The Manifista Podcast with Portia Mount

Reinventing your career with Denielle Finkelstein

April 30, 2021 Portia Mount Season 2 Episode 2
The Manifista Podcast with Portia Mount
Reinventing your career with Denielle Finkelstein
Show Notes Transcript

“The excitement of what my next 20 years will be like is what fuels me everyday” - Denielle Finkelstein

In this episode host Portia Mount talks to Denielle Finkelstein, entrepreneur and co-founder of The Organic Project. A startup focused on providing women and girls with organic, eco-friendly period products. They dig into the most important lessons Denielle learned as a corporate executive working with some of the world's largest retail fashion brands, and what ultimately led her to leave corporate America to co-found a startup and become a champion for destigmatizing how we talk about periods. 

Have a question or comment? Email us at [email protected].

Resources Mentioned 

https://toporganicproject.com/
The Organic Project on IG (link)
More on Period Poverty (Global Citizen, Period.org)
Strengthsfinder by Don Clifton (link)
Becoming by Michelle Obama (link)
Five Minute Journal (link)
Unicorn Headband similar to Denielle’s although we did not find the exact same one (link)



Ep 2 - Denielle Finkelstein

 Portia Mount  0:00  

Denielle's Finkelstein, so great to be here with you today, I was so energized by our introductory call, and especially when you were telling me about your corporate career, being a working mom and then becoming an entrepreneur. And so I know our listeners are going to get so much out of our discussion today. So I want to just jump right in and ask you, you know, we've all been going through these huge seismic shifts since the pandemic and in fact... 

Denielle Finkelstein  0:43  

Today is our one year anniversary. 

Portia Mount  0:45  

Today is our one year anniversary, which is wild. 

Denielle Finkelstein  0:50  

Yeah, almost brings tears to my eyes honestly. 

Portia Mount  0:53  

It's amazing, right? Like I'm amazed what we've gone through and what our families and our kids and members of our community. So my question for you is how has like, how have you gotten through the pandemic personally and professionally? 

Denielle Finkelstein  1:08  

Yeah. Well, thank you for having me first, let me just start there before we even jump in. And thank you to my dear friend, Samantha for connecting us. So happy to be here. 

Portia Mount  1:17  

Thank you, Samantha. 

Denielle Finkelstein  1:18  

So oh, gosh, yes. When I was actually like thinking about this, today, I woke up and I definitely felt the weight on my shoulders today, like oh, my goodness, we've been in this for one year. I am a person who does a tremendous amount of reflecting. And I will definitely say this year has not been easy. You know you ask so many people it hasn't been easy in so many ways. But when I do my reflecting, and when I look back, what it has given us is this gift of time. And I would say that both on the professional side, as well as on the personal side, and really starting personally it's given me this gift of time with my family that I never ever, ever would have had. And I think I've heard many people say that, that I know is, you know, we were going, going, going, going, going, we're moving at such a fast pace. And this has allowed us to slow down. And it's allowed to, you know, just do certain little things with the family like this summer, my kids are usually at camp, you know, we snuck away for seven weeks and moved our entire family up to Maine for seven weeks into a cottage. And so they're just these little moments. And that's really the piece that I have to like, take with me every day, I've got a preteen and a teenager, and you know, for them, this is the gift that I never would have had with them. Because we haven't had it, we don't have a choice. So we've become their playmates, you know, we've been doing all the meals with them. And I'll tell you like, listen, there are moments where we all want to pull our hair out. But..

Portia Mount  2:01  

You just realize everyone's tired of everybody, right? 

Denielle Finkelstein  2:46  

Yes, we are. I mean, there's definitely, we're definitely, definitely getting to that point. We've been, we've all had our like moments. But I think if you really just take the whole year and really summarize it, you know, I think that's one of the biggest pieces also, it's allowed me to really let things go. So as a career woman that has been working for so many years, like you go, go, go, go, go. And things, you know, you're always you know, I'm type A so things kind of just needed to go the way I wanted them to. It's like, you never knew what tomorrow was going to bring. And it really has allowed me to like reflect on that side. So on the personal side it has been fantastic. On the professional side has also been really great because it did give us a gift of time, like we are starting a business, building a brand. And if we hadn't had this year, we would have also, I also think that we would have jumped too quickly into some of the business opportunities that we had. And we weren't quite ready. And we didn't know at the time that we weren't ready. And now that we reflect back, it has given us the foundation, it's given us the time to build a significantly stronger foundation. My relationship with my co-founder is so rock solid, because we've had to work through these ups and downs through the emotional sides, the personal sides of everything that we're having to manage. And that part I would actually say is probably one of the most critical points as we move into this major inflection point in our business is that we are lockstep and that is one thing you know, we think the same we're like doing the same our missions the same like we've really been able to ensure that our brands mission is what we thought we were building, but now it is so solid. So as we've gone into 2021 we're so much clearer on where our strategies are so it's that overarching is really this gift of time and it's just given us stuff that we wouldn't have had otherwise and we would have been rushing. Everything has been a rush I will definitely say like in my life and this is it. You hear this? We've slowed down, we've actually been able to think, we've found space. We work too much. I will tell you that I probably work way more than I had ever in some ways before. 

Portia Mount  4:52  

I was gonna ask you that, do you, have you found that like because everyone's at home, and because businesses come home. That day is just one long. It's just a long day that's punctuated with meals and sleep and maybe, maybe going to the bathroom. 

Portia Mount  5:11  

Yes. And I think that's the one part that you know, I that is that's been the hardest part is you have really delineated between work and home. I was working from home...

Portia Mount  5:22  

How are you doing that?

Denielle Finkelstein  5:22  

I'm not doing it well, I'm not doing it well. And also right now these last like three months, we are just businesses like it's moving so fast that, you know, all of a sudden, it's like 7:30. I'm like, I got dinner ready. So it's like a scramble of like, alright, what do we have in the freezer? Like, what can we do? Where can we order out from, like, kids just have a bowl of cereal. 

Portia Mount  5:42  

Totally relatable. 

Denielle Finkelstein  5:43  

And that's, and that's never been how I've been but now this is it. And so yeah, so that's been the hardest part is definitely that delineation between work and home life. 

Portia Mount  5:52  

So we're gonna dig into your, because we've alluded to it, but we're not haven't really dug into The Organic Project, which is, I'm so excited about because when you and I talked about this, I said, you know, you haven't really seen a ton of innovation in women sanitary products, like there's like the Thinxs underwear. There's a few things out there. But there hasn't been this sort of groundswell yet. So I am super interested in how you got there. But I know that our listeners are typically women who are working corporate jobs, some entrepreneurs, but it's a lot of people who work for companies, they have side hustles, or are thinking about side hustles, or are planning their exit. So we've got sort of women all along that continuum. And I'm wondering if you could just talk a little bit about your career in retail, in clothing, and then the decision making points for you to say, okay, I'm ready to cut ties with corporate America. It's been great. I'm going to go do my own thing. So can you just talk about like those, that decision making process for you? 

Denielle Finkelstein  7:08  

Yeah. Yeah. So I spent 22 years in fashion retail. So I grew up at Ann Taylor and spent almost 11 years there, I was part of a very large round of layoffs, we're up to a third round of layoffs during the recession. So 2009. 

Portia Mount  7:21  

Is this the 2009 recession? 

Portia Mount  7:23  

2009. So it all started in 2008. And then 2009, I was let go and spent a year and a half at home, which was another like a gift that I never would have had. And here was my you know at that point, I think maybe I was 29 or 30 years old and out pounding the pavement, like I got to go find a job. And it was the best advice of my old president. And she said, Denielle, stop what you're doing, you're never going to get this time again. And enjoy that time with your family. And she also knew that I wanted to get pregnant again. So she's like, go have another kid. And I did, three weeks later, and three weeks later I was pregnant. Of course coming home after that lunch with my husband, I was like, so we're gonna get pregnant. He's like, no, no you were supposed to talk to her about a job. But anyway...

Portia Mount  8:03  

Wait, wait not part of the plan. 

Denielle Finkelstein  8:05  

So I was always one of the things that always really been one of my strengths is just my network. And so one of the things while I was out, I just made sure that I still networked and spoke to folks that you know, I've worked with and so a handful of folks have moved on to Coach and so I moved on to Coach. I was there for about a year and a half. 

Portia Mount  8:22  

Sorry, can i ask you just a clarifying question here. So you used your network. And so you knew people at Coach and you moved on to Coach so just again, just for the benefit of our listeners, did you call up a friend inside of Coach and say, hey, I'm looking around, what is there anything open at Coach, like, what did you say? 

Denielle Finkelstein  8:41  

So when I left, when I left Ann, I started those conversations, so there wasn't something for me at that time. So it really took a year for them to really start to engage with me when there finally was something that came up. 

Portia Mount  8:54  

Okay. Okay, so it wasn't right away. 

Denielle Finkelstein  8:57  

No, it wasn't about an immediate thing. But what I did is I kept my conversation going with them, and they were one that was definitely, you know, top of mind for me. One of the reasons why I had loved it was I never had an accessories experience. So I loved this opportunity of expanding my portfolio and what you know, what my thinking about my resume, I've always been in apparel. And so this allowed me that but then it was also this huge business I was gonna move into the outlet side, but at that point, it was almost a $3 billion business and I was like, oh, my goodness, like, yes. So I moved on to Coach and was there only a year and a half. And part of that was Kate Spade kept calling me, kept calling me and like listen, we'd really love for you. We'd love to talk to you. We'd love to talk to you. And I was like, listen, I've only been here for a short time like I'm super loyal like I'm a Leo so you've definitely very loyal but also after spending almost 12 years at a place that's what I knew. I didn't know any different. So what happened for me though, is I did move on to Kate and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. A couple of reasons is number one, it was just we were at this, that business was at an inflection point when I joined, which is still a big business, it was about half a billion dollars, when I left it was about 1.3 billion. So the growth trajectory that was happening there, one, also the brand just resonated with me, I remember carrying my Kate Spade bag, and...

Portia Mount  8:58  

The Kate Spade brand is just, it's so lovely and cheerful and sophisticated. 

Denielle Finkelstein  9:17  

It's happy, it brings you joy. And so what really, you know, brought me to wanting to really make this decision to go there was that there was this push around innovation, it was this push around risk taking. And at the heart of it, which I did not know, at this point. And now you know, as an entrepreneur, it was about being an entrepreneur. And so it taught me these skills that I didn't recognize at the time. The other big thing is, is that so I should just say this one thing is that they brought me in to be the Vice President of international, I will just tell you, I had no international experience. None. So of course, in my mind, I'm like, what are they doing?

Portia Mount  11:00  

So what made you decide to go ahead and because so many women would say you know what, I've, that's a big leap and I don't know that I'm ready for that. 

Denielle Finkelstein  11:09  

The biggest reason why I made the decision to go was the people. I fell in love with the people, I fell in love with the people I fell in love with, the brand values were and so those are important to me, culture, people. And you know, those are really important. And so that was what just I jumped in because of that. And what was incredible was what I learned and as I grew up there even more so because my truly professionally, my trajectory just went straight up of where my growth happened is that they believed in me. And so it became this point that they were seeing things in me that I didn't necessarily know that I had in me. And they were able to recognize that. And that just became very powerful to finally have this opportunity that somebody was opening the door for you to like, hey, go, go take a risk, you're innovative, you're thinking outside of the box, you're doing different things. But you also see the big picture. And so they saw all those elements. And that's really like it was such an inspiring time in my career, I grew so much, we were launching in the last and I think 10 different countries across the world. And so it gave me exposure to so many different, you know, opportunities to travel and culture. But on the personal side is my kids were babies. So my youngest...

Portia Mount  12:28  

I'd not be the person who's like who's taking care of the kids. But... 

Denielle Finkelstein  12:31  

Yeah, this definitely took a personal toll. And so, you know, my kids were young, about a year and a half into this. 

Portia Mount  12:38  

Did you have nannies?

Denielle Finkelstein  12:39  

Yes, we had an amazing nanny. Oh my goodness, we still she's like a near and dear friend of ours. Like she just she's like part of our family. And so she was a really big part of our family and also our family really pitched in because I was on the road every six to eight weeks for two weeks at a time. 

Portia Mount  12:50  

Oh, wow. And so your husband had a big job, too. 

Denielle Finkelstein  12:54  

He's an attorney, he is an entertainment attorney. 

Portia Mount  12:56  

So two power jobs and small kids like this is, this is real life. But again, I want to tease that out. Because I think a lot of the women who are listeners are super high achievers, and they're married to high achievers, too. And so there's a balancing act of raising a family and having these big jobs. 

Denielle Finkelstein  13:17  

And it's not easy. You know, it's definitely not easy. And I actually am so thankful and grateful for my husband, because he was actually the one that really pushed me into taking this job. He's like, listen, this is your opportunity, like go and experience this, like you're never gonna get this before. So about a year and a half in I raised my hand and you know, to my boss, and I was like, listen, I don't know how much longer I can do this. And so I was very close to the Head of HR. And she's like, look, we're actually going to move you over to Head of North America. And so it was this perfect transition for me, I got to have that, that time that first year and a half. And I think my biggest takeaways from that, or one, I created an amazing cohort of peers around me. We, so the executive team, were super small. And most of the time we could never get to our CEO who was our boss, we all just used each other as a sounding board. And I take that now like of wherever I've gone is like, really it goes back to that network, like always creating those that circle around you of who can you go to ask for advice, who's going to be tough on you, like, all those different parts where you can just have that honesty as well. But also really like, listen, I don't know how to handle this, like, what do I do and get that advice back. That was probably the best thing that that taught me overall, as well as being curious and a couple of other things. So like the innovation and risk taking and then, which I didn't know in me and if you look back across my career, that entrepreneurial piece always popped up in so many things, but definitely at that Kate time. So I was there for about three years, three and a half years. And this was the time where then my husband raised his hand and he was like, hey, babe, this is a lot. I mean, he was working insane hours. And so we made the decision as a family to move up to Providence, Rhode Island. And with that, at that same time, I had landed the Chief Merchant role at Talbots and I was really sad to leave what I had experienced at Kate, because it really was that that inflection point in my career where I just grew, you know, dramatically experienced tremendous amount and really rounded out who I was as an executive. So moving on to Talbots, I was super excited for my family. And even within that, like the first year of being there and excited it's a new brand, there's just there's opportunity there. And I could never define it while I was there. But now when I look back and here, again, I do this, like reflecting all the time. I wasn't learning anymore. I had lost and I had been passionate, like if you'd asked me, you know, seven years ago, like, I loved my career in fashion, I loved it. And I just had started to lose some of that passion. And on top of that, the personal part that was happening for me is just not feeling as innovative, and, you know, really risk taking, and also just learning. But there was this piece too, as I was working insane hours, I was leaving my house at 6am every day not getting home until like nine o'clock barely seeing my children. Like, this is not this was just it was not sustainable. And it was not just a healthy environment. And so it came to a point three years in, and my husband actually raised his hand and said, babe we're done. You're not you, you're like a shell of yourself, like you're not taking care of yourself, like you are working insane hours. And I made this decision to walk out. And so here I was at the height of my career, if you talk to my 20, you know, back to my 23 year old self, and I go back there, this was my dream job, I had worked my entire career to get to this role. And it was the scariest decision ever that I ever made. Because one I was the breadwinner in our family. But the second part was what was I going to do? Because I walked out with nothing like not knowing what I was going to do. But I knew that this wasn't what I needed to be doing anymore. Everything about it was just not healthy. 

Portia Mount  17:00  

And so one thing you know, just reflecting on, because when you leave jobs like that you leave a ton of money on the table. So, and you talk about being the breadwinner, which it's more and more common. And so did you, I'm curious, did you sit down with your accountant and be like, okay, we have this much money, we can, you know.

Denielle Finkelstein  17:23  

We did. 

Portia Mount  17:24  

We can make it last this long and we can cut these expenses. What was that process like? 

Denielle Finkelstein  17:30  

Well, it was, you know, in one way it prepared us for this past year with the pandemic of not knowing financially what's, you know, for so many people, what's gonna happen. But really, it's just the career itself, I had an amazing career. But that's not where I found my worth anymore. And it came down to, I wasn't feeling whole, I wasn't a good parent, there were so many different things that I just was like, and my kids would never say that I wasn't a good parent but that’s how I internalized it. I wasn't doing the things that I wanted to do. We're not the stuff for my husband, like all of those, like those pieces that you know, again, we've put so much on ourselves that you know, we beat ourselves up. And so I was in though in that moment, and it took me I will tell you after I left it honestly even once I started Top, it took me a good year to actually get over the fact that I walked out at the height of my career. My ego had to be checked many times because I was like, holy shit what did I just do? Like I just left this huge job I'm gonna go do a start-up. What am I doing? 

Portia Mount  18:39  

Yeah, you had this big title, a shiny brand that everybody knows. I'm wondering if part of what you just maybe put a finer point on it. Did you feel like you were walking away from part of your identity, this identity? 

Denielle Finkelstein  18:55  

Oh, you just hit it 100% because that is how, I've always known I was a career woman. Always. I mean, you could say like, I started working when I was 10 years old, literally like babysitting. And then like every summer had three, four jobs.

Portia Mount  19:11  

So I can relate to that, I've been working since I was 10. 

Denielle Finkelstein  19:14  

Yes. So I grew up with very humble beginnings. So like work has just been part of my life. And so and so it came to this point though, the unhealthiness of everything and was okay, I've got some runway. So let's figure out what this next step is going to be. And many sleepless nights of like, what did i just do to my family, waking up in the middle of the night, like, you know, really like to two different areas of like, what am I going to do and also I had to rebuild my confidence because while I was a Talbots, it just was not a healthy environment. And so my confidence was just like checked, like every day was like a notch a notch down. 

Portia Mount  19:48  

A toxic environment. It took a psychic toll.

Denielle Finkelstein  19:50  

Oh, in more ways than one. And so I had to rewrite my story at night. So I woke up at two in the morning and rewrote my story of like, what were the things that I was really good at, like, I had to remind myself and then on the other side was like, okay, what type of company would I want to go to? Like, what would this be? And my whole intention was, I was like, I'm going to take six months, I'm going to take time. And when I breathe, I'm going to recharge, I'm gonna spend time with my family. And I'm one who I don't know how not to work.

Portia Mount  20:21  

So even your vacation is working? 

Denielle Finkelstein  20:23  

Oh, yeah. So my cousin, my amazing co-founder, Thyme Sullivan, we met up for lunch. And she had left her job a year prior because her job had been eliminated. So they're like, you have the option to move to Chicago or down to DC. She's like, my family lives in Massachusetts. What do you mean? What's, what's door number three? She always says this. They're like, no, these are your options. So she's like, no, I'm staying where I am and I'll take the package. And she had already been thinking about this. Her daughter's a little bit older than my daughter. And so over this lunch, we're chit chatting about our lives. We're talking about all these things we both grew up with, like organic and hippie parents. And everything in my house is organic. And so she's booked a challenge. She's like, hey, what tampons do you use? I was like, what? What tampons do you use? I said, I use Tampax and she's like, you of all people she's like, you use Tampax? 

Portia Mount  21:14  

Oh my god, I use Tampax Deneille. 

Denielle Finkelstein  21:16  

I know Portia. We're gonna get, we're gonna get to you. 

Portia Mount  21:19  

We're gonna, you're gonna work on me. I need it because I've been using it like, it's. 

Denielle Finkelstein  21:23  

And we'll get to that point. But anyway, so over this conversation, we just like we dug in, and we started talking about it. And she's like, look, my daughter, Josie is going to be coming of age, like we cannot give our daughters these traditional products like and so she had, it was already ruminating in her head. She had already started to do some things like planning and thinking and she's like, hey, wouldn't it be funny if we worked together? And I was like, dude, I'm taking time off. So just note, I left the middle of August. This was the first week in September. Two weeks later, two weeks later, Portia.

Portia Mount  21:55  

You're building a start-up? 

Denielle Finkelstein  21:57  

Two weeks later I was. Yes, I was. I was in. And it really felt...

Portia Mount  22:02  

What I'm hearing is, it sounds like something like some spark that had gone out had been re-lit for you? Does that sound about right? 

Denielle Finkelstein  22:12  

Well, 100%. And I think the big part is if you take my time, and I think back to what inspired me and what motivated me and the passion I had when I was at Kate Spade. Building this had all of those elements. It was being curious again, it was learning again, I mean, the learning piece, like those first couple of months of like, just understanding the industry, digging in deep. And also I love brand building. That's actually what turns me on. Like, that's what I loved when I was at Ann Taylor. That's what I loved when I was at Kate, even at Talbots. Like, there were moments of like we were building different parts of the brand and that's the part I loved. And so all of those things just sparked me. And that really became this point of like, I'm going to do this, like, holy shit, I'm going to do this. And definitely like, I would say that first year, my husband was like, wait, what are you doing? What are we doing? 

Portia Mount  23:04  

I need to interview your husband. 

Denielle Finkelstein  23:05  

Oh he's a gem. He is. He is truly his truly a gem. I mean, honestly.

Portia Mount  23:14  

Yeah, that's great. That's, and that's what you want, right?

Denielle Finkelstein  23:17  

Yep. So anyway, so that is, you know, taking both the biggest personal and professional risk of my career, hands down was the best thing I've ever done. Looking back now, I'm almost over two and a half years in this. This is my, this is my part two in my career. And I never would have thought if you asked me again, three, four years ago, would this be something I'd be doing, running a tampon company like, well, what are you talking about? The excitement now of what my next 20 years will be. It's what fuels me everyday. Because I can't imagine thinking like, if I was then thinking 20 years from now that I'm sitting in that old role, and what would that look like? And this is just like I said, there's just yeah, it's brought this inspiration to me. 

Portia Mount  24:05  

I want to just unpack a couple of things. Because again, I think the process that you went through so you know, you talked about sort of waking up in the middle of the night and, you know, thinking about and having to kind of put yourself back together right, and heal yourself after the Talbots role, talking to your cousin. Did you go through like, was this like a journaling process? Did you go to therapy? Did you just go on long walks in the park or all of the above? Like how did you, how did you organize your thinking so that you could make so that you knew you were making the right decision? Because I see someone who's very center brained you're both very left brain and very right brained. And so in terms of decision making, it sounds like so I'm just wondering, like, what was the process? Did you write stuff down? 

Denielle Finkelstein  24:54  

In the beginning it was writing it down but the beginning was definitely writing it down. But that was definitely you know what I'm now journaling a ton. I wasn't, I wasn't journaling then. But I definitely was writing stuff down on scraps of paper, I still actually have the scraps of paper of like those first, like, first two months out of after leaving. But, you know, it really was, it was I had to, I had to rewrite my story, like I had to redefine who I was. And it doesn't, it takes a long time. And I can definitely say that I went up and down like emotions, like I'm making the right decision, and the others are like, then I'd get a recruiter call and the recruiters like, hey, come back into the industry and come do this and here's this huge salary you're going to get. And it was like, I had to, again, like check my ego and be like, no, I'm actually going to keep going where I'm going. That was really hard.

Portia Mount  25:41  

So I want to dig into The Organic Project. So first of all, where did the, where did the name come from? 

Denielle Finkelstein  25:47  

So that's Thyme. So Thyme, really, her whole thing was she's like, and this is, again, where she had already concept a lot of this, you know, some of these key things in the beginning was, she really was always inspired by the Nantucket Project, because it's about a movement, like she's like, this isn't just like, you know, there's a lot of good, there's a few other brands that are out there, and like there were girls, there a woman's name, but she's like, this is bigger than that. And we're not just going to be feminine care, like we're going to be something else. And so really, for her, it was about this concept of a movement. And so obviously organic being what we are going to be and that's holistic of who we are. And then so top, which we really name ourselves is, it's the acronym The Organic Project.

Portia Mount  26:25  

That's very cool. So I want to dig into just this category, because I think it's so interesting. I've been using Tampax, since I've had a period. And frankly and so one question I have is and I think your background because you know consumers well, buying behaviors. What is the, what is the, your average buyer, talk a little bit about who she is and is there a lot of brand, like am I typical of a consumer, where I just like to buy the same brand I have been using for ever. 

Denielle Finkelstein  27:06  

You are, you are the consumer.

Portia Mount  27:07  

Is that typical, is it normal?

Denielle Finkelstein  27:08  

Yes, 80% of women use what they started their first period with. So you actually use what your mother gave you. So if you look...

Portia Mount  27:18  

I think, my mom gave, I think I used pads for like... and then I was like, uh I have to use tampons.

Denielle Finkelstein  27:26  

So, that statistic like that is a statistic. And so that's even more so for our brand. So who we are targeting is moms and daughters. We're targeting ourselves. We're targeting Gen X moms with our Gen Z daughters. And the reason that we're really doing that I mean, that's, that was really that's honestly, I can tell you, when Thyme and I started that conversation over that lunch, and really, she was like, you know, what are you gonna use for Reese? It's like, oh, my God, you're right. Everything else I've done, I made my kids all their baby food. Like I did all that stuff. 

Portia Mount  27:57  

I did too. I made all the baby food. 

Denielle Finkelstein  27:59  

Yeah. But how can I not now start this with her? When she's, this is something we use for 40 years of our lives. So it was this moment of like, we did this for our daughters, like really that change. And because we should know what's what's going in, but why we are now even more so laser focused on this mom and daughter is that if we can capture this daughter at that age, when she's getting her first period, we have that loyal customer to your point. We have her. She's gonna continue with us. And so that's, and that's really like, that's really where we're targeted to this mom, who is, you know, she's that one who did all that organic stuff for her family as they were growing, as you know, toddlers and an adolescence. But as they're becoming into these preteen and teen ages, that's even more important as like, let's get them the best and better product for them when they're starting this, this is going into our most intimate part in our body, we should know what we're putting inside of our bodies. 

Portia Mount  27:59  

Before you and I talked, I did a little bit of reading into the whole organic feminine care movement and scared the crap out of myself. We're like reading what's in, like, conventional, I don't know what the right word is conventional, traditional products, but maybe just for the benefit of our listeners, like, why is this something we should pay attention to? 

Denielle Finkelstein  29:20  

Yeah, you know, your vagina is one of the most permeable parts of your body. So whether you're using tampons, or even pads, it's just the exposure we are using, you know, we use 12,000 period products and our entire, entire, entire lifetime. So you add that all up seriously, but you add that all up. And we're putting these in our most intimate part of our body that is truly connected to every part of our reproductive system. And that's the part where what's intrusion products is it well, this section should even before I say what's in them is the FDA, its tampons and pads are a medical device so the FDA does not require them to disclose what their ingredients are. 

Portia Mount  29:20  

This is a super important piece of information here. 

Denielle Finkelstein  29:26  

Yeah because you can go on to a shelf, and you know what, you know, it's in your dog food, you know what your dog is eating, but you don't know what's in your tampon, you know, what's in your ketchup, you know. 

Portia Mount  30:14  

Those weird scented pads.

Denielle Finkelstein  30:15  

Yes. So all of this stuff, when you actually hear this, you're like, wait a second, like, you don't have to disclose what's in these ingredients. So in the traditional products, it is there's synthetics, there's rounds, there's fragrance, there's dyes, there's I mean, there's all traces of toxins and dioxins. So they're bleached. So all of those things, and not to say that the one time you use that one, you know that one tampon, it's just it's over a lifetime, we're all talking about anyway, like the toxins we're all bringing into our bodies, because it's just, it's what's around us at this point. So for us, if you have the opportunity to know you're going to use 12,000 in your lifetime, that this is one adjustment you make in your life, you're just removing something. So that's really what became important to us. We hate going down this fear factor of you know, we don't want to make fear monger. We just want you to know the facts and that you have a better option.

Portia Mount  31:09  

I like that a lot is the price point comparable to what I would be spending on Tampax? 

Denielle Finkelstein  31:16  

So it's going to be a little more expensive. So it's the same situation. And that's the hard part for us is we do want to figure out how we can make this more accessible to more people. But think of you know, traditional strawberries versus you know, organic strawberries. They're more expensive. 

Portia Mount  31:31  

Yeah, actually, that's a really good analogy. And you talked about Thyme, and wanting to create a movement and in fact, when you and I were talking in our introductory conversation, you talked about period poverty, and I actually had not heard that term before. But it kind of stopped me in my tracks when we started talking about it. So talk a little bit about period poverty and what that is?

Denielle Finkelstein  32:01  

And so when we first did our research on the industry, there were three elements that really we unearth, number one was we've already talked about the organic piece that was better for, better for you. Then there was this environmental piece, which we can talk about as well, but better for the planet. And then it's better for others is period poverty when we first started digging in, similar to you, we were thinking of third world countries, developing countries. 

Portia Mount  32:26  

I was thinking, I was like, you know, Cambodia. 

Denielle Finkelstein  32:30  

Yes. Yes, No, but seriously, and that's, it is. And so that is the unbelievable staggering fact is that prior to COVID, it was one in five women and girls since COVID, the numbers are now coming out that it's probably one in four, don't have access, don't have access to feminine products that's safe. And I use the word safe. Because what they're using is they're using unsafe alternatives. So what they're using is rags, they're using mattress pieces, they're using paper, they're using paper towels. And that's just, it's feeling for infection. So they're using that and they can't go to school, they can't go to work. So when we think I mean, we are here, growing up from hippie parents being you know, advocates and doing all these things, but also when we think of us as women, and we are not going to have female equality, if you have 20 to 25% of the female population not having access to this, so they can't go to work, and they can't go to school to reach their fullest potential. And this is a piece, you know, you're just more and more about this menstrual equity is so important.

Portia Mount  33:36  

I did not in fact, you know, correct me if I'm wrong here, Denielle. The UN Commission has done something on period like giving girls around the world access to period products, because if they drop out of school, then they're more likely to get married earlier and if they get married earlier, they have more children at a younger age, like there's a knock on effect here that is pretty extraordinary when you learn about it. And we'll link to some helpful links too in the notes that people can so that people can read a little bit more deeply into what we're talking about here. 

Denielle Finkelstein  34:13  

But here just just to think that it is happening here in the United States. And I think also with COVID hitting, you're hearing so much just about food insecurity as well. So this goes hand in hand with food insecurity. It really truly does because you're making a decision for your family. Feminine care is not covered under SNAP. So it's not covered under any of this. 

Portia Mount  34:38  

Just to clarify for people SNAP is the supplemental nutrition access program?

Denielle Finkelstein  34:53  

Yeah, the old version of food stamps. I mean that's what it is. 

Portia Mount  34:56  

The old version, that's a better way of saying it. 

Denielle Finkelstein  34:57  

Yeah, sorry the new version of, yes, food stamps. But the crazy thing around period products is also in 30 states, they're still taxed. So you have all of these layers already around menstrual care, that women, it's just it's adding one barrier after another. What's incredible is one of the arms of our business has become this other side, which is this, we call it the institutional or bulk side. And that's actually funneling into food banks and funneling into these nonprofits. And so it still feeds into, it still feeds into what our purpose is about this give back and getting access to more women. And that's the part that we've actually been excited about because more and more of these organizations are now actually purchasing to get products and they're looking for better products. They're not looking for what was traditionally used to, and those are sometimes a better price. But they're looking to get better products for these women and girls.

Portia Mount  35:57  

That is really, really awesome. You know, and it resonates for me so deeply. I'm part of a mother's group called Jack and Jill and we just did a diaper drive, and it occured to me, maybe we should be doing a feminine, like a safer, feminine products drive. I mean, diapers are of course, we all know crazy expensive, but so are these products, but women... 

Denielle Finkelstein  36:22  

What's amazing is so many of them, the diaper banks, are now having a period bank. They recognize the parallel and the importance of these two. So it's amazing. It's amazing. 

Portia Mount  36:36  

Yeah, I would have to look into that too. And what maybe we'll put some links in there where women can, where people can contribute. That's so awesome. So your business has, you know, obviously you're clearly a for profit business. Do you have a, is this a foundation or is it just part of your ESG policy? Like how are you managing the sort of social responsibility part of the business? 

Denielle Finkelstein  37:04  

So this was always important to us to have some version of a give back. And I will tell you that we still are defining and redefining and trying to do this even better than how we set it up originally. Originally, we were donating for every product that was, that was purchased. And so we definitely have that.

Denielle Finkelstein  37:24  

So like this last year, we donated over 300,000 period products. So happy that we were able to do that and get that out into the communities and really, really hit a lot of these hard hit COVID cities. But there's more around this, because there's the advocacy piece, there's the education piece around period stigma, like there are so many other arms that we're really trying to wrap our head around. So for us, candidly, we feel like we've just scratched the surface on this side, actually just engaged with someone to consult with us on this arm of the business, because we really feel that there's so much more for us to build out in. Yes, keep our profit going. That's, you know, we're running a business, but how do we manage this? And how do we get more out into the community? And really, when we talk about what we're going after, and this is the mom and daughter relationship, it's this education to these 13 year olds, this, you know, anywhere between 10 and 14 year olds, in every geographic and every financial, you know background, but like, every girl should have the same experience and have the same information. So they're they as they continue to get older, they understand their bodies, like what's being taught in schools right now, oh my god, it's like, I think there are 50 states are required to do sex ed, but 25% and 25 of 25% of those states are actually giving accurate information. And they you know, they're not using the correct terms either.

Portia Mount  37:29  

Right and everything is so polarizing right now, right? So you've got people who feel like, that's not the school's job, that's my job, or if my daughter knows she gets a period she's going to be pregnant. And there's just a lot of stuff wrapped up in that, right? 

Denielle Finkelstein  39:08  

Yeah. So there's just, that's a bigger part of like we are, this is an arm of the business that is very important to us, you know, our dream is also in the next couple of years to go B Corp. And so that's a big, this is a big important part. So B Corp is business for better, essentially. And so it really gives you, it’s very big. It pushes you and your business to very strict standards that you have to actually on an annual basis, you have to report back to the B corp. But it just puts this tag on and I want to call it a tag but it's not. It's really a recognition for your business, that you are in all different areas. It's the social impact piece. It's the environmental peace, it could be all different parts that you are doing better, you know, just it's better business. 

Portia Mount  39:54  

That's really exciting as well. So speaking of becoming a B Corp, let's talk a little bit about venture capital like, you know, you read so much around how few women owned businesses or startups are getting funded, although it looks like the landscape has been changing over the last couple of years. And so I just wonder what your if you're, if you're seeing the reality of that, or how easy or hard is it to get venture capital funding? Or do you even want it, Denielle? 

Denielle Finkelstein  40:28  

So it's a great question. I actually love this question. So I'm going to actually start with how my cousin calls it. She's like, there's no fun in fundraising. Like it starts with FUN, she's like, but there's no fun here. So we bootstrapped the business the first year and a half. So this was out of our pockets.

Portia Mount  40:44  

Out of your pockets. 

Denielle Finkelstein  40:45  

Yep. So and again, our husband's like, what are we doing? But what we then did is about halfway into that of the bootstrapping, we went out and here we are, like, you know, she's got my cousin, she's 27 years in consumer packaged goods. Her last job was at Nestle. So she's like, I've got all this experience. I know consumer packaged goods, like I can manage the retailers, I can manage all this. And we go out and we're like, Alright, we're gonna go meet with all these VCs we probably face to face met with about 50 and spoke to about 100. And as she, this is the other thing she calls it, she's like, it was the summer of unlove, like, there was no love. And it was probably one of the most humbling moments. Here it was, you know, I was an executive, I'm sitting in board meetings and all these things and I'm sitting across from 25 year olds. 

Portia Mount  41:31  

I know you're just like, what the hell these... 

Denielle Finkelstein  41:34  

25 year old young men at these VCs and we're talking to them about periods, and they're like, it's like, glazed over. And they're like nah there's other people in this in here already. Like there's already other people in the space. And we're like, no, our story's different. Never heard it, never wanted to listen, never looked at it really like what we brought to the business. And so that was extremely humbling. And like, really, at one point, we almost had to shut the business down. Like there was that that there was during that summer, we came off that summer, and we looked at our runway. And we both asked each other. Are we in this like, are we gonna do this? And we're like, yes, you know what we really are, we're going to push through. And so what ended up happening was fortunate enough friends and family around us were like, we love what you're doing. And so they kept asking, like, can we invest? Can we invest and we were always like, not quite sure. And we said yes. And so at that point, we ended up raising a million dollars.

Portia Mount  42:25  

From friends and family? 

Denielle Finkelstein  42:26  

Friends and family, and part of that came from Maroon Venture, which was, my cousin went to UMass Amherst, and they have a venture fund that does alumni who are building social impact businesses. And so they invested, they were our lead investor. And so they've actually been phenomenal. So friends and family, we closed the month before COVID hit. So February of 2020, we closed and that money was then really going to fund and fuel we're going to build for this year. So obviously pivoted changed, everything happened, a lot has changed for us over this last year. So I just want to give you a data point. So 2.7% prior to COVID was invested in women's companies. Since COVID, 2.2% now, so it went down since COVID. 

Portia Mount  43:14  

So all those stories are total bullshit that I'm reading.

Denielle Finkelstein  43:17  

It went down. So it went from 2.7 to 2.2. 

Portia Mount  43:27  

That's so depressing. 

Denielle Finkelstein  43:21  

And so the reality of what we learned was the friends and family seed round was the best thing, what we are at we're actually in the midst of a fundraiser right now. So we're raising a million dollar bridge round. And what we have learned and what we learned from our summer of unlove. And you know, what was not going to be right is that we had to find investors around us who resonated with us, who understood what our mission was. One was female investors. And we've had actually, we've had a handful of men, but it really was females. And it was really finding the ones that they understood our differentiators and how we actually could business wise, because of our experience, we are operators who understand this, how we could manage this to get to this next level. And so that's been the game changer for us. This is the hardest part of doing a startup because it is a full time job. And then you've got to run the business outside of it. So we've been in this now for about a month and a half and definitely exhausting. We actually did an amazing pitch this past Tuesday, where one of the investors that we're working with pulled together 18 different investors. So doing it all at once versus every single other time. It's like these individual calls that you're making. So it is the hardest hands down the hardest part of our business. But the thing that we have really enjoyed the most is it allows us to network and meet different folks along the way. And also just get advice on the business. You know, when we realize and recognize that somebody may not necessarily be that right investor for us. What do we take away from the conversation? What advice do they give us? Sometimes we filter it and we're like, Okay, you know what that applies to something I was like, Okay, forget it. 

Portia Mount  43:30  

Yeah.What's the worst piece of advice?

Denielle Finkelstein  45:05  

Well, they wanted us to change our name. We're like no, we're like no. Actually another one too early on, we almost totally shifted our business. We had and we're still actually very close with this investor. She's, she's incredible. But she's like, our future plan for product development is to move into incontinence. And she's like, I just want you guys to move into incontinence, she's like forget about feminine care. 

Portia Mount  45:31  

And sorry, to move into where?

Denielle Finkelstein  45:33  

Incontinence. 

Portia Mount  45:34  

Oh, incontinence, incontinence? Yes. Like Depends and... 

Denielle Finkelstein  45:39  

Yep, and bladder leakage. She's like, that's where you need to go. And we're like, this was early on, we're like, okay, they're gonna write a huge check, like, is this where we go? Like, our brains were like back and forth like, maybe this is what we do. And we are so grateful that we made the decision because one, this is close to our heart. We're doing this because we're passionate about it. We're passionate about it for our daughters. We're passionate now for all women. 

Portia Mount  46:02  

You weren't passionate about incontinence? 

Denielle Finkelstein  46:05  

And, and listen, there's a huge opportunity there. And we'll build into that. 

Portia Mount  46:09  

I'm sure especially in the older demographic, right?

Denielle Finkelstein  46:12  

So anyway, so yes, venture capital, fundraising, all of that. You know, it's going to be different for everybody. I think, for us, what we have found is that the angel route has been the best for us at this point. And there's a lot of money out there. And that's the piece is just finding the right people to tap into. 

Portia Mount  46:39  

I think it's really important for people to hear this. And I've talked to a couple of other entrepreneurs, for the pod. And everything you're saying is really consistent. In fact, one of the individuals they interviewed said, she said, I'm not even going the venture capital route because I also want to control my company, I have a very clear vision for it... 

Denielle Finkelstein  47:06  

That's a very big piece for us as well. 

Portia Mount  47:07  

And so I wondered, so my sort of circle back on that was, it was control, you know, it's controlling a piece of it, as well, because when you introduce a venture funder, they get a seat on your board, and they can...

Denielle Finkelstein  47:20  

And the growth introductory as well, I think there's a reality of which, listen, this is all about patience. Everything about this is all about patience. And when it comes to VC money being infused, they always like, the expectation is, you know, what's the multiple, what's the multiple, how fast you're growing? What are you, what are you doing? And so there becomes this, like, it's this engine fuel that they're putting in. They are I mean, sometimes it's $3 to $5 million checks. So we get that, but by doing it this way, it's allowing us to be very smart about where we're, I mean, we are at this inflection point, let's cherry pick, you know, we have some amazing retailers that we're about to launch into. But we're trying to do it smart. And I think that comes also from our experience of being in these big companies. It doesn't, there are, listen, there are overnight successes there truly, truly brands are out there. And I admire them and all of that. But like, we don't necessarily want to be an overnight success, we're going to build ourselves to be success. It just takes time. It takes time and all the aspects that you know, you grow.

Portia Mount  48:26  

I'm so glad to hear you say that, because I think what we do in social media probably is the cause of this is that people look like you don't see the grind behind the Instagram post, right? Like you don't see the sleepless nights and all the phone calls and all the meetings that don't materialize into funding. And so I'm wondering like, do you not necessarily to say out loud, but do you have in your mind, sort of a end point where you're like, okay, if in seven years, this isn't hasn't reached this level of profitability, or we haven't hit these, let's just call it milestones, then we're going to tap out and do something else. Like do you, do you talk about Plan B or some people say you shouldn't have a plan B because...

Denielle Finkelstein  49:18  

You know, great question. I wouldn't say that we necessarily have a plan B, we do have an, like our mindset on where the endgame is. And, you know, really, at the end, what the endgame is, is, like, we'd love to be acquired. And you know, I think the bigger part of that acquisition both for Thyme and myself is that the part that we want to do then is because of this struggle with fundraising we want to go back and invest in women. 

Portia Mount  49:47  

I love that. 

Denielle Finkelstein  49:31  

That's what we want to do. We want to give it back to the struggle that we had but also what's happened and what we have actually recognized and what has been amazing is that we're now over 2,5 years in. But now because of the network that we built of all these entrepreneurs, we have young entrepreneurs, and I shouldn't say young in the growth of their, where their business is, not necessarily of age, they're reaching out to us. So we are getting, you know, young that are in their 20s, we're getting some 40s 50s that are reaching out to us and asking for advice. And so the value that we hope our future is, is that we can physically give money back as well as give the advice back, because that's the invaluable part. Like that's been probably the best piece for us as we've built this is the people that we have met along the way we would never have met in any other aspect of our life before. We are so grateful for that part. And it's one we're learning all the time, which is the part that both of us we're total learners. We were totally curious. And that just also fuels us so that we can then pay forward that way.

Portia Mount  49:48  

I love that. And you know, we started this conversation with you talking about just how much you, how good at, and how much you love network building. And so it sounds like you've also taken that incredibly valuable skill and transferred it and I want to actually ask you just a couple of questions about networking. Because it sounds like it's played a huge role in your success. And I, our listeners sometimes struggle with it, or they don't know how to do it. So maybe just tips for being a great networker?

Denielle Finkelstein  51:30  

You know, one, it's just always been natural to me. So you know, you have to nurture it. So it's really just constantly, you know, checking in how you doing, or and it's the other part of networking too, it's not always about what you're going to give me, it's always play it is how can I help you? Like, let's chat. But how can I help you? Let me just recently this was actually something that just happened with this young entrepreneur, she is building an unbelievable brand. I'm so excited for her. And she's building it, it's baby food. So I know you'd asked one of those questions like why she's doing baby food. But she you know, she's bringing cultural flavors into baby food, which are not out there. And so what she's creating is brilliant. It's brilliant. And I was just like, hey, you know what, I'm going to do this. Like Tracy, I don't know if she's actually going to respond. He's going to respond. I have no idea. A year ago, we had the opportunity to talk to John Foraker, who's the CEO of Once Upon A Farm. He was also prior to that was the CEO of Annie's Mac and Cheese, and so on and so forth. And we had the opportunity to talk to him, I got a half hour of his time, he was incredible, his advice was invaluable. And I said, listen, I've got an email, I have no idea. But if you could get a half hour of his time, I can only imagine how that's going to help you continue to formulate your strategy, because she's really at that part of the beginning stage. He responded in five minutes to her. 

Portia Mount  53:01  

That's awesome. Wow. 

Denielle Finkelstein  53:02  

And that's the pieces like just thinking. I mean, I'm constantly like, how does this help them? What can I do? Like how can I connect you like it's an, it's an ecosystem? And that's how I look at it more, so, like, it is this ecosystem, you're going to network all across the board, it's hard to say like, you know how to do it. It's just a part that has always just been very natural to the people person too so I love to chit chat and like, you know, learn about them and learn, you know about, like, what they're doing, and how does, how am I learning from that? So... 

Portia Mount  53:33  

I love that and I think actually, that's super actionable because what I'm hearing is, you're listening really well, you're making connections, you're curious, and you're looking to find ways to help other, other people.

Denielle Finkelstein  53:48  

I want everyone to be successful, at the end of the day. Like that's what it's about, like, let's raise us all up. Like we all have a place to be successful. So... 

Portia Mount  53:56  

And this is how women are going to be successful by helping each other. Okay, so we're moving on to the lightning round of questions. So, Denielle, so first of all, motto, do you have a favorite saying or motto you live by? 

Denielle Finkelstein  54:14  

Well, I think the number one thing that if anyone was to ask me, but I have lived with this for a long time. It's just be kind.

Portia Mount  54:22  

I like that, simple. 

Denielle Finkelstein  54:23  

And my favorite quote is by Maya Angelou, and it is: people are not gonna remember what you said to them. People are not going to remember what you did for them, but they will always remember how you made them feel. And along the way, and this goes to the networking piece too. Like, just be kind to one another. We are all humans. We're all going through different things in our lives and just being able to give that smile, ask somebody how they're doing and then find those moments of kindness like it's just such a simple thing. But it gives me joy. And so that is definitely what I live by. 

Portia Mount  54:56  

I love that. So you were a busy mom. We've talked about you've got two kids, and what is self care and you are working crazy hours still. But what does self care look like for you? 

Denielle Finkelstein  55:08  

So I love this because I didn't take care of myself for a very long time. And really, I've actually founded again since COVID. And the joy for me is that we got a peloton, and that's... 

Portia Mount  55:23  

Isn’t that the best? I’ve had mine for two weeks. 

Denielle Finkelstein  55:25  

Oh, oh then I'll just get your tag. Okay. All right. Well, I'll tell you what class to take. So, I will definitely tell you that I forgot about myself for so long. And how important that is that, you know, the joke was like, I never put my oxygen mask on and like, it has changed everything for me that that half hour on that bike, and I carve it out in the morning like I get up way before the house is awake. 

Portia Mount  55:51  

I was gonna ask, you do it in the morning? 

Denielle Finkelstein  55:52  

Later, forget about later, it just doesn't happen. And so carve it out and it's my time, and I feel stronger again, I just feel energy wise, like I feel clarity, that I've never felt in a long time. And I was a college athlete, I was an athlete, like my whole life. And then, you know, once kids came along, like so this is just, it just allowed me to give back to me. And so that's really been I would say that's the number one part of self care. People talk about the cult. I'm in the cult. 

Portia Mount  56:23  

I am too like I was like I don't know maybe I'll just get the app and get a cheap bike and then I got the bike. I was like this is amazing! I love peloton. Yeah, I'm definitely in the team peloton, so we'll have to start a Manifista peloton group with this. So I have to work on that. What advice would you give a 20 year old?

Denielle Finkelstein  56:44  

Yes. When you asked I was like, okay, number one is patients. Be curious. I think that's a really important one is, you know, within that, which ties into that be curious is, you don't have to know it all. So I was a kid that I just, I felt like I had to know it all, I had to have all the answers. And you don't have to. And that also makes you like, think about the people around you like how you utilize this goes back to my Kate days, utilizing your cohort around you to balance you out. And to get advice from and all like, you don't have to have all the answers. And I do love this is one of the quotes from Sheryl Sandberg. She says you know, you don't, don't feel like you have to climb the ladder. The best is to climb the jungle gym. And I love to use it and more like play on the jungle gym. Because you're gonna go...

Portia Mount  57:37  

That's even better. 

Denielle Finkelstein  57:38  

Yes, I like play because it's also about finding the passion of where you're going left and right. Because if you're always just your eyes on the top, you're not you're not going to see what's around you. And you're not going to see the other opportunities. So by going left and right, sometimes by falling down, like falling off the jungle gym, like, damn, that hurts. But you're going to pick yourself back up and you're going to climb back up. And you may end up in a different spot of the jungle gym. And that's the whole concept of this jungle gym and like how we go in our careers, and how we go in our lives. Like, that's what life is. It's not just going up a ladder, you're not going up and down. 

Portia Mount  58:12  

Yeah, and this year, kind of this last year, sort of taught us that too, right? A lot of us fell off the jungle gym. Is there a book that you find yourself recommending or gifting a lot these days? 

Denielle Finkelstein  58:26  

So one book is, and I've been using this since I was 23 years old, and it's more on the professional side. But I have used it on the personal side too, is Strengthsfinder. 

Portia Mount  58:39  

Hmm. That's a great book. Yep.

Denielle Finkelstein  58:40  

Yep. And so why I do that one is for anybody who's ever worked with me. I think it is so important that we feel people's strengths, that we don't feel people's weaknesses, we all have opportunities. And it allows you to really understand how you round yourself out as a team, because that is the most important thing. Like we cannot all be the same, how are you all functioning? And how would you know what, what, what strengths are you bringing to the table and fuel those and that is when you get the best results out of people. And so I'm just like, that's such a big one for me. And that's really on the professional side like I just I truly do like anybody who joins my team since I was 24 years old, I have been using that. So every company too like we instilled it into two of the companies, when I got to Kate we installed it at Kate as a, and then Talbots this is rolled out now at Talbots and so it just one that I think is important. And then the other is Michelle Obama's book Becoming, that just to me just hit so, so deeply. 

Portia Mount  59:46  

Beautiful book. 

Denielle Finkelstein  59:47  

I admire her in so many ways as a mother, as a wife, as a working career woman and just the ebbs and flows of what life you know brings to you and then obviously she's just one of just she's just an amazing, amazing, amazing genius.

Portia Mount  1:00:07  

She's extraordinary. She really is. Are there new habits or beliefs you've adapted, that've made a positive impact on your life?

Denielle Finkelstein  1:00:19  

Journaling. So it's, I have, it's called the 5 minute.. 

Portia Mount  1:00:24  

That's my favorite. 

Denielle Finkelstein  1:00:25  

So it's, it's called the five minute, five minute journal. And every morning and every night I write down what I'm grateful for, what I can be, you know what, what's going to make this day better. Like, it has changed my perspective by doing this. And so prior to getting that one book, I was just doing it in little, like, little notebooks here and there. It's just been writing it down versus thinking it actually putting it down on a piece of paper has 100% it's changed, it's really changed my outlook. 

Portia Mount  1:00:57  

It's a game changer. I tell people journaling is like, the next best thing to therapy is just getting stuff out of your head onto paper, processing it, leaving it there, dreaming. 

Denielle Finkelstein  1:01:10  

Dreaming and that's the other thing too is like dream, you know, dream, get your frustrations out all those things that like yeah, it just and don't, it is allowed me to not carry it with me. 

Portia Mount  1:01:21  

Mm hmm. 

Denielle Finkelstein  1:01:22  

Because before, like, we would carry it, you carry the bad moments, the good moments, it's like, especially those bad moments. Like I don't carry, I don't carry it as much as I used to. 

Portia Mount  1:01:31  

That resonates for me so deeply. And I've been journaling off and on probably since I was seven or eight years old, but really got serious about that in the last few years. Final question for you, Denielle. What's the best investment of $100?

Denielle Finkelstein  1:01:47  

Okay, so there's two, which is this journal. So it's not $100. So I've got two things. So, one, it's this, I think it's like $15 on Amazon. It's called the Five Minute Journal. And I just love the structure of what it is like it literally gives you like five minutes in the morning, and it's five minutes at night. And it just allows you to have the clarity. The second which will make you laugh is I'll actually put it on for you and I know the listeners can't see us but it is this $15 unicorn headband. It's a unicorn headband from GAP kids. And I'm not kidding. 

Portia Mount  1:02:22  

I will, if I can find this, I'm going to link to it. It's amazing. It looks amazing on you. 

Denielle Finkelstein  1:02:28  

Thank you. Thyme laughs all the time. Like, what is it my kids like there are times when I forget when I go pick them up at school.

Portia Mount  1:02:39  

My God, amazing. 

Denielle Finkelstein  1:02:40  

I'm just telling you this unicorn, like this, when I'm having a bad day when I want to feel magical when I want to have those moments. Like it's just a reminder, it's just a reminder that like, we can make it through the hardest things and like put this on it puts a smile on your face like it's pink and sparkly.

Portia Mount  1:03:01  

I'm smiling ear to ear.

Denielle Finkelstein  1:03:02  

See, so this is again, so I think my total is only $30. So I still have $70 in there that I could spend of my other $100 but of the like best investments I have actually made are hands down the two that like one is this practical of like, let's write my, what I'm grateful for all those things. This is just like, this makes me happy. This reminds myself that like, I can be a unicorn, they're magical. And like, we just gotta hustle through and I'm gonna sparkle on the way, so yes, Thyme laughs every time. 

Portia Mount  1:03:14  

I love it, and I cannot think of a better way to end our conversation. Thank you so much. It has been so delightful talking to you. And I can't wait for people to hear this. 

Denielle Finkelstein  1:03:51  

Thank you. Well, thank you and thank you for giving me the opportunity and excited to definitely share to your audience our brand, which you know, it's just been exciting to be able to build but also just our story, you know, honestly, I think that's the pieces. 

Portia Mount  1:04:03  

I can't wait for people to discover The Organic Project and I can't wait to try your products, oh, we should, we should tell people where, where can we buy them? 

Denielle Finkelstein  1:04:12  

Yeah, absolutely. So we are, you can get on our website which is toporganicproject.com we're also available on Amazon. We are soon to be available on Target and will also be available on all of Sprouts, Fresh Thyme, Fresh Market, but if you go to our website, we actually have a store locator which will show you where all the locations you can go to.

Portia Mount  1:04:13  

For sure, we for sure. 

Denielle Finkelstein  1:04:34  

Please follow us, please follow us on Instagram on Top Organic Project. 

Portia Mount  1:04:38  

So and we will link to your Instagram page as well. And are you on Facebook as well? 

Denielle Finkelstein  1:04:43  

We are oh yeah, Facebook, Tick Tock Pinterest. Yep, yep. 

Portia Mount  1:04:46  

Fabulous.