We’ve teamed up with bloom to bring you Moonshots: 10 women shooting for the moon, 10 questions on how they’re doing it. Next, Claire Mazur, Co-founder of Of a Kind. Check out previous moonshots here, and come back next week for Moonshot #5.
How did you know this was the right path for you?
I was totally consumed by the idea. It was all I wanted to think about or talk about. I guess that’s usually my gauge for most things—something I want to buy, an activity I want to pursue, a place I want to travel. If you can’t stop thinking about it, go for it.
Do you believe we’re ever really ‘ready’ to do something? How do we start when we’re stuck?
There’s a difference between practical preparedness and mental preparedness, and in a lot of cases the latter is the (much!) more important one. If you have enough drive to do something, you’ll figure out a way to deal with the practical aspects of it. I’m really not a very spiritual person but I think there’s something to that idea of ‘the universe’ conspiring to help you realize your dreams. Because when you want something badly enough, you will make it happen and you will inspire those around you to help you make it happen, too.
Doing courageous things requires losing our excuses. What excuses did you have to get rid of to get to where you are now?
When we started Of a Kind I was 26. I hadn’t worked in fashion since I’d interned at DKNY as a 16-year-old. And at that (hilariously naive) time I felt like the (relatively very few) years I had spent in the art world had boxed me into it, and that I was too old to transfer into a new industry.
What have been your biggest challenges so far, and how have you overcome them?
I always wish being a good manager came more naturally to me. It’s funny because Erica and I so often feel overworked and fantasize about hiring more people as if that would solve everything. But as soon as we bring new people on the team there’s a whole new set of challenges to face. I think we’re decent at the whole boss thing if for no other reason than that we care so much about being good at it. (Also: Hi, people who work for us! Are you reading this? We’re trying! We really are.)
From the outside it looks like you’ve made it—but what are some of the things that you still feel insecure about? That you haven’t quite nailed yet?
I mean, on a personal level I don’t know that I’ll ever feel like I’ve ‘made’ it. I’m constantly questioning what I could be doing better. It’s just my nature. On a professional level I think the next frontier for us is figuring out how Of a Kind looks, feels, and behaves in a physical space. The brand, the website, and the podcast are at a place that I’m really proud of, but I want us to figure out how to transfer that into the real world—whether it’s pop-up shops, workshops, live recordings, or whatever. Our audience is so engaged and passionate and I want us to be able to interact with them in new ways—not just through a screen.
What are the things you’re super proud of?
I’m really proud of my partnership with Erica. There were a lot of raised eyebrows when we decided to go into business together after being close friends for so long. But getting to work alongside friends—people who you really care about and who understand you on many levels—is a tremendous privilege that I try not take for granted. It’s also an effort to make it work and some days are better than others, but I think we’re always getting better at it.
How do you motivate yourself on the tough days? What keeps you moving forward?
The realization that those days are usually just that: days. And they’re inevitable, and they’ll pass. Tomorrow is a new one. So I try to go easy on myself and take the time or space that I need. Being hard on myself only compounds the problem.
Regardless of how busy you get, what are your non-negotiables?
Exercise is my non-negotiable. Which for me usually means a 3-4 mile run around Brooklyn Bridge Park as soon as I wake up. I began my running habit a couple of years before we started the business as a way of helping me transition off of antidepressants. It was pivotal for me and completely transformed the way I manage my mental health. So when we were launching Of a Kind I said out loud to myself and everyone around me: “This is the one thing I will not sacrifice no matter what.” Part of making sure I kept to it was instituting a late-ish start time for our office, which has become an integral part of our culture—we encourage everyone to use it to do something for themselves whether it’s the gym, meditation, a nice long breakfast, or just getting to the dry cleaners.
What advice would you have given yourself at the beginning of your journey?
It’s business, not personal. I still have to remind myself of this and of course it’s hard to reconcile when the business is yours and it feels so closely tied to your identity. The other is to go with my gut. Whenever I ignore it I end up regretting it. The saying is so real because you know it when it happens—when you’re doing something that you’re so unsure of that it makes your stomach hurt. There’s usually a reason.
What advice do you have for other women who are shooting for the moon?
Ask for what you need. Closed mouths don’t get fed and you’ll never be able to do it alone. Whether it’s money, advice, or a favor, you have to get comfortable with stating your wants and needs clearly, compellingly, and politely.
Co-Founder, Of A Kind