Sheena Brady – Social Entrepreneur & Shopify Team Lead

I’m so excited about this interview and was trying not to fan girl when interviewing her, I’ve seen Sheena Brady speak at a few events now and every time has been fantastic. As Founder and Tea Sommelier at Tease Tea and Founder at The Founders Fund, her support for Female Founders is inspiring. At the last event I saw her speak at, she spoke of 3 ways we can all invest in Women Entrepreneurs.

Tease Tea designs sustainably created tea blends to self empower goals and desires while investing in women around the world: Tease Tea donates a portion of proceeds from every order to programs dedicated to improving the lives and businesses of women around the world.

I’m a fan of the Tumeric Tonic, really good.

The Founders Fund is Canada’s first online accelerator that emphasizes not only investing in your own success as a founder, but also paying it forward.

The Fund supports women-identifying entrepreneurs during every stage of their growth. Started by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, the Fund believes we don’t need one company or one person to make a difference but we need thousands.

I’m really proud to be a supporter of The Founders Fund.

Sheena’s support for entrepreneurs is also evident through her work as Merchant Success Team Lead at Shopify.

Paolina: What does money mean to you and where does that meaning come from?

Sheena:

Money means creating financial freedom. This meaning has been with me from a young age, watching my mom struggle as a single mom. I knew that I was going to have to learn to take care of myself financially – to give myself that security and sense of abundance, that’s what having a lack of money does.

Paolina: What has been your hardest experience/biggest challenge dealing with building Tease Tea and the Founders Fund and money and what did you learn?

Sheena:

1. Lack of access to capital by a long-shot, fueled by an unhealthy relationship with Debt has been one of my biggest challenges and lessons learned. Growing up watching my mom struggle with opening an at home salon, and then having to declare bankruptcy caused me to want to avoid debt. I thought I was killing it by not having any credit card debt until I started Tease Tea and went to the bank for a loan. Because I hadn’t built up my credit, I didn’t have a track record of showing that I could pay off debt and that the bank could trust me.

Tease Tea earned its first ½ million with the help of $1,000 of secured credit card debt.

Not having that credit history, required taking bigger risks to get capital; including taking on a 23% Interest loan and drawing down from my mortgage.

2. Lack of Financial Literacy Skills, thinking that basic bookkeeping and supplying Notice to Reader documentation and other paperwork to bankers and financial institutions was enough. Anyone who’s going to be giving you money wants to know the story behind the numbers and the entrepreneur and how you’re going to be using the money. I learned to speak like a banker to a banker so that they can then advocate for me in getting loans and lines of credit.

Paolina: What’s one piece of money advice you wish you’d gotten and would like to share about – Starting up, and Scaling:

Sheena:

  1. Build credit yesterday. Building credit = building trust
  2. Make sure you have skin in the game, again, anyone whose going to be giving you money wants to know that you’ve put something in or sacrificed taking something out in order to support your business

Paolina: Purpose + Profit, what are your thoughts on Social Enterprise and how women can start businesses around Purpose + Profit?

Sheena:

Social Enterprise is the standard of all future commerce and the future is here now. Consumers are expecting brands to have social and environmental issues built into their core values, because they know that Government intervention alone won’t be enough. Conscious consumers are looking for conscious capital.

It’s also not just about reaching conscious consumers; it’s an opportunity to create culture and engagement for your people too.

I think there’s this misconception that in order to do good with your business you have to have reached some certain level and then and only then can you start, but that’s not true.  It’s never too early or too late. Some tips to start right away:

  • Give back program
    • Volunteer – at Tease Tea we provide paid time to volunteer where we work with Dress for success
    • Donate $ even a small amount
    • Product/service donations

Paolina: What are your current FinanciElle Faves?

Sheena:

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