THE POWER OF PERSISTENCE

from time to time I’ll share “inspirational notes” that may seem trite in this age of irony, but they’ve obviously helped me out. I received this one from a gentleman I met on a flight, & I’m grateful to him for his time & wisdom…& for this great daily motivational tool he was so kind to send me, some of which I’ll pay forward to you!

I’ve always believed we can truly do anything we set our minds to—given the necessary time, hard, very hard work, sacrifice & totally idealistic goals.

persistence

it has, at times, been hard for me to maintain this sense of determination—especially when I’m surrounded by people who have come into my life now that my business is successful & think somehow it all appeared poof! as if by accident or magic…hiiii-larious…persistence people! (& intelligence, luck, help, intuition, tenacity, hmmm I could go on & on…) but in this case:

Persistence

the successful way forward is to persist. persist, and you

can turn around the most difficult situation.

persist, and you learn. persist, and you become more

skilled, better connected & vastly more effective.

persist, & you will master the difficult, complicated

tasks that now frustrate you. persist, and you gain not only

skill but also understanding.

persistence is not always easy, yet it is always available

to you. persistence is not always pleasant or comfortable,

yet it always makes you stronger.

persist, and you will find the way to get where you most

want to go. persist, and nothing is out of your reach.

~Ralph Marston

perseverence

I’ve been taking ballroom dance for about 7 years now, competing for about 6, & Marston’s poem reminds me of every day, week, month & year we must as my teacher would say. chip away when we feel we’ve plateaued. chip away when we are frustrated with our lack of progress, chip away when we are skating along & feel we’ve done nothing to get where we are. chip away when we are feeling good & just want to dance, not work! we continue to get better, in teeny tiny increments & sometimes if we are lucky, in a big growth spurt, & it only happens with hard work & for sure…persistence.

ballroom1

I’d love to hear from you guys—what have you accomplished that called for more than “what is required” & how many of you have continued on & on, beyond what you felt you were capable of? beyond self-doubt, frustration, fear & when you persevered, what happened?

xo

—Suki

WHAT’S THE STORY WITH WHOLE FOODS?

last year, suki® ended its partnership with Whole Foods Market. people often don’t realize what goes into these corporate partnerships & why collaborating isn’t always the blessing it might seem for an independent company, especially those who stand by their strong ideals & values. in fact, after I broke off our partnership, Whole Foods began to claim that they kicked us out, which actually tells you a great deal about this giant, picking on a tiny company like ours. I mean, we could hardly impact their bottom line, yet they had no problem with potentially destroying a small business with their false accusations! talk about power corrupting…

so this week, to mark the one-year anniversary of this decision, which I’m still proud  hell to have made, I wanted to share the letter I sent to my independent retail partners (who are growing in numbers & as ethically strong as ever!).

no_whole_foods

dear friends:

know your beauty®, the philosophical foundation behind suki® , means accepting ourselves for who we really are, never punishing ourselves for being “less than perfect” or needing to live up to an outside definition of beauty, & acknowledging we must always take & own our power, including the power over our health & well-being.” I set my own rules for my company: we’re transparent, honest & committed to sourcing the most pure & efficacious ingredients—100% organic or fair trade when possible. we are truly independent & always have been in creating products that actually solve skin problems!

you are my independent partners & I know you share our values. you have stood by me since day one, when I started my company in my kitchen in the woods of New England. we agree that an environment of real choice & truly healthful solutions is key in this industry. we also know that as others have grown massively, their missions have altered. we have experienced too well the push of profit put ahead of ethics, as unique independent brands are homogenized to do businesses with the all-powerful corporate & publically traded brand, Whole Foods Market.

over the past 14 years, suki® skincare emerged as Whole Foods’ leading premium skincare brand & we are grateful to have reached many people through this partnership. however, we examined our business relationship & found that Whole Foods is no longer committed as they once were (when they were independent themselves) to providing ethical, effective & pure products to those who TRULY need them. sadly, it appears they have become aligned with centralized manipulative marketing practices.

whole_foods_strike

(January 2015 strike at Whole Foods Market , Brooklyn, NY)

their tactics include pressuring small businesses like us to alter our messaging, requiring their subjective approval for every decision as if we were a subsidiary of Whole Foods Markets & trying to force us to overturn our ideals, values, & even our product formulations! & this, folks, is how you kill a small business & the ideals of a small business owner, unless you are as stubborn as, well, us 🙂

Whole Foods has compromised their original mission by allowing “acceptable” synthetic stabilizers, gums, preservatives & other synthetic ingredients like non-labeled GMOs that we would never deem appropriate into their stores. & thanks to other brands in Whole Body that make efficacy claims without doing scientific studies (which we have done!), we are told to get rid of any language that informs our consumers of how our products can help them.

shockingly, Whole Foods adopted the same oppressive tactics as Wal-mart with respect to labor negotiations, purchasing practices, restricting small business autonomy & dictating communications.

wholefoods_walmart

so we have made the easy choice to let go & focus on our partnerships with you, the TRUE pioneers of the industry. I want you to know that I deeply respect every one of you for your trailblazing commitment to providing truly natural & organic solutions for your customers.

we will continue our original mission of creating strong, safe solutions for skin problems & sensitivities, & helping people achieve their best skin by treating the underlying systemic causes of their problems. we will remain strong & self-sufficient, answering to our ethics, our hearts & our ideals. when I began all this in my kitchen, I swore I would NEVER compromise my ideals for profit—for anything. & I’m happy to say I never have.

so here’s to all of our growth & continued paving the way, hopefully, for future idealists.

xo

—Suki Kramer

River-Valley-storefront

River Valley Market, one of my awesome independent retailers in Northampton, MA

SELF-TALK & SELF-LOVE: CONQUERING NEGATIVE THOUGHTS

self_love1another swimsuit season come & gone, & now it’s daaaamn cold! thank goodness I have a love of boots that borders on addiction :). but, do the insecurities that go along with exposing our bodies disappear along with the healthful summer sun & ahhhhhh warm breezes on our skin?

uh no! they’re just easy to cover up & the relief that comes with it, well, feels EASY temporarily!
fall….the great clothes, the crisp, refreshing, new life in the air…sure, it’s nice for a bit, but how deep does it go if inside, we don’t feel good about ourselves?

even with an eating disorder in so distant my past that I can’t even imagine having had one & even with my years being an advocate for “know your beauty” on so many levels, I can’t shake the nagging fixation on the 10 pounds I’ve gained in the last year.

yeah, 10. I look at pictures of myself competing in my last dance competition, when I thought my body was at its best. but the truth is, I’m actually in better shape now than I’ve ever been! I think, what a waste of time & energy, but…I just can’t let go. ugh, don’t get me started!

& why? well, part of it is all summer long, media headlines have been aggressively screaming a common theme: shape up for summer! get your bikini body back! even the most confident & mentally healthy folks begin to feel the pressure that something is not quite right with themselves. but, what if we could really celebrate who we really are instead of obsessing over who we’re not—a person that doesn’t even exist. in my case, someone always stressed out & constantly tense, trying to be & do everything absolutely perfect, always apologizing for myself, feeling guilty about—jeez, who the heck knows!

we know body image isn’t based on facts, but emotions, & emotions start with thoughts. & the best place to begin improving how we feel about ourselves is to do some hardcore work on what we think about ourselves. more importantly, how our thoughts LEAD to the emotions that get us into the “funks” we find ourselves in. it’s really as simple as that….& as hard! I mean, our minds are darn difficult to deal with! in my dancing, the very moment I let my mind in, & this is hard to explain, everything goes all to h*ll. but if I can lower my mind, much like meditation, & be at one with myself & my partner, my body, the music, it’s the most beautiful, amazing, transforming experience there is. as my partner/teacher says, where is music? it is everywhere? in our dancing in that mode? WE ARE EVERYWHERE!  we are nowhere, we just ARE. it’s the closest thing to zen I’ve ever experienced. and the journey to this place, the constant journey here is battling & being aware of my negative self-talk, my brain telling me what I’ve always told myself since childhood.

the first step is to become aware of our constant self-talk or self “noises”. when I force myself to be aware of my thoughts, I become hyperconscious of words like “you’re stupid” or “ugh, Suki” in an inner voice that screams “lame girl!” & wow, what a punitive reality that is.

self_love2our minds first create our intentions & then create our reality. our minds are actually the ruler of our worlds, not our hearts, not our emotions! when we realize this, freedom is near, with a confidently JLO-sized butt load of hard work! & isn’t she a great example of how one woman changed a whole culture of women to want large rear ends instead of running from them? how’s that for some self-love & working with whatcha got! hoooaaaa!

positive self-image, like “confidence”, is like retraining a muscle that not only has gone dormant but has actually been trained to work against you (science has shown this starts in the womb! when my mom had a car accident, was in traction & had a C section, & fought with my dad non-stop, this started me out with a high cortisol level that has stalked me til today!). so you must exercise your self-talk in positive ways to make it strong, automatic & make it work for you, just like any other muscle! if you can, find a trainer to help (mine just happens to be my amazing dance teacher, which I’m telling you, has helped more than years of therapy).

makes me think of Stuart Smalley, the character on Saturday Night Live. “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, & gosh darn it, people like me!” the truth in that, about positive affirmations & becoming our own best friend, hits home. there’s also this Disney movie called “The Kid” that always makes me cry in this one scene where the adult (Bruce Willis) is hugging & consoling himself as a weeping child, saying “it’s not your fault”. kills me every time (but I am a big baby after all 🙂 but think about it, what would it be like if we could meet ourselves as child, knowing what we know now, & truly explain it all, hug ourselves, reassure ourselves that we are not to blame for the horrible things we may have been accused of, or held accountable for, or blamed for, or not protected from? that’s deep man!

as an adult, you are the architect of your own self-concept. so the next time you notice a negative thought, it is your job to stop it in its tracks! replace that BS with new words of encouragement that make sense to who you actually are & lift you up! be honest, you are not (fill in the blanks), you are (insert the good things people say about you, but you just can’t seem to believe).

for me it’s “I’m not stupid or ugly, I’m smart & pretty”—gotta admit it’s even hard to write those to this day.

self_love3the chance to rewrite our story every day is the most powerful tool we’ve got! & I’m telling you, it’s transformational & touches every aspect of your life 🙂

you know, I would love to hear your experiences & help with your struggles as you create this new minute-to-minute discipline in your life & watch the changes take root & grow. & hey, DANCE y’all! seriously. or challenge, or just plain enjoy yourself through something that makes you feel scared & vulnerable. there’s nothing better for your self-esteem than the growing awareness that comes with seeing yourself for the first time, again & again! my next thing, aerial wrapping (or whatever they call it). I cant wait!

xo

—Suki