SN 1 EP 10

When No Other Option Existed

Feat. Danika Brysha, Founder & CEO of Model Meals, Self-Care Society & Danika Brysha Inc.

For many founders, starting a business is a choice. For others—it’s a last resort.

Danika Brysha is a wellness entrepreneur, body-positive fashion model, and life coach. Looking at her success today, you could say that Danika epitomizes the spirit of “Making it Happen.” But it wasn’t until after realizing that starting a business might be the only way for her to survive financially that Danika founded Model Meals and began making the positive changes that got her to where she is today.

On this episode

Danika talks with Katie and Jenny about:

  • How hard times gave her clarity in her career path
  • The driving forces that got her to where she is today
  • How she dealt with debt

Top takeaways

Editor’s Note: Content has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

Can you speak to how the difficult times you went through served as a catalyst for becoming an entrepreneur?

I call it the contrast and the confirmation. It’s the willingness to take risks and to get uncomfortable—those are those moments that give us clarity.

For example, I eat very mindfully. When I eat something that doesn’t make me feel good, I call that the contrast—that doesn’t mean it’s bad, but it shows a contrast in how I could feel if I ate something different that didn’t make me feel unproductive or unfocused.The contrast is such a gift, because it gives you clear clues on how to move forward.

There’s a quote about how life speaks to you in whispers and nudges—but if you don’t listen to them, you’re going to eventually get the message from a brick to the head. It’s a learning process to listen to the messages when they’re quieter or more subtle—and you have to listen enough so that you can make the necessary pivots and the changes from a place that’s a lot less painful than if you wait to make them. But I had to come from those really painful places to understand that.

What are some of those driving forces and contrasting moments that got you to where you are today?

My move to the modeling career was coming from a lifetime of pain—not feeling worthy, not feeling like I’m enough, feeling like I wasn’t valued as a curvy girl. That’s what drove me to modeling. That was my probably least healthy driving force, but it did drive me to where I wanted to be as a plus-size model. I ended up having a much more positive relationship with my body.

Also, the financial stress is so heavy, especially because most entrepreneurs are very independent people. When you’re an independent person and you have that pride, you want to figure out how you can make it work.

It’s hard, but it’s also such a good motivator. When I got a pink slip on my door that was threatening to evict me, that was huge. Then, living with my parents created a discomfort that propelled me into growing Model Meals.

Self-Care Society, my mental wellness membership, came from this situation where I needed to find another stream of revenue—and quickly—because what I had counted on hadn’t panned out. All of the obstacles I’ve faced have been gifts. I try to notice those gifts as they come—even when they’re a little more subtle, because I don’t think I’d be here without them.

How have you managed your feelings around being in debt and getting out of it?

Financial wellness and awareness is so important. One of my core desires is freedom—that’s why I chose the path of entrepreneurship. I deeply value the freedom of my own time and energy—and money is connected to that.

I’m still breaking down a lot of my own beliefs that I’m not good with money. I was definitely very hard on myself. You don’t learn anything in school about personal finances. I was 21, making good money—but I was a contractor, and no one told me about taxes. I had to learn the hard way. At the time that was another contrast—and it was a driving force.

Not everyone has the ability to move in with their parents. I’m very privileged in the sense that I know that I’m not going to end up on the streets—and many people don’t have that. We all have different situations in terms of what resources we have and what taking that risk actually means given our life circumstances. At that time, I was a single woman in my 20s. I didn’t have people relying on me. I could take more risks than someone with children who doesn’t have the same support system.

I hid from my financial problems for a long time because they were too scary to face. I was afraid to look at the reality of where I was financially. But a few years ago, I decided to look at it—and it’s always less scary than you think it is.

No matter how big and scary your debt looks or how bad your financial situation is, it’s not knowing that’s much scarier. Once I understood interest and looked at how much money I was spending, I started educating myself and chipping away at my debt. Once I informed myself and was honest about my situation, it allowed me to move forward more intentionally.

I’m not as scared of getting into debt anymore—and debt is necessary for some businesses to get started because of the upfront costs. I started Model Meals with only $100—and we were able to pre-sell our meals, get the ingredients, and make a profit. But there’s not it’s not a one-size-fits-all answer for entrepreneurs.