Impact Entrepreneurship


When did you know you wanted to take an entrepreneurial path?

Once I discovered my purpose, I felt limited and unfulfilled in the job I was in. I wanted the space to explore my ideas and the flexibility to try to bring them to life.

Tell us about your venture/work.

Connecting the many moving parts and pieces that fit within “my work” is a belief that stories have the power to change minds and behaviors for the greater good. My purpose–to unite people and inspire movement through shared meaning, narratives and stories is an extension of that belief. This is what I do as a brand and product storyteller, but it’s also core to the social entrepreneurial and impact ideas I’m working on. One example are Meshin Meals, contemplative meal experiences that deliver a narrative of connection throughout every course and custom around the table–like unraveling a message wrapped around a match that reminds diners that all it takes is a spark to ignite change with a prompt for everyone to light the candles on the table together. Or having everyone build a salad at the table of ingredients that would seem to be at odds with but come together in delicious balance with a quote over each ingredient bowl that reminds us of the harmony we create with our individual differences and collective diversity. Each meal pays proceeds forward to a community non-profit, spreading connection from the table to the community. I also started working on idea to use the power and influence of marketing on changing minds and behaviors to change my region’s narrative around poverty. This idea is still very much a work in progress after two years of having discussions with marketing industry experts–at national and local levels–and non-profit and civic leaders. I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way. Have been humbled by what I needed to learn and have shifted, evolved and adapted the idea to serve the greatest good. The current focus is solely on helping local artists, creatives and diverse talent understand how to use the power of story and the opportunity marketing presents to develop, change and share their own narratives.

How did you decide to tackle this particular issue?

The original idea was just about the mechanism for how to use marketing forces (brand dollars, agency talent and new diverse talent) to change narratives around any divisive social issue. It started first with how we might change racist perspectives through marketing. As a white adoptive mother to a multi-racial daughter, I asked myself, What can I do with the resources I have to be an ally? I’m a strategic storyteller and I understand the mechanics, power and influence of marketing. I thought, maybe this is something we can work with to do more good in the world. I went on a discussion and listening tour to get input and perspectives on the idea and as I got more feedback and decided to take real steps to see if the mechanism could work, I saw the importance of shifting my hometown city’s narrative around poverty, specifically. It’s one of the city’s key goals to reduce the poverty level. It affects all of us as a region, but there is a huge gap in understanding that. And changing it requires the participation of many, and changed mindsets on how the issue is perpetuated. And it’s also an issue that many people pull the shade on, turn away from or feel they have no role in helping. That is the perfect place for marketing to help. Marketing gets in front of people who may not otherwise want to see a message.

What do you enjoy most about being an impact entrepreneur? What’s hardest about it?

With impact as a constant driving force in my work, I feel fulfillment and have a deep sense of meaning in my day to day. But the hardest part is not getting to the end result as fast as I want to. I have a vision for what this idea could turn into, but the world doesn’t work as fast as my brain. And my brain doesn’t account for all the micro-steps needed before the big idea can become a reality. So, it’s hard sometimes to think of myself as creating “impact” when the journey is long, circuitous, divergent and redirected. I try to tell myself the journey is the destination. And by sharing so much of my experience, having the conversations, the 1:1s and connections with community leaders, I also try to encourage myself to see that the idea is impacting others just by inspiring them to see what potential lays in front of us to make change happen, even if the idea hasn’t fully come to life–yet.

How do you navigate the space of being a founder and also being a POC/women/non-binary person?

I think my biggest limitations in being a female and LGBTQ+ founder come from myself. I co-founded Meshin Movement with a male business partner. At the time, I didn’t believe in myself at all. I borrowed on his belief in what I was capable of to help me set out to explore entrepreneurship. When I took over as full owner, I struggled with self-doubt and feeling like I hadn’t yet stepped into all I could be. I’ve come a long way since that point in early 2021, but I do think it’s up to me to take myself seriously and not sound as if I’m asking for permission to try some crazy new idea like uniting our community through a shared narrative. I’m not there yet. And whether it’s because of that starting point in me, or because of society in general, or perhaps a combination of both, sometimes I feel like I come across as too Pollyanna and naive by believing I could change my community for the better with this idea. I battle with that mocking inner voice that says “Who do you think you are…? What right do you have…?” Navigating that space requires a great deal of inner navigation and self-development.

What advice do you have for early-stage impact entrepreneurs about using their time, relationships, and opportunities at The New School to prepare for this kind of career?

Every human faces obstacles, challenges and conflicts. What you do at those moments will forever be a part of your story and it’s up to you and no one else to live the story you want to tell about your life. What will you do at a setback? What will you do when you get rerouted? These things are all part of the creative process–a process that requires failure and rework. You are creating something, so embrace the challenges and use them to fuel where you go next. It’s easier said than done because entrepreneurship is a lonely endeavor, so you have to be your own cheerleader and remind yourself that this is your story and it’s yours to own. Start cheering for yourself now. Become your best advocate. Create a relationship with yourself that will help you for years to come.

Anything else you would like to add?

Just as I said above, I haven’t seen some of my ideas fully realized. That makes me doubt thinking of myself as an “impact entrepreneur.” Do I really belong in your blog/podcast, feature? But I think that’s why it’s important to share my story. It’s important for those who want to affect the world for the greater good to hear that their journey is valid and they’re already “doing it” even if the end goal is still yet to be realized.

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