Sabine Josephs on the Power of Acceptance and Unity
Sabine Josephs is the founder of All of Us Crayons. Her beeswax crayons are inspired by a world where all children embrace their skin color, and others, with kindness, acceptance and unity. All of Us crayons are hand-poured in Sabine’s Brooklyn workshop using sustainable beeswax, sustainable palm wax and natural earth pigments. The All of Us team pride themselves on their commitment to our planet and to humanity.
Listen to her full interview HERE.
IN THIS EPISODE
[01:24] Sabine Josephs on what she is most passionate about
[03:01] Sabine Josephs on her childhood
[04:11] Sabine Josephs on her college education
[04:58] Sabine Josephs on how she started All of Us crayons
[07:38] Sabine Josephs on why she initially didn’t want to sell her crayons
[08:20] Sabine Josephs on how she scaled the business
[10:17] Sabine Josephs on the impact the company has had on her daughter’s life
[11:08] Sabine Josephs on the reaction she gets from her customers
[12:15] Sabine Josephs on the future of All of Us crayons
[12:54] Sabine Josephs on being chosen to be on Diane Von Furstenburg’s Women's History Month show
[13:48] Sabine Josephs on the importance of connecting with other female founders
[14:40] Sabine Josephs on her advice to her younger self
[15:10] Sabine Josephs on the trait that has helped her succeed
[17:12] Sabine Josephs on her biggest professional challenge and how she overcame it
[18:28] Sabine Josephs on the biggest sacrifice she’s had to make for her business
[19:24] Sabine Josephs on what she was taught about women’s roles in society as a young girl
[20:35] Sabine Josephs on her dream for her daughter
[21:35] Sabine Josephs on her dream for women
Passionistas: Hi, we're sisters, Amy and Nancy Harrington, the founders of The Passionistas Project Pocast, where we give women a platform to tell their own unfiltered stories. On every episode we discuss the unique ways in which each woman is following her passions, talk about how she defines success and explore her path to breaking down the barriers that women too often face.
Today we'll be talking with Sabine Joseph, the founder of "All of Us" Crayons. Sabine’s beeswax crayons are inspired by a world where all children embrace their skin color, and others, with kindness, acceptance and unity. "All of Us" crayons are hand-poured in Sabine’s Brooklyn workshop using sustainable beeswax, sustainable palm wax and natural earth pigments. The "All of Us" team pride themselves on their commitment to our planet and to humanity.
So please welcome Sabine Joseph.
Sabine: Hi. What a beautiful intro. Thank you. I'm honored and grateful to be here.
Passionistas: Well, you have a beautiful product and a beautiful mission, and we are thrilled to have you with us. What's the one thing that you are most passionate about?
Sabine: I am most passionate about removing the barriers that prevent us from seeing how wonderful we are because I think when we pull back to our conditioning or, or our criticism and we really step into who we are and step into our gifts, we can change the world. There’s so much to unlock and the whole world benefits from that. So that's, that's my passion.
Passionistas: And how does that translate into the company that you've created?
Sabine: It translates directly into "All of Us" crayons in removing that barrier of skin tone, shades to be available to all. I realized through our customer base and working closely with families that so much of what a child experiences is not spoken about and is not said. So, we really wouldn't even understand that they might have had these limiting beliefs about who they are. And so being able to present them with skin tone crayons to just allow them to see that everyone is special and everyone's perfect, and we have created a company to make sure you know that is okay is exactly how that translates to "All of Us" crayons.
Passionistas: Let's take a step back. Tell us where you grew up, what your childhood was like, and what your beliefs were as a kid.
Sabine: I grew up in New York City, and I grew up in a predominantly white school in a predominantly white neighborhood. And being a black child, I knew that my skin tone was different from my peers around me, but I didn't know if that was important, if that mattered or, or what. And then I remember being introduced to “The Snowy Day” by Jack Keats, and that really blew me away because I was able to identify with that child in that book being a child of color. And then, growing up, really understanding how I then sought to look for books that children were represented that looked like me and how realizing how impactful that was in solidifying my worth and my importance in the world around me.
Passionistas: Where did you go from there? Did you go to college? And if you did, what did you study?
Sabine: Yes, I did. I went to college and studied economics with a concentration in business. And right after college, I went right into corporate America working as a financial analyst in the advertising agencies around New York City. So, I did that for 10 years and then was privileged with the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom and got to really see my child grow and be right there with her. And this is where we discovered the crayons, when she asked to draw Grandma, and we couldn't flip the skin tone crayons that we had. And so that was really a catalyst to what we've created.
Passionistas: Tell us that story. How did you start the company?
Sabine: We took out our, well, beeswax crayons, and then my little Olivia asked to draw Grandma, and we didn't have that brown shade that Grandma was. And so I quickly looked online, and I didn't find anything. And I immediately just started taking a step back for a minute. I knew that was super important for us to have that. And so that's why it prompted me immediately to look for a company that did that, and I didn't find any.
So the next route was to see if I can find a crayon recipe online for our home. And I did that and thought that this would be really great for other people to have. And so, on my Instagram account, I posted it and asked if anyone would want these, because I would like to give five sets away. And they were hundreds of comments that said, “I want these, please sell them to me. Don't give them. I will pay you.” And so, as a stay-at-home mom, I had no intention of creating a crayon brand. So I ignored all of those comments, and weeks went by. And then people were private messaging me saying,” I didn't forget about those crayons. Can I have them please?” And I quickly put one up on Etsy at like, it was like 11:00 PM at night. I told no one about it, and someone bought it, like, immediately after. And she happened to have, like, 30,000 followers on Instagram, and she loved it and posted about it.
And so I posted that I launched about 45 as a pre-order, and that sold out in half an hour. And then I did a next, like 125. And that sold out in like 45 minutes. And so, I thought, "Okay, we're making crayons." And so, I knew I had something that was so impactful to people. And although I never intend intended on starting a grand company, I don't think I wouldn't trade it for the world because of the impact that it had on families and in children's lives, to be able to draw themselves and to be able to draw their family and their neighbors just as they are. It is an honor for me to do this work.
Passionistas: What was that early trepidation? Why didn't you want to sell them at first, and why didn't you tell anybody that you were putting them up?
Sabine: I think it was fear. I don't know what it would take to start a crayon company. I came from finance. I don't know how to scale a crayon business and I wasn't sure how to begin. And so really like, kind of putting my toe in the water and seeing what happened allowed me to kind of see the importance of it and see the impact of it in out in the world, and that really was a catalyst to really getting it going.
Passionistas: Tell us about that process of growing it from these initial pre-orders to the company that you have today.
Sabine: Gosh, a lot of Googling. A lot of figuring out. I remember the early days just working on my stove top and melting wax and kind of just getting orders out. I remember, like, really working until like 2:00 AM trying to just get it when I, like, finished putting my daughter to bed and having my nighttime of work figuring out the exact ratio of all the waxes and pigments to make sure we get like richly colored pigments in each crayon and really being mindful of representing as wide range as we can in in eight crayons. I think that was really important too. And also, the packaging. The packaging, how that looked, that was really important to me. And also, being sustainable. That was a big piece. So, I took a lot of work in sourcing wax and making sure that they were sourced from apiaries that cared about the importance of bees and their pollinators around our world and making sure that that was a real big part of how we grew our company. And didn't want to skimp there at all. And so a lot of trial and error growing. And now we have a team in our open warehouse, and we made "Oprah's Favorite Things" last holiday season, which was incredible. And so, seeing where I've started in my kitchen to now then be able to meet the demand of being on "Oprah's Favorite Things" list and really executing that to scale has been quite incredible.
Passionistas: Your daughter was the inspiration for this. What's been her reaction to seeing you grow this company and what it's become?
Sabine: She has no idea what's happening. She is four now and just sees that mama has crayons everywhere. But I think that is the really special thing about it. So, having skin tone crayons is a normal part of her life now. So, when she goes to a friend's house that doesn't have crayons like this, she is then the one to say, “Hey, you're missing the skin tone crayons.” And so I think that's the most beautiful thing to see is, is her non-reaction, because it's so normal, and she knows how important it is to always have this available to her. So, I think that that has really been really special for me to see.
Passionistas: And what's the reaction and the feedback from the people who are buying your crayons?
Sabine: Gosh, I remember quite vividly an email that I received from a mom, and she said that she had just finished crying and wiping her tears because her child just put a photo in front of her and said, “Look, Mama, I can draw me.” And she had no idea that her child had that urge to draw themselves or cared. And so she then realized, "Wow, like, this is--for my child to be able to identify with themselves around this world is so important." And so that really unlocked something within her. And so she's been a lot more conscious about presenting a diverse community of diverse representation for her child. And that's been so amazing to see stories like that come across, across my world.
Passionistas: We’re Amy and Nancy Harrington and you’re listening to The Passionistas Project Podcast and our interview with Sabine Joseph. To learn more about her skin tone beeswax crayons, visit AllofUsCrayons.com. Now, here’s more of our interview with Sabine Joseph.
Do you have a plan to expand the colors in any way? What's the future of the company?
Sabine: So, I would love to be able to expand in different art mediums, so different art products such as watercolor and oil pastels. That's where we see the company growing in the future.
Passionistas: We heard about you because we saw you on Amazon's promotional campaign for Women's History Month, where Diane von Furstenberg, the famous designer, chose you to sit with her and our own Passionista founder of "Tea Drops," Sashee Chandran. So, tell us what it meant to be included in that and what that experience was like.
Sabine: Oh gosh, that was so incredible. To be able to sit with such an iconic woman who really paved a way for other women, it was really, really incredible. And what a gift it was to gain her wisdom to talk to her about her, the women that she looked up to, and really see the impact that we can bring to the world by just being ourselves and just really hone into our passions and how inspiring that is for other women to see. So it was, it was such an incredible experience.
Passionistas: How important is it for you to have other female founders to connect with?
Sabine: I feel like it's been my saving grace on really hard days to be able to have a female founder to just text and say, “Hey, what's happening with you this month, and what are your challenges, and how can I help you? And how can we leverage each other's strengths to make the journey a little easier?” And even the connections, the being able to pick somebody's brain that has, like, no bias and could tell you things, how it is without, like, that deep emotion that founders usually have on their brand. And to be able to share experiences, I think that is the biggest impact that I've gained, to find a community and not feel alone has been really, really impactful.
Passionistas: What advice would you give to your younger self?
Sabine: You are perfect. You are perfect as you are. And there is so much conditioning happening in the world around us that makes us believe that we're not. But we are perfect, and our flaws are our gifts. And if we lean into that, we can create magic.
Passionistas: Is there a particular trait you have that you think has helped you with your success?
Sabine: I would have to say that I have a kind of an engineering architectural mindset. So, I'm very easily able to see the big picture and connect each and every step that we need to get to that big picture and all, and outline all the obstacles and the challenges and really iron that out to get to that big picture has been, I think, my biggest strength in this endeavor. Because as a founder, there are so many challenges that come into our world that we can't plan for. And to be able to keep an eye on that big picture and say, “Okay, this isn't the plan, but let's see how we can keep on going” has been a great influencer on how successful the company has been.
I think also for me, really keeping a close eye on why I started the brand that has been really important for me, because as we grow and we scale, it's so easy for sales numbers and revenue numbers and forecasts to really be the driver on a lot of the decisions. But keeping a close reminder, if you are doing this as a passion and really knowing how you want to change the world, people see that, and they gravitate towards that. And sometimes when you don't have to do much work, and it happens that way. And so yes, the sales and revenue and forecasting numbers are very important, but also really coming back to and having that also be a really big important factor in where we go in the future has been a really big mover for me to keep on going.
Passionistas: What's been your biggest professional challenge, and how did you overcome it?
Sabine: Knowing when to scale, I think that is the biggest challenge. And then trusting my gut, that is also a biggest challenge. Because I remember, after we were announced as one of "Oprah's Favorite Things," kind of behind the scenes, I had a decision of whether to get a bigger production space, and so much fear set in. "Do we need a bigger space? Can we afford a bigger production space?" And so, my gut kept on saying, “Yes, you do. Just do it.” And so, I remember just doing it and just getting a bigger space. And now looking back at it, I don't think we would've executed that as flawlessly as we did without that bigger production space. So, giving my gut a voice and really allowing the fear of scaling to subside and really trusting myself and trusting the process, and just trusting. I think that that is the biggest challenge.
Passionistas: What's the biggest sacrifice you've had to make?
Sabine: Time. Time is the biggest sacrifice. Time away from my daughter has been the biggest one. Really kind of juggling of growing, growing the business, but also wanting to spend time with her and enjoy making dinner and making cupcakes together and really doing it in a conscious way. And so really sitting with her and being present instead of thinking about what I'm going to do tomorrow on my to-do list tomorrow. And so, really being present and allocating my time has been, I think, yeah, the biggest challenge.
Passionistas: When you were a girl, what lessons did your mother teach you about women's roles in society and what are you passing on to your daughter?
Sabine: So my mom is from Haiti. And in Haiti, I think a lot of cultural norm is kind of, the woman should do a lot of the household work and to kind of navigate her life around marriage and raising children. And I hope to pass along that, yes, we can do those things, but we can also run businesses and really step into our own passions while having that balance of doing what I guess is the cultural norms of a woman's role. I think if we choose to do that, we can. If we choose not to do that, that is okay too. And I think that is what I'm passing on, the flexibility to do what you wish to do in your life and having a support system around that to be able to really navigate your life to your own desires and wishes.
Passionistas: What's your dream for your daughter, Olivia?
Sabine: My dream is for her to really be unafraid to step into who she is and to be unafraid to take risks. To step into challenges and to understand or try to understand if it's fear, or am I just faced with a challenge that might be hard, but I want to tackle it. And I think with those tools, it opens up a world of possibilities to what she wants to achieve in her life. And so, if she wants to go to college, sure. She doesn't, sure. Let's see where you can lead your life in the happiest way that you thrive as an individual.
Passionistas: What's your dream for women in general?
Sabine: To know how powerful they are, to know how important they are in our world, and to really understand so much of our world has conditioned us to think a certain way and to look a certain way and to act a certain way, and really see how incredible we are. And we don't need all of that conditioning. We just need to be, and that truly is enough. And with just being, I think so much is unlocked. There are so many things that you might not have seen comes into focus, and then the courage of stepping into that, I think it unlocks so much courage, so much power, and we, we can change the world. We truly can.
Passionistas: Thanks for listening to The Passionistas Project Podcast and our interview with Sabine Joseph. To learn more about her skin tone beeswax crayons, visit AllofUsCrayons.com.
And be sure to visit ThePassionistasProject.com to sign up for our mailing list, find all the ways you can follow us on social media, and join our worldwide community of women working together to level the playing field for us all.
We'll be back next week with another Passionista who is defining success on her own terms and breaking down the barriers for herself and women everywhere.
Until then, stay well and stay passionate.