Ali Kriegsman is the co-founder and COO of Bulletin, a wholesale commerce marketplace. Her first book, How to Build a Goddamn Empire, is a part-memoir, part-instruction manual that demystifies the good, bad, and unexpected of entrepreneurship—ICYMI, here’s an exclusive excerpt.
Ahead and in her own words, Kriegsman details her self-care routine, and how the pandemic inspired her to stop romanticizing the non-stop, entrepreneurial grind.
Back in February of 2020, I got really, really sick with flu-like symptoms but felt a type of fatigue I had never experienced before. I lost my sense of smell and taste and developed a cough that lasted nearly a month. COVID wasn’t really in the US in a major way yet and it wasn’t a big news story at the time, and I figured, “oh, I’m just burnt out. I’ll take a few days off and try to get back to work.” I didn’t take care of myself and kept going to the office. We had recently launched our wholesale marketplace in September of 2019 and those first six months were just really critical. Ultimately, I ended up having a bit of a burnout breakdown as the sickness just got worse and worse, and I had to really give myself time to rest and recover.
I think a lot of entrepreneurs feel that immense pressure to keep the trains on the track and you feel like stepping out of work could hinder your company’s growth, or somehow wreak havoc. That’s obviously outlandish thinking—you’ve also hired great, competent people who can keep things moving and grooving. It’s not all on you. But there’s that quiet voice inside that feels guilty about taking time away. That voice can often cause depression in entrepreneurs. Anyway—I learned at that moment that making myself and my wellness should be a priority and that having an avoidant attitude about illness or a “push through it” attitude when you’re not feeling well is irresponsible and unnecessary.
I am not great at this. I want to get better at this. I think COVID has made it so difficult to construct a clear divide. As for my method—I wouldn’t call this a method per se but I often leave my phone in the other room on weeknights after a certain time. Once I’m all done for the day, I like to hide my phone from myself or leave it in the bedroom while I cook dinner, eat and settle in for the night.
I am normally checking every app incessantly: for order notifications, emails, important Slacks. I know that if my phone is out of reach, I can enter a different space and mindset. So that’s something I do most nights, and I think it’s a good practice.
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I try to keep my nighttime and morning time routines as short as possible now. I’m like, I’ve got places to go and people to see. I’ve got work to do! Even if at night, it’s just getting to bed quicker. I’m all about a speedy routine. I use a Tata Harper face oil as my first cleanser, and then I follow with their Regenerating Cleanser. I like the way they both smell, and I love a nourishing face oil—it feels fancy. The Regenerating Cleanser is a daily BHA exfoliator and that lets me keep it chill and moisturizing in my serums and creams, versus active ingredients in those layers.
I follow up with the Stonecrop Hydrating Mist and the Strawberry Rhubarb Hyaluronic Serum from Eminence—it smells so insanely good, I am addicted. And I love the natural strawberry color and texture. Eminence as a brand is really high quality and all-natural. They’re decades old and a lot of spas and aestheticians love their products. And then I either do Weleda Skin Food as my night cream or the Matcha Moisturizer by Cocokind. Weleda Skin Food is really heavy and nourishing in a kind of greasy way and the Matcha Moisturizer is a heavier, softer creamy texture. I guess it’s a five-step process.
I have a tiny pink stool as my nightstand and it just has a few books on it, a vase of fresh flowers ideally, and a candle and a coaster. Also essential oils like lavender. I like putting some essential oil into my palms and gently scenting the pillows and sheets. Lavender is a super relaxing smell and it is such a low-cost way to elevate your nightly vibe a little bit and make things kind of fancy and spa-like.
I always tell myself I’m going to read before bed but I never do. And yeah, having the fresh flowers is just so nice to wake up to, and I love getting a little whiff of gardenia or whatever I’ve got going on when a breeze comes through my window.
I love wearing a massive oversized hoodie, Ariana Grande-style, and some cozy biker shorts or boy shorts. I don’t really get dolled up at night or wear any super formal pajama sets. I like feeling like a little cloud when the day is done so that pairing is usually my go-to. I also have massive sweats I’ll swap in if it’s too cold for shorts.
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Okay, so I love the Buffy comforter. I got one two years ago and I swear to G*d it is genuinely so airy and light and dense at the same time. I have these great linen duvet covers from Amazon, nothing too pricey or fancy, and my bedding is from Target. As long as I have a great mattress, squishy pillows (I hate hard pillows!), and my Buffy, I’m good to go. Not even spon-con, just a fan.
I usually pour myself a Sweet Reason or a Recess, which are both CBD beverages I love. I don’t even know if they have a calming effect at this point but I like the ritual of it. I’ve been trying to drink less wine before bed, which was my go-to for most of COVID, and this has been a good replacement.
I typically listen to a podcast or music while I cook dinner with my boyfriend. We eat and watch a documentary or a show we love, and that’s it. I don’t pray or meditate at night, but sometimes I meditate in the morning. Honestly, disconnecting from my phone, cooking, a great beverage I can slowly sip and some good true crime content is all I need to close out the day.
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