It’s not always easy to find balance while running a business. But if you want to grow and scale a company in a sustainable way, balance is key.
For Aimee Song, founder and fashion designer at Song of Style, her passion started with a blog that later became her buzzworthy brand, boosting her into a social media superstar.
“It’s the best kind of job if you have a hobby and can turn that into a job. It was easy to make that passion into a business,” she said during a recent Office Hours interview.
But finding the right balance to grow the brand didn’t happen overnight. Becoming a successful fashion brand meant Song fell into the fast-paced frenzy of fashion events and travel, attending shows from New York to Milan.
While it was exciting, Song also found herself burned out and in need of a reset.
“It all sounds glamorous and fabulous, but at the same time I had no social life. I barely saw my boyfriend. I barely had friends – all my friends were friends I made from fashion shows. You just don’t have time to go deep with these friendships. [They] don’t know anything about my actual personal life or how I’m really feeling,” Song explained. “I had a realization, ‘This is not sustainable. I’m not happy. Something is wrong.’ From the outside world it looks like my life is great. I had to reprioritize what is super important for me – what is the life that I want?”
To do that, she spent a week at personal growth retreat The Hoffman Institute, which laid the groundwork for the mindfulness practices she uses today, including taking breaks from technology.
“I really like my profession, but I did feel so drained and had to get out of that mindset,” Song said. “I had to see the other picture. Sometimes you have to zoom out and see your problem is not that big, and understand everybody is going through problems as well.”
While the ‘girlboss’ mentality may have once been celebrated in the business world, it isn’t healthy or sustainable, Song noted. Once many companies went remote during the pandemic, it became even clearer how important work-life balance is. Taking this time off to reset helped her solidify how that would look for her moving forward.
By forming new healthy habits, Song found more happiness, including strengthening her relationships and recently becoming a mom. Here are 3 ways Song finds balance while building a brand, rocking social media, and managing life as a mom.
A founder cannot just be a manager and CEO. [...] You can’t do it all. You need other people who can manage employees better.
—Aimee Song, founder and fashion designer, Song of Style
1. Take technology breaks.
Song aims to start her day tech-free, instead opting for journaling, a meditation, and reading one page of a nonfiction book. Like many busy parents, she is doing the best she can to maintain a routine while caring for her newborn.
“I don’t need to always be on, always be connected,” she said. “I don’t always have to answer that email first thing in morning.”
Before implementing more mindful practices throughout the day, Song would usually listen to music or a podcast while walking or take a “break” to scroll through Twitter.
“I felt the need to be productive every single moment,” she said.
Now she takes time for quiet moments whenever possible, such as a tech-free walk or a quiet moment with her eyes closed. Otherwise, it’s not a real reset, she noted.
Song has also learned to avoid multitasking, which she says “does not really exist.” This helps her stay focused and present in the moment.
“You’re basically only putting 20-30% effort into five different things when you could be putting 90-100% into one thing.”
2. Seek support to leverage leadership.
When starting the Song of Style brand, Song learned how to do everything to run the business. Though that was helpful at the time, entrepreneurs ultimately need to find people they can trust in order to scale, she said. That means letting go of micromanaging employees.
“A founder cannot just be a manager and CEO,” she said. “You can’t do it all. You need other people who can manage employees better.”
It took nearly 10 years to build “an incredible team” at Song of Style, she said, adding that she seeks people to help build the brand long-term and grow within it.
“I trust them and know they’re going to do what needs to be done,” she said. “I want all of us to do well.”
Additionally, finding support from likeminded business owners has been crucial, she said. Having close female founders as friends who offer generous advice helps Song strengthen her leadership skills.
3. Be patient.
Even if someone has a glossy social media feed, success doesn’t happen overnight. Plus, they probably aren’t posting about their failures along the way, Song noted. Neither is she.
“Success looks so easy, so attainable,” she said. “My biggest thing is patience. It takes forever. I don’t know any successful CEO and anybody that has made it in this industry or any other industry that became an overnight success. They’ve been grinding and working on it for a minimum of five to 10 years.”
After being an influencer for eight to 10 years, Song aims to be as honest as possible to her audience. She noted that finding balance as a new mom is “incredibly hard,” and that she shares stories about it so that people can see there is no truly perfect balance.
Between creating a sustainable self-care routine, solidifying a great team and community, and finding patience as a founder, leader, and mom, Song assembled all the right pieces for a flourishing fashion brand. She hopes to expand it further into various lifestyle categories, like home goods and skincare.
The important thing for any entrepreneur is to just start, Song said, and you’ll eventually “find your groove.”
“Every little step helps. You’re just building grit, time, experience, and eventually something clicks and it makes sense,” she said.
This interview is part of Office Hours, a series that connects you with entrepreneurs and experts and tips for running and growing a business right now. Find other can’t-miss conversations here.