Meet our Braavheart #8: the fierce mompreneur Sofie Ysewijn. Apart from growing her brand COS I SAID SO, she's also a loving mother to her 2 sons. It is no secret that combining motherhood and a busy career is super challenging. We're curious on how she pulls everything off, aren't you?
Can you introduce yourself and what you do in a few sentences?
I am Sofie Ysewijn, 37 years old, born in Antwerp. I am married to Stephen and the mother of two sons, Nathan & Phoenix. Since 2016 I run the brand COS I SAID SO, a unisex sustainable brand for kids that consists of comfortable and stylish basics.
What's your motto in life?
"Trust the timing of your life, you are exactly where you need to be." I used to be very 'rushed' and inpatient. Non-stop having ideas and reaching my goals as quickly as possible. The result was that I lived under constant stress. By becoming a mom I had to slow down because the impact of children on your life as an entrepreneur is not to be underestimated. I also don't like to give up parenting so I had to find a balance and finally find a way to do it.
From the moment I found this inner peace and balance, I was more productive than ever.
What's the ultimate relaxation for you? If you have time left after your busy job & raising the two kids.
I’ve two passions that destress me to the fullest. Cooking & designing a new collection. The passion for cooking also comes from my love of good food and fresh ingredients. Mindlessly cutting or creating a new dish is the ultimate way to clear my mind.
The other passion is being in the design phase of my collections. The perfect moment to be my creative self and to visualize all the cool kids wearing the new Cos I Said So collection.
There are a lot of hobbies I would like to do but now I can't because it's busy enough with work and kids. I would love to do more sports but unfortunately, it's hard to find a strict routine. Would otherwise be handy with all that cooking and eating ;)
What are your future objectives on your professional agenda?
When I’m determining my objectives for my private and work life, I’m always thinking in terms of 5 years. With COS I SAID SO, I crushed my 5-year goals and achieved the objectives I wanted to reach. Hard work does pay off, and that makes me very proud! However, I’ve already made new plans and a mission for the upcoming years. Maybe you have seen something passing by on my Instagram ;) International growth is one of the pillars in my next 5-year plan for COS I SAID SO. Personally I want to maintain a good work-life balance and still enjoy my time with the family. They always come first!
A very important question for you and other mompreneurs: how do you combine work & family?
Watching my limits & don't do things that throw me off balance too much. I have a husband who knows me very well and understands that I need that sense of freedom and the urge to do my own thing. That motivates me even more!
Being a mum of small children, Phoenix is 2,5 years and Nathan is 6 years old, I’m happy to have completed the goal to be my own boss and understand the hurdles of being a mompreneur. This requires a lot of discipline, but I’m far more motivated each day and always have a certain sense of freedom to make my own planning. Since I run COS I SAID SO, I haven't had to drag myself out of bed once.
When the children are a bit older, everything in the family will start to change again and I will look for a new balance. But that's not what I'm worried about right now. Live in the moment! We'll see later….
Can you give the ultimate tip for our Braavhearts, planning to start their own business?
Actually I have three I really want to share:
Don't take too much on your plate at the same time. Focus on what you want to do and seek your point of difference. Feed your new project with your soul and don’t let others' negative influence shift you into another direction. Self-esteem and finding a strong brand DNA are very important. Only you know the true vision & mission of your company and can make it unique. To give you a concrete example: when I started with COS I SAID SO I focussed on making the best qualitative t-shirts and sweaters. From sketch to production, it took me almost a year to get my first collection done. When I launched COS I SAID SO, it suddenly became a trend to buy promo t-shirts and have them printed with quotes & graphics. I felt the pressure to prove to the world that I didn’t want to associate my company with this and felt the pressure to enlarge my production process to other product categories like trousers, jackets,... Actually, I was being rushed. I wanted to distinguish myself. The consequence: everything went too fast, became too expensive and gave me a lot of stress. In the meantime I also had a child of 2 walking around. I felt I was failing as a mother, as a wife, and as an entrepreneur. So, time to reset and fine-tune. I realized I don't have to prove anything to anyone but myself. So what does it matter that I just sell sweaters and t-shirts and no jeans and jackets? I want to grow organically at my pace and focus on what I’m good at. To focus on the core business and DNA of COS I SAID SO again, was the correct decision.
After 5 years COS I SAID SO grew into a total look collection with a correct and fair production process. The brand grew into the one, I envisioned myself from day 1.
Tip 2: Don't rush! Don't forget to live in the meantime.
Tip 3: Dare to take the plunge. There's no right time. Time is now!
Which book is a must-read in your opinion?
I do recommend THE COMPANY OF ONE by Paul Jarvis to a lot of people, when I was reading that book I could find a lot of associations in the way I run my company.
Who do you think should be our next Braavheart?I look up to power woman Karolin Van Loon, she makes beautiful jewelry. Another Braavheart is Thaïs Van Der Heijden. She makes the nicest books and drawings. When thinking of other inspirational women, I notice that they all are mompreneurs. It is no secret that combining motherhood and a busy career is far more challenging. You need to take a lot into account. For example, you have the busiest week, full of meetings and one of your kids gets sick. You always have the feeling to prioritize & making choices between your personal & professional life. However, we always pull it together and get it done! Double chapeau for the mompreneur!