I don't want to be Iris Apfel's mean and poor doppelgänger. I need help.
It's so refreshing to see two women collaborating and elevating each other’s success. Alisa Gould-Simon and Rachel Rutherford are the cofounders and co-CEOs of Pose, a super cool free app launched in 2011 that allows you to buy, share, and trade clothes in a trusted photo-sharing community (for real, I love it).
While Alisa and Rachel were visiting NYC for tech-startup-taking-over-the-world stuff, I had a chance to pick their brains over breakfast. I could go on and on about their successful business, why Pose is so addicting, and where they went to college, but you could just Google any of that information. What’s way more compelling is to see what motivates them day-to-day, and how they cultivate their character. It’s great to see two self-aware women in charge be totally straightforward and upfront -- sometimes they don’t wash their faces before bed, their pleasures are not “guilty," and they know exactly why they’re awesome. I don’t know about you guys, but I’ll definitely be taking a page out of their books -- one extra serving of confidence, hold the self-doubt please!
Tell me about your morning routine and what gets you motivated for the day.
Rachel: I’m someone who will stay in bed as long as I possibly can, so I’ve got my morning routine down to a few key things. I don’t wash my face in the morning -- I’ll just wipe some old makeup off, put a little bit of new makeup on, brush my hair and put it up into a ponytail, and then wear a T-shirt and jeans. That’s my quick morning.
Alisa: I actually didn’t know that about you -- that you don’t wash your face in the morning.
Rachel: My mom is going to be so upset . . . .
Alisa: I have a morning routine when I’m home, which always starts with letting my dog out of his crate and cuddling him in bed. Every morning no matter how quickly I need to get out the door, I can’t start my day appropriately if I haven’t cuddled with him for at least thirty seconds or a minute. It sets a good tone for the day.
Rachel: I also need my coffee.
You should try Matcha.
Rachel: I have, but I just really love the taste of coffee. It’s not a vice for me. I reject the idea that I should not drink as much. I’ve done cleanses and juicing and things like that, and it was like ‘OK, that was a good experience but I just want coffee' [laughs].
Do you wait until the weekend for your “me-time” or do you try to get a little bit in every day?
Alisa: I actually do meditation so my ideal is 20 minutes a day, some time in the course of a day, it doesn’t really matter when. That’s very explicitly me-time which is really nice.
Rachel: I’ve brought in the definition of me-time to make sure that I get it every day. Whenever I do a workout or make dinner for my husband, that’s great and nourishing. I’m doing something for myself and not necessarily for the company or for my career; it’s just about me and my personal life.
Do you believe in the concept of guilty pleasures?
Rachel: There’s definitely this part of me that thinks the definition gets taken a little too far. Like if your definition of a guilty pleasure is eating a bar of chocolate, that’s maybe a little too much shame...
Alisa: I went through this phase probably a year into Pose where the weekends would be so busy and packed with socializing, but I very emphatically decided to stay in on Sunday nights. That was a big choice for me but it was so I could take a bath, and read, and hang out with the dog and really have that quiet time.
It’s funny because now I feel like at that stage when I was choosing it I was more apologetic. Now I’ve transitioned into making that time whenever I want it without apologizing.
Rachel: Burn-out is a real thing, and we see it with a lot of people who are running start-ups because your job is never really done.
Alisa: It’s also great to have people around you who understand that too.
How do you handle competition?
Rachel: I’ve rejected the concept that in order to succeed, someone has to fail. There’s a lot of room at the top. What I’ve found is the more successful and amazing people I have around me, the more successful and amazing I feel. I feel inspired by them and want to reach even higher. I want the top to be as big as possible, and I would love to be there with a lot of people.
Alisa: I think it’s a notion we’ve taken to heart in the ways that we work. There’s never been a competitive edge, and I think that’s the beauty of sharing a role. Also what’s in Rachel’s best interest is in my best interest because we’re both working towards a common goal. Especially working within a team, making sure that that core understanding and value is kept close to heart is really important.
What do you think are the most important tools for women to have in order to thrive?
Rachel: Confidence! That’s number one. I find more often than not that there’s not a skills gap, there’s a confidence gap. I also think confidence is a habit. It’s not something you’re born with, or something you’ll get by walking down street. Like, ‘Oh something great just happened and I have confidence now.' You have to build it, cultivate it -- say I’m worthy, I’m capable, and I’m deserving.
Alisa: I also believe that women have very strong intuition. Men have it too, but it’s a good practice and something you can work on and hone in on.
At what point in your lives did you know that your ambition piqued?
Alisa: I think mine developed over the course of being at New York University. I didn’t think being smart was sexy in the way that I thought being liked was when I was in high school. When I got into NYU and started taking classes with incredibly smart people, I became really stimulated in a way that I hadn’t been to date. It was this big transition point of all of a sudden, realizing how awesome building your intellect is. It just really motivated and inspired me. The energy and excitement of New York also started me on that track of really wanting to achieve and do.
Rachel: I was totally born this way, not kidding. Your targets change and your ideas of what success is change, but I’ve always had this drive since I was a little kid. I wasn’t necessarily motivated by my parents either, although they were always very supportive. If there was something I wanted to do they would help me go after it, but at some points they were said ‘it’s OK if you get a B because you’re doing a lot right now,’ and I’m like ‘yeah yeah I know I know . . . but I’m not going to’ [laughs].
Alisa: I would love to meet little Rachel.
You said that your definition of success changes and evolves: What is your definition of success now?
Alisa: I think for me, success is freedom. It’s freedom to manage my own time and manage my own contributions and the impact that I want to make. I think being an entrepreneur offers all of that. Loving living in big cities like New York and L.A. helps too. Some of that success is defined by a certain financial security, but I think the most important thing to me has always been controlling my own time and how I use it.
Rachel: I would also add living an authentic life. I think that’s a really powerful place that can be surprisingly hard to get to.
You guys are doing really well in your careers, obviously, but what steps do you take to get over rejection?
Rachel: I think you have to stop telling yourself that you have to get over rejection completely. Take the hit, take a little recovery time, and get back up. Basically, don’t beat yourself up because you’re already getting beaten up. Everyone is living their truth, and you have to know that if somebody rejects you or shuts you down, they’re on their own path.
Alisa: That’s actually exactly what I was going to say. Don’t take it personally because it’s not. Rejection isn’t about who you are as a person; it’s probably about timing and a myriad of other factors.
What qualities do you like in a person that you want to be around or admire?
Alisa: As I’ve gotten older, it has become increasingly important for me to be around people who treat themselves well and respect themselves. That kind of energy is both intoxicating and very contagious.
Rachel: It’s super simple for me -- positivity. There’s nothing worse than someone who has a negative outlook or attitude. It drags your entire day down.
If you could hang out with Beyoncé for a day, where would you go?
Rachel: Oh my God, I would definitely love to be on a yacht with Beyoncé.
Alisa: I would actually love to be at her home and curled up on the couch. I just want to talk to her and ask a million questions and stare at her. But I’d love to get into a deep conversation with a cup of tea on the couch...all day.
Smart, so you could stay friends.