Kena Paranjape is an entrepreneur, writer, speaker and the Founder of All You Are. She is passionate about inspiring others to live well everyday and harness their creativity to create a fulfilling life. Her story is incredibly inspiring and it was such an honour to learn about her journey. Introducing Kena!
In 2007, at the age of 30, Kena’s husband became suddenly and mysteriously critically ill. After five months in the intensive care units of several hospitals, he recovered enough to come home but with a permanent condition that needed to be carefully managed. Over the course of the next seven years, Kena and her husband managed his health on a daily basis until his passing in 2014.
Kena experienced first hand how quickly life can change, forcing you to not only adapt but to actively choose how your story will unfold. While there is much we cannot control, we have more agency over our lives than we realize. Through her journey, she also came to understand the power of committing to living well regardless of our life circumstances. This journey inspired her to create All You Are.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and what inspired you to start All You Are?
All You Are began like many entrepreneurial stories do. I had a problem, couldn't find the solution so decided to create it myself! I love robes but have been on an eternal search for the perfect one. Robes on the market are either too bulky, awkward and frumpy, or too slinky and clingy. I wanted a robe that was flattering, feminine and stylish but that also was designed for life. Since I couldn't find it anymore, I designed it myself.
What does your typical day look like?
My days start by waking up before my daughter so I can have about an hour alone with my thoughts and my morning coffee. I review my goals, plan my day and try to read something inspiring and motivating. Then my daughter wakes up and the rush of the day starts including getting her to daycare and hopefully a quick workout. Between then and pick-up at 5:30 I pack in meetings with my team, working on the upcoming collection, and executing our marketing strategy.
What was the worst piece of advice you've ever received?
The worst piece of advice I ever received was to “think positively”. Now, the most ironic thing is that anyone who knows me would likely describe me as an eternal optimist. An idealist even. But I received this advice as a way to gloss over something that was happening in my life at the time. That somehow just thinking positively would make things better. But I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes, you just have to face a challenge straight in the face. It doesn’t mean you have to adopt a negative mind set. But you have to see a situation for what it is and take action accordingly. And yes, be positive while you’re taking action. But never rely on positive thinking alone to change a situation.
What does success mean to you?
I’ve thought so much about this. As much as I aim for the traditional markers for success, things like sales revenue, social media engagement, traffic etc, I more importantly believe that all of that means nothing if you aren’t truly present and enjoying your life every single day. My goals include being present when with other people, giving myself time to get into a flow while working, being spontaneous, and having fun! Because what’s the point of any of it if you aren’t having fun?
In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?
I have a toolbox I turn to when I’m battling self-doubt or adversity. First I recognize that what I’m feeling isn’t fact, they are just thoughts that are being reflected in how I feel. Then I re-focus on what my strengths are and what I know I’m great at. I’ve loved writing since I was little, so writing, whether in my journal or for a blog post always makes me feel stronger and more in control. I just recently wrote a post about how to pull yourself out of a funk on All You Are’s blog. I also remind myself of how many harder things I’ve overcome. And I am very good to myself whether that means going for a walk, or having a cookie or calling a friend. We should all be nicer to ourselves, especially when we’re feeling self-doubt.
Do you have any morning routines or evening rituals to help you stay balanced?
For years I would wake up early and sit quietly by myself with my coffee, a journal and some reading. After I had my daughter, who is now almost three, that sacred time went out the window. Over the last six months or so, I’ve committed to it again, and it is truly life-changing. When you give yourself time to be quiet and reflect and dream and plan before you start your day, you become more intentional and purposeful as you move through it.
Learn more about All You Are.
If you liked this interview, you might like our recent interview with Emily Foucault, founder of ThinkHatch.