Excited to have connected with Olivia White (a fellow Brooklyn-based entrepreneur) to learn more about her career journey, company, and of course, talk some sleep! Thank you, Olivia!
Name: Olivia White
Location: Brooklyn, NYC
Education: B.A. in International Relations and Spanish, University of Southern California
Walk me along your path from USC to 41 Winks?
I was living in downtown Los Angeles after I graduated, interning at a security risk analysis firm for the summer. The company offered me a full-time position, but it didn’t feel like the next step I wanted to take, so I declined. I ended up realizing LA was not the place for me at the time, so I moved home to Texas for a couple of months to regroup. While at home, I applied for a scholarship to teach English in Argentina; when I was rejected, I was sent deeper into a spiral of not knowing where I should be and what I should do. Ultimately, my aunt convinced me to move to New York City and help her with her business, 41 Winks, which at the time was focused on dorm room bedding. So, I hopped on a plane. What I thought would just be a temporary job, has become an integral part of my career that has helped me discover what I like to do and who I am.
Why does sleep matter, and why is it such a hard thing for many women to prioritize?
At 41 Winks, we believe self-care starts with sleep. And self-care isn’t trendy, it’s necessary. Getting a good night’s sleep allows for our bodies to be healthier, our minds to be more alert, and our emotions to be recalibrated. This makes us overall better equipped for each day! So why would we deny ourselves a natural medicine like sleep? I think there are a few reasons. Our society practically gives a badge of honor to put sleep on the back burner—we are programmed to think we should be productive and busy as much as possible. In turn, we add caffeine to our bodies, which prolongs our bodies being ready for sleep. On top of all of this, we’re consumed by unnatural light and most importantly blue light, which creates a false sign to our bodies that it’s not time to go to sleep. Add in the various multi-tasking that women in particular are juggling all day, and you’ve got a recipe for a lack of sleep. Prioritizing sleep would be a revolutionary act. And speaking from personal experience, it’s tough to follow through on, but that makes it even more important.
What is your typical day like as Creative Director/CEO?
Truthfully, I am still trying to find a groove that creates a “typical day” for me! Because my team is small (and mighty!), I’m wearing many different hats throughout the day. I try to check my calendar and emails in the morning, and then work on design, big picture tasks and have meetings in the afternoon, but it all ends up fusing together in the end. I love the constant puzzle-piecing, and yet sometimes crave a bit more stability.
Why is this work meaningful to you? What gets you up and out there every day?
I am fortunate to have always been a good sleeper. My family will forever joke about me sleeping in late, falling asleep on trips, and my funny before bed necessities when I was younger. Unfortunately, sleep is not as easy for everyone. The more I learn about it, the more I appreciate how much turmoil can be alleviated by sleep. I am excited and proud to have a platform like 41 Winks to educate others on the importance of sleep, while also selling a unique, high-quality product that helps to make sleep fun and something to look forward to at night, rather than an overwhelming and perhaps elusive accomplishment.
What advice do you have for young women who are interested in entrepreneurship?
My support system has been everything to me in this entrepreneurial adventure. This includes everyone from my family and friends, to fellow entrepreneurs I’ve met along the way, to the numerous mentors who have lent a helping hand or even just an ear, and then gently slapped me across the face to help me focus and stay motivated! I think surrounding yourself with excited and supportive people will make the journey worth it—whether you have that crew now, or have to do a little networking and socializing to create it.
Were there ever any hiccups in your life/career, and what did you learn that has lent itself to your success today?
Of course! One thing I have to constantly remind myself is that this is a journey, and if I’m not having fun with knowing it’s ever-changing, then it’s time to move on. We’ve made plenty of products that have fallen flat; we’ve spent marketing money on opportunities that had little to no return. But now I know why those situations turned out the way they did, and have been able to plan for the future accordingly. Without having those hiccups, we wouldn’t have pivoted in the direction that is getting us closer to where we’re meant to be positioned.
You donate 5% of every THAT GIRL Eye Mask to the amazing non-profit, I AM THAT GIRL. What motivated you to incorporate a giveback within 41 Winks’ business model?
Creating a model within 41 Winks to be more than just a regular for-profit retail business has been a goal of mine since my aunt brought me on. I’m very thankful that my mom encouraged me to spend most of my childhood years doing volunteer work and giving back to our community because that opened up my eyes to other worlds and stories that I wouldn’t have been exposed to. I then took that experience with me to college, and in my International Relations degree learned a lot about NGOs and nonprofits, which only furthered my interest in how we can all coexist and help each other in life. 41 Winks has tried out quite a few iterations of give-back systems, but once we created a relationship with I AM THAT GIRL, it was a done deal. They have been wonderful to work with, and we’re proud to give back to an organization that truly is for girls, by girls.
How do you prep for your best night’s sleep?
On a perfect night, I turn off all electronics thirty minutes before I plan to climb in bed (thanks to the alarm I’ve set reminding me to do so), I spray my pillow spray to get me in the mood for sleep, my OUT OF OFFICE Eye Mask is by my side and I start to read the few sentences of my sci-fi book I’m usually able to squeeze in before I turn off my light. That’s of course not always how it goes, and oftentimes happens much later than I want it to, but it’s the goal!
Do you have a mentor? Who do you look to for inspiration and support?
Yes, I have a few mentors for different purposes. I once did some “mentor dating” and was meeting up with various business owners to get guidance from them, but what I’ve found is mentors typically happen naturally. One mentor who has been with me since the beginning is through a network called SCORE—she is so supportive, while keeping me in check and pointed in the right direction. Aside from her, my family, friends and 41 Winks DREAMGIRLS are consistently my sources for inspiration and support!
Final words of wisdom to all the young women out there who are strategizing to reach their wellness goals?
Listen to your body and your gut. It’s a rebellious act to truly take care of yourself in the way that you want to, so don’t care about what others think or what you think they may be thinking! If an 8pm bedtime or a 12pm workout class works best for you, own it. You’ll likely inspire others along the way.
If you are open to connecting with our readers, how can they reach you?
I’d love to hear from you and chat all things sleep! Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Instagram.
Happy sleeping 😉 #THEEXTRAWINK