10 Takeaways From Our First Year As Entrepreneurs (& First Time Moms!)

Life comes at you fast, especially when you’re cofounders of a skincare brand, hustling entrepreneurs, and first-time moms…all in the span of a year. 

Emily DiDonato and Christina Garcia started dreaming up the three-step Covey routine several years ago. Their dream became a reality last March, when they officially opened their (digital) doors for business. 

Christina and Emily reflected on Covey’s first birthday, and came away with 10 key learnings from their first year as entrepreneurs, new (or soon-to-be) moms, and small business owners. 

Here are their 10 biggest takeaways: 

1. Passion is the cornerstone of a successful business.

“Skincare was instilled in me from a very early age. I’d always do my skincare at night with my abuelita,” said Christina. 

Skincare remained ingrained in Christina’s life for years to come, especially when she met Emily. As best friends with busy schedules — Emily juggling a modeling career and content creation on IG and YouTube, Christina a full-time Googler — both Emily and Christina realized that they needed a pared down routine with staying power.

They became obsessed with finding (and later, creating) the perfect three-step skincare routine, combing Reddit threads to understand the best order to apply your products, and vigorous R&D of ingredients and formulations. That obsession would become ✨Covey✨ as we know it today. 

Christina added, “If you do have that genuine passion for something, it’s that much easier to have [the] drive and resilience to keep a business running.” 

2. Starting (and running) a business with your best friend is the best decision they ever made

For Christina, starting a business “stretches you in ways you never thought, and it puts pressure on you in ways you never thought.” 

The strain of starting a brand can be isolating at times, especially without a business partner. As a founder, you’re responsible for the big picture stuff like strategy and messaging, but also the small, day-to-day tasks required to run a business, like packaging up orders. 

“To have someone alongside you who genuinely loves you and supports you and is your confidant makes it that much more special to run a business — and that much more manageable to do it,” said Christina.

3. Resilience is the most important trait. 

Prepare for setbacks, challenges, and downright failures. Christina notes that not everything will go your way, even if you’ve planned it to a tee. 

Delayed launches, annoying website 404s, shipping delays, the long, arduous road to profitability…these challenges are all par for the course when you start a business. 

“You have to be able to keep moving and keep pushing,” said Christina. To her, that’s what sets businesses that succeed apart from the businesses that don’t make it. 

4. You don’t need a big team to be successful 

Emily and Christina both stress the importance of quality over quantity when it comes to choosing your team. 

“We have a very small but mighty team here at Covey consisting of our Chief Growth Officer Nell Russell and our Customer Service and Operations Support Kendra Martinez, and we have a lot of partners that support us — like a social media agency, PR, etc.” said Christina. 

One key takeaway from year one? Focus on building a strong core team that’s smart, agile, and nimble, then outsource to trusted partners when necessary. 

5. Be willing and open to test and iterate 

For Emily, creative testing was a normal, everyday occurrence as they helped Covey come to life. 

“Christina and I knew we wanted to reimagine and reinvent the three-step skincare routine. We wanted to bring simple, clean, effective products to people, but we’ve tested so many different ways of communicating our message,” said Emily.  

Iterating opens you up to new perspectives and feedback on your products and offerings, and keeps you squarely outside of your comfort zone…which brings us to key learning no. six! 

6. Live permanently outside of your comfort zone 

When starting a business, your comfort zone might completely dissipate. You’ll be thrust into new activities and learning new skills you’ve never had to master before. 

Christina said one of her biggest lessons was learning how to live outside her comfort zone in a way that didn’t crush her mentally. 

When you’re constantly outside of that comfort zone, it’s crucial to take care of yourself and prioritize coping mechanisms that serve you, like: 

  • Investing in a therapist or business coach
  • Having a regular mindfulness practice 
  • Ongoing community support, whether that’s volunteering or community work 
  • Identifying the types of self-care that feel most nourishing to you — everyone is different! 

7. Lean on advisors and experts 

Emily’s husband Kyle stressed the importance of having the right advisors and mentors in place. 

When starting a business, surround yourself with people who can guide you toward good, sound business decisions. 

“You don’t know what you don’t know, and you don’t need to be an expert in the industry you want to start a business in. But what is important is that you find the right advisors, consultants, and experts,” said Christina.  

Here are a few examples of advisors and experts you might need in your life when starting a business: 

  • Accountant or tax expert
  • Coach
  • Business consultant(s) 
  • Funding gurus (read: people who know the differences between series A, B, and C funding)
  • Close friends you love and trust (for tough days when you need to a hype man)

8. You don’t have to choose between starting a business and starting a family

    “Both Emily and I decided shortly after we launched Covey that this was the time in our lives to start our families…I always thought there had to be this trade-off, or that one couldn’t be successful without the other,” said Christina. 

    The simple fact remains: there are myriad ways that women are discriminated against as they start businesses, run them, and take time off from them while pregnant.

    For example, only around 2% of female-founded startups received venture capital funding in 2021, so disclosing your pregnancy to potential investors is something expectant mothers are (understandably) wary of.  

    “If anything, that’s what’s powerful about women in particular: we have the ability to take on different roles and take on these challenges and manage them in a way that men can’t.” 

    9. Ruthless prioritization is key 

    For both Christina and Emily, Covey wasn’t their sole priority in 2021. Emily welcomed a baby girl in 2021 along with content creation and promoting Covey. Christina juggled a full-time marketing job at Google and decided to start a family. 

    They both stressed the importance of prioritization, and making sure you leave time for self-care. As entrepreneurs with an always-on business, the boundaries between your personal life and work life can begin to blur. 

    “There are always things you could be or should be doing,” said Christina. 

    Prioritization means choosing your top tasks for the day, and not getting mired down by the entire to-do list. Breaking things into chunks, tailored around your peak energy times of the day, is crucial. 

    For more inspiration on how to prioritize work and life, check out our Real Routines series: 

    10. Celebrate all little wins, not just the big milestones 

      Carve out time to celebrate wins of all shapes and sizes. You might not think some things are worth celebrating when you own a small business, but you’d be wrong. 

      “When someone mentions us or writes an article about [Covey], we genuinely celebrate those moments together,” said Emily. 

      Christina and Emily believe that the small wins — trying out a new ad format, getting featured on a podcast, seeing a fulfillment email come in from Shopify — are empowering and energizing every single day.

      Want to know more about Emily and Christina’s journey to becoming besties and skincare co-founder? Get to know the Covey story

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