Dream on Youth is set to be the mental health non-profit organisation the world needs, with a background in photography and passion for self-care Cydney Irby is the woman you need to be reading about.
Smart Girl Tribe: What was the catalyst for becoming a female founder?
Cydney: Dream On Youth started when I didn’t see a safe space for people like me who were living with depression, anxiety, and more. I knew as a young black woman, this would be monumental. I just didn’t know how big it would be.
S: Who has had the greatest influence on your work?
C: Alex Beadon, hands down. I’ve followed Alex since she was a photographer, back when I was creating a photography business. She was always energetic, full of life, and a busy body. She has her hands in multiple things but she never forgets people. She continuously brings it back to helping people live the life they’ve dreamt of, without glamorising the work that had to be put in.
S: How did you fund the business at the start and how did you secure
a following in the beginning?
C: Out of my own pocket, I am in the process of registering it as a non-profit organisation. I secured my following though anonymously. I was on Twitter. I didn’t want my family, friends, or anyone in my hometown knowing what I was doing. I went under the Twitter name @supportdoyou and just started reaching out to people. People who seemed to need someone, even if they just said it was “song lyrics.” All you need to know is who you want to help, why, where they like to frequent, and how to connect these things.
S: Has this always been your job or did you start with something else?
C: My career path started off in true self-starter fashion, I was a photographer. The first job I was ever paid for was to photograph my best friend’s senior portraits. I remember, I didn’t ask for a lot but they paid me more. From there, I went into customer service. First with PetSmart, then Bojangles, Anthropologie, and call centres. For Dream On Youth, like any business you have to do what you have to do.
S: What is the habit that contributes most to your success?
C: I’m a note-taker. It sounds so odd to be proud of that, at least to me, but I am. I’m detail-oriented, which allows me to be innovative because there’s never one single solution to a problem. I treat a lot of things as case-by-case, so if that case appears again I know my next steps without hesitation. I’m your girl for weird situations and things that were not taught in training. The queen of alternative methods and challenging the status quo. Constantly taking notes means I’m constantly learning and improving my skills. To put it bluntly, I don’t vibe well with doing the bare minimum.
“Bring people value in a way they don’t get to experience often. Be yourself as you build because that is going to be what sets you apart.”
S: You really stress the importance of self-care, what are your three
top tips to practice it more?
C: Just three? Kidding, kidding. Change the thoughts in your head. You can acknowledge that you’re having self-doubt, insecurities, etc. The key is to flip it and reverse it. Instead of, “I’ll never be good enough” tell yourself: “You know, I have some growing to do. I am enough, and if I want to learn this, I can.” Next, stop telling yourself that self-care has to look like face masks, bubble baths and yoga. Your self-care routine is allowed to look however you think it should. Finally, write down three things that bring you joy. Self-care isn’t selfish and even 10 minutes of silence, journaling, or alone time is better than nothing. Whether an extrovert, ambivert, or introvert, we should all be self-aware.
S: Best career advice you would tell others?
C: Take the job and learn as much as you can. Entrepreneurial culture will have you believe you need to quit your full-time job now and be living on an island somewhere working remotely. Carry something from each place of employment. No matter how much I hated or loved my job at the time, each place has taught me something. Go in with that same mentality.
S: What is the challenge you face most regularly?
C: My biggest challenge is imposter syndrome. I try to convince myself that I’m not good at selling, I’m not worth the price I want to charge, and nobody is going to want to buy. Me being scared of my brilliance, my gifts, and my truth has to stop. I have to charge like I believe in me because I do.
S: What has been the hardest part of your journey so far?
C: I think it’s going through seasons of growing pains while building Dream On Youth. Last year solidified what I wanted for this organisation and where I want to take it. I shut it down for two months so we could rebuild. I stripped down our logo, who we were, our website. The roots are still there but DOY is better than it’s been. I know we’re headed to great heights in 2019 and beyond.
S: What are three traits every self-starter needs do you think?
C: Every self-starter needs to be innovative, passionate, and adaptable. If you don’t handle change well, you’ll learn. Self-starting is not for those who are looking for a walk in the park.
S: What’s next for you and what would you tell your younger self?
C: Wow. So much. I’m in the process of registering Dream On Youth as a non-profit, launching a new podcast and self-publishing my first book.
This is just in 2019. I could go on and on about my goals for years ahead. I would say people are so terrified others are going to jack them for their ideas. Nobody can execute the dream exactly as you can. You’re going to make it. You’re going to find love in yourself. You’ll go to places you never thought possible, meet people you never imagined being in the same room with, and live a full life. And, little one, it’s just beginning.
Fashion- As a business owner what is your everyday outfit? My everyday outfit is a pair of skinny jeans, a t-shirt (a Dazey LA tee if I want to make a statement), a pair of hoop earrings, ankle booties, and my afro. Yes, my hair is a power move all its own.
Books- One entrepreneurial book you would recommend? This is so hard. I love a good read so I’d have to recommend “Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes. This one is about self-care as much as it’s about business and life. Think of it as saying yes to yourself and see what happens.
Best way to practice self-care? Personally, I love a good nap! A Sunday nap with my cat Peanut in the sunshine of my bedroom is a dream.
Travelling- When working is there a particular beauty product that you swear by? Oh my goodness, Daily Glow Moisturizer from Shea Moisture’s coconut oil line. When I say, it’s thick and you will glow all day. I don’t need makeup if I have that!
Lastly, your favourite song to feel empowered? Don’t Touch My Hair by Solange. I interpret it as an anthem for every girl who has ever been told her hair needs to be a certain cut, colour, curl pattern, and more. For every woman who has been told to be a certain way and act a certain way.
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