We really appreciate that we can add another unique Member Story to our blog and newsletter. This time, we are talking with Sarah Somers, Founder of DESEDA.
We want to share what DESEDA is all about. As Sarah explains, “Our brand name, DESEDA, is an inspired mash-up of two terms in Spanish – deseo, meaning “wish” and seda meaning “silk”. In building DESEDA we are collaborating with artists from around the world to design the modern, luxe scarves and accessories we always wished existed. We are going live with our e-commerce site and first products later this Fall.”
And what inspired you to start DESEDA?
“For the previous 4 years, I was investing in early-stage software start-ups in Chicago with an investment firm. Over time, I realized that while I enjoyed my work, I was ultimately on the wrong side of the table. I had the entrepreneurial bug for some time, and I was skirting around it. As I evolved in my last role, I became much more hands-on with the companies we invested in, helping them develop strategic plans and evolve operationally. I found that was where I thrived and had the most fun.”
So, Sarah decided it was time to pursue entrepreneurship for herself.
Please tell us how did this decision evolve?
During the process of exploring different business models and concepts, Sarah became really excited about the evolution of e-commerce and the many ways in which consumers can discover new products today. With the far reaches of the internet and social media, specialty brands can now readily connect with consumers around the world. Tectonic shifts in large, established industries, such as retail, often makes things messy for those stuck in the status quo. However, those same shifts also create windows of opportunity for new players to emerge. Those opportunities became the driver to establish a direct-to-consumer business online.
But why silk scarves?
On a recent visit back to her childhood home, Sarah was able to relive the entrepreneurial story of her Great-Grandmother and Great-Grandfather. They were milliners (hat makers) with their own store from the 1910’s to the 1960’s. In going through their preserved treasures in an heirloom cedar chest, Sarah came across some of the silk gloves and scarves they also sold at their store. They were beautiful and, remarkably, wonderfully preserved.
So Sarah began to think of how to bring all the pieces together. “In a world where so many things are disposable and fleeting I was drawn to the idea of creating a product that is both beautiful and enduring. Silk scarves are for everyone – no matter your age, no matter your size. Unlike trends that come and go, I love the idea that a scarf design can be an expression of your personality and become a common thread woven into the fabric of your personal style over time.
In pursuing her vision, Sarah was energized by the concept of working with artists of various backgrounds and bringing their creativity to a new medium. DESEDA is pursuing an opportunity to rework a classic wardrobe staple and in the process develop a platform for artists to reach a new audience.
In each of our posts, we love to hear about what our members believe has been their greatest challenge in the business.
Sarah shares; “The greatest challenge is just doing it and making that commitment to start the business. With my personality, I knew I would not be able to do this as a side hustle. I needed to be all-in and give myself the freedom to do that.” She finds that the best part of the business, what she enjoys most, is collaborating with others and leading teams.
However, she confesses that she is still learning that you don’t always need to check in with others. “Trusting yourself and your vision, trusting your gut is key. I’m still working on honing that skill after collaborating very closely with a tight-knit team in my last role.” Sarah acknowledges that she is growing and evolving as each small victory is attained.
How did you decide that LifeWorking Coworking was the right workplace for you?
“Once I came in for a tour, I knew LifeWorking Coworking was the best place for me to launch DESEDA”. She wanted to start her business in the community where she lives. She is actually a new transplant to Lake Forest, from the city. She and her husband are thrilled to be in Lake Forest, raising their daughter and establishing family roots here. Building her business in the community was part and parcel of the business plan. Because of her prior work experience, Sarah was able to see and experience dozens of coworking spaces. “LifeWorking Coworking blew me away. It’s modern, professional and offers the amenities expected – but importantly, without the “frat house” feel found in some of the other coworking spaces out there.”
In fact, she worked her last day in her previous role on a Monday, and started her company that very next day, Tuesday, as a member of LifeWorking Coworking.
Sarah explains, “Life is richer in a community in which you can fully participate across the various aspects of living, working and playing. It’s great to share in the early stages of this venture with the other members who are on their own journeys. Convenience, comfort and community are all served here at LifeWorking.”
With the giving-back principle in mind, what would you say to someone considering starting a business?
Per Sarah, “Take the leap. Hit the start button. It’s easy to pontificate from the sidelines. It’s harder to actually do it. Further, if after giving it time and hard work you find that entrepreneurship is not for you, you can always go back to another employer, taking the lessons learned along the way with you. By contrast, if it goes well, then you are on the way to building your dream.”
You can find Sarah’s incredible creations being built at LifeWorking Coworking and launching online this Fall at www.shopdeseda.com