Sashee Chandran is every bit #girlboss as she is sweetheart: providing further proof that you can be equal parts kind and successful. A beautiful soul and so genuinely kind that it exudes out of her in every breath, every word, every gesture.
Sashee is the founder and CEO of Tea Drops; the original organic pressed teas that disintegrate in your cup. It’s organic loose leaf tea, without the fuss (genius, right?!) and the idea is the brain child of Sashee who thought outside the box and in turn allowed us all to rethink tea. I love her passion and philosophy behind tea; its power to build, create and nurture soulful conversations. It couldn’t be more true. And Sashee’s story cements the fact that you can never go wrong in life if you lead with your heart and follow your passion. Sashee gave up corporate life to pursue her passion and she is kicking some serious goals. Sashee is an incredibly inspiring entrepreneur and all-round-woman… she is full of wisdom and real, whole-hearted-lived-through-and-lesson-learned advice. I’m pre-warning you, have those fingers ready to screen shot or pen and paper on standby and be prepared to save so many takeaways from her interview because it is filled with goodness and then some. And then some more on top of that.
Evident throughout Sashee’s interview is her passion for kindness and her aforementioned sweet nature. She is thoughtful and genuinely endeavours to leave people and things better than she finds them (which is one of her favorite quotes that she so beautifully lives by) and she is so genuine in her interactions that it is easy to see why she is kicking goals left right and center… good things happen to good people and she is deserving of it all and I can’t wait to see Tea Drops continue to grow and dominate the tea industry. Kindness is second nature to her, it was the little things throughout our interview that reinforced this fact: the way she makes a conscious effort to genuinely speak to each and every Uber driver (because they are in fact doing a really important job – driving you – and they are people too, they have feelings. And who knows what’s going on in their own lives. Sometimes a simple conversation can have more of an impact than you know), the way she often executes random acts of kindness and can we also please acknowledge her wisdom and musings on self love and the kindness she shows to herself. (Side note: kindness also clearly runs in her family, you’ll see why when you read her recount of a story about her brother)
She knows kindness and gratitude go hand in hand for a beautiful life: they’re necessary and they exist in the little things – they don’t have to be grand gestures. I love her thoughts on mental health and it is an opinion I so strongly share, she knows the importance (level: extreme) and the impact (level: significant) it can have. And she most certainly knows that there is no point comparing the beginning of your journey with the later stages of someone else’s: everyone starts somewhere, you don’t start from a grandiose place and achieve overwhelming success overnight; it’s a journey and they’ve all been through the challenges, set backs and hurdles you’re facing. I also think it’s imperative to remember that this applies to life in general, not just business.
You know my stance.. women supporting women is where it’s at and Sashee not only knows the importance of this, but it is something she actively champions and executes in her day to day life. I was blown away by her passion for empowering other women and so touched by her encouragement and support. Prime example, after our interview, Sashee kindly connected me with two other incredible badass women to feature (which was such a kind, sweet and total #womensupportingwomen gesture that really meant so much to me). But it’s more than that, her passion for supporting and building other women up is incredibly evident and was present throughout our entire conversation, you can tell it is part of her personal ethos and something she lives by, as is her ability to draw inspiration and be empowered by those around her.
I love Sashee’s outlook on all aspects of business, friendships, self love: life in general. I love her persistence and attitude. I’m so excited for you to read Sashee’s interview and use it as fuel to up your kindness game. As well as a guide that no matter what journey you are on, where you’re at or what your dreams are… be fearless and kind in your pursuit and you’ll land among the stars.
SASHEE CHANDRAN // FOUNDER + CEO, TEA DROPS
One word you would use to describe yourself?
#fearless … when I say fearless, it’s not that I’m without fear. I’m scared of many things, but I think that anyone that’s trying to pursue anything worthy feels fear. Being fearless means you still walk forward, even in the face of fear. I try to do that as much as possible.
What would you tell your younger self?
Well I just turned 32 recently, so I will go a decade earlier and I will pick my 22 year old self, I would tell her to be more confident. There’s nothing else she needs to know or learn to pursue her dreams. I suffered from the fear of not feeling good enough or smart enough, not feeling like I had the right connections, or qualifications. And all of that was so unnecessary. At the end of the day nothing matters but your attitude and your willingness to just keep going no matter what. I would tell her to rest easy knowing that you have everything you need to achieve what you want.
‘Nothing in the world takes the place of persistence. Your talent won’t, being a genius won’t, education won’t. The world is full of smart people but your sense determination alone is what separates you.’
Your hands-down-all-time-favorite self love ritual?
Definitely making a cup of tea. I fell in love with tea culture because of its ability to soothe. It’s so much more than a functional drink. Tea is a sense of comfort and a vehicle for self- introspection. It provides a sense of community because it brings people together soulful conversation.
What is something you don’t tell yourself enough?
I don’t tell myself ‘good job’ enough because I’m always looking towards the next milestone: Oh we achieved this, now we can set this next goal. I think that’s very common when you’re in a high growth type of company and you don’t really take a step back to enjoy your current achievements. To tell yourself, “wow you’re great, look what you did, that’s amazing!” It’s important to leave space to embrace achievements and feel proud of myself for that. I don’t feel I do that enough.
I truly think there is this unique order to the universe that really welcomes the act of gratitude, whether you name it a spiritual practice, whether it’s prayer, or being grateful. Whatever it is, it seems like the universe really really encourages that. I can’t even tell you how much it has impacted me, my business, or introduced me to new connections that I could have never imagined having.
What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received and how has it shaped you?
One of my favorite quotes: leave people and things better than you found them. We don’t realize the impact we have on other people: Very little acts mean so much.
I was attending wedding with my brother this past weekend, he was in the wedding party and somehow before the ceremony, he got to know one of the caterers there. At the reception she was serving our table (and hustling) and he turned to her and said ” Debbie, you’re doing such a great job, I just want you to know that” and her eyes just lit up like ‘you remembered my name?!’ I was so taken aback because all people want at the end of the day, is validation knowing that they’re doing a good job, what they do matters and that that they’re worth it. In that moment, the simple act of remembering her name and acknowledging her efforts made her night. You could see it completely changed her demeanour. That also applies in your work and relationships, leave things & people better than you found them: if you can see an improvement, make it. I think it’s a really simple thing but has really affected how I operate and how I see the world.
What characteristics and values do you admire?
The main quality that I love about the women around me are their persistence and also always being optimistic about the world. Sometimes, in being a female owned business, there are certain hurdles or very real disadvantages we struggle with, and it’s easy to feel discouraged. But, at the same time I think that the world is actually a beautiful place and the fact that we even have the opportunity to start a business and the freedom to pursue our passions is amazing.
What do you love most about yourself?
I love that I will always make the most out of any opportunity I am given. I think that pairs down to the idea of being persistent, even if something looks dire. It doesn’t mean that I’m optimistic 100% of the time… I have my moments where I question and don’t necessarily have confidence, but I will figure it out, even if the odds don’t look favorable. Being persistent and of scrappy / non-traditional in my thinking and the resources that I gather are things I’m good at.
‘Always having the mindset of how can I make this person’s day a little bit better? It’s really in the mundane, ordinary things that I think kindness can be most received.’
Is there something you wish was universally instilled in girls from a young age?
I wish that attention to mental health was more prevalent. I have always said that just as you go to the gym and get a trainer, or get physical exams; I think there should be a mental health class for boys and girls in school. Every individual has their own set of challenges, it doesn’t matter even if you come from the most secure family — there is something that has impacted you that you have to deal with. I wish that managing mental health was taught in all schools. When I say mental health I mean how to manage and process emotions. I think people get to a point, especially when they’re older, with emotional issues that have remained unresolved for years — and act out in ways that can be interpreted as unhealthy. If kids are trained early on how to express their emotions, and to manage their energy/stress there would be a lot less aggression, a lot less conflict. Girls would be more confident and have a better chance at maintaining that confidence.
What is some REAL advice for believing in yourself and feeding your dreams?
I feel Nike has this one covered, but mine would be “Just Do It.” If you have a dream and you want to get started, then start. Even if it feels like ‘oh my gosh, I’m climbing up this huge mountain and I’ll never be able to get there’ it’s really about taking one step at a time. When I started Tea Drops, I had no experience in the food and manufacturing space, I knew nothing about how to get packaging made or what the process is to shelf life test your product… I l started my idea in my apartment kitchen mixing different tea blends together. It was one foot in front of the other. As you accomplish more steps, you naturally gain more confidence.
It’s easy to lose sight when you see a brand you admire and aspire to be one day, and you just look at where they are at that moment. All the the hurdles you’re experiencing, you have to remember that brand experienced too!
Entrepreneurship: what’s the savviest piece of business advice that you can share?
It’s definitely circulated advice but it paints the point very nicely that this is a marathon not a sprint. So, you want to save yourself for endurance not speed. Obviously you probably have self-pressure and outside pressure to train with speed as well, but I’ve learned that if you’re firing on all cylinders all the time you can easily burn out — mentally, physically, and emotionally too.
If you’re getting a string of rejections every single day as an entrepreneur, that can’t help but mentally affect you. I think you have to have a long term perspective in mind. It’s not just about this week, or this 6 months, or this year even that matters; there’s a bigger picture out there. Managing your energy in such a way that you are prepared for the marathon is important. Just like a real marathon, you need to recuperate and take that swig of water every few miles, because you actually short change yourself in the long run when you don’t take time to refuel.
‘All people want at the end of the day, is validation knowing that they’re doing a good job, what they do matters and that that they’re worth it.’
How do you deal with stress and or anxiety?
I feel like I’m still in the process of figuring that out to be honest. I think that in my first year and a half of running Tea Drops I just remember constantly feeling stressed, not adequate enough, and overwhelmed. The past 6 months to a year, I’ve really been able to shift that around and the things that have helped me have been focusing on activities and people outside of “work”. Sometimes, your start up becomes your life but I actually think the secret sauce, as counterintuitive as it is, is relinquishing your narrow focus on what you’re doing and embracing a more expansive world. One that encompasses your family, your friends, different life experiences whether that’s a new workout class or a paint class or traveling. I think once you get outside of yourself, it’s a huge way to lessen the anxiety because it gives perspective on what’s actually important.
What does kindness mean to you, how can we cultivate more of it on a day-to-day basis?
I would go back to one of my favorite quotes, kindness is leaving people and things better than how you found them. It can mean smiling at someone when you’re walking down the street, that’s a simple one. But always having the mindset of how can I make this person’s day a little bit better? It’s really in the mundane, ordinary things that I think kindness can be most received and I think that we spend so much time on the monumental gestures of kindness through massive donations or volunteering but I think we lose sight of the mundane, ordinary things that make such a huge difference in people’s lives.
What is your best piece of advice overcoming limitations (self imposed) or external?
My favorite quality about entrepreneurs and the women around me is persistence. My favorite quote about persistence comes from Calvin Coolidge, I’m paraphrasing but: Nothing in the world takes the place of persistence. Your talent won’t, being a genius won’t, education won’t. The world is full of smart people but your sense determination alone is what separates you. I’m not the smartest person in room, but I will not be outworked. If there is something I want, I’ll figure out a way — whether it’s finding the right person I can connect with or researching whatever I need to do in order to make it happen. And I think when you’re confronted with limitations whether that be limited finances, being underestimated, or feeling like you lack talent, we can all take comfort in our ability to keep going and to persist when we don’t feel good enough.
‘Leave people and things better than you found them. We don’t realize the impact we have on other people: Very little acts mean so much.’
When do you feel most empowered?
Headphones on, rocking to a great beat, and taking a walk. It’s actually amazing how many times rockin out to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” has cultivated my courage for a tough presentation or addressing challenging problem.
If you had one minute to reach and inspire very single girl and woman around the world what would your message be?
One of my favorite quotes also comes to mind – Hah, you can see I’m a big quote person! It’s by Henry Ford: whether you think you can, or think you can’t – you’re right… whether you believe that you have the ability or not, you’re right. You have the power to do whatever you want. If you believe you don’t have what it takes and have a self loathing perspective, you will carry that through too. It’s not all puppies and flowers and roses but I do think that summarizes very nicely what my perspective is.
All time favorite quote?
I’m sure by now you’re tired out with all of my quotes, but here’s one more by my favorite poet Hafiz:
“Even after all this time the sun never says to the earth, ‘You owe me.’ Look what happens with a love like that. It lights the whole sky.”