Working late into the night at the same nonprofit organization, Marah Lidey and Naomi Hirabayashi soon became close friends, making happy hour plans and confiding in each other about matters that others might find delicate or overly personal—from credit scores, to how to ask for a raise, to the struggle with “how to not suppress my personality, which I like,” says Hirabayashi, “but also be taken seriously and not be seen as bubbly and young.”
“We gave each other really tactical advice that also wasn’t cheesy, and it felt very empathetic,” says Lidey. “There wasn’t a voice like that out there at scale, and we definitely heard that from our friends, too.”
So when the DoSomething.org colleagues started talking about their own venture together, it’s no surprise that they thought back on the advice they had shared. What if they could offer that same service to other women? Career and life coaching with the same “accessibility and vulnerability” they had with each other?
“There’s nothing that comes at you directly in the morning that feels like a friend, that sounds like the way your friends talk about, just, the real shit,” says Hirabayashi.
In August 2015, everything finally clicked.
“What about using what we’re good at, what we’ve done for the past four years at DoSomething, which is really focusing on text messaging?” recalls Lidey. “What about a daily text?”
Their brand would target millennial women, like themselves, but could benefit anybody looking for a little guidance and positivity in their day-to-day life. Known as Shine, it sends users a motivational quote or GIF to their phone every morning at 8:30 AM and encourages them to set goals for the week. There’s also an advice section on the website with articles designed to help further boost users’ confidence.
And they’re reaching beyond their initial target audience. To date, the team has exchanged over 7 million messages with users. Shine’s users are about 70 percent female, and 88 percent are 35 and under.
In April, a good friend, Jonathan Uy, from DoSomething.org, joined the co-founders. The former mobile technical lead at DoSomething.org is now Shine’s chief technology officer.
“These past four months have been the most productive four months I’ve ever had,” says Uy. “It’s cool that I really do get to have a hand in all these things. It’s a feeling that I haven’t had before, where you just sort of directly and concretely see how much of an impact you have on the company that you’re working in. Every single thing that we do has just a weight to it. It’s a really nice feeling. Like the things that you’re doing are significant.”
Based out of Brooklyn’s WeWork Dumbo Heights, the Shine trio laughs wildly when they’re together, and for a company just over a year old, they make starting a business look effortless.
“I think it helps that we’re friends and we’re obsessed with each other,” says Lidey. “We also have a genuine respect for each other and respect for each other’s niche areas. And we also share a lot of areas—there’s a lot of great foundation to work off of that we’ve built over the past four years, like not even meaning to necessarily.”
Hirabayashi agrees, adding that on “Self-Care Saturdays”—a rare day to recharge—“ I love biking. And I love wine. And I love hanging out with Marah and Uy.”
Photos: Lauren Kallen