months, really connected to and eager to share. I've spoken to so many women who cannot enjoy motherhood and cannot enjoy working because they’re just so busy feeling guilty about whatever it is they're missing out on.
My advice to mothers and really, women, in general, is the best way to not feel guilty is to root yourself in the experience that you're in. If you're at work, be fully in work. Love it. Be grateful for it. Enjoy it, and then when you go home to your kids, be fully in that experience. Once you eliminate guilt from the equation, you absolutely can have it all. This is true for a woman of any age. The sooner you cut your guilt and your shame, the more you're going to blossom into the version of yourself you can be really proud of.
Sarah: Amazing. Can you talk a little bit about your books and what you reflect upon in the writing that you've done so far?
Melody: Absolutely. My first book that I published was fiction. It was about a woman who runs a talent agency but she's actually an undercover CIA agent. What she does is she creates celebrity scandals to distract the public from politics which now, it's been about eight years since I wrote the book and it's truer than ever that when you look at the media, you have to wonder what's real and what's not and be really savvy in finding the truth.
I think that was a really good exercise in creative writing that explored just things that are happening around us in the world. Now, most of my writing is about exploring the themes of self-love and care, but doing it in a way that's accessible. Doing plays on common expressions. For example, one is-- Let me find a good one for you. Now, I'm on the spot.
Melody: If there's a will, there's a way. Now, we've flipped it into if there's a woman, there's a way.
Sarah: Okay, very cool [chuckles].
Melody: Just finding these common expressions that people are comfortable with and then infusing it with woman empowerment or a self-love message is really fun.
Sarah: Clearly, in the media and the news, there's lots of women coming forward about different controversial cases regarding men. Why do you think now more than ever women are feeling comfortable to take these steps?
Melody: I think the world needs to hear their voices. I think now more than ever we're in a period of shift. I think when that transition happens, people start realizing that their voice is their power whereas there's no shame in being silent. A victim should never be blamed for coming forward sooner. I think people are realizing the urgency in coming together and supporting each other as women and being heard because our rights are being threatened now in a way that they never have before in modern times. I think that's part of it. It's this urgency to use our power as women to make a change that the world really needs.
Sarah: Amazing, for you, what's the most difficult and rewarding part of your job?
Melody: The difficult part is that I believe in this mission so much and I've seen the change and impact that it can make that I just want it to grow effortlessly and reach people on an even bigger scale. The challenge is the realities of running a business and wearing so many hats as an entrepreneur, there's only so much time. Really, being thoughtful about where I'm spending my attention and ensuring that the business gets what its [sic] needs to be able to stay afloat and at the same time, grow and reach the women that I want to reach. I wouldn't change anything about it. I think being an entrepreneur is an incredible journey.
Sarah: Balancing being an entrepreneur and a mother, have there been moments where you've wanted to give up but had to talk yourself into staying strong? Can you describe those moments for me?
Melody: I'm really happy to say that ever since I left my job as an attorney, I have never once thought to myself I hate my job or I want to quit. I think it's because everything that I've done since that point is so deeply aligned with who I am as a person that even in the lowest moments, I am still not at odds with who I am. I can find within myself the strength to keep going. I think it's really easy to want to quit when the work that you're doing doesn't actually align with who you are.
I think that's the challenge for a lot of people is you change as you grow also. It's not always so easy to make a career transition. As a career coach, that's one thing I work through with clients is figuring out, "Okay, you spent 10 years doing one thing and it's okay if you spend the next 10 doing something else." It's really about making sure you're carving a path that is an honest representation of your authentic self.
Sarah: Looking at your job as a career coach, a lot of seniors and juniors are applying for spring internships and jobs, what do you recommend for-- Because your company reflects on resumes and cover letters, do you have any advice on how to showcase yourself best in these situations?
Melody: Absolutely. First thing is when you write a cover letter, absolutely personalize it and by that, I mean research the company you're applying to and the role. Make sure that you are aligning yourself with that specific opportunity otherwise, don't even bother writing a cover letter. If it's going to be generic, don't do it. With the resume, infuse it with concrete accomplishments and skills instead of tasks. Think about everything in terms of a result instead of just the responsibility.
Once you start looking at your resume through that lens, you can start thinking about the value you bring to the person you're asking to hire you and then they will see the value as well.
Sarah: Do you have any advice for interviews and just communicating in general when it comes to these situations?
Melody: I think I have a few important tips in an interview. One is to tell them you want the job. I think so many people take this for granted. I'll never forget my first job that I got in law school as a law clerk. I looked at this guy in the eye and I said, "I really want this job." I truly believed that I felt a shift in him like, "Okay. You want this job? I'm going to put you to work." That's one thing you can do in an interview.
Another thing to do is to go and prepare to ask questions because an interview isn't just about them getting to know you, it's also about you getting to know them and showing that you have done your homework. The third thing I would say is to speak in shorter sentences and not ramble because it gives them an opportunity to step in and ask follow-up questions.
Sarah: Incredible. Has there been a trend in your clients where they have one thing that stands out to employers?
Melody: I think having a really cohesive narrative across the different jobs that they've had, even if they've switched careers or switched roles, showcasing the skills that they really feel like define them whether it's being innovative or a problem-solving or a team player or leader or whatever it is, finding a way to infuse that in all of their experience so that they present themselves as a whole person instead of just a series of jobs.
Sarah: Real quick, what is your ultimate message that you want to convey to the world if you were to share one statement? This is the statement that defines you. What would you say?
Melody: I would say that self-love and sisterhood will save the planet. I truly believe that. I will also say that self-love is the fuel for all love. When you love yourself, you will better be able to love others. That's a wholeness that the world really needs right now. I really think that should be the goals for everyone to come to the table whole so that they can bring more love into the world.
Sarah: Great, Melody, thank you so much for being here.
Melody: Thank you.
Sarah: Thank you for tuning into CU@USC. We'll see you Monday. Have a good night. Thank you so much.