Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur Sara Graham, a Canadian currently based in Prague who specializes in creating newsletters and sharing inspiring lifestyle content through her multi-functional business, Fresh Presse…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I am a content producer who specializes in creating e-newsletters.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
A few years ago I was producing newsletters for a collection of Canadian shopping centres. The contract ended and I went on to other things. However, when I was recently going through a career overhaul, it just sort of struck me that I really enjoyed the newsletter thing… and a whole new business concept was born! Fresh Presse (formerly The Travel Presse) is part lifestyle resource, part introduction to how I work with other small and large companies to create e-newsletters that inspire action.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
Using what I know to take a client’s idea for their newsletter and make it sing through words and images. Sometimes I have to develop their brand voice, key messages and tag lines, and these are all rewarding experiences. The most challenging part is probably the post-deployment waiting period because I am so anxious to see readers’ reactions to the content.
The other side of Fresh Presse is the blog, which exists to share lifestyle tips that have worked for me. If I can encourage one person to try raw food, meditate, or make some small change that supports low-waste living, then that makes it all worth my time and effort. There is the exciting potential of a positive ripple effect.
What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
That is a loaded question for me. To be totally honest, I went through a few foggy years due to the fact that I ran myself ragged in my 20s. In my early 30s, my body started working against me and I did not know what was going on. The short story is that my adrenal glands were shot. I went from operating at a very high energy level, multi-tasking like mad, to not being able to handle any kind of stress.
All of this prompted me to seek out a naturopathic doctor and work towards re-balancing my mind and body. And it has been a lot of worthwhile work. Thankfully I also found restorative and Yin yoga, and eventually signed on for teacher training at 889 Yoga. I credit this experience, along with Dominika Zarzeczny, ND (Toronto), Dr. Joann Osbourne (Halifax), Dr. Delia Simu (Waterloo), and The Hoffman Process for recalibrating my mind/body connection. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s an ongoing project. I meditate a lot and am lucky to have amazingly supportive friends. I also highly recommend Gabrielle Bernstein’s book May Cause Miracles. It’s my bible.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Running a comfortable amount of e-newsletter production for a roster of international clients. I aspire to teach restorative yoga regularly and use the classes as a fundraising initiative for a non-profit/NGO. I have three quite distinct ideas for books, so I see myself putting some focus in that direction and publishing at least one.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
For a period, I was quite stuck on what my next steps were going to be. I wanted to upgrade TheTravelPresse.com, but the direction I was going in did not feel quite right. I hired a business advisor last June, took a serious break from social media, and focused on what I should be putting out into the world. We literally wiped the slate clean and started from scratch. This soul-searching and goal-setting was an essential time-out that put me on the right track.
What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Success looks like a home in Italy! My partner is a born and raised Tuscan so this is a serious goal.
When it comes to putting a dollar value on it, my feeling is that money must be earned as a result of really good work. I don’t know that it has any links to true happiness otherwise.
Obviously money does afford some level of security, but it certainly does not buy the awareness that I think is necessary to be fundamentally content. In fact, I saw my bank account decrease as my life balanced out and consciousness increased. And it did not bother me much at all because I knew I was breaking bad habits and thought patterns, and ultimately on my way to something better.
Having gone through a rather turbulent process, I’ve come to understand that the cornerstones of happiness are family, friends that stick around through the changes, helping others and positive achievements.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Sometimes I feel like I’ve lived nine lives. One major milestone was Sister Underwear. Creating and designing a loungewear collection – that was not only embraced by the Canadian network of buyers, media and consumers, but also saw repeat orders from US boutiques – was the defining “I can do anything I put my mind to” experience.
After three years of the fashion world (which is extremely tough by the way), I returned to publishing as editor-in-chief of two teen magazines. Those years in editorial were crazy and full of firsts. My claim to fame is working with Nina Dobrev on her first cover.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Trust your gut. When it doesn’t feel good, let it go. Find something to offer that is truly unique. Embrace change. Don’t let your ego get in the way of living a balanced life. Stop to celebrate.
These are the things I tell myself every day. I’d also have to say that finding and getting actively involved in a non-profit, with a cause you can get passionate about, is important to a life lived fully.
Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
Toronto – Weslodge on King West for the cozy, sexy atmosphere. Soho House for the scene and the food. Fresh for their rice bowls and desserts.
Prague – Secret of Raw (Prague 3) and Pizza Nuova (Prague 1). Polar opposites, but I’m all about balance. When it comes to sweet treats, Bakeshop (near Staromestska) is the best.
When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
The day always starts on the mat. I carve out that 20 minutes of non-negotiable “me” time to get grounded using a yoga/meditation combo. Making this a regular practice has changed everything.
It’s probably no surprise that I like to travel, but I also enjoy staying local and hitting a neighbourhood restaurant.
Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
My entire immediate family lives in New Zealand so I would have to say that is my favourite place to visit. Italy is a close second with its food, charming cities and small towns. Sicily is amazing and we just got back from Rome… Looking forward to writing about the incredible eternal city for Notable!
If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
Everyone needs a cheesy pop song, right? Mine is Roar by Katy Perry. It’s a dose of positive energy.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
Fundraising full-time for organizations that get down on the ground and help people during natural disasters and disease.
What to you is notable?
People that get down on the ground and help others through natural disasters and disease. Anyone who can speak more than one language.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
Windows. I am loving my Nokia 925… that was stolen in Prague and returned by the police two months later. A story for another time!