This month, Kalumi chats with Tedi Serge- Co-Founder and CEO of Sand Sisters, a local non-profit organization focusing on supporting young girls to excel through developing their whole selves. Tedi is a born mentor, and we were lucky enough to get some amazing advice on the importance of self love and acceptance, how to get through those tough times, and, well, life! We guarantee you will leave this interview feeling inspired and empowered.
"I have always known the power of a single woman."
Where did you grow up and how did your upbringing shape who you are today?
I grew up with a single mom. Enough said! Seeing my mom work hard to support my sister and I and put us before her showed me how to be independent and also nurturing. I would say I had a big hand in raising my sister. We have been best friends since the beginning of time. I used to call her “my baby.”
I have always known the power of a single woman. Having a partner is always a plus if it is a healthy and balanced relationship. But I know that I am valuable and whole without a man. I won’t settle just to be in a relationship. It’s not what I saw growing up and it definitely impacted how I view women and their inner strength to do life solo.
"I know I am a 'girls girl' and bond with women much easier than men."
What inspired you to start Sand Sisters?
I am a teacher. I do not agree with a four walled, put your mind in a box education. So it just didn’t work for me being in the classroom. Knowing i needed to be my own boss and create my own destiny. One evening in 2012 I was walking on the beach and asked myself, what do you know? What do you love? I know education and I know the water; I am a swimmer and have dabbled in surfing. I know I am a “girls girl” and bond with women much easier than men. Then badda boom badda bang, I slapped those three together and created Sand Sisters LA. An outdoor classroom for girls teaching them about the water and providing a safe space for sisterhood. Sand Sisters LA has evolved and grown so much since my sister, Sonya came on board in 2014. We became a 501(c)3 and now we have developed after school #GIRLPOWERFUL enrichment classes and #GIRLPOWERFUL Teen Workshops for girls and sports teams.
We also love creating a fun, neutral, and welcoming space for women to connect in our women empowerment events. These are normally focused around fitness and wellness and they act as fundraisers for the workshops and camp.
We also are putting our lessons online on our YouTube Channel: Keyword Sand Sisters LA. These lessons are for all ages. Seriously.
"We connect with our girls in such an authentic and different way, we know the value of sisterhood and self development. We also know there is no such thing as perfect"
Why is it so important to empower girls from a young age?
Imagine if you knew even a slice of what you know now. How you could have avoided some of the self destruction, hurt, bad choices, confusion, etc. (Obviously I am talking about college lol). Developing the whole self is a must to live your best life. Giving young girls the tools to take care of their inner self, communicate properly, and respect their peers and surroundings is a huge head start. We are mentors. Meeting adults outside of the home and outside of school that make you feel seen, valued, and heard. We have seen girls grow into themselves with our mentorship. From being a loner and a little uncomfortable in school to becoming a class president. We have those success stories. We connect with our girls in such an authentic and different way, we know the value of sisterhood and self development. We also know there is no such thing as perfect. We believe in quality over quantity in friendships. We believe in speaking up for yourself and cutting out the negative. Life is too short. And lets be real everyone isn’t on the same wavelength as you and therefore you can’t be friends with everyone.
"I love myself, my choices, and also french fries"
Living a healthy, active lifestyle is a strong Sand sisters value. Why do you believe this is so important?
I believe in getting outside. Something as small as walking around the block to reset can do wonders for your body and mental health. I love trying new sports, even at 30. I ran the LA Marathon this year, and I had never ran before in my life. You aren’t too old ladies. Your life is just beginning. “Old dogs” CAN learn new tricks. You just have to decide and commit to trying something new. Don’t be scared and deprive yourself of dopamine explosions in your brain with a solid workout. I like any activity that makes me lock my phone in a locker for an hour or being at the beach or hiking and losing WiFi. That is a good feeling. I believe in balance, not perfection, so yes I try to be healthy but it doesn’t always pan out like that and I don’t beat myself up about it. I love myself, my choices, and also french fries.
"Accepting that you can not control other people, their thoughts about you or your brand help ease the pain"
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Making an lifelong impact. Giving girls and families the tools to change and offer the world their best selves.
I also really feel honored when people tell me I inspire them. I am Tedi. There is no one else out there like me. Like not even close! I am raw, funny, sensitive, smart, outgoing, blunt, and nurturing just to name a few. I am not afraid of copycats. I am not phased by drama. I am comfortable and beyond happy being me. Through developing Sand Sisters, Sonya and I have developed ourselves. We are proud of our journey to get where we are, but you ain’t seen nothing yet!
What are some of your tips to staying healthy on the go?
I naturally like to be moving. I like to go out into the world and connect. I have met a lot of people at workout classes. So, I use opportunities like workouts for my body, but also my business.
I like breakfast. I don’t think I can function on a quality level without having a protein bar, eggs, or some fruit for breakfast.
What is your feel good indulgence?
Facials or buying beauty products. Since I spend a lot time in the sun. I know how much skincare plays a role in keeping my skin looking young and healthy.
We all have days where we feel down, whether it be in our personal lives or business related. How do you pull yourself out of a funk?
Oh girrllllllllllll. Life isn’t always what you expect. So knowing that and accepting that you can not control other people, their thoughts about you or your brand help ease the pain. Speaking in a vulnerable and truthful way always helps me tell the people around me why I am being so “weird” if you will. I am so down with taking a day off. You need to reset. To reset I reflect, I write, I cry. I let myself feel my feelings. I just learned this lesson last year when I went on an unplanned trip to Bali. My sister, Sonya, is the travel planner and she wasn’t coming with me. I was riding solo and spending a month by myself with limited WiFi put me in a position to deal with my past. My past wasn’t terrible. I know how lucky I am. I don’t play the victim. BUT I definitely didn’t grow up with a silver spoon and I learned a lot of life lessons the hard way. I just sat in Bali. Cried daily and let all of the past 31 years of bullshit release into the ocean. Dramatic right? That’s just how it played out. I thought I was going to instagram bikini paradise to have some party type fun and instead I came home humbled, grateful and free. Free of limitations and open to all possibilities.
I know everyone can’t take a trip to Bali or find a month to soul search. I believe sometimes when you are ready soul searching finds you. So let it. If you are in a funk accept that. You are probably in a funk because you aren’t who or where you want to be. DO NOT COMPARE! My rollercoaster ride and your rollercoaster ride at the amusement park look different because they are. They are different colors, have different speeds, attract different people, but at the end of the day it attracts the right group of people that will keep coming back for more. More fun, more laughs, more love. Life is about those intangible things. If you can buy it then it can be replaced or broken. If you build it and feel it, it is a part of you and you will unfunk yourself with more of those types of experiences.
Know what your normal looks and feels like and ask yourself. How do I get back to that? What am I holding onto that I can release RIGHT NOW!? Who can I call/text and tell them, “Man this isn’t working for me anymore.” Be present. Feel the feelings. And if you have to drink some tequila with your girlfriends. = ) Then do it.
"If your inside is happy you radiate beauty"
What does beauty mean to you?
I have always been comfortable with myself. I played sports growing up and I know that helps kids feel comradery and develops a mind/body connection. The older I get the more I care about how I carry myself and how I treat myself.
If you are happy and have done the work to be the best you, people can see that. You don’t have to tell them. They comment about it to you. If your inside is happy you radiate beauty. If you are stuck in a “funk zone” no makeup or fancy clothes can cover that up. Through Sand Sisters we implement intro to self-care and self-love into our programming for girls and women. Why wait? Build your beauty from the inside out. Developing your inner self and self-care routines now.
Lastly, how can we get involved in the Sand Sisters non-profit?
- Come to our programmed events. Connect with us in real life. I love getting random emails with excited volunteers or new families, but I like to know who I am talking with. Connecting in person is a big deal for Sonya and I. This is a layer of security for ourselves and our girls.
- Donate. We are looking for companies with giveback programs, family donations, family and community foundation grants, etc. Donors can prefer where their money is allocated.
- Connect online. @sandsistersla @teditalks Read more about us at www.sandsistersla.com
- Collaborate. We are looking for brands to connect with for marketing collabs, shopping givebacks, social media collabs, workshop collabs, and offering your office community to host one our #GIRLPOWERFUL mentorship afternoons. Interviews or press like this really help get the word out. So reach out. Looking forward to meeting you.
- Watch and Subscribe to our YouTube Videos to get more info about Sand Sisters LA mission and programming. Keyword: Sand Sisters LA
Thank you for this amazing interview our fellow french fry loving friend! Be sure to follow @sandsistersla and if you're a local company/individual looking to give back and get involved in charity, be sure to reach out. We can't wait to see all of the strong, smart ladies you help empower! #girlboss