A Conversation With: Annaliese Godderz
'A Conversation With:' is a new series of interviews hosted by The Good Kind focusing on women breaking ground in the professional working industry. To kick it all off, we talked to Annaliese Godderz, Quilt’s Community Lead in NYC. Annaliese is a Filipino-American who is all about empowerment, self-discovery and connection. From tech startups, to fashion, to the last few years building her career as a yoga teacher, we spoke to her all about her experience as a female entrepreneur.
Tell us a little bit about what Quilt is exactly?
Quilt is a venture backed tech startup that’s owned and operated by women and non-binary folks in order to provide safe space for professionally minded women to build deep and meaningful connections. The way that we do this is through gatherings within the home.
That sounds incredible, when was Quilt first established?
Thank you, yeah it’s pretty special. We were first established in 2017, and I came on as the first employee outside of Los Angeles, in New York, in June 2018.
Big move! And what does the name Quilt represent?
It’s so funny, so much of how our business is run and operated, everything that we think about is “What’s the post-it note version of that?” So, in proper Quilt fashion, when the founders were thinking about the name, they rounded up some brilliant women, a bunch of post-it notes, a couple of bottles of wine, and started thinking about the fibers that really bring us together. Someone dropped the name ‘Quilt’ and that really made a lot of sense: We share stories to get to know one another and to teach one another. I like to think of it as the weaving of women’s stories together to create the same patchwork quilt.
That makes so much sense! What was it that drew you in to first get involved then when you first came on to the Quilt team?
Oh my Goodness. So when I was first introduced to Quilt, I knew nothing. They were interviewing female entrepreneurs in New York to see if there was interest in our city and for half an hour they asked me my opinion, feedback around the company and I got a $25 Venmo afterwards. I was like ‘OK, these women are awesome!’, and then when Quilt hosted the first ever gathering in New York I was an attendant. That’s where I met Ashley.
At the time I was a full-time yoga teacher and I walked out of that gathering just completely moved and transformed. There was something very special happening in that room, when I was at a place in my life where I felt I wasn’t being taken seriously professionally. I felt that I wasn’t really interacting with women beyond my profession or with people from different ages and backgrounds and I didn’t really know how to be a part of it. Quilt welcomed me into a space where we got to be together and heard.
That really does sound like a special environment there. You mentioned female entrepreneurs, and before getting involved with Quilt, you in fact founded your own company, Yogaliese. Can you tell me a little bit about it?
Yeah, I absolutely did! When I first created Yogaliese, I had just moved to New York and I was trying to establish myself. I had a roommate who is a fashion designer now, but she was in school, and she was like - “Listen you have to come up with your persona. What is the superhero version of yourself that you’re going to be able to promote your business through?”
So we started playing around coming up with lots of names. Through creating Yogaliese and with my bit of online presence is how I started to establish myself. After teaching yoga on the side for about 3 and a half years I was able to dive in fully and make my yoga business my livelihood.
That’s a big accomplishment to be able to turn your hobby of yoga into a passion-driven career! Is there any particular challenges that you faced entering the business, especially as a woman?
I mean yeah, where to begin! I’d say the biggest one, the biggest challenge of being a woman in business is being taken seriously. I think even in a female-dominated space like teaching yoga, we have to pave the way for ourselves right? We have to make our own boundaries, we don’t just want to work 7 days a week. We have to ask for what you want. Nobody is going to take us seriously unless we require it of them.
From the sounds of it, you yourself had a lot to overcome. What’s the one lesson you learned from those experiences?
From the experience of building my own business, I would say the biggest thing that I learned was carving out a day off for myself. Sundays became my sacred day. (Pro-tip, it’s most yoga teachers’ day off). I believe you need an entire day where you have zero responsibilities. When you are constantly running around teaching, you need a full 24 hours to reset, ideally 48+!
I’m sure you could get a lot of us on board with that! Is there any particular project or accomplishment that you would consider to be the most significant of your career to date?
I love that question because I think that it’s so easy for others to look at social media and think “woah, you built this thing and it’s amazing!” And it is, but in reality there are a ton of long hours, emails, scheduling, studying, commuting, negotiating and invoicing that happens beyond the sea of pretty pictures. If I’m being honest, early in my career I knew it wasn’t what I wanted long term. As I learned the yoga business and became successful, I had everything that I could want in that industry and I knew it just wasn’t the be all and end all for me.
So I started to make a career shift. I think that it’s really really hard to step away from something that you’re good at, where you’re successful and to really pull yourself out of that comfort zone to search for something else more challenging and ultimately more deeply fulfilling. I’m proud of that everyday. Behind the scenes of my salaried, benefited, amazing role at Quilt, I’m also overcoming my fear of working for someone else. I’ve had a lot of rough working environments in the past, so I’m learning how to be a team player and to push Quilt further as if it were my own with the support of my co-founders and team.
That really is a big accomplishment, and I’m sure people reading right now would love to follow down that path but haven’t had the confidence to take the leap yet. Is there any advice you would have for these people that would be interested in starting up their own venture or business?
Yeah, absolutely. I think the first thing--and I was honestly just saying this to a woman who was reaching out to me the other day--she was like “I don’t know how you do it. You seem so established. I’m here with my side jobs, and I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing.” My response to her was, “Your side jobs and your nest eggs ARE you doing it. They are your saving grace.”
You don’t want to kill yourself by trying to jump in all at once. You want to be able to pay your bills and have the space in your schedule to let your creativity and problem solving run free so you can build the business of your dreams. It may look like I built my business overnight--being a yoga teacher looks really sexy on Instagram, but in fact it’s a ton of work and I’ve been establishing myself for over 5 years now.
When I went out on my own I already had a solid reputation and career established so I knew it was safe to jump all-in. But I think a lot of people can look at the yoga business and be like “cool, I’m going to leave my finance job and I’m going to make it,” when really there’s so much more underlying it.
I think that before you go out into your own venture, you want to find out what it takes to support yourself. Ideally you’ll find a side job that’s going to be a little less mentally taxing, so that you can put all your creative energy into what you really care about building.
When you first yourself set off on your own venture, did you look to anyone in particular that you admired that you looked to as a role model when you stepped out on your own?
Yes, I love that you asked that! So I have a therapist, I have a life coach, I’ve got my support system of family, friends, my partner etc. When I first went out on my own I was feeling the pressure and competition looking at all these incredible women doing amazing things and I started to feel jealous.
I was talking to my life coach, Michelle Baker, and she was like “listen, you keep talking about a couple of women who are really triggering something in you. What would happen if you switched those competitive feelings and made those figures your role models?” My whole mindset shifted.
I took two of my biggest role models, Ariel Kiley and Bee Bosnak, and I followed them with great attention to detail. I got to know them, I got to figure out what their weird habits are, the way they talk, the way they structure their days, their lives, everything. I used this study to figure out what it was about them that I wanted to emulate.
It’s really cool that it has come full circle at this point because they’ve actually become really good mentors and friends of mine. Ariel and Bee have both hosted special gatherings with Quilt and I’m so grateful to both of them for always supporting me as my career grows and evolves.
Point being, my number one piece of advice for someone starting their own business is to figure out who your role models are and then study them to a tee. Learn as much as you can about your aspirational figures--that’s going to be your ticket to figuring out the next steps to get you where you want to go.
When you say you looked up to mentors, I’m sure there’s people looking up to you and would love to know your secrets! Do you have any morning routine or daily schedule that maximizes your productivity and well-being?
Absolutely. You know it’s funny, I live in a world that can look fairly ‘without structure’ since I have so much freedom in my day. With Quilt and with teaching, I’m responsible for creating all of the structure that supports my day.
For me, I’m not somebody to repeat the same rituals everyday, but I think that the biggest thing I do to maximize my productivity and well-being is to listen to my intuition--which looks like paying attention to what I need moment-to-moment each day.
This can be challenging for me because I can feel the 9 to 5 world and the New York hustle around me. It’s important for me to be able to look at myself in the mirror and say “hey, you’re tired, you need to take a break,” or “you need to walk outside,” or “you need to go to a class,” and to really listen to all of those things. For me, I’m also incredibly extroverted, so I recharge around people. No matter what I’m doing, whether it’s calling a girlfriend, hanging with my favorite baristas, co-working with my friends, or spending time with my partner who is a startup founder (we’re both constantly working) I make sure that I get time with my people each day.
Human contact is definitely part of what makes me productive and happy. In terms of my workload, I actually work a lot better in short sprints instead of an 8 hour nonstop work day. I take breaks in my day and I make goals that are quick, easy and doable, especially for the things I don't want to do because that’s what keeps me going.
I think that joy in our daily existence is something that we often push aside, but I make sure to weave it in throughout my day, because really, otherwise what’s the point?
You mentioned in there about doing your work in short and simple bursts and that’s a mantra I could really live by! Is there any particular mantra you yourself live by?
This is going to sound a little morbid as my first one, but I have two. The first one is ‘You’re Not Going To Die’ hah! I’ve dealt with anxiety all my life and I have depression running strong on both sides of my family and so this has really been my baseline. When I was growing up I literally used to think I was going to die if I didn’t get my homework done. I grew up handing in assignments weeks early, planning my outfits in advance and keeping track so that I didn’t repeat an outfit too soon. Soon as I started to wrap my head around ‘You’re Not Going To Die,’ that really lowered my anxiety.
Today after years of therapy and a bunch of growing up, my second mantra is ‘Permission To Give Yourself Permission.’ I think about that a lot as the only member of my team who lives 3,000 miles away from the other 13 members on my team. I have to be seriously independent, which is so in line with who I am, but I’ve had to build up a ton of trust in myself to make decisions before my team wakes up every day. I have to call the shots or reach out for help and I wouldn't have it any other way, but I am incredibly grateful for a team and a boss who trust me. My team and co-founders have been such a giant part of my healing and re-establishing my trust in working with others.
It sounds like you’ve come such a long way from when you were younger to now, with everything you’ve gone through, is there advice would you give to 16 year old you?
Oh yes, I think it’s so important for us to reconnect to where we were when we were younger and I think it’s so easy to lose track of that. If I could go back and talk to my 16 year old self, I would say “hey, it’s all going to be ok.”
I remember at that point in my life I was feeling like all eyes were on me, so I would tell her, “Just because it feels like all eyes are on you, because you’re a big sister and you know you’re the apple of your parents eye (the college search is really overwhelming!), but trust that your gut is spot on. Everything that you’re thinking about with your college search is right where you’re supposed to be. I know that it can feel really overwhelming, but the way that you are thinking about narrowing your search down by city...you’ll learn that your physical environment is one of the most essential elements to grounding you and building your success. So keep listening to your intuition over the drama. It can feel like they’re the same, but I promise you they’re not, you got this.”
I could take that advice myself now! Now, I’m sure everyone is curious to know what’s next for Quilt. Is there any upcoming projects or events on the agenda?
Yeah! I’m really proud we just launched our City Organizer Program. Just over a month ago we had 10 women in New York come on as community builders within Quilt. I handpicked these women from our community based on their passion, on their desire and on their ability to be leaders within the community. So much of what Quilt does is empower each member to build community within their own home, but this is just another level of that, an even deeper sisterhood. The idea behind our City Organizer Program is our version of an ambassador program. We just launched one in LA and we’ll have the second class in New York up soon! The idea is that if this goes well, if this turns out to be the program that helps us to grow Quilt, then soon I’ll be going to the next city. We’re looking at Philadelphia right now!
Make sure to keep up to date with the latest 'A Conversation With:' by following @thegoodkindnyc on Instagram!