I CAN: An Interview with Sarah HideyPosted on
Sarah's bio on her passion business' website barely captures the breadth of what this woman has been able to do, "Sarah has had a passion for women's empowerment and international development since college. After receiving an MBA in International Economic Development, she worked in Africa and Asia with an international NGO for several years before moving to Denver, where she has specialized in social enterprise, nonprofit consulting, and international development. Sarah is the Managing Director of Catalytic Ventures, a social enterprise consulting business that works with nonprofits and social enterprises around the world, and nothing gets her more excited then helping a nonprofit become more sustainable! In 2014 she was recognized as one of Denver Business Journal's Top 40 Under 40 for her work in social enterprise. She is also a board member at Children's Future, her favorite nonprofit, which works in Cambodia."
You can learn more about her clothing company, Tribe, at togetherwearetribe.com.
What is your Current Gig/Passion Hustle?
My current gig is as the co-managing director at Joining Vision and Action—a women-owned and run social change consulting firm. Our mission? Helping and inspiring social changemakers to succeed, sustain and scale.
My current passion side hustle is everything Cambodia ☺️ My heart is there – as a board member for Children’s Future International in Battambang, Cambodia (a child protection/education nonprofit) and as the co-founder of Tribe—a socially conscious, fair trade fashion line with production partners in Cambodia.
What is a quote you live by?
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” By Gandhi. Maybe a bit cliché, but I truly believe it and live my life based on this belief! Don’t just complain about how the world is unjust – go out and DO something about it, and live your life as an example.
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson. – I’ve never been one to do what the world may expect of me. I follow my heart and my passion, and have never been scared to take a leap and forge ahead—even if I don’t know exactly where I will end up!
What small thing will you do today to make your world/community a better place?
Make smart choices as a consumer. I believe we vote for the world we want to live in by how we spend our money. For this reason, I choose fair trade, ethical companies on a daily basis where conscious decisions are made to make the world better (i.e., employ people with barriers to employment, pay a living wage, sustainable, environmentally friendly, treating animals ethically, etc). I also try to shop locally as much as possible!
What does a day in your life look like?
I’ve recently returned to Joining Vision and Action, after running my own business for the last few years – so my days have been changing!
Unfortunately, I was not blessed with the “early morning” genes – and I generally don’t get up before 7. My mornings ALWAYS consist of either cold brew or matcha blended with the two things I can’t live without – collagen peptides and brain octane oil! I’m obsessed and seriously can’t function without them. I’m checking email and responding to clients from the moment I wake up.
I usually try to make it to the office (or coffee shop if I’m working remotely for the day) by 9am – and I LOVE my team. My JVA coworkers are some of the smartest most motivated people I know. My days vary – but typically at some point during each day I’m always (1) writing something (a proposal to a new client, a grant for an incredible program or a blog), (2) meeting with staff (we have more than 16 changemakers working with us) to help them come up with new innovative solutions to our clients’ needs and (3) meeting directly with our clients about a new or ongoing project (our clients are nonprofit or government staff who are leading some of the most innovative and life-changing programs that serve the most vulnerable populations in Denver!).
My days are never finished when I leave the office—in the evenings you’ll often find me at networking events, meeting with other nonprofit leaders in Denver, sending out orders to TRIBE customers, reading books relevant to the social change sector (just finished: The Newcomers, currently reading: Leaders Eat Last), strategizing with the Children’s Future team members who are around the world, doing something active (HIIT in my living room, walking around Sloans Lake or OrangeTheory) and usually planning my next trip (currently: Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia in February).
My new routine is to end the day with meditation—I’m loving the CALM app.
What has been your journey to get to where you are now in your life?
I started out in the international development sector—as a young MBA graduate who was clueless about the world but knew that business was a powerful tool to make a change by creating economic opportunity and lifting people from poverty. I worked for a large international NGO, which took me around the world (mostly Africa and Asia) and then a large homeless service agency in Denver before really coming into my own skin and realizing where I thrived—helping individuals, social entrepreneurs and nonprofits build their capacity to raise more money, develop programs that are sustainable and crafting innovative business models.
This is how I got into consulting (and how I became a social entrepreneur myself). I never would have guessed that I would go from being in a job that I “tolerated” to leading a company that does the kind of work that inspires me on a daily basis.
I was mentored by the founder of Joining Vision and Action, Janine Vanderburg, a strong woman who taught me about confidence and about believing in myself—I CAN start my own business. I CAN speak in front of hundreds of people. I CAN go by myself to a developing country and train staff. I CAN. I would call it nothing less than a transformation in how I think.
I truly began to feel confident that I could forge my own path in life. During this time I also began to understand what work/life balance means for me.
My “career” has always been so intertwined with my personal life, I often can’t decipher between the two. And I now feel a sense of freedom because I know deep down that I don’t have to have this “balance”.
My work is an extension of my life purpose—to make our community and world a better place for the most vulnerable people.
What I HAVE learned is what is important to me: having a flexible schedule, the ability to travel (traveling is what pumps life into my veins) and the ability to work remotely when needed. I built my current path based on these goals.
What was the biggest struggle you had to overcome?
We live in a society that throws huge parties and celebrations for engagements, weddings and new children (rightfully so – these are all joyous occasions!), but does not equally celebrate the tremendous accomplishments of women in their professional life—such as the launch of a new business that has been a lifelong dream. I’ve learned not to let this get me down, and instead I’ve surrounded myself with people who encourage my entrepreneurship and my wanderlust tendencies, and this makes ALL the difference!
What was the driver for you to pursue your current career/passion side hustle?
My family. My dad and mom have been the greatest supporters of my passion to create opportunity for people around the world. As I’ve traveled across the globe and traipsed through jungles and rural, remote villages in Africa and Asia, sometimes in conflict zones, they never once discouraged me from following my heart and my passion.
While in private they may worry and pray, they are my biggest encouragers and motivators. Beyond a doubt, I wouldn’t be able to take the risks and chances I’ve taken with my career if I didn’t know they were behind me. (Case in point: at one point only a couple years ago I put all my earthly belongings in storage and became a “nomad” for a year—working and traveling around the world. Not only were my parents supportive, my dad flew across the country to help me do just this!)
Also, growing up with a brother who lives with autism, at a young age I developed a heart that was set on ensuring vulnerable people are give the same opportunities as everyone else. This translates over to everything I do – whether working with refugees, trafficking survivors or adults with disabilities.
Any recommendations for someone trying to figure out how to build a business that has a positive impact on the world?
Surround yourself with like-minded people who inspire you! Find a community that will support you and share their lessons learned. YOU don’t have to be the expert in everything—just surround yourself with brilliantly amazing people ☺️
What do you wish more women would do for themselves?
(1) Stop waiting around for the one “thing” that will make your life perfect (job, life partner, travel partner, etc.), and build the life you want.
(2) Travel by yourself!! I can’t advocate enough how valuable solo travel is - when I first started traveling by myself I was a little hesitant. In the back of my mind I would think, gosh I wish I wasn’t traveling alone. But as I traveled more and more, I learned so much about myself and about what I truly wanted in life.
Traveling solo also forces you out of your comfort zone, and allows you to meet other travelers and local residents who have valuable lessons to teach you. Now, 30+ countries later, I prefer to travel by myself and to get lost on my own!
What is something you hope our readers will do after they read this interview?
Be inspired to start something new – whether it’s a new book, a new business or even just planning your first solo trip to a country you have never been.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
While on vacation last year in the Galapagos Islands I saw a sign that really resonated with me: “Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.” – Charles Darwin.
While directed at the globetrotters passing through the sleepy beach town I was in, it is equally relevant to all of us social entrepreneurs and changemakers whose path to success may not seem straight and smooth.
At the end of the day, it is all about perspective – will we choose to see setbacks and challenges as reasons to give up or cry? Or will we see challenges as an adventurous opportunity to come up with a new solution?
All photos are courtesy of Sarah.