Leader Spotlight: Grace Cheng, CEO + Founder of Mylk Labs
Hey Gritty Leaders!
This week we’re sitting down with Grace Cheng, CEO + Founder of Mylk Labs, a Southern-California based health food company that makes vegan, gluten-free oatmeal cups, to get her advice on being a new leader and balancing multiple hustles.
GRITTY: What inspired you to create Mylk Labs?
GRACE: My busy on-the-go lifestyle as a full-time business student at USC and my career as a fashion model inspired me to create Mylk Labs. As a little girl, I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. It's funny because it stemmed from "I don't want to work for anyone" then became a passion for striving to create and share something amazing with the world. After a long month of doing fashion week across the world (New York, London then Paris), I came back and all I wanted was my homemade daily oatmeal that I enjoyed every day at home. Not being able to have a healthy, convenient breakfast while traveling, I made it my goal to create something that was healthy but still delicious. As a huge foodie, taste and texture are extremely important to me. After a year of planning, sourcing, and figuring out the nitty gritty details, I launched Mylk Labs on January 30th, 2019!
GRITTY: Were you always clear on that personal mission or did it evolve and come to light over time?
GRACE: The company was created due to my passion for this mission of sharing flavor, nutrition and convenience. I made it the core values of Mylk Labs so in my case, it was clear from the start!
GRITTY: Are there times when your different hustles conflict? How do you decide what gets prioritized and what gets sacrificed?
GRACE: Absolutely. Sometimes I'm called to a modeling job that's in a different state (or country) for several days and I have to determine whether or not this is something that's worth it. Some questions I ask myself are: will it provide me the money to invest in my company? Or is this a job that will further my modeling career?
Being away from Mylk Labs means there's nobody running the company. I'm lucky to have a brand manager on board with me now but there are still a ton of hats that I wear on a daily. In addition, my Dad has helped me a ton throughout the beginning stages of my company and he is now launching a new line of athleisure wear for his wholesale clothing business. He wants me to help as the head consultant on this project and I can't turn him down because if there's one person who helped me succeed in launching/sustaining the company in my first year, it has to be my Dad.
So with all of that in mind, it's VERY important to prioritize. I create a checklist with the main things I have to get done a daily, then a less-important list underneath it to where I can cross off if I have the time to get to it. Whatever isn't finished is rolled over to the next day and so on until I finish all those tasks and new ones are added.
GRITTY: The misconception of balance, especially for women, is that you “do it all”. Tell us a little about your support system.
GRACE: It's important to realize that it's OK to not be able to do-it-all. BUT you should try your best to do what you can. If you put your full heart into what you do, you can't and won't be disappointed in yourself at the end of the day. My support system looks a bit like this: my dad is the one I go to when I want to complain about business-related problems, my friends support me and give me words of encouragement and my employee drives me to work harder than ever so I can be the best boss that I can.
GRITTY: Any words of encouragement for women who are in busy-seasons of their lives, balancing multiple hustles?
GRACE: Make sure you're passionate about what you do. I cannot stress this enough because if you love your job/hustle, it's almost like you're not really "working". Do what you can and always try your best. Don't be discouraged by the answer "no" because there's plenty of times I've turned a no into a yes. Try not to over stress and overwork yourself (I know, easier said than done) and enjoy the ride! It's not about "I want to be a successful millionaire" but rather the journey you'll take to get there.