Issa Rae, creator and star of her own HBO comedy series, Insecure, recently tweeted, “I didn’t become a morning person until I started doing what I loved.” It’s a comment that struck us deeply given that much of our happiness and well-being are influenced by how much passion we have for our day jobs. And while not everyone is in love with what they do, there are still ways to make mornings feel like less of a drag and more thoughtful, centered and productive — whether you’re a lowly assistant or a C-suite exec.
Ahead, we asked five women entrepreneurs — from small-business owners to buzzy startup CEOs — to walk us through their typical morning routine from the time they wake to what they listen to on their commute. What’s the common thread that ties each of these head honchos together? It’s evident they all genuinely love what they do, and they’re all morning people because of it. Whether it’s starting your day with a meditative breathing exercise or using your baby’s crying as an early wake-up call, read on for real-life professional advice on how to kick-start the day like a boss woman.
Katherine Ryder, founder & CEO at Maven, NYC
Maven is a health and wellness digital clinic startup for women.
“My 11 month old son Theo wakes me up at 6 a.m. — he stands up in his crib and starts yelling, which is my signal to make him a bottle and start my day!
“I usually read books and play games with Theo from 6 to 7 a.m. (or I secretly still sleep while he plays games around me) and then I shower/get ready and get Theo ready for the day. Theo and I then have a quick dance party with my husband as he’s getting ready (right now we’re listening to The Doors!) and then I feed Theo breakfast before his nanny arrives.
“I leave the house between 8:15 and 8:30 a.m. and catch the subway. Totally depends on my morning mood, but I’ll do one of three things on the subway — listen to music, play bridge on my phone or listen to a book on Audible.
“If I have a lot of time, I’ll go to La Colombe, a coffee shop on Church Street in Tribeca. If I don’t have much time, I’ll go to the Starbucks across the street from my office.
“It’s less about the commute and more about how much time I’ve spent on email in the morning before work. I usually glance through my emails when I wake up, and if there is nothing urgent, I won’t get back online until around 8:30 when I leave for work. And if there is nothing urgent again at 8:30, I feel like I’m able to have a relaxing ride to work. If there is something urgent, then I think about it on the commute and work has already begun!”
Sarah Kunst, founder & CEO at Proday, San Francisco
Proday is a premium exercise app where subscribers can workout alongside celebrity athletes and fitness gurus. It is also a lifestyle site about pro sports.
“My mornings start out early… really early. Running a media business with writers on the East Coast and some staff in Europe means that I’m often having my first morning meeting before I go to bed at 1 or 2 a.m. I’m a night owl, so this works well and I wake up around 8 or 9 a.m. with my Europe team finishing for the day and my East Coast team well on their way to midday.
“I check email immediately, and I’m very disciplined about only opening urgent emails that I can respond to right away; otherwise it’s just wasting time. I get out of bed and have a coffee and protein shake with cashew milk and collagen and creatine. It’s my first meal of the day, so I try to get in a bunch of nutrients and amino acids that I might not get otherwise. Even non-breakfast people can stomach a quick smoothie — the protein and caffeine make your brain work 100 times better!
“After that, I usually have calls scheduled in the morning, and between them I will tackle emails and small to-dos as well as check in with my team via Slack since we’re mostly remote. It’s awesome to give them freedom and flexibility, but it makes regular check-ins vital. I don’t schedule meetings in the morning unless I absolutely have to, so I usually round out my morning with a quick trip to the gym.
“Staying physically and mentally healthy is so important as a founder and the gym is less crowded in late morning, so I can go workout, shower and get ready for an afternoon and evening of meetings, work and sometimes even after-work fun!”
Jen Rubio, co-founder & creative director at Away, NYC
Away is a direct-to-consumer luggage company featuring sleek designs and built-in battery chargers for its carry-on sizes.
“No two days are identical, but one thing remains consistent — I love to wake up early (6-ish) to be able to spend the first few hours at my own pace. I start with a quick meditation and reserve the rest of that time to catch up with friends abroad, work uninterrupted or a do a morning boxing session.
“I head into the office just after 9. Nothing beats the walk from my apartment in Nolita to the Away office in Noho. It’s only a 15-minute walk, but I listen to a podcast on the way (I love NPR’s How I Built This or listen to new cuts of Away’s own podcast, Airplane Mode) and grab an iced coffee and pain au chocolat from La Colombe.
“If I’m waking up on the West Coast where I spend a lot of time for work, I’ll spend the first couple of hours in my hotel room starting the day on calls or on Slack with the team in NY, then take a pause mid-morning to do a quick workout before heading out to meetings.”
Eny Lee Parker, designer at Eny Lee Parker, Savannah, Georgia
Eny Lee Parker is the interior designer and ceramicist behind her namesake line.
“At 7 a.m., I wake up and check my phone for emails, texts and Insta. Then I cuddle and feed my dog, Eames. At 7:30 a.m., I take a shower and get dressed. If it’s a clay day or welding day, I wear my Goodwill clothes (a pair of old Levi’s and a big T-shirt and mismatched Converse sneakers). But if it’s a day for production visits and admin work, I’ll wear nicer shoes!
“At 8:30 a.m., I’m out for my morning coffee. It takes about seven minutes to drive to my local coffee shop called Foxy Loxy, where my cute barista named Adam makes me an iced horchata latte. If I know it’s going to be a long day, I’ll up the size. I usually stay at the coffee shop for the entire morning (unless I have a meeting) so I can reply to emails, work on custom orders, presentations, etc. If it’s nice out, I like to sit outside in the courtyard. There is no better office.
“At 11 a.m., I drive to the community ceramic studio, which is about a five-minute drive. I’ll work in the studio until my luck runs out. I like to listen to The Moth, Guy Raz and The Avett Brothers while I’m throwing. And if I get hungry, there is a health store called Brighter Day a block down with the best baked cheese-avocado sandwich, which is the best pick-me-up.”
Camille Moroz, co-founder at Stature, Brooklyn
Stature is an online boutique specializing in high-end designer clothing for petites.
“The alarm goes off at 6:45, but I’m usually awake before then. I run my face under cold water and I immediately down my a.m. supplements with a glass of water, apple cider vinegar and lemon water to cleanse my system and balance pH levels.
“My husband and I have a morning regimen that is mostly filled with things to stimulate energy. We engage in a meditative breathing technique based on “Iceman” Wim Hof’s cold acclimation training method. It consists of two to three cycles of intensely deep ‘power breathing’ to flood the body’s bloodstream with oxygen. It can make you feel a bit funny, light-headed and tingly — it happens to me every time, but it does make me feel more awake and charged for exercise.
“I’ve discovered exercising in the morning is absolutely necessary for the proper functioning of both my body and mind. I like to do six- to 12-month programs of different styles (with fun activities like bouldering and kickboxing mixed in). For instance, I just finished a yearlong weight-lifting program that increased my strength in ways that shocked me, and I’ve now moved on to a bodyweight program.
“Then I eat a breakfast consisting of a creamy protein smoothie with greens and frozen fruit or an egg dish (over easy or scrambled). It’s the perfect fuel for whatever running a small e-comm business throws at me for the day! I start responding to work emails around 8:30 a.m. with home-brewed coffee. Often at this time, I’ll hop on a Google Hangout with my partner Avani to do our regular Stature check-in.
“No two days are ever the same, but around 10 a.m. is when I’ll begin my errands. I take the subway to our inventory spot where I pack and ship orders. Or I’ll take the subway into Manhattan if I have any meetings with showrooms or designers. I like to listen to the NYTimes podcast The Daily or the Discovery Weekly playlist on Spotify during my commutes.
“Stature is a small business through and through, so Avani and I do everything ourselves. But we’re excited about taking Stature to the next level and further expanding our offerings with designer exclusives for the upcoming seasons.”
This post was sponsored by Buick.