I Am Powerful. Yes – Your Shirts Just Got A Lot More Kick!

I’ll be posting a GenY’er of the week column here on my blog as a great way to share some of the awesome work being done by young entrepreneurs across the nation. These articles are profiling some of the great innovators, risk-takers and inspirations in our GenY network.  Take a look at an awesome example of these savvy young entrepreneurs in action. Go ahead! Be inspired, like em’ on Facebook, follow em’ on Twitter and Digg them on their own blogs! But above all else, enjoy!

“I am Powerful, I am Brave, I am Limitless.” These are just some of the great affirmations you’ll find on the t-shirts that WIthin Organics hold in their line. Not only are they positive for the inside, but hey, they’re organic! Which means they are positive on the outside too. Laura DeVeau is a young entrepreneur hailing from the mighty Eastern shore. I had the privilege of interviewing Laura about her venture. Read on for Within Organics’ fantastic story!

Full Name: Laura DeVeau Smith

Laura DeVeau Smith

Nickname: Never had one. Am I not sassy enough? 😉

Age: 29

Location: Somewhere between Vermont, Boston and Westport, MA

Passion: Reminding people of the beauty, uniqueness and general awesomeness inside them by printing positive affirmations on the inside of organic cotton tees.

Tell us why: I get to take something that is truly important to me, that I believe will make the world a better place and focus my attention, talent and resources on it. Seriously, why wouldn’t I?

Bio & Background: I worked in the corporate world right out of college. I was pretty darn good at it and did get satisfaction out of collaborating and sharing ideas with others, but ultimately it never felt right to me. It wasn’t satisfying the part of me that wants to inspire, be inspired, be the change, contribute. I used the project management skills I gained as well as my experience as the Regional PR Director for a non-profit consulting firm called Inspire, to create Within Organics with my friend and business partner, Nikki Hill. It combines my enthusiasm for sustainable business practices, positive thinking, social consciousness, fashion and art.  Since then I’ve arranged the circumstances of my life around devoting my full attention to Within Organics – everything from quitting my job, to selling my condo in downtown Boston, to participating in events all over the country to get the word out. I have enjoyed every moment and have learned so much along the way.

I am also a Registered Yoga Teacher and am so in love with Arbonne’s entirely vegan and earth-friendly product line that I became an Arbonne Independent Consultant.
What’s your venture:

Within Organics creates feminine and flattering tees with vibrant artwork on the outside and inspiring affirmations printed on the inside, just above the bottom hem. They are crafted from a super soft 100% organic cotton and we plan to expand the line into bamboo and other sustainable fabrics.

Our marketing and packaging materials are printed on recycled materials and we seek out eco-conscious vendors to do business with, even when it costs us more. We participate in events that educate people about sustainable living – farmer’s markets, vegetarian food festivals, folk festivals and eco-gift festivals. We bring a Gratitude Board to events where passersby can grab a marker and write what they’re grateful for. We usually get smiles from people from walking by the board, reading all the blessings that people find in their lives. We like to believe those smiles are contagious. That’s what we’re about, reminding people what is already good in themselves with affirmations like I am joyful and I am limitless on their bodies, but also what is wonderful about the world around them if they open their eyes and hearts to acknowledge it.

While we believe that changing the world begins in our own hearts and minds (as Gandhi said, you must be the change you want to see in the world) we also feel strongly about using our resources and talents to help others who are struggling and suffering. We donate a portion of our profits to CARE, a global humanitarian organization that focuses on women and children in developing nations, as well as in economically depressed areas of the United States. We also loan funds to entrepreneurs on Kiva, a micro-finance organization. We particularly love to support women getting involved in the apparel business, just like us. Within Organics is a mission that encompasses more than just clothing, its a way of thinking and a way of contributing to something larger than ourselves.

We’re dying to know!

What are the most important decisions you make as someone armed with an idea?

Its important to let go of the way things are “supposed” to be and instead be open to the possibilities. Think of all the inventions we have now that the average person couldn’t even have conceived 50 years ago. That will make it easier to

The Women Behind the Lovely Tees. Laura and Nikki. Follow them on Twitter: @withinorganics

get past initial stopping points in your vision. When Nikki and I first got started we were reading books like Think & Grow Richby Napolean Hill and The 4-Hour Work Week. Both talk about how our thoughts affect what we do and say and how big we dream. Even if you’ve got a great idea it will be easy to think of 100 reasons why it won’t come to fruition, why you’re being “unrealistic.”

We’re learning that most cool things that have been done were “unrealistic” at some point. Its also surprising how many naysayers you’ll encounter along the way. They’re not bad people, just afraid and perhaps disappointed in themselves for not following their own dreams. You’ll also find tons of unexpected support  and encouragement from friends, family and strangers.

That being said, there are some generally not so good ideas out there. A good way to figure out whether or not yours is one of them is to walk through a business plan template or a brand positioning statement. It will help you think critically about your idea and anticipate any hurdles before you get started.
So biggest advice if you have an idea – keep yourself pumped and believe that anything is possible. To make sure you’re serious and you’re going to have the persistence to overcome your challenges, start fleshing out some of the details in a business plan.
Which is most important to you – mission, core values or vision? Why?
Nikki and I both feel strongly about having a vision. If you wake up in the morning focused only on your immediate tasks its easy to get lost in the minutia and lose motivation and perspective. Having a vision will keep you inspired and moving towards something that’s important to you. We both have Vision Boards. Vision Boards contain images or text, snapshots of what we want our lives to look like. Mine has many pictures of travel, yoga, charity work, the ocean, healthy food, spending time with my husband and family, having an artist workshop where I can create an inspiring place to work on Within designs, being interviewed by Ellen DeGeneres, being involved with our production process from the cotton field to the hands of our consumers. It paints a collage of what excites me and reminds me why I’m doing this and what I truly want in life. Its not enough to make money. We have know what we want to do with that money and our time once we have it. Maybe we’ll realize we can accomplish our goals and live our dream life without a lot cash.

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader/entrepreneur/world-changer should possess? Why?
Persistence is the number one characteristic an entrepreneur should have. Many people have brilliant ideas, but they give up at the first sign of difficulty. Persistence means that a temporary “failure” or disappointment won’t derail you, that naysayers won’t sway you, that lack of resources won’t stop you from finding creative solutions. Persistence doesn’t have to come from struggle or muscling through, it can come from the joy and inspiration you feel in your heart for your cause.

What are a few resources you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a future world changer or entrepreneur?
Social media has done wonders for people looking to implement ideas or connect with like-minded people and information. Definitely have a Twitter account and a Facebook Fan Page for your concept. It will be a great place to check in with your audience, get honest feedback and connect with amazing people. I’ve met many very valuable and helpful people through my social media accounts. Its also great to join forums and chat rooms for your industry. Nikki and I are constantly looking for t-shirt forums, organic clothing industry blogs and anything about positivity and living joyfully. It can be time consuming, so start by signing up for some and decide which are the best use of your time.
I also recommend connecting with some of the free resources available to small business, such as the Small Business Association and SCORE. They provide counseling from those who have been there before and can help entrepreneurs from making mistakes that others have made.

Who inspires you?
We could name so many, especially on the spiritual side, but if we’re talking business we are big fans of Life Is Good. They started as two dudes hawking t-shirts in South Boston, now they are an empire of feel food vibes. They are a model for corporate citizenship and community involvement. We also like to check in with Johnny Cupcakes, a t-shirt company in Boston. This young entrepreneur breaks all the rules. Laura and Nikki at one of the many trade shows they have held in Boston, MA.He dropped out of school to make tees in his mom’s basement. He hires friends and family to work for him. He had no start-up loans, investors or formal business training. He does no formal advertising or wholesale. What does he have to show for it? – a storefront on Boston’s posh Newbury Street, a multi-million dollar business and hordes of adoring and loyal fans that will line up at midnight to purchase one of his newest creations. He certainly demonstrates the dream big principle!

There you have it folks. My hope is that words of wisdom from your fellow GenY’ers will encourage you to make your mark in this world. it starts small and with a little passion behind it. BAM! This is just a snippet of a wonderful blogroll article that Entré Worldwide will publish quarterly for the GenY Community. Meanwhile – peruse around Within and get to know their story!
3 Responses to “I Am Powerful. Yes – Your Shirts Just Got A Lot More Kick!”
  1. Thanks for the amazing interview AJ. GenY Blog readers, feel free to contact me at laura@withinorganics.com if you have any questions about the interview or starting your own business. I wish you all the greatest success!

  2. fantastic article about a awe inspiring business congratulations to you both 🙂

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