Today on Take Five we chat work-life balance with, Isabel Hoppmann, CEO and Founder of SWEET — Successful Women Entrepreneurs Everywhere Today. SWEET is a platform supporting young, female entrepreneurs with their business ventures by providing them with mentors, resources, and inspiration to get going. What’s so impressive about Isabel is that she is a young woman herself — seventeen to be exact. Thinking back to my own teenage years, I can assure you that building a business was not on my mind. Today Isabel gives us the inside scoop on her day-to-day building her platform, the healthy ways she balances entrepreneur life, and everything in-between.
Did you always know you wanted to be an Entrepreneur? How did you end up in your role?
I wanted to be an entrepreneur since before I really knew what it meant (or knew how to spell it!). I constantly dreamt up idea after idea for products and services to launch when I was older. But that’s the catch, I was always waiting until I was “older” or “old enough.” When would that be? I was eager to start my first business as a young teenager, but I didn’t know where to begin. Luckily, my dad, a serial entrepreneur, helped to guide me as I navigated the twists and turns of entrepreneurship.
As I was embarking on this start-up journey, I didn’t feel that there were enough female founders for aspiring girl entrepreneurs to turn to. That’s where SWEET comes in. My platform aims to help other budding, female entrepreneurs to receive guidance from other successful women and resources to take their vision to the next step.
What do your responsibilities look like?
During the school year, I balance a few roles. I conduct interviews with female founders, offer advice to teenage girls, and work with my team to manage the rest of the platform. Of course, my mind is always churning with ways to bring SWEET to the next level. This includes figuring out ways to offer more, including resources, access to women CEOs, and brainstorming on how to reach a wider audience of girls.
How did you get your first career break?
I started SWEET in June of 2020, and I am incredibly grateful for every opportunity and obstacle that I have encountered since then. Getting SWEET out there was a combination of cold emails, social media, and long days and late nights. One interview led to 40, one follower led to over 1,000, and one press release led to media coverage in Money.com, Medium Magazine, and many more.
Do you have advice for anyone trying to launch a start-up?
I ask the women CEOs I interview a similar question, and their responses center around three pieces of advice that I strongly believe in:
- Find a mentor who you trust, who you can learn from, and who will celebrate the highs with you. Also, to support and guide you through the not-so-glamorous parts.
- Stay true to yourself and don’t let anyone hold you back from what you know and believe you can achieve.
- Go for it! You really can’t call yourself an entrepreneur or truly break into the industry without taking that first terrifying and exciting step.
How do you maintain balance as an entrepreneur?
School forces me to step back from my work and live a more balanced life. When I am hours deep into SWEET, I make sure to take time away from my computer and Zoom calls and spend time with friends and family, or myself.
How do you support your health in-between work?
By ensuring I am taking enough mind-breaks so I can stay focused and relaxed during my work. I have modified the 25-minute work and 5-minute break schedule to be closer to 50-minute work and 10-minute break sessions to coincide with my concentration intervals.
Recently, I have explored guided meditation, and so far, it is a game-changer! I have to confess, even a few months ago, I was one of those people who thought they “didn’t have time for meditation.” I never really believed in its power until I tried it once and it’s now part of my routine. I highly recommend finding your inner yogi through apps like Calm or Headspace or even searching them on YouTube.
Favorite fitness regimens?
Sweating it out in a tennis match. Taking long walks with stunning views up and down the San Francisco hills. Planks, and trying new workout videos on YouTube to get my blood flowing a little.
Do you have a favorite healthy snack?
Açaí bowls, without a doubt, especially ones made with bananas, strawberries, blueberries, cacao nibs, goji berries, bee pollen, and a drizzle of honey.
I love adding wheatgrass to smoothies, and sprouts or microgreens to anything that remotely pairs with them for an extra healthy crunch and flavor burst!
Easy go-to meal?
My recent claim to fame is a new twist on an old favorite. I call it The NB&J, grilled nut butter & jelly with berries. Toast the bread in a pan while the strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries grill alongside. Add your nut butter and jelly of choice followed by the fruit to warm everything up.
Beauty product you cannot live without?
Aquaphor. It may be the most basic product in existence, but I swear it can fix anything from dry lips to paper cuts. I have even used it to get rid of smudges on a desk like Windex!
How do you take 5?
My school teaches us a practice called espacio, which simply means “space.” You plant your feet firmly on the ground, sit in an upright but comfortable posture, close your eyes, and focus on your breath and only your breath. It is a wonderful way to hit pause during the day.
A book that has had the biggest impact on your life? Why?
Alpha Girls: The Women Upstarts Who Took on Silicon Valley’s Male Culture and Made the Deals of a Lifetime by Julian Guthrie. Guthrie recounts the incredible journeys of four women who rose to success in their 1970’s venture firms before it was “cool” to be a working woman.
I came across this book while I was knee-deep in SWEET. The spirits of these women aligned so perfectly with the confidence I was trying to instill in the next generation of “women upstarts.” I immediately connected with it and now recommend this read to anyone I can.
Favorite place to vacation?
Rehoboth Beach, DE. This quaint town has been my childhood beach escape since before I could walk. I have lived in two bustling cities — Washington, DC and San Francisco, CA. Rehoboth offers a chance to slow down, kick back, and unwind. Playing board games on the porch while listening to the crashing waves of the Atlantic; rumbling summer thunderstorms surrounded by family and friends. What could be better?
Do you have hobbies, activities, or creative outlets that help keep you balanced?
Tennis lets me get outside and enjoy the fresh air while socializing with friends and family with a touch of competition. I enjoy trying new things — whether that is visiting a new restaurant, testing new recipes, or even discovering a new area of my own city. Also, cooking and baking are activities where my creative juices really flow.
Who inspires you?
All of the powerful female founders I have interviewed and learned from and those I have yet to meet. The millions of small-business owners who have put up the fight of their lives trying to survive over the past year with the pandemic. The girls out there who are braving the unpredictable waters of entrepreneurship and starting businesses as teenagers. And anyone and everyone who gives their best in all that they do.
Do you have a favorite playlist to listen to for motivation?
Right now, the top songs on my pick-me-up playlist are:
- “It’s Your Life” by Francesca Battistelli (Soul Surfer soundtrack)
- “Set the World on Fire” by Britt Nicole (also, the Soul Surfer soundtrack)
- “Whatever It Takes” by Imagine Dragons
Who would you take 5 with?
Surfer, Bethany Hamilton on her resilience and perseverance. Sara Blakely on her incredible founding story of Spanx and inspirational experiences as a powerful female entrepreneur. Selena Gomez on her self-love and self-care.