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A Peek Inside Her Agenda: Meha Agrawal

Founder & CEO, Silk + Sonder

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Sep. 2 2019, Published 5:30 a.m. ET

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A Peek Inside Her Agenda: Meha Agrawal
"Don’t let the pursuit of perfection paralyze you."Quotation marks
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Meha Agrawal is a former software engineer who turned her side hustle into a full-fledged self-care and personal planning product, Silk + Sonder. As the Founder and CEO, Meha lives her brand, balancing self-care and ambitious business goals. Silk + Sonder grew from Meha’s personal experience with anxiety and perfectionism while working as a female engineer in Bay Area tech. Silk + Sonder smartly curates a monthly tool that combines planning, journaling, and inspirational content for each individual month. 

In a recent conversation with Her Agenda, Meha shared her vision for her product, explains how she measures success and reveals what’s in her personal self-care toolkit.

Her Agenda: What is Silk + Sonder?

Meha Agrawal: Silk + Sonder is personalized daily self-care for modern women. The way I think about Silk + Sonder is that it is not a direct replacement for life coaching or therapy. We are an additional tool for self-discovery and self-reflection. Subscribers receive a journal every month with guided prompts centered around a particular theme along with actions. I like to say that it’s a blend of intention, reflection, and action. 

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"Being an engineer is about the science of solving problems." -Meha Agrawal

Her Agenda: You have client testimonials on your website. Is there a success story that sticks out to you?

Meha Agrawal: One of my favorite stories happened in our early days, in our first month back at the end of 2017. A customer wrote in and told us that she is a mother of two with adult ADHD. A lot of the symptoms are anxiety and stress. She said that our product was perfect for her condition. I found that moment to be so powerful. I never sought out to solve [for that] … to me it was really humbling to see that if we’re able to impact lives that we weren’t even intending to impact, imagine what we can do when we really build this platform and ecosystem out.

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Women often have awesome ideas but society has conditioned us to be perfectionists, we often procrastinate because things are not perfect. Don’t let the pursuit of perfection paralyze you.

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Her Agenda: You worked as a software engineer before founding your company. When did you decide to make a career shift?

Meha Agrawal: I started my career as a software engineer thinking that I would end up being a Product Manager. Being an engineer is about the science of solving problems.

I had the fortunate opportunity to work with The Muse when they were a tiny company. I was their 8th employee and 3rd Engineer. That gave me a preview into what being a founder could look like. Though I am an engineer, I was working on a problem set for (at the time) professional young women. I could really relate to that. I fell in love with the idea of starting something from scratch for an audience that you care about and listening to them and being able to iterate with them.

So I started dabbling in my own side projects. That’s what led to me deciding that this is a career path that I wanted to follow. 

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Growing up, I didn’t know what being an entrepreneur even was. My dad is a professor of computer science, my mom worked in business administration and I come from a South Asian background. For me the only paths were being an engineer, doctor, lawyer and maybe being in academia. CEO, founder or entrepreneur were not on my radar. 

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Her Agenda: Do you have any entrepreneurs in your family?

Meha Agrawal: Growing up, I didn’t know what being an entrepreneur even was. My dad is a professor of computer science, my mom worked in business administration and I come from a South Asian background. For me the only paths were being an engineer, doctor, lawyer and maybe being in academia. CEO, founder or entrepreneur were not on my radar. 

During my time at The Muse, I knew that I wanted to be a founder and CEO of my own. I didn’t know what space I would end up in until about a year and a half ago. 

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Silk + Sonder is personalized daily self-care for modern women.

Her Agenda: What were you thinking and feeling when you decided to officially pursue Silk + Sonder full time?

Meha Agrawal: A lot of fear to be honest. Being an immigrant’s daughter, our mindset is to build safety nets one after another. There was a moment in February of this year where I had a compelling offer and was deciding whether to pursue Silk + Sonder full time. I realized, with the help of my support system, if I don’t do it now I’ll never know. It was a personal decision to commit to seeing this through. Giving myself the space instead of straddling two identities. Giving myself the space to execute.

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Her Agenda: You mention a support system. Who are those people?

Meha Agrawal: The biggest learning that I’ve had is that your personal committee is not necessarily your closest friends and family. In my case they include different perspectives like my first investor who provides both investor and mentor perspective. Others are founders. I was a Tory Burch fellow, I have an awesome network of women [managing] consumer product businesses who are battling the same challenges that I am. Others are people who have known me for a long while. One of my closest friends from childhood is getting her Ph.D. She is constantly applying for grants, which is analogous to how I am pitching my company to investors. It is really refreshing to talk to somebody who has evolved with you through life. Who knows when you’re prone to imposter syndrome and can help you overcome fears and doubts along the way. Also, people that I’ve met in the All Raise community.

"A customer wrote in and told us that she is a mother of two with adult ADHD. A lot of the symptoms are anxiety and stress. She said that our product was perfect for her condition. I found that moment to be so powerful."
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Her Agenda: What have you learned about yourself since founding Silk + Sonder?

Meha Agrawal: We found that Silk + Sonder is not just a consumer product that’s pretty and fun and exciting that you get in the mail. It’s changing people’s emotional health for the better. I’ve been surprised by my resilience and resourcefulness as we’ve grown.

Her Agenda: How do you measure personal and professional success?

Meha Agrawal: There is tactical success which we measure quarterly in terms of active subscribers, fundraising and product. 

But I think what is more important is personal success. I think a lot founders miss the mark on that because they get so focused on the success of quarterly goals. Every week I gut check how am I doing in terms of feeling aligned my 10 personal core values. Some values are adventure, self-made and family. Every week I attach an action or experience that aligns with that value. If I am missing the mark for more than a couple weeks, that’s indicative of failure. So, we want to make sure there is balance. My personal values are my true north. 

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My personal values are my true north. 

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Her Agenda: What are your future goals for your company?

Meha Agrawal: For Silk + Sonder to be the go-to mental wellness destination, with multiple channels for you to feel better. The journal is just one product within a suite of future products & experiences for daily and proactive self-care. 

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"Being an immigrant's daughter, our mindset is to build safety nets one after another."

Her Agenda: In addition to Silk + Sonder, what’s in your self-care toolbox?

Meha Agrawal: It’s less products more experiences. In terms of actual products, I use Saje brand essential oils specifically energy and brainstorm. Journaling for 15-30 minutes. I have a self-care checklist that is mostly related to gratitude, affirmations and visualization exercise. Another aspect is my skincare routine. I use products from Fresh and Sunday Riley. I also like the sauna because it’s the only place where I can actually slow down. The last one is dance because I get a physical workout and allow myself to feel confident and brings me closer to other cultures.

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"I’ve been surprised by my resilience and resourcefulness as we’ve grown."

Her Agenda: Any advice for our readers or future female founders?

Meha Agrawal: Women often have awesome ideas but society has conditioned us to be perfectionists, we often procrastinate because things are not perfect. Don’t let the pursuit of perfection paralyze you. The only thing to overcome fear is action itself. When people think about or consider the risk of starting something, also think about the emotional risk of not doing it. 

[Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.]

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By: Alessandra Carter

Alessandra is a Bay Area native and former nonprofit leader who successfully made a career shift to People Operations and Recruiting in the tech sector. Alessandra likes exploring and writing about things that live at the intersection of education, culture and technology. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Spelman College and a Master’s Degree in International Education from New York University.

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