Knowing she is neither a political pundit nor is she running for office—locally, statewide or nationally—Cheryl Najafi got creative. She launched a new apparel business that reflected her ideals of mission-driven fairness and positive values. Love Over H8 was born.
As Creative Catalyst and CEO of the apparel company created in September of this year, Najafi describes the effort on the website as “an on-line, socially responsible retail clothing company whose mission it is to encourage all humans to lead a life of tolerance and acceptance. We believe ‘wearing your truth’ creates such a culture. Each piece is a conversation starter and statement maker. With each sale, a portion of the proceeds is donated to help fund non-profit organizations who fight hate crimes, racism, bigotry, sexism, extremism and the like.”Cheryl Najafi, creator of #LoveOverH8, is partnering with #TakeTheLeadDay Click To Tweet
Partnering with designer Carrie Hammer, the creator of Role Models, Not Runway Models, who catapulted her fashion brand to support entrepreneurs, Najafi is hosting a workshop and webinar at Take The Lead Day’s Powertopia November 14, “Wear The Shirt: Making Your Business Match Your Values.”
“Wear The Shirt (Of Your Convictions)” is Power Tool #6 , one of Take The Lead co-founder and president Gloria Feldt’s 9 Leadership Power Tools. Interrogate your motivations and ask yourself, “What are your core values? What’s your vision? How can you make it happen? Stand in your power and realize your intentions,” Feldt says.
#WearYourTruth is the Love Over H8 hashtag.#WearYourTruth is the Love Over H8 hashtag Click To Tweet
“You need to identify your core values, and have a job where you can thrive, be happy and productive,” Najafi says. Her new endeavor is “fashion with compassion,” that raises money for non-profits that support and empower women and stand for the values of anti-hate, anti-racism and fairness.
Love Over H8 shirts with Powertopia on the sleeve will be available at the New York City Symposium, and later on line, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Take The Lead, Najafi says.
Social justice and fashion are ideal partners, according to Terry Lilley, a creator of Fashion Week at University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. Lilley recently told The Racquet, “Fashion is a way we can address a lot of social justice issues in a way that brings people to the table that may not be interested in social justice, but fashion intrigues them.”
Najafi has experience with startups, as the CEO and Creative Catalyst of Everyday Dishes since she launched it in 2010. Everyday Dishes is “an online resource for busy people who desire sensible meals made with better ingredients,” according to the website.
“We want control of what we eat. We develop recipes with nutritious, wholesome ingredients that taste great, are simple to make and don’t break the bank. But we’re not angels. We believe life’s too short not to splurge! We abide by the 80/20 philosophy, and encourage you to make treats at home so you know what’s in the mix,” is the Everyday Dishes mission for more than one million members.
“Everyday Dishes is a robust community of women who get everyday recipes,” Najafi says. As a busy parent, Najafi says, “I was not going to make a rack of lamb for dinner, so I found that niche.”
A stay at home mother until her children turned 10 in 2010, Najafi called upon her experience in communications as a speaker, educator and parent to start the company. She graduated with a masters in communication from Arizona State University in 1996, and taught as an adjunct before starting her family.
Her decision this year to start Love Over H8 is an effort to reflect her own positive values, a mission she shares with a wide community of women. And this is the mission she will share at Take The Lead Day’s Powertopia Symposium in New York.
“Our workshop will go through defining your values, “ Najafi says.
To that end she will offer a demonstration. First she says she will release a large balloon with the words “tolerance, acceptance and equality written on it.”
She will ask the audience,”How do you react to those words?”
Next Najafi will release another balloon with the words, “hate, racism sexism, bigotry” written on it.
Najafi explains, “It’s a different feeling. You don’t want to touch that balloon. There are three things you can do. You can make it go higher, do nothing, or catch it and let it go no further.¨
Social injustices, negativity, hate and issues such as gender parity and unequal pay are similar.
¨So many times we say we are not part of that and let the balloon go. But I charge you to grab the balloon and stop it. Do not let it get any more momentum,¨ Najafi says.
¨As women we need to be energized,¨ Najafi says.
The Powertopia workshop will deal with aligning personal values and a mission with a career and life goals.Najafi's #Powertopia workshop addresses aligning personal values with career & life goals Click To Tweet
¨What is the mission you would like to accomplish?” Najafi asks.
She also suggests that you think about the mission of the workplace culture or company you work for and consider if it aligns with your mission.
“I ask women if you can’t identify with the core values of where you work, my suggestion is to find another job,” Najafi says. If that is not possible, then she suggests, “Create a scenario within your space in your community or your family where you can stand up for what you believe in.”
This is critical, Najafi says, for nurturing your soul and living your life with conviction and a mission. “Most of us are not fluid in the workspace so it’s important to feed your soul today more than ever because the climate is so negative,” Najafi says.
“We need to find people, missions, ideas and scenarios to fulfill us. Otherwise it’s an energy suck.”
In order to map out a mission, Najafi suggests deciding what you want to accomplish and setting specific goals.To map out a mission, decide what you want to accomplish & set specific goals #womenleaders Click To Tweet
“Say to yourself, ‘Here are my three core values, I can do x, y and z, so I can change this.’ Put dates on the calendar, goals, hold yourself accountable,” Najafi says. “Creativity without discipline is lost.”
Learn more about how you can work toward gender parity and fairness in leadership at Take The Lead Day November 14, a global day of action for leadership parity. Register for an event or host your own. Sign up and register here.