SEE ABOVE : Our inspiration, the Hindu goddess Kali – super fierce, destroyer of demons, liberator of souls.
(Right image photo credit : Manjari Sharma)


Because the stakes of NOT obliterating it are really, really high.


I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.” – Bonnie Ware


What’s holding on you back?

Could it be that you don’t want to disappoint or ruffle the feathers of someone else?

Could it be that you’re afraid of the unknown?

Could it be that you just don’t believe that your dreams are possible? They are insurmountable? You’re not good enough to get what you want?


Could it be that every time you actually start to believe in your dream + share your ideas with others, they shoot them down??

The latter was one of my biggest obstacles in creating WORK+SHELTER. Here’s how I conquered this issue : IGNORED THEM!  


Naysayers are anyone who discredits your abilities or dumps on your dreams.

Yep, you heard that right – ANYONE. Family / friends / coworkers / bosses / the neighbor you occasionally enjoy a cup of chai with … if their response to your endeavors is anything less than supportive, they should go at the top of your IGNORE list.

Everyone has their own opinion about what you should do with your life.

When I started WORK+SHELTER there were discouraging words around every corner. EVERYONE told me not to start my business.

A few of the most popular nay-sayings I heard were…

You’re too young.

You need to focus on yourself and your career.

You need to be wealthy before you can do work like this.

How will a young American woman run a business overseas?

And then of course there was the, “Poor Indian women don’t want to work” – where have you heard that rhetoric before?

But I ignored them. Each + every one.

I followed my instincts. I continued fighting for my dream.

+ as it often turns out … the naysayers were all wrong.


If you need to be deviant to live a life that’s more authentic for you, you’ve got to do it.

When you have the vision, and you can see the unseen – you have a business ideayou’re actually a superhero of sorts!

It’s not your fault that everyone can’t see your vision … though you have to practice explaining it. It’s not because they think you’re incapable + it’s not even necessarily about you.

They likely just have a different paradigm + prioritize different values, OR they simply want to protect you, as many of my naysayers did.

You can’t necessarily blame them for that … but you absolutely CAN ignore them!

Here’s an amazing poem by Mary Oliver, (with my own bits of emphasis on some favorite lines!), to remind us all of the importance in ignoring naysayers.

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

-Mary Oliver

“BE YOUR OWN YES – SAYER !” – Wonder Woman

Sometimes, when I need to give myself a little perspective on whether my newest idea is crazy or not, (because people will tell me I’m crazy), I remember that …

Someone went to outer space over 50 years ago. Before color TV. Long before the internet.

It puts things in perspective.

Oh, is it possible for me to run my tiny little center in India? Yeah, probably.

People have done things that are a lot harder, and a lot more complicated.

So PLEASE take a cue from the Kali goddess, and destroy your demons – a.k.a. IGNORE  THE  NAYSAYERS – they don’t know better.

YOU know better. (Unless they are a really smart business coach – then maybe you should listen.) 😉


Please message us to share your naysayer stories, popular nay-sayings, + dreams you need to hear YES-Sayings to!

AND don’t forget to keep up with us over at WORK+SHELTER!

Follow our Instagram + Facebook + Twitter, and join our awesome e-mail list by signing up below.

Thanks so much for reading + sharing. Until next time, be well!    xo, Theresa

{images used under license of}



As an entrepreneur, breaking out of your comfort zone is essential to success.

Confronting one’s fears + uncertainties when starting a business is extremely challenging + takes a lot of practice.

As a woman, this is especially mortifying + may feel nearly impossible at times.

We have to work extra hard to gain others’ respect + trust … but that makes it all the more worth our blood, sweat, + tears in the end!

At this year’s most recent WISE : Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship conference in Syracuse, I addressed the importance of annihilating your comfort zone bubble.

+ now, I’m going to share it with you !!

Check out these 4 lessons I had to learn the hard way + will be discussing over the next few weeks here at Chat Over Chai :

How to ignore them, inspire them, and embrace your love-hate of each naysayer.

How to take gradually increasing increments of risk, confidently grow slow, and be fully prepared to take the plunge.

How to accept it, manage it, and continue progress throughout suffering.

How to embrace it, learn from it, and internalize that failure is essential to success.

+ that’s it! Sounds simple enough, right? I can’t wait to start chatting comfort zone with you + hope this series will help inspire you to break out of your comfort zone, too!


Because we need more women to embrace their dreams, destroy their comfort zones, and work together as successful entrepreneurs.

xo, Theresa

While preparing to start Lesson 1: The Naysayers on our next post, here’s a tip from India on staying calm while obliterating your cozy zone – this chai recipe !

How to Make Chai Tea

YIELD: 4 servings

PREP TIME: 1 minute

COOK TIME: 5 minutes


  • 2 ¼ cups water
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4 cardamom pods, cracked
  • 4-5 black tea bags, or ¼ cup loose black tea
  • 2 cups whole milk or half-n-half
  • ¼ cup sugar


  1. Press the cardamom pods until they crack. Bring the water, tea, star anise, cinnamon, and cardamom to a boil.
  2. Boil for 3-5 minutes until the tea is black and has reduced to about 2 cups. Strain and add the sugar. Add the milk and stir until hot.
  3. Place the used cardamom pods in the bottom of the cups for good friends.
  4. Makes 4 American-sized servings or 12+ Indian-sized servings.

Happy sipping!



I’m Theresa, CEO of WORK+SHELTER …

…and I’m Brit, WORK+SHELTER Sales and Marketing Coordinator.

Thanks for checking out our new blog!!

We’ve got a lot to chat about ~ from the perks & pains of being a female entrepreneur/warrior, running an ethical production center in India, and supporting a team of women across the globe ~ to other awesome topics, like traveling tips & tricks, how to get your yoga on anywhere & everywhere, and favorite recipes for our lifeblood : chai.

But, before getting into all that jazz…

Let’s get to know Theresa a little better!

BRIT : You’ve been focused on international affairs since studying in college & maybe even before then – what started you down this path?

THERESA : I was 13 the first time I traveled abroad, and I went to Peru. This was very unusual in my family and community at the time.

Growing up in the Midwest, my world was small – my hometown had literally one stoplight. I was pretty sheltered – and most everyone else I knew was, too. But I had an ambitious Spanish teacher who was really inspired by Peru, and wanted to bring her students. So when I first heard about it at 12 years old, I immediately knew I wanted to go! My parents didn’t have the money to just buy me a ticket outright, and were also probably trying to teach me a lesson about hard work, so I took on part-time jobs and began with a seemingly endless calendar of fundraisers to raise money for the trip. I babysat and worked for my dad’s manufacturing business sweeping up metal chips – even waking up at 5am on my Spring Breaks to go to work – all just to save money for this trip!

After a year and a half of saving, I was finally able to go. I was amazed the first day we flew into Lima, Peru, and started eating passion fruit ice cream, and meeting all these incredibly nice people. I immediately felt all the work from the last year and a half was worth just those first few hours! It transformed my sense of how big the world is.

This was also when I was first introduced to poverty. Coming from small town America, and though my family was working class, I’d never seen children who were starving. Witnessing this shook me to my core.

After that trip, I got home and had a hard time explaining to my family what I had experienced. Everyone kept saying “Taking this trip was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – you are so lucky.” I knew I was lucky, but I didn’t want to accept that this would be the one big adventure of my life. I wanted the rest of my life to be like this. A deep wanderlust rooted and settled into the core of my being. I suddenly understood that the world was infinitely bigger than I had imagined – and it transformed everything.

B : When did you first get the idea for WORK+SHELTER? What was the main trigger that made you know that you had to build this?

T : When I went to India for the first time in 2007, I desperately desired to be a positive force in the world. But before you can act, you have to learn and understand. So I was doing research (sponsored by the University of Michigan) on how economic empowerment impacts women’s lives in India, and an internship at a really great organization that supports craftsgroups’ access to markets (Dastkar).

For me, this basically meant spying on different artisan groups and livelihood creation projects, and meeting individual women trying to make their way in the world by producing some sort of garment, accessory, or handicraft. I interviewed women who were raped by their husbands, widowed with no way to care for themselves or their children, or physically ravished by harsh living conditions at a very young age. I again was deeply moved by the suffering I had witnessed.

I then did an internship at Amnesty International New Delhi, but still felt like I wasn’t really making a positive impact in the world. So many women had shared their suffering with me, but I wasn’t doing anything direct to help them in return. It began to really bother me, and the idea for WORK+SHELTER gradually formed. I hadn’t seen or heard of any organizations that offered women both shelter and a livelihood, and I was fairly confident that we could create a product that people would be interested in buying abroad.

B : People probably call you an idealist, but without living with hope I feel that we cannot expect anything to change. Can you explain in more detail first why India, and then why you are so passionate about helping women in this way?

T : I have a really deep-rooted feeling that I am taking up too much space in this world, and that the pleasures of my life and much of the developed world rest on the backs of the poor in the Global South.

I think a lot of what I do/try to do is catalyzed by this feeling of debt. It also makes me feel like I’m never doing enough. The more I have, the more I owe. And any impact I’ve had so far is so minuscule that it doesn’t really relieve much of that indebted feeling.

A lot of the work I put into planning WORK+SHELTER was necessary, but I know planning doesn’t help anyone. It is only helpful when it results in a sustainable route for women to take care of themselves and their community. Scaling the real impact part has just started.


On a very practical level, it’s India because this is where I have experience, knowledge, and resources.

The reason I have those things is because a philanthropist couple funded a program at the University of Michigan for students like me to go to India. They gave 5 undergraduate grants per year, totaling around $3,000 each. At that time, I was desperate to go anywhere, but there was no way I could afford a trip like that on my own.

After hearing about the grant opportunity I went crazy coming up with ideas, doing research, and picking people’s brains. Back then, I knew nothing about India. I was interested in women’s issues and microfinance was really on my mind at the time, having recently discovered Mohammad Yunus. So I wrote a grant proposal to study how economic empowerment changes women’s lives socially in India. I spent a lot of time refining my proposal, and ended up being one of the lucky few to get the grant! That’s how I first ended up in India.


I don’t know why I’m drawn to this work – being a woman, maybe I just am? I do think it’s interesting that there is no country in this entire world where women are equal with men. Think about it:

If women were equal to men, would rape exist?

If women were equal to men, then why are reproductive choices still constrained everywhere?

If women were equal to men, then would the majority of the poorest people in this world belong to one gender?

I’m also really interested in economics and capitalism (to be kind of broad about it), so I really like looking at the intersections between poverty and inequality. My understanding is that men and women have equal capacities, but because women give birth and tend to spend more time raising children, they have less access to the public sphere where income is generated and wealth is acquired. Thus, because they have less access to economic resources, they have less power. Men have more resources – men have more power. It’s pretty simple, and that’s why the core belief of W+S is economic empowerment in a way that makes sense for women.

We’re constantly seeing impact at the New Delhi shelter.

I’ll never forget the first impact we made at WORK+SHELTER. It was within weeks of our opening, during a time when it was more or less just me sitting and working on my laptop in an empty building all day. We had a really sweet neighbor who would bring over steaming cups of chai every day. She and I would chat in Hindi (which was a struggle for both of us, given it isn’t either of our native languages, but it was the one we shared). She noticed a sample product sitting out, and one day just started trying to make it, for fun. And then, she asked for work. We weren’t totally sure we wanted to bring her on at WORK+SHELTER, given that we were specifically targeting women who who were struggling to support their families – and in her case, she lived in a rental accommodation nearby, and her husband was making enough to pay the rent of their small one room apartment. But she has a great personality and was really motivated, so we decided to bring her on anyway. Only after we hired her and she had been working for many weeks did she share with us that her husband actually regularly beats her. She told us that already her income was shifting the power dynamic with the relationship, and she felt she had more authority to stand up to him.

That’s her right, and I’m so happy that we can provide her with the work that allows her to exercise it.


Where are you from? What are you up to? Where do your interests lie?

We’d love to know if you have any questions, or what topics you want to learn more about! Shoot Brit a message at [email protected]

AND don’t forget to keep up with us over at WORK+SHELTER!

Follow our Instagram, Facebook, and join our awesome e-mail list by signing up below.


xoxo, Theresa + Brit

Frequently Asked Questions


  • Why work with WORK+SHELTER ?

Our mission is to make it easy for organizations and consumers to purchase wholesale quantities of high quality, ethically made, customized sewn goods. In pursuit of a more just world, we employ women in need and when possible use other social enterprises, natural fibers, recycled, organic, or otherwise eco-friendly inputs. Our high quality products achieve an ideal balance between contemporary + classic designs, our team is diverse + spans across continents, and the process is efficient with zero risk to you – our beloved client!

  • How does the customization work for your Apparel + Promo Accessories lines?

Our Apparel + Promo Accessories lines allow you an experience that is truly the best of both worlds: we offer sleek product designs already established for a streamlined ordering process, which you can then customize to reflect your brand via logo, printed fabric or lining, custom tags, + zipper tape colors!

  • What is your minimum order?

We have 2 tiers: Some Custom + Super Custom. The Some Custom order minimum is $300, and Super Custom minimum is $1000 – including shipping!

  • Do you take orders for entirely custom production?

Yes, but on a case-by-case basis. We will evaluate your proposed order and let you know if we can accept your business. To be considered, please send the following details to [email protected] : COMPANY HISTORY + PRODUCT DESIGN DETAILS + TIMELINE + CONTACT INFO

  • Where do you ship to?

Anywhere + everywhere! Shipping is included in your total order.

  • What are Pantone Colors?

Pantone is the name brand for the universal color matching system that’s used in the printing industry. Check out the Pantone Color finder HERE + choose a color you love, then we’ll match it!

  • Can I get a sample?

Yep! Samples can be ordered via our online store.

  • Want to visit WORK+SHELTER’s cut + sew center in New Delhi?

We’d love to have you! The center is open for visitors Mondays through Thursdays 11am – 1pm IST. Please just send a message ahead of time with the estimated date to [email protected]