Sazan Hendrix grew up the daughter of immigrant Middle Eastern parents. Her family valued hard work, but a career in the public spotlight was not encouraged.
She faced cultural opposition and yet she pushed through to find her voice and identity, inspiring women across the globe to do the same. Sazan’s success is undeniable, right? A million followers, sold out products, a top-rated podcast. But she reached a point where the world saw her as one thing, and she felt totally out of alignment with that image.
I loved hearing about Sazan’s life before she grew her business, and the changes she made when her baby entered this world, so she could show up in a way that was totally true to who she is now… Because we, as humans, are always growing and changing.
If you’ve ever felt conflicted and out of sync with the person you are inside and the one showing up in your squares on social media, this is your episode.
Who is Sazan?
Over the last few years, Sazan has watched as the influencer space has transformed. She started posting photos on Instagram just as the platform was taking off. As her following grew and the industry transformed, she learned that her audience just loved following along with her every day life. Sazan built her platform and career around being herself — Something that still amazes her today.
Her first business was a subscription box company called Bless Box. Without a background in business, Sazan learned the entrepreneurial life through this first business. Now, she and her husband Stevie also has have podcast together called The Good Life, and it continues to grow and evolve into a business itself. “We’re balancing business, babies, and married life, and to be honest, I’m still figuring out what that next thing is for me,” she said. That’s something I can relate to, big time!
Going in Circles
When Sazan first started posting to Instagram, the term “Influencer” wasn’t really a thing. There were bloggers, digital tastemakers, and celebrities, but the Influencer world was just starting to develop. Her career in television and film brought her to Los Angeles, where she saw many of her friends and colleagues starting to generate income from the content they created online. Sazan watched what worked for them, and duplicated it herself.
“I was too busy tapping into what other girls were doing that I didn’t tap into what I needed to be doing,” Sazan shared. “I found myself in so many seasons early on, just going in circles trying to do what everybody else was doing, and it wasn’t working for me.” Even when she did see success doing what everyone else was doing, she never really felt passionate about it.
Finding Her Formula
Even though she was a beauty, fashion, and lifestyle influencer, Sazan started to share little pieces of realness on her feed. She talked about the struggles in her relationship as they tackled cultural resistance from her family, she opened up about the real life challenges that impacted her daily life. Those were the pieces of her story people were holding on to. That’s where she started to see growth and when she started to feel truly passionate about the work she was doing. “Don’t be afraid to grow and change, and to change your path when you need to redirect,” she said.
Sazan realized that when you’re building your own business, you have to create your own formula. In many career paths, step A is already determined for you. Maybe it’s going to college and getting a relevant degree. And then “B” is going to grad school, and C is landing a job in your field. When you build your own business you have to create your own formula and path.
Sazan shared the story of the cultural opposition she faced from her parents. As immigrants, they went through so many barriers and challenges to reach a point of happiness in the United States. All they wanted for their children was a simple, easy life. Sazan was expected to pursue a simple career and to marry within her culture, but that wasn’t the vision Sazan had for her life.
When she moved out to LA to pursue a career in entertainment news, she was also in a secret relationship with her now husband, Steve. Her parents did not approve of the relationship because Steve was an American man, and when they decided to get married, her parents disowned her. It wasn’t until recently, when Sazan’s daughter Valentina was 8 months old, that Sazan’s family finally met Steve and Valentina at the same time.
Through it all, dealing with these emotional challenges, Sazan learned that it’s possible to build a business, but it’s also possible to have a very healthy, beautiful life behind the scenes. “That’s just as important when it comes to success; you don’t have to compromise one for the other. I’m now at a season in my life were I’ve seen that you can have both. You can enjoy hard work, but you can also enjoy rest.”
Feeling Out of Alignment?
Sazan remembers the moment that everything changed for her. She was about three months postpartum, sitting in her YouTube room, filming a makeup tutorial for a full glittery smokey eye. In meeting leading up to the birth of her daughter, everyone wanted to know what direction she would take with her content once she became a mom. “I did not want to be a mommy blogger. I saw other mommy bloggers and it all felt so commercialized, and I did not want to make money using my daughter,” she explained.
So her plan was to get back to the content that “old Sazan” shared. Beauty and fashion content, make-up tutorials and the like. But sitting there in the mirror, looking ready to go out to the club when she knew full well it wasn’t a makeup look she’d actually wear, she asked herself, “What are you doing?” Sazan didn’t even want to create YouTube videos anymore because it felt so out of alignment with who she was and the season she was in.
She confided in her husband who suggested she pivot her content to an area that she always felt passionate about: motivating others. Her YouTube series Makeup and Motivation took off, and although she applied makeup and got ready on camera, it was less about the look she was created and instead focused on the message she was sharing.
Are you feeling out of alignment? Want to share your message but you’re not sure how it will go over? Sazan says DO IT. Make that pivot, try what you think feels right, and adjust as you go. Find a support group whose vision and message aligns with yours, whether it be a friend group or a professional meetup, and workshop your new direction with like-minded people. But the most important thing to do is just START.
More from This Episode
Want to know how and why Sazan gives herself an 8 to 5 daily schedule, even though she works for herself? What is her advice for maintaining creativity when all the daily tasks of running a business fill your plate? There’s so much more to this conversation, and I can’t wait for you to hear it all. Press play on the player above!
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Photo Credit: Jonathan Volk