If you’re not the type to jump in head first into a new venture, and some of the stories we tell have scared you into pushing your dreams down further, this one is for you. Especially if you, or a loved one has ever battled mental illness, this one is for you.
Elizabeth’s story will touch your heart and put you on the hook to make change that matters.
Yep. Even you.
Please welcome Elizabeth to HeartStories with me! Let’s start by getting to know her a little bit.
Hi Elizabeth, It’s hard for many heart-centered female entrepreneurs to step up to be the face of our companies. What’s that journey been like for you?
This journey has been truly life changing for me. I have learned a lot in the short period of time since I started and I continue to learn to this day. Link of Hearts was born and inspired by my own story. I suffered from depression/bipolar disorder and anxiety for almost 10 years of my life. I have become a big mental health advocate because of this experience and I knew I want to do something for others and make a difference.
It is not easy. There are good days and bad days, and very challenging ones. But this project, this business has been so much more than my products and it has become so much bigger than me. My story is only one of the millions of others battling depression and suffering in silence today. So, there still is a lot of work to be done. No matter what happens, no matter how challenging it gets, I will keep going. I am following my heart and I truly believe that this is my purpose and there is no stopping me now!
How did you get started? Where did you get the funding?
I started really small and very slowly. I was sort of testing the waters and I wanted to see if this was truly the right path for me. I didn’t need any specific amount of funding. I started by simply learning how to make jewelry first, so I did not need a lot of materials. As I enjoyed it more, I continued to learn and started researching how to start a business. At that time, it was simply something to do worthwhile while I was looking for a job so it wasn’t as scary and overwhelming.
The more I did my research, the more I learned about making my products, and I started to feel good day after day and felt more and more passionate.
The idea turned into a past time, then a part-time job slowly evolved into a full-time job (and now a lifetime passion!), as it felt good to me and truer to my purpose day after day.
Tell us a little about your life.
OK, here’s a quick snapshot of my life story… I was born and raised in the Philippines and migrated to the United States at the age of 17. I went to an all girl Catholic school all my years before college, so that should tell you a lot about my background, being raised in a Filipino-Catholic culture. I will never consider myself religious, however, I consider myself highly spiritual with a very strong faith. From 17 on, I’ve lived in Delaware, New Jersey, Virginia and Philadelphia until about a year and a half ago when my husband and I decided to move to Los Angeles due to his job offer, and this is where Link of Hearts was born.
More about me? I love listening to most types of music, and enjoy salsa dancing or any type of dancing. My husband and I have a beautiful cat, Tula, but she’s really MY baby (although she likes my husband too). Love the outdoors, especially hiking and beaches in Malibu. Love sweets (there is always room for dessert!) and other simple pleasures in life!
What were you doing before you started Link of Hearts?
I have always been drawn to working with small companies before I started Link of Hearts. I have years of experience in digital marketing, graphic and web design and working with small companies provided me multiple opportunities to work on everything I love to do. I love the strategic aspects of marketing as well as the creative and technical aspects of web and graphic design. I was able to wear multiple hats, which I believe gave me the skills I need today.
Tell us about the moment you knew for sure you had to do something. How did you muster the courage to actually do it?
The opportunity came when we moved to Los Angeles. A few months into our new life and as I was looking for a job here in LA, I had this idea. The idea that was simply born out of my heart’s desire to make a difference. Being a big mental health advocate now after my own battle with depression, I knew I had to do something. This idea then turned into a part-time job as I taught myself how to make jewelry, candles and to start a business, all out of nothing. I wanted to create products that make sense to the integrity of my purpose. I wanted to offer good quality products that inspired and helped me heal in my journey.
This calling was strong for me and I felt in my gut that it was bigger than me. That was enough to push me and propel me to make it happen. I was scared to start something, yet I had to find the courage deep within. But I also must say that I wouldn’t have been able to start this if it weren’t for the support of my husband. This company was inspired by my own story so it’s personal and it’s a part of my life. Having my husband believe in my cause and my mission is just as important as anything else. His faith and unconditional support made a difference, and continues to give me the strength and courage I need in order to keep going.
Today, I am working on Link of Hearts full-time and I have never felt more passionate about anything in my life.
What keeps you up at night?
There are so many things that keep me up at night, so many emotions. My mind is nonstop as I found myself getting more passionate with what I do. Like I’ve said before, it’s become very personal for me. This is about my lifelong journey and now I put myself out there and I am sharing it in order to help others.
It’s scary to put yourself out there. I am in this vulnerable phase where I share everything about my life, not knowing how people will perceive me, or how people will see the mission I am pursuing. All the what if’s questions…what if I fail? What if no one believes in my cause and no one buys from me? All these thoughts and emotions keep me up at night, and I learn about myself more and more. I’m learning to focus on what my heart wants to do. I am learning what matters most, so I can have some peaceful nights here and there.
Have there been moments you second-guessed that you made the right decision?
Almost, ALWAYS. Honestly, I always second guess myself. With every decision I have to make, with every dollar I have to spend, with everything I do, many times I question myself. It can get very scary sometimes, especially when it gets really challenging. When you get to those moments, you can’t help but be overwhelmed with fear, worry and anxiety. But like any other things in life, you thrive and you fight through any obstacles. At the end of the day, I go with my gut and my heart, and that is when the fear goes away and I start to trust my decisions more.
If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I always believe things happen for a reason, at the right time and place. I have no regrets in life as everything teaches me a lesson. I have my faith, and I trust that things are happening the way they should be.
Tell us about your give-back model. How do you do good?
Link of Hearts observes the one for one business model wherein for every purchase, I will give an inspirational bracelet to someone battling depression or anyone in need of inspiration, as a symbol of hope. Most companies give monetary donations; my mission is to inspire and connect with someone directly… to touch one’s heart and encourage someone to get through one more day… and be a voice to help fight the stigma of mental illness.
I know how it feels to struggle with a mental illness, and wearing inspirational jewelry helped me in my journey. Every piece I design comes with an inspirational word/phrase. I believe one simple word on a piece of jewelry is a positive, powerful daily reminder of hope, and this is how I give back and help those who are in need of help.
Is there a quote you have on your desk, your wall, or just stored in your heart that keeps you going or lifts your spirits when you’re down?
“NOT JUST HERE, BUT HERE FOR A PURPOSE”. I have this framed on my desk, reminding me everyday. So when it gets hard and really challenging, I know this is my purpose and it truly is bigger than me.
What’s the hardest negative soundtrack you’ve in your mind you have to overcome?
What if no one understands my cause? What if no one buys? What if no one believes my mission? What if I fail? All these “what if’s” in my head playing over and over. I have fought through so many challenges in my life and for so many years, I felt like a failure, due to my 10 year battle with mental illness. For so long, I felt like I failed my family and myself.
So, today I’m afraid most of failing….again! Until one day, I came across this quote, “What if I fail? Oh but darling, what if you fly?”. It’s true and I have held it close to my heart since. What if I fly? What if I succeed and actually help as much people as I hoped. I will never know unless I try and work hard for it. This has helped me a lot, and my heart agrees and confirms it with me everyday…as my passion for this venture grows each day.
What brings you the most joy?
Ahhh, the simple pleasures in life…. Dancing brings me the most joy, because I could express myself well when I danced at a younger age. Today, I still love to dance and it makes me so happy. Sweet yellow mangoes bring me joy. Any dessert or anything sweet brings me joy and of course, being outdoors and enjoying the natural beauty outside, especially the beach.
What would you say sitting across the table from another woman who says, “Sure. But you had money saved up, a spouse who can support you, a business degree, a support system, a platform, etc... You’re brave. You’re fearless and I’m risk averse, I’m … fill in the blank.”
I always believe in the saying, “If you really want something, there are lots of ways; If you don’t, there are lots of reasons.” This is one of my philosophies in life. If I catch myself coming up with so many excuses, I ask myself why and more often than not, I realize it’s because I don’t “want it” that much. Then, I ask myself once more why, and I continue to learn more about myself.
Sure, I do have a husband to support me and I’m thankful for that everyday. But it doesn’t mean I have the money to support the business. It only means I need to work hard and make this happen so I don’t waste the hard-earned money my husband is able to provide to me. I tell myself, one day, I will be able to give back some money to him. I have no business degree. I have a constant fear of failing. I am brave, but I also have anxiety attacks. I am bold, but I also have my worries. I can come up with a long list of things not to do and follow my passion, but I know that I also have a longer list that tells me how much I really want to make this happen.
We can also make a list of pros and cons and we can always come up with so many excuses. But if you realize that it’s your true calling, you will come up with ways to get through those “excuses” no matter what.
What advice would you give to someone, like me, who feels guilty about not buying everything from socially responsible companies?
Socially responsible companies are just emerging and continue to grow, but I don’t think it’s considered yet as the “norm.” Meaning, it’s still a bit more expensive to pay and support social causes. Not everyone can afford that, and that’s OK. If we are simply conscious of what we do, and we do what we can, then that’s all that matters. Awareness and consciousness is key and the rest will follow, if not now, definitely later.
What’s your favorite of all your products and why?
I honestly love all my products but two of my favorites are, “bar of goodness” necklace and my candles. Every piece I make is personal to me and I really use all of them myself. I wear them all everyday and sometimes I mix them up, but the “bar of goodness”, I definitely wear everyday. It’s a simple bar filled with a message on each of the 4 sides. The one I wear every day says “Faith – Be Brave – Trust Him – Love”. It is simply symbolic for me and a reminder and inspiration everyday.
Candles I use everyday. Aromatherapy has played a big role in my healing journey and I have always loved essential oils, candles and incense.
Do you feel like you’re the same person you were when you started Link of Hearts?
Absolutely, not. Every day I continue to grow as a person and as an entrepreneur. The challenges and all the fears I am constantly faced with have taught me to look at myself in a different perspective. I never knew how passionate I could be about something until now. I am learning about my perseverance, my weaknesses and my strength, my drive and my patience as I go through this journey each day.
I know this is just the beginning, and I can only wonder what kind of person I will become many years from now.
How can we support you?
I already feel grateful to you ladies and HeartStories for your interest to share my story. That alone shows your support and it’s more than I can ask for. What I’m doing is all based on my own story and raising awareness for depression and mental health. I appreciate the fact that you’re willing to help in any way you can to spread the word. I always say, together, our voices are louder.
So, thank you for all that you do and I will always feel blessed and grateful for connecting with you.
What are you most passionate about regarding your business?
Link of Hearts was inspired and born out of my own story. It is about raising awareness for depression and spreading hope one gift at a time. We all have stories, and each story matters. I believe sharing our story can even be more powerful, because we never know how it can impact and help someone. On that note, please keep sharing and keep inspiring.
You are not alone, because I am here sharing my story with you.
Elizabeth, wow. I’m so grateful for your courage and vulnerability in sharing your story. I have no doubt there’s a woman reading this right now, who knows you shared it for her. Thank you.
We can help each other.
To more love,
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