SHIFT HAPPENS | SEASON 1 • EPISODE 3

Feven & Helena Yohannes on Building a Community in Beauty

SHIFT HAPPENS is a Global Take on Women’s Turning Points and Pivotal Moments

In this episode, Feven and Helena Yohannes, co-founders of 2•4•1 Cosmetics, share how their first pivotal moment actually happened before they were even born—the sisters are originally from Eritrea, and came with their family via a refugee camp in Sudan to the United States. With this experience and background, their mission is to use the space of beauty to create a community that celebrates diversity and empowers women.

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About Our Guests

Feven and Helena Yohannes are twin sisters and the co-founders of 2•4•1 Cosmetics – an effortless and clean beauty brand that not only enhances your beauty but also instills confidence, kindness, and integrity. The brand name itself “2•4•1” reflects their philosophy that beauty and brains are not mutually exclusive.

Their dedication and hard work have made 2•4•1 Cosmetics a prominent player in the beauty industry, earning them a coveted spot on Oprah’s Favorite Things list in both 2020 and 2022.

Feven and Helena are political refugees from Eritrea who use beauty to create a community that celebrates diversity and empowers women.

2•4•1 Cosmetics offers clean and effortless beauty products that cater to a diverse audience and are now available at major retailers such as Bloomingdale’s, Amazon, and QVC.

Feven and Helena call Los Angeles home, where they lead their company with passion and creativity while indulging in their love for interior design, reading, and cooking delicious meals.

Their ultimate mission is to empower women, one eyeliner at a time, and create a community that celebrates diversity and inclusivity.

About Your Host

Claudia Mahler is a creative activist, with more than a decade of experience curating meaningful conversations for women in business, art and education in Europe and the United States.

She designs events for women’s empowerment that emphasize organic connection and conversation to complement existing professional development training in a variety of work environments.

She has 20+ years of experience in communications and PR in Europe and the East Coast of the United States.

Transcript

Feven & Helena Yohannes on Building a Community in Beauty

Claudia: Hello, and welcome to Shift Happens. My name is Claudia Mahler and I am curious about how women made it through turning points in their lives and how they reflect back on them.

Too often, women just get on with it. The everyday, the duties, the expectations—too often, life-altering events are being swept under the rug as life must go on.

With Shift Happens, I want to create a space for women to pause for a moment and to share, to listen, and to feel heard. A space where we connect and talk about life and its pivotal moments—about the highs and lows, the challenges and the joys, about what has been gained and about how enriching change can be. Some things we hear are heavy, some are funny. They all put me in awe as they are honest and raw testimonies of life. This podcast is a little window into the world.

I invited women from all walks of life and various counties, countries and continents. I am in conversation with authors, business owners, artists, life coaches and change makers. All these women have their individual life story and much wisdom to share. 

Welcome back to Shift Happens.

 

I was just getting ready for my next conversation, which I will be video recording, so I put on some makeup. I put on some lip gloss, and I was reminded of the time when I was really in love with lip gloss. Many years ago, I’m sure you remember, it had this very thick consistency and it was almost hard to get your lips apart. Once you put it on, it was almost like sticky glue.

Surprise, surprise, my shade of the day is Power. It is a beautiful product from 2•4•1 Cosmetics, a hot new beauty brand from Los Angeles co-founded by my next guests on Shift Happens, Helena and Feven Yohannes. Helena and Feven are sisters, they’re twins born 15 minutes apart and a tour de force of authenticity. Their hard work and dedication to building a brand rooted in kindness, confidence, and integrity made this privately-owned company a prominent player in the beauty industry, which has been on Oprah’s favorite things list twice, in 2020 and 2022. 

Their journey, however, has been far from easy. Helena and Feven will share how their first pivotal moment actually happened before they were even born—the sisters are originally from Eritrea, and came with their family via a refugee camp in Sudan to the United States. With this experience and background, their mission is to use the space of beauty to create a community that celebrates diversity and empowers women. So tune in. 

 

Claudia: So good to see you! 

Feven: Thank you, so good to see you too! Thank you for having us. 

Claudia: I’m very excited to have you here. So, Helena is joining us from L.A.? 

Helena: Los Angeles. Yes, Los Angeles. 

Claudia: And Feven, you are where right now?

Feven: Right now I’m in New Mexico. 

Helena: No, you’re in Mexico City. 

Feven: Mexico City, oh, Mexico City. I’m like, “I’m in New Mexico City.”

[All laughing] 

Claudia: Well, thank you so much for joining me. As you know, this is a new podcast, Shift Happens, and we’re focusing on pivotal moments and turning points in our lives. And we’ve met a while ago, and you’ve been these amazing business owners and entrepreneurs and have started 2•4•1 Cosmetics.

I love your line. I really love your line… that your ultimate mission is to “empower women one eyeliner at a time,” and that you use the space of beauty in this way. That’s wonderful and very inspiring. 

So before we dig in deeper, I actually wanted to give you a few prompts. So Helena, flat or sparkling? 

Helena: Sparkling. 

Claudia: Feven, dogs or cats? 

Feven: Dogs. I’m not a cat person. 

Claudia: Helena apples or oranges? 

Helena: Oh, that’s so hard. Oh, my gosh. I’ll take oranges. 

Claudia: And you, Feven?

Feven: Oranges. Vitamin C, very important. 

Claudia: On your phone, which app do you use most often? Helena?

Helena: Amazon Prime or Instagram.

Claudia: Feven?

Feven: Same. And I would also add Pinterest. So I would say Amazon Prime, Instagram and Pinterest. I’m always on Pinterest. You too? 

Claudia: Me? I think Instagram, I have to admit. I’m following all these interior designers, so I’m just scrolling endlessly through couches and sofas. It’s absurd. Yeah. Anyway, the last question is: You’re twins, but both of you are on a deserted island. And you’re only allowed to take one thing. What is it? Helena? 

Helena: Oh me first? I’m on a deserted island, and I’m only allowed to take one thing… Probably my iPhone, because I can call people to send me things. Or get help. 

Feven: That’s good!

Helena: It’s a tool! An iPhone is a tool.

Claudia: It is. 

Feven: That’s so smart. How do I top that? Do I have to answer that too?

Claudia: Yeah, yeah, yeah, please!

Feven: Honestly, an iPhone would be… and I’m not specific, you were like, “an iPhone, not just a regular phone, not a Samsung, but an iPhone.” Yes, I would take an iPhone. 

Helena: Wait, I was actually thinking two things. The first was a person, and the second was an iPhone, but I’m like, wait, I can use an iPhone to send a person. So the person isn’t a thing.

Claudia: So we could definitely reach you. 

Feven: Yes, definitely. 

 

Claudia: Yeah, that’s good. So now we know that about you… we can dive right into your story. And so it would be wonderful if you could share one pivotal moment or turning point that stands out for you in your personal or professional life.

Feven: Should I start or do you want to start? 

Helena: You can go ahead and start. You’re 15 minutes older, you should start. 

Feven: Okay. You know, thank you for that question.

I always say that our story began before we were ever born. So when you say a “pivotal moment,” even though we weren’t there to experience it, it would be the journey from Eritrea to Gibraltar Sudan, which is the refugee camp that Helena and I were born in.

My parents actually walked from Eritrea to Sudan to seek refuge. And I remember asking our father what that was like one day, and he said with this great big smile, “You know, it’s like walking from L.A. to San Francisco. And even though we weren’t on the journey, Helena said it best that resilience in our bloodline, and I feel like, you know, that was a pivotal moment in our lives somehow. 

Claudia: Interesting. 

Helena: Just to piggyback on what Feven was saying, a pivotal moment that probably comes from our family, our parents in particular, and taking that chance. Our mother waited in line for this opportunity to get selected by a Presbyterian church that would later sponsor us. And that’s what we always say, what separates us from our cousins is really opportunity. And that moment in particular, I think about that. 

Our mother, her father was just recovering from an injury in a war and we’re in this desolate refugee camp. And she has a little boy, he was with our father from what we know at the time, while she was waiting in line in this really long line. And my sister is in the front and I’m on the back or vice versa. I always think about that choice that she made and the circumstances that they both had to endure to make that choice.

But that is probably the most pivotal for us. Because what separates us from our cousins is really opportunity, and that was the opportunity that they gave us to come to this amazing country.

Claudia: Opportunity and also strength and resilience, yeah.

Feven: Yeah, just to add to what Helena was saying, absolutely correct. 

It was my mother who decided to apply for what’s called the Refugee Resettlement Program. So then from that, we would get the Green Card. Whereas my father, as Elena mentioned, was just recovering from, you know… his best friend stepped on a landmine and unfortunately died in front of him. He’s actually blind in the left eye to this day, but he survived, we’re here, and the boy that she mentioned is our older brother. Our older brother, Thomas, was born first in the refugee camp, and then Helena and I entered the world about two years after that. 

My mother had no idea she was having twins, by the way, no clue. 

Claudia: Lucky. 

Feven: She’s five feet tall. Yeah. I know. She thought she was having a big boy. I came out first and then 15 minutes later, my best friend entered the world. 

Claudia: And how old were you when you came to the U.S.? 

Helena: We were two. We were two years old on our birthday, actually, on our birthday. We got on a plane a couple of days before and then we landed in Tennessee. We were in Tennessee before, and my father made the decision—the smart decision—that where we were in particular wasn’t the best for us. 

Oftentimes when you’re coming from a different country and entering a new country as immigrants, you want to see people that look like you, even if it’s 10. You create this community, like a sweet little silo. He heard that his best friend, who was also in the war, was in Rochester, New York. And that’s when we eventually got an opportunity to go to Rochester. And it’s very cold in Rochester. I mean, you’re in Long Island, so you know something about the cold, but coming from the desert and then coming to snow is a completely different experience. 

We always joke around—Feven and I—that they talk about culture shock, but no one really talks about weather shock. We’re in L.A. for a very particular reason. We’re here for the sun. I’m paying the sunshine tax—Feven is too—because this is the closest in terms of weather that we could get all day sun or four seasons at least of sun. 

Claudia: So in L.A., you decided to start your business. What would you say was a pivotal moment in your professional life? I mean, you shared a bit beforehand that you really decided not to be spending so much energy and time on looking for investors, but really going inward and from there developing your brand further. It would be great if you could share a little bit about that. 

Feven: Helena, do you want me to start? You know, it’s interesting, because Helena and I like to talk.

Helena: We’re normally together. Let’s just tell your audience: we’re normally together, but Feven is traveling so that’s why we’re making accommodations for you, because you’re so special to us.

Claudia: Aww.

Feven: Yeah. So Helena and I had a wedding startup before we launched 2•4•1 Cosmetics, and we learned through that experience, with meeting with a lot of venture capital. At this early stage of our company, we thought they had the keys to the kingdom and gosh, we got so many “no’s.” We literally have an Excel spread of the “no’s” that we got from the first startup.

So we kind of looked at that and said, okay, we have to dissolve that and we pivoted into beauty because we thought, okay, the wedding startup was something that we weren’t as passionate about, we kind of just saw it as a business opportunity, but beauty has always been something we were passionate about. And so Helena and I thought to ourselves, okay, if we’re going to rise or fall, (and I like to say and think that we have risen in a lot of ways) it’s going to be on our own terms. 

So we took our own money and invested in ourselves, and invested in an idea and a company and in a brand that we wanted to see. 

But you know the statistics. 0.2% of venture capital goes to women of color, which is a whole other topic. But we decided, okay, let’s just take our own money and bet on ourselves. Helena said it best: “the rejection was just redirection.” Or did you read that on Pinterest somewhere? Rejection is just redirection. 

Helena: I think I heard it from Oprah, actually. I think though, just to touch on the question, I’ve worked. I’ve always worked, Feven’s always worked. We worked as babysitters, cashiers at Wegmans, our favorite grocery store. I worked throughout my college. I went to Skidmore College and I loved it, I loved my experience there. 

Working was just always a solution to any financial issue that we had. It was always an answer to something. But I think that it really primed our mind that we can get things in life, if we work hard, actually work. I think that we saw that from our parents. We saw them when we were just little girls cleaning up the church pews and cleaning up as janitors and housekeepers, and then, you know, getting an education and rising. We had a real front row to their struggle—our struggle—and then saw their triumph. But working was always the answer. Nothing was too small. 

When we first came to L.A., we came here literally because of the sun. I mean, it sounds so primitive, but it’s the truth.

Claudia: Yeah, I mean, I cannot relate in your way, but I can understand. 

Helena: People would ask, “are you here for the business?” Not really. I ended up working at the Writers Guild, which is on strike right now, and I’m in solidarity and support of that movement. My first day at the job was the Writers Guild strike in ’07, ’08, that strike. Literally, my first week was that. It made national headlines, it shut down Hollywood. 

From there, I learned about talking points, about messaging, about strategy, because I was in communications. And when I was there, I met someone, and we created this business, this wedding business with Feven.

But while I was at the Writers Guild, Feven and I… I wanted something more because I didn’t… I feel there was a hunger in the both of us that I can’t explain, it’s just a real hunger that there is something more, that we deserve to share our story and to meet new people through that journey.

So we created Feven and Helena, aka The Twinship, we coined ourselves, and it was a blog called Food Fashion Decor and More, and it was our creative outlet. We would take our own photos, and we didn’t know anything about Photoshop or anything like that… but we would make our own creative portfolios of different makeup, and food—Feven loves to cook, she’s amazing. I mean, this girl can really cook. We just used that as a way to connect with people. And then we saw on the back-end that a lot of new friends that we found were really connected to our eyeliner.

And like, we’ve been wearing eyeliner since we were 15 years old. We love liquid eyeliner, it is our war paint, it wakes up our eyes, our face. It became a conduit to real connection with women, but it also was something that we used to do when we were younger. In our neighborhoods where we would just meet new girls, and we would just put on Vaseline and there’s this thing called Fasin Fun—it’s a makeup thing from way back in the 80s—and we would just do makeovers. It was a constant way of connecting. 

So when our wedding business dissolved, when we had to make that hard decision, and we’re running out of money… I quit my job, by the way, in trying to be this wedding tech entrepreneur, which was not my destiny, clearly. I learned a lot from that. I’ll say that. Yeah. We can go over that. 

I turned to Feven, or Feven turned to me and she said, “well, what are we going to do next?” Because we have this burning desire to create and to connect and to build together. And she was like, “beauty?” Tthe way she said it was the most obvious thing. And then she was the one who created the name 2•4•1, which I love. Because it’s—do you know the meaning behind 2•4•1? Feven, you want to tell us? 

Claudia: Yeah, right. Go ahead. Tell us. 

Feven: 2•4•1 Cosmetics is a play on words because growing up with twins, people would constantly ask, in Rochester, New York, it was kind of an inside joke. Are you “two for one?” And our father overheard that one day, he thought, “there’s no discount on your self worth. So absolutely not. You’re not a ‘two for one.’ But your mother did have one pregnancy, and she gave birth to twins. 

Also just growing up as twins, there’s this constant comparison. Claudia, people always compare you, they’re like, “okay, who’s the who’s the artsy twin? And who’s the twin that likes math?” Or the worst one was, “Who’s the mean twin?” I mean, we never want to be the mean twin. But it was this idea. It was weird. One’s evil. One’s good. “Who’s the angel?”

Claudia: How intense!

Feven: I know! Honestly, though, it’s just being constantly compared to each other. Our father said to us one day, “you know, you can embrace all facets of your personality, you don’t have to pick one or the other. And when it comes to competition, it was our mother and our father… we saw them not competing with each other, but working with each other. 

So that’s the whole idea of 2•4•1 Cosmetics. That you can be all things. You can be brains and beauty. I mean, we can dive deeper with how society can compare women, that’s a whole other topic. That’s a whole other podcast. 

Claudia: I mean, it’s fascinating. Yeah. And of course, the hunger is admirable. To go after, and to have the guts, right? To say, “well, this didn’t work out.” How lucky. Because how often, you know, do we get stuck and we are actually still trying to break that wall? And it’s only getting thicker instead of saying, “okay, that was it. We’re turning around.” And then the most obvious to both of you finally gets to you that you are working with beauty and with women.

I really love it that you say how you use the realm of beauty to create a community that celebrates women and celebrates diversity and the empowerment of women. So you’ve been creating this amazing, vibrant community. No wonder you’ve already been a few times on Oprah’s favorite things list. I mean, unbelievable. 

Feven: Twice!

Claudia: Yes, twice. So what’s next for you in this and with the experience that you have? How do you want to work with the brand? You just had a major launch, right, of a collaboration with Bloomingdale’s. I mean, that’s huge, right? Will you be on the road and be there at the stores or how do you work on further developing the brand?

Helena: You know, I just want to say you said something that really touched me. You said “guts.” And it’s actually true when you create something, you are on your own silo. I’m so lucky I have my twin sister with me as an entrepreneur. There’s so much we didn’t know. And there’s things that you don’t know along the journey, but you kind of figure it out. It’s that north star of faith that you need and the guts to—it borders on delusion, to be real—like to really feel like you deserve a seat at this table, this legacy table of esteemed brands who’ve been doing it for years.

As an emerging brand, to have the guts to say, “We want to create something that we haven’t seen. And what is it we haven’t seen?” Well, one of the reasons why we became really more passionate about the beauty space was, when I was looking at my makeup bag, I started paying attention to the companies that I was supporting. Then I started looking for them. I was, like, “who owns these companies?” None of these owners look like me or Feven, or a lot of women in my life. 

I found that we are manipulating a lot of colors to make our makeup look not look like crazy paint on our faces. This was in 2016, when we started incubating it. Now we see—and we love it—we see a lot of brands, well, not a lot, I can say that we see brands now that the helm are women of color—that’s amazing—who actually create makeup for all shapes. There’s still not enough of us, but they’re still, it’s nice to see us there. And it’s a real honor to even be recognized by those other brands too. 

When we got the opportunity with Bloomingdale’s, it was two days, I’m still buzzing off of it. And Feven, I’m sure you are too. She had to fly off right away. We’ve been so busy. It was such an amazing experience. We got to meet the customers and people firsthand, really see them and pick out colors for them. But we’re not just selling beauty, we’re actually selling a connection, we’re selling a community, that confidence. As Feven always says, we’re selling that confidence. We’re also just a support system, and we also happen to be a really chic looking brand at the same time. So the opportunity with Bloomingdale’s is great. We do want to do more of that. We’re planning on doing more of that in October actually. 

But you mentioned earlier with Oprah, I’m sure Feven can tell you the whole story of all how that went down. Want to share that? 

Feven: Yeah. I just want to add to what you’re saying, Helena. It was such an incredible experience. I don’t know if you know that, but we had Hurricane Hilary kind of came, but she really didn’t. 

Claudia: Yeah, I followed that. 

Feven: So we still show up in the rain, and just go for it, and kind of “be the sunshine.” Our mother says that to us all the time.

We’re not just selling confidence, we’re instilling it. I think that, I just want to add to what you were saying. So with respect to Oprah, which is, I don’t know, it still feels surreal to us.

When we are writing the website copy for ARC, our two-pronged cosmetic… So, every single word that you read on the site is us. Helena says to me one day, “in terms of the product description, I think that it should be a feeling.” That just changed everything. I’m like, and I had an aha moment. I’m like, she’s absolutely right. So we started to incorporate mantras with each product, including of course you have a list of the ingredients, but we have a mantra. A beauty mantra, I should say. We took ourselves off of Instagram, and we just started diving into books. Helena and I love to read, especially Helena.

And then in the background, I started playing Oprah Winfrey’s What I Know for Sure, her audiobook, throughout writing the website copy. It was just a strange thing that I decided to do. I picked it up because Helena was playing audio books at her house. And I started to write off of what Oprah would say. So if you read the mantra for Role Model Lipstick, we wrote, “you are the most influential person you will ever meet,” which is such an Oprah thing to say, like, “you are your own role model.”

Then this really kind woman, her name is Lizzie, said Oprah Magazine was interested in our story. And we thought, “this is a joke.” We thought it was a joke, like this doesn’t really happen. We later found out that we were picked to be her favorite thing. 

We didn’t have a PR person. Helena said it best: God is our PR. It was word of mouth and an email. And that’s how it all started. In a beautiful way, I think that we kind of manifested that moment collectively, Helena and I. 

So when we had the opportunity to meet her through Zoom, I asked her, “do you mind if I share the story with her?” And I told her that we played her book in the background and that our website voice, our site copy and our brand mantras are, “what would Oprah say? You know, what would Oprah say to us?” And yeah, kind of crazy.

Claudia: You mentioned earlier that for you it’s important to create a feeling of connection and to connect, of course with, you know, the consumers, but connection in a broader sense. And if you share that story, that makes total sense and fits completely in it, right? Because we are connected in so many more ways than just what materializes for us in the here and now.

Helena: Absolutely. That’s so true. Yes, absolutely. 

Claudia: You are really sticking to your own way, which is great.

Helena: Yes, I think so. We’re not sure because we used to really look at other people’s journeys. I used to study what other people were doing. I realized I didn’t really work for us, and there was a moment when our mutual friend Eureka, who’s amazing, connected us with this investor. We were presenting to them, and it I could tell that Feven wasn’t really into presenting to them. She looked very uncomfortable. 

Feven: Well, they weren’t into us. 

Helena: Right. It wasn’t reciprocated. We were into them, they weren’t into us. 

Claudia: Right. I mean, it’s also a chemistry thing too, right? As simple as that.

Feven: Absolutely.

Helena: It was a bad date, right? For sure. So I’m thinking, “what if we actually stop?” In my head, my inner monologue. This isn’t working. We’re not speaking the same language, even though we are, and they don’t see the value that we’re presenting, and no hard feelings. Just walk away. 

It was in that moment that we decided to pull our own money together and launch the vision that we had in our head and share it with the world, and the reception has been so wonderful thus far and we’re so grateful for it. We’re still privately owned, we still own ourselves. But that can very much change. 

I think that’s another thing. I still work full time to support my lifestyle, but also to support the business, and Feven too. When people hear that, like, “wait, you guys own your own company…” We’re not trust fund kids. We didn’t come from a silver spoon, we came from mud and stick in a beautiful, beautiful continent called Africa, which we honor and respect dearly.

I think that that really inspires a lot of people because it is a rag to, you know, we’re not riches yet, but we’re almost there. It’s that Cinderella story that people are really excited about, because that confidence of us just putting ourselves out there and seeing how the universe unfolds with these incredible miracles, like Oprah. I kind of wrestle with the self-made idea, because there’s so many prayers behind where we are. There’s so many people who support and buy what we’re doing, but we’ve created our business. 

Feven: I just wanted to say that we had our first… It was the Spring Soiree with Eureka, where we had the opportunity to meet you. You also said something that was pivotal, something we’re talking about, a pivotal moment. You actually said to Helena, and then Helena repeated it to me, and she said…

Helena: It’s the connection, girl. I’m going to repeat it. That pivotal moment in New York at the Spring Soiree… we met, and you came up to me… there were a lot of people trying to tell us different things about “what makes you guys different.” And you said, “you know what makes you guys different?” I thought I was going to give you an answer, but you actually had an answer for me. You said, “authenticity. That’s what’s separating you two from the rest. It’s authenticity.”

I told Feven, and we were looking at each other, and we didn’t know that was a commodity. That is actually the secret sauce to most of the amazing opportunities that we’ve had, our authenticity. We always think about you when people say that about us, I’m like, “oh, my God, Claudia, she said it first.” 

Claudia: No, but it’s striking. 

Feven: That was a pivotal moment.

Claudia: But you know, it’s striking and it’s so special. It’s just so winning if people, if women, can just be who they are. It takes a lot. It first takes to know who you are, and then not undermining it, but going with it, and being aware of it. That is what I wanted to say, that you really are role models for that. You talked earlier about the beauty industry, and cosmetics, and that, a couple of years ago, you were looking for entrepreneurs and beauty brands that were actually made by women with different skin shades than white. And now, you’ve created that. 

So here, of course, you’re a role model, but also you are referring for, you know, the continent of Africa. And I don’t know if you go back to Sudan or to Eritrea for family, but this must be so inspiring for not only young women, but women in general, to see what is possible. And if you allow this hunger to take over and you follow it, what comes from it, yeah? Very inspiring.

Helena: Absolutely. Yeah. We haven’t been back with Sudan since we left. Our father went back… We do want to make another stop. We still have so many family members, but it’s very difficult for us to get there considering what’s happening in Eritrea. 

When they do hear about us and when they do find it, it’s so overwhelming how inspiring… Eritrea has given us so much, and it’s amazing how much we’ve been given from this beautiful motherland. When we had a great opportunity of being on Good Morning America last year, we did an interview, and our community of Eritrean Americans were so supportive and the most beautiful kind people.

The sales really reflected their support. Reaching the actual country of Eritrea, it was such a heartwarming moment that what we’re doing here can eventually get us to a position where we can actually build roads in these rural parts that our parents grew up in. It just gives hope and some sort of inspiration to a lot of people out there. It’s very humbling actually. 

Claudia: Yeah, I can imagine. So I wanted to ask you, taking turns, what would be your advice to your younger self and to your older self? So Helena, maybe you want to go? 

Helena: Oh, me first again. Advice for my younger self. I liked me when I was younger. I still like me now. But I heard somewhere the frontal part of your brain doesn’t really develop fully until you’re 23 or 24. I don’t know if that’s true. So your decision making is a little off, if you will. But I look back at me, I think I was a pretty wise 20-something-year old or 19 year old, or you’re talking about like grade school, what’s the younger self that you were talking about? 

Claudia: Whatever you intuitively respond to.

Helena: Well, intuitively, I would tell my younger self to relax, to have more faith, actually. That’s what I would tell my younger self. To go for it, don’t be afraid. 

Feven: I would tell my younger self to trust your instincts and to not doubt yourself. And to know that you are deserving and worthy. 

Claudia: And Feven, to your older self? 

Feven: To myself now? 

Claudia: No, what kind of advice would you give to your older self?

Feven: Oh, like, Feven in the future? To not be so critical. I think that sometimes I can be critical. And like Helena said, like, have more faith. That’s what I tell myself. Now I gotta have more faith now. 

Claudia: And you, Helena? 

Helena: Older? Have fun. Honestly. You’ve done all the work. You’re older now. Put your feet up. Put your feet up. Have fun. Give back. You have time to be charitable and we have time to be charitable now, but you have more time to be charitable. Go on that vacation in the Turks and Caicos and go on your vacation. You deserve it. 

Claudia: And celebrate.

Helena: And celebrate. Yeah, celebrate. Take your family and friends. 

Claudia: So to wind this up a little bit, just two things. What energizes you, Feven? 

Feven: I didn’t realize how much I love interacting with customers because I can be a little bit more… I’m not shy at all, but meeting the customers energized me and it motivated me to work harder. I also think that being from Eritrea, I don’t know what it is, but Helena and I have always had an innate responsibility to give back and to do more. I would say that being Eritrean definitely energizes me and empowers me and motivates me as well.

Claudia: Helena?

Helena: I actually agree with Feven, and I think being from the motherland, Eritrea, really energizes me. I love a challenge, and I get a thrill from something that seems impossible, so I really do my affirmations. We do the work. You can pray all you want, but a wish without a plan is… I forget the quote. Anyway, what I’m saying is this idea that you have to put plans in place for things to happen. You have to do it. You can dream it, and you have to also do the work. When the opportunity is presented, like Oprah’s favorite things, you have to fulfill… 

We got picked the first year during COVID. We didn’t even know if people were going to wear mascara—or sorry, lipstick anymore, under the mask. Well, turns out they actually do. That moment in particular really energized me because I got afraid, but I like to push through it. Feel the fear and like really push through it. Those are the kind of things that really get me energized, and then to see the results at the end of it, whether it be what you wanted or not what you wanted, it’s still the process. The journey of it that actually gets me really excited and amped. It’s that arduous journey. 

You build a callous afterwards, and you build courage. It’s like going through something that you were so afraid of, and then looking back like, “oh my gosh it wasn’t as hard as it seemed…” Those are the things that get me. It’s the courage that get me really really excited, and that’s the stuff that gets me energized. 

Claudia: My energy levels rise when I hear you talking. I mean, great. So, you’ve been talking about how busy things are, traveling and everything. We all are learning at the moment how important self-care is. I just wanted to ask you towards the end now, how do you calm your minds? Feven? 

Feven: Well, first of all, Helena and I love to run. We are avid runners, so running, doing at least 10,000 steps a day, daily affirmations… but talking to my mother and father and my twin sister, Helena. Literally, I’m calm after talking to those three. 

Doing some type of exercise. We do it every day. We do at least 10,000 steps a day. I feel like listening to my mother’s voice, as soon as I call her, she’s just like, “Hello, sunshine.” She’s just so happy. Oh, it’s the sweetest thing in the world. You should see her. We’ll have this DM you her Instagram page. She’s so supportive. So, my mother’s voice and my father’s voice and obviously, Helena’s voice calms me down. 

Helena: That’s so sweet. That’s probably the same for me, similar. So, what calms me down? I love that question, actually. Self-care is so important. You’re not too busy for sleep. I’m a big believer that sleep is so important. Feven and I will get our eight hours. We’ve been more disciplined about our sleep probably since the beginning of our 2•4•1 journey because what we’ve experienced is that when we don’t sleep enough, we make really bad decisions and we come from a place of either anxiety or apprehension. Sleep deprivation is not good for our decision-making. It’s not good for our creative process. Just not good. It’s not good for your health. 

I read the statistics, Matthew Walker, I think that’s the man who wrote the book about sleep. He said in his book, which really blew my mind, I wish to share this with all my friends, is that there’s more accidents caused from sleep deprivation than a DUI, than actually drinking and driving. Look at it. It’s natural, and it blows my mind. He also did a master class about sleeping. Feven and I do not mess with our sleep. It’s like a seven minimum, but definitely eight hours is the way to go. 

I think with our generation, they’ve really hammered it in or at least the past two years, I think it’s gotten a lot better. We talk about self care and getting your rest, having your vitamins, going on walks, talking to friends, encouraging people to see therapy. I think that has become a less stigmatized thing. But before we’ve had this “team no sleep,” we don’t sleep, or we’re just grinding it out. I just fundamentally disagree with that. When I took that route, I made the worst decision and I was, I was sad. It didn’t make any sense. I wasn’t myself. Sleep calms me down really.

My husband’s really wonderful. He’s such an anchor in my life. And we do our daily affirmations. But I’m so lucky to have Feven. And we literally laugh. Even when things are bad, we can’t help ourselves. I don’t know if it’s a good thing, but we laugh. We cannot help ourselves but laugh at the adversity. Because we’re here! Ultimately at the end of the day, we have our health. That is the beauty of when you have that consciousness of the way you are. There’s so many other things that could have gone wrong.

It’s just, I think we have an unwavering optimism that is crazy sometimes.

Claudia: I think it’s wonderful. Keep it, keep it. 

So it’s been so wonderful to have you, and to see you again after quite a while. I hope we can in the future connect again somewhere in-person. I put on Power, I put on Power today. Your lip gloss. 

Helena: It looks so beautiful!

Claudia: Well, in real life you can see it more. Anyway, I love them. I love all of the shades.

Helena: Thank you so much! You’re the best.

Feven: Thank you so much always for your support. We really appreciate you.

Claudia: I’m a big fan. I applaud you.

Helena: You’re so special. You’re a very special person.

Claudia: I applaud you. Thank you, I’ll take it. I’ll take it.

Feven: You are!

Claudia: See you soon. 

 

Speaking of what energizes you, I mean, these two sisters are really something else. 

It has been an energizing conversation for me. I loved how they talked about their parents’ wisdom, the work ethics in the family, how their first business failed… like completely failed. 

How they really withdrew from the world to go within and focus on what is important to them, and put care into every single word they communicate through their website, through social media…  and also this independence of potential investors there is always so much to learn from these conversations. 

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, and I truly hope that you felt heard in this episode of Shift Happens. 

Shift Happens has been created and is hosted by me, Claudia Mahler. 

Editing, Andy Morrison. 

Communications and Marketing, Amy Jacobus and Jessica Pearson from Amy Jacobus Marketing.

 

I hope you felt connected and heard while listening to Shift Happens.

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