Excerpt from Voyage Denver Magazine
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
It was 2011, I walked into my college military recruiter’s office and signed my life away to become a future officer in the United States Army. I left the office feeling elated, excited and petrified. Petrified because at this time in my life, I was practicing the YOLO mentality and hadn’t thought through how I was going to break the news to my parents. Upon hearing my contract, my dad was quite horrified, but he supported me nonetheless.
The next four years of my college life was normal but not easy. I was a regular college girl who went to classes, partied my existence away, attempted relationships, worked at night while cramming 5 am physical training sessions, piling military classes, and attending weekend field exercises. I don't paint this picture to make it seem like I was a badass; because I’m not going to lie, I was a hot mess. I made it through by not sleeping for four years. (Worth it though!)
After graduating and commissioning, I entered active duty (military) and traveled to a few states for training. It was while traveling across the US that I suddenly found an appreciation for the lifestyle called, "minimalism." For the next eight months, I drove around with only the belongings I could fit into my Volkswagen Tiguan.
I could go on for days talking about the positive impacts of having a minimalist mindset but I would never get to the point of how I got started with Weighstead and where I am today. By living a minimalist lifestyle, it was almost inevitable that I would begin to think about my carbon footprint and ponder how consumerism affects today’s economics and environmental changes. I lived in Manila, Philippines for most of my childhood and I recall my city being the capital of plastic pollution. Anyone who’s ever stepped in Manila can attest to the detrimental impact of single-use plastics. Everything from shampoo to coffee was packaged in single use containers! Most streets, rivers and ocean bays were covered in plastic. It breaks my heart to know my family lives in a place where plastic has consumed every aspect of their lives.
I am fortunate enough to live in a country where I have the option to refuse single-use plastics. A place where I have been able to start a business in my community where I can spread awareness of the damage synthetic polymers can do and provide resources for those who are interested in living a low waste lifestyle.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Starting a business, advocating for a new lifestyle, and rallying for cause that some may not find critical will always be difficult. In fact, a cause worth pursuing will always be challenging and without these obstacles, we can’t flourish.
An issue I’ve noticed in the (vegan, minimalism, zero waste, religion, etc) communities are unwarranted judgments and self righteousness. Most people are not in the extreme categories but those who are can really damper and give a negative connotation to the communities stated above. Some people will create a story and stick to the narrative that if a person isn’t "all in," then he or she isn’t doing enough. This certainly isn’t the case.
When people attack others on social media because of opposing views, it deters people from joining a movement that can alter the course of our future. Because let’s be honest, talking about trash and changing convenient habits isn’t a sexy topic to begin with, so it’s not an easy trend to hop on. My message to those who are on the fence about being a part of the zero waste journey is “one small action at a time.” This doesn’t mean you have to be perfect, and it certainly doesn’t mean you need to throw away everything plastic in your home. It’s taking small steps toward a sustainable lifestyle. Start with swapping plastic bags to reusable cotton bags and next thing you know, you’ll be changing habits within all areas of your life. Weighstead has created our eco friendly store so that someone getting started can check out these simple zero waste products online.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Weighstead – what should we know?
Ooh, the fun part! I am the founder of Weighstead, an eco-friendly shop located in Colorado Springs. We sell home essentials, such as zero waste kitchen products, that are alternatives to single-use plastics. Most items are compostable, biodegradable and plastic-free. We offer anything from bamboo toothbrushes, stainless steel razors, reusable bags, plastic-free beauty and bath products to stylish to-go essentials.
I do everything behind the scenes from wholesale ordering, marketing, packaging, shipping, advertising, blogging, social media posting, website design, photography, networking, inventory management, acquisitions and analysis- you name it, I do it. (Minus SEO, my brain doesn’t do codes) With that said, I can’t do it without the support of all the women-owned businesses in my circle. Seriously, these girls are badasses who keep me grinding every day.
I am most proud of the relationships I’ve built through this business. In essence, I have started a retail store but I don’t do in hopes of financial freedom or any type of recognition, I do this for the simple fact that it is my passion. And with this passion, I hope to ignite a revolutionary outlook on how we can change the way we live.
As an Asian minority, as a military veteran, and as a woman, I am a small percentage of the American population. My path has been very unique from others, my image has been very different from what people may normally associate within a zero waste community. This perfectly aligns with my mission on Weighsted. A Zero Waste Lifestyl isn’t for the privileged, it isn’t just for the picture perfect life, and it certainly isn’t exclusive. It’s for everyone who wants to make a change for the better. Big or small.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
If you ain’t persistent like a fly, you ain’t going nowhere.
Persistence and determination have always been my strong suits. I was gifted the opportunity to live in America where I can pursue anything I want to and become who I want to be. I think it would be silly to not take advantage of that.
Characteristics that have led me to where I am today are my open mind and heart. I take every opportunity, misfortune, and failure as a blessing. “Closing your heart doesn’t really protect you from anything, it just cuts you off from your sources of energy. In the end, it only serves to lock you inside.” Untethered Soul.
Thanks for reading!