It’s 3 p.m. on a humid summer day in Charlotte, North Carolina, and I can see the afternoon sun peek through Amanda Goetz’s windows as she settles herself in her bedroom to chat over Zoom. Her room is sparse; the House Of Wise founder and CEO is packing up her former life in the Tarheel state to move to Miami, Fl. It doesn’t matter – she’s focused on intentionally spending the time with me as we are literally on opposite ends of the country.
“Sorry, I had to pay the bouncy castle guy,” Amanda said with a chuckle as she sat down. Her son’s birthday was delayed because of her travel schedule and then rainy weather, but they finished celebrating that morning, complete with a bouncy castle and a petting zoo. These are the kind of birthdays and flexibility that you can build in your life when you’re setting up your professional and personal life in a way that puts you in the driver’s seat – something that Goetz strives to do every day in building House of Wise, especially after proving product-market fit and raising a $2 million seed round led by SugarCapital in the middle of a global crisis.
Amanda founded House of Wise in early 2020, right as the pandemic hit full swing. The former VP of Marketing of The Knot Group knew a few things for sure. First, she was stressed out. (I can relate – I think we all can, right?) Life was coming at her fast and there was too much happening – work stress ramped up, her marriage was dissolving, her three young kids needed her more than ever. With more than a decade in her industry, she was reaching the heights of her career, but something felt off. Then, the pandemic hit. She saw herself reaching for alcohol more often than not to take the edge off of a rough day and noticed that her sleep became worse. She saw how her stress and anxiety skyrocketed in big ways. She realized she needed to recalibrate.
So, Amanda looked into CBD – a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis – partly out of desperation and curiosity. As she explored it, Amanda noticed she had more energy, her libido increased, her sleep improved, and her focus renewed. Her initial thought: if this can help me, maybe this can help other women not only feel better but also build their own business presence?
The fact is, one in four U.S. consumers have tried CBD products within the first six months of the pandemic, according to an October 2020 High Yield Insights poll. Of these “Covid Commencers,” nearly six in 10 CBD users who purchased a wide variety of products were women. House of Wise is one of a number of companies who noticed a significant uptick in trends during the pandemic, and we’ve also seen higher profile names like U.S. Olympiand soccer great Megan Rapinoe launch her own CBD brand (amid controversy about the double standards of the World Anti-Doping Association’s guidelines, leaving sports fans fuming on social media.)
But this story isn’t just about a woman who found an avenue, a strategy, and diverse mentorship that worked for her. Amanda is building a thriving, intentional business around it – and she’s not alone. Even as women were disproportionately squeezed from all sides in the pandemic and lost jobs, there’s a significant uptick in newly-established female-founded businesses and sole proprietorships. A Gusto/National Association of Women Business Owners survey showed that 40% of women launched their businesses as a direct result of the pandemic, citing that they wanted more control over their work schedule and build a business legacy that they could leave for their families. From back-to-back pitch meetings over Zoom in her parent’s home, she completed a significant fundraising round in an industry that is highly regulated and still taboo. It allows her to hire more staff, launch two new products, and continue to build a culture where everyone wins.
To Amanda, the risk is worth the reward. “It was the most inconvenient thing in my life to leave my cushy corporate job and start this company, but I had to because I felt like it would help women. That’s my goal for House of Wise. If I can help one more woman, have an orgasm, or get a good night’s sleep or make it through a rough toddler day, it’s worth it,” Goetz said.
Most of all, our conversation left me wondering how the definitions of two big concepts are shifting: self-care and success.
Both of these concepts have been a part of a larger pendulum swing, ultimately exacerbated with the Covid-19 pandemic and all of the cracks in our systems that have been starkly illuminated over the past 20 months. It would be much easier to have a calculated answer, something in black and white that is tested and proven and meme-worthy on Instagram. Yet we’re sitting in the midst of reframing what self-care and success, both personal and professional, mean to us in 2021 and beyond.
Self-care has swung from the “you do you” with spa days and luxury – something that is often unattainable for women, especially caregivers. Don’t get me wrong – I love a good spa day and I’m very privileged to be able to have those every once in a while. But, as a mom and someone who has gone through a major career change during the lockdown, time is a luxury. Spa days as self-care don’t resonate for a majority of women, with caregivers expending the energy as an equivalent of a full-time job in the pandemic, according to a report from The 19th*. As our doors locked down, we needed to find ways to redefine what self-care truly means. Building and maintaining boundaries to work toward a new sense of normalcy.
As we start our tentative re-entry into our social circles, I’m curious what it will look like to protect our physical and mental health moving forward. I’m sure that we’ll have some luxury as time allows, but my guess is that self-care will look more basic, such as scheduling preventative care screenings that we’ve missed and not putting off or actually reconnecting with loved ones in meaningful ways, boosting connectedness and resilience. With prominent figures Simone Biles and Serena Williams publicly speaking about tending to their own mental health needs, we might see an even bigger uptick in therapy sessions than even before the surge in summer and fall of 2020 as we take stock of all we’ve been through. Maybe even, for some, CBD is a self-care tool as well.
What I am most hopeful for is seeing if we can combine the concepts of self-care and success to work hand in hand in our lives. House of Wise is actually betting on this, not just with their products, but also how they’re approaching a remote-first culture. Goetz says they’re intentionally shedding the hustle culture mentality, knowing that many of her staff and ambassadors wear more hats than imaginable. It’s her goal to equip her teams with a solid business training infrastructure so that they can build their own success and understand economic and industry trends. She’s acutely aware that grueling 80-90 hour work weeks aren’t going to build a strong team, even though that often is the norm in startup life. Instead, Goetz is continually striving for some new version of personal and professional balance in navigating her new life in Miami and on the road – unapologetically and transparently showcasing the ups and downs on her social media accounts. “Even our investors have to be in line with the people-first culture we’re building, and they’ve invested in my well-being as well as the company’s,” said Goetz.
Learning more about House of Wise, along with many other companies casting a new vision of what business can look like moving forward is a simple reminder that success doesn’t have to come at the cost of our own well-being. I’m hoping we can build an echo chamber of that mantra to keep us moving forward in the days and months to come as our work and lives continue to gain momentum.