Here I Am: Becoming a Sustainable Self-Care Business

A Need for Change

After the COVID-19 pandemic, I felt a strong need for change. Without thinking about it for too long, Robert and I sold our home in Austin, Texas, and headed west. We moved to Long Beach, California, in our Zombie Apocalypse Escape Van, which started as a project during the pandemic and became our nomadic home. This wasn't just a shift in location; it marked the beginning of a significant career transformation for me. I left my well-paid tech job and decided to explore entrepreneurship. Why not? Everything else had changed. 

A photograph of Renee and Robert at the beach

Renee Trepagnier and Robert Dugan at the beach

The Early Days

My journey into entrepreneurship began with a subscription box business that featured products from makers and artisans across the country. This venture eventually evolved into a curated collection of self-care items focusing on sustainability and women-led brands. In the midst of the political landscape of the time, I clung tightly to my core values, seeking out women who show up for themselves every day by believing in themselves and demonstrating their strength and power. I knew I had to challenge societal norms and shine a light on the strength and resilience of women who, like me, were dealing with complex issues navigating life as a woman in her fifties. That is why the business is named "Here I Am." It's a tribute to women who never stopped showing up and doing the hard work of living and caring for themselves, no matter what life threw at them.

Meeting Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs

This journey introduced me to many inspiring women entrepreneurs. Each encounter and each story added to a tapestry of resilience and community. These women juggled their businesses, families, and personal care with remarkable determination. Whether through casual conversations at a local market or virtual meetings spanning different time zones, the connections I formed were not just professional but deeply personal, creating a network of support and inspiration. These encounters highlighted the power of communal uplift and shared entrepreneurial spirit.

The Landscape of Women in Entrepreneurship

Women entrepreneurs often navigate the business world differently than their male counterparts. If more women received the funding and support they deserved, it could significantly reshape our society. By creating environments that encourage women and young girls to lead and innovate, we can lay the groundwork for a more equitable future. Looking back on my journey, I found that the business landscape can be competitive, often pitting women against each other. Overcoming this has involved building networks based on collaboration rather than competition. Succeeding in business does not mean others have to fail. As the Here I Am business grows, we will continue to increase our support of other small businesses through formal and informal means.

Empowering Aspiring Women Entrepreneurs

For women considering entrepreneurship, my advice is sincere:

  1. Seek mentors and build a network of women who will support and champion your journey.
  2. Utilize your personal and professional networks—family and friends can be invaluable resources.
  3. Be prepared to hear some harsh feedback. Absorb it, learn from it, and never take it personally.
  4. Keep going; don't let failures or missed expectations bring you down.

Resilience, mentorship, and community are essential pillars for success in the challenging world of entrepreneurship.

Join Us 

The development of "Here I Am" has been a transformative journey that has impacted my life and Robert's. As we continue to advocate for sustainability, ethical practices, and the support of women-led small businesses, we are reminded daily of the power of conscious consumerism and intentional entrepreneurship.

Join us in supporting small, sustainable, and women-owned businesses. Explore the world of "Here I Am" products and share your own stories of entrepreneurship or transformation. Together, we can create a ripple effect of positive change and empowerment.

Renee, the co-founder of Here I Am, in her workshop

Renee in the workshop

Happy travels! 

Renee Trepagnier, Co-founder and CEO of Here I Am

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