IAM1642 – Founder Creates a Community of Creatives and Entrepreneurs

Podcast Interview with Sara Alepin

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”: Sara has so much positive energy toward building a community. Sara spoke about finding her people by connecting and wanting to help people to succeed.

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Sara Alepin Teaser 00:00

Really awesome thing that we did when we started this membership thing was the benefits are just like off the charts. Like it's a huge SEO bump. You have the ability to blog on our guest blog on our site. You get access to all kinds of stuff from our sponsors and free access to workshops. It's a way to kind of almost hold yourself accountable to actually attend networking events and actually build your business.

Intro 00:27

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you, precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:54

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and we're doing something a little bit different this year with some of our episodes. We're repurposing some of our favorite episodes around specific topics related to entrepreneurship. This month we're focusing on entrepreneurship and community. Us, we, our, together, and we're gonna look at entrepreneurship and industries in different types of entrepreneurship and ultimately what that really means. But we're also gonna delve deeper into the importance of community, networking, niche communities and how that supports being a CEO, entrepreneur and business owner. So sit back and enjoy these special episodes around entrepreneurship and community.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Sara Alepin of District Bliss. Sara, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Sara Alepin 01:41

Yeah, thanks for having me. I'm really excited to be here.

Gresham Harkless 01:44

No problem. Super excited to have you on. And what I want to do is just read a little bit more about Sara, so you can hear about all the awesome things that she's doing. Sara is a go-getter with a background in art education. After founding photos from the Harty, Sara realized something was missing. Hoping to create a community of supportive and like-minded creatives and entrepreneurs, she launched District Bliss. Sara continues to be amazed at how many wonderful, talented people have joined the District Bliss chapters across the United States. Sara, are you ready to speak to the I am CEO community?

Sara Alepin 02:12

I am.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 02:13

Awesome. Let's do it. So I wanted to kick everything off and hear a little bit more about what I call your CEO story. What led you get started with your business?

Sara Alepin 02:20

All right. Awesome. So I founded District Bliss back in 2014. And what we initially did was we threw networking socials for people in the wedding industry and since then have expanded to creatives, entrepreneurs, and small business owners. So now it's more just really fun and lighthearted, and welcoming and we do workshops now. So things have really grown and changed since we started, and it's been really awesome.

Gresham Harkless 02:51

Yeah, absolutely. And I, think that a lot of times I say like, you forget about the human aspect of business, but you always love those networking groups where you have a good time. And I feel like, and definitely, you can correct me if I'm wrong, I feel like sometimes it's just more of a connection. Seems like even more opportunities come about when you're having a good time kind of networking and connecting.

Sara Alepin 03:08

Yeah, because I mean, we buy from people we know, like, and trust. Which is one of the really important reasons to join a networking community and actually get out there and get networking because you, that is the human element. Yeah. And you never know where your next client's gonna come from. It's super, super important to put your face out there and your personality, because then people are gonna wanna buy from you because you're awesome.

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Gresham Harkless 03:38

Exactly. You have to be awesome first before you do that though, so make sure that you're awesome before you put yourself out there. Right, that's always an important prerequisite but I'm just joking. I know you touched on District Bliss, I wanted to hear a little bit more about, you know, what you have going on, how it works, different things that are available, and also locations where we can do some of the networking as well.

Sara Alepin 03:56

Okay. So, we actually have a networking social coming up on the 11th of December at City Winery in DC which will be super fun there. It's actually a really small event for we tend to keep ours events intimate anyway because we want it to be welcoming. And if you're walking into a room of 300 people, it's not always gonna have that same vibe. So this one we only have 25 tickets though because City Winery is going all out and like having really amazing hors d'oeuvres. They're doing like wine tastings and  it's gonna be a great time. So that one is in DC. We also have an LA branch, but we don't have anything on the calendar for 2019. Then we also have an online workshop or training I guess, with creative successful entrepreneurs. Then we do a Q&A and a session afterward. They're this like, incredible coaching company that's owned by Melissa McFarland and she does these coaching kitchens and each month it's a different topic. So spanning anywhere from, you know, marketing to what she calls the ankle show or the elevator pitch and how to put that together so that it helps you actually speak about your business because it's not always easy to describe what you do. Yeah, my dog loves to interrupt all my video calls.

Gresham Harkless 05:23

Oh really. What's his name? Clouseau.

Sara Alepin 05:27

Like the Pink Panther.

Gresham Harkless 05:27

Oh really, hey, Clouseau. Well, will he be at the events? That's the question.

Sara Alepin 05:35

He'll always video bomb our online workshops.

Gresham Harkless 05:39

Okay, there you go. It's one of the bonuses, one of the perks.

Sara Alepin 05:44

He will not be at City Winery, unfortunately. Okay. Okay. But he, or sorry, not he, I'm not talking about my dog right now. I'm talking about my business.

Gresham Harkless 05:54

It could be the same thing. Mine's eating a snack right now.

Sara Alepin 05:58

I love it. So For District Bliss, what we do is we host these events where you can either be a member of the community and actually have a membership, or you can just come to the events. The really awesome thing that we did when we started this membership thing was the benefits are just like off the charts. Like it's a huge SEO bump. You have the ability to blog on our guest blog on our site. You get access to all kinds of stuff from our sponsors, and free access to workshops. It's a way to kind of almost hold yourself accountable to actually attend networking events and actually build your business. This is just really important because I mean, I know for me It can be isolating and you really need that community. Working from home, I see my dog more than I see any other human. So it's good. It's really important to feel like you have that community and that support system. So that's one of the reasons that we founded membership, but it is not required to attend our events.

Gresham Harkless 06:59

Okay. Well, awesome. Well, that's definitely good to know. Yeah, I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one that spends a lot of time with my dog because yes, it can be isolating, working from home. Doing your business itself is very sometimes trying, there's so many ups and downs and running a business that you want to be able to have that community person that you lean on so that you know that you're not alone. Sometimes even just the difficulties that we're going through to know that it's not us. Sometimes it's just part of running a business, which is definitely what we always need to hear.

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Sara Alepin 07:26

Yeah, I mean, it is really important to remember that you aren't alone. There was a year where I don't think I saw friends for like more than three weekends that entire year. And it was otherwise, like I was just too busy and that is really hard. It's not healthy. I since have redistributed things so that I'm never in that situation again. But if I didn't have the District Bliss community during that time, I would've been absolutely bonkers. And, you know, that was pre-dog too, so.

Gresham Harkless 08:05

That was even worse.

Sara Alepin 08:06

I would've been sitting by myself like, secluded, and my husband doesn't wanna listen to, all of my stories that I have from running a business. He also doesn't understand it to like that full extent. You know, it's nice to have somebody like that you can talk to that gets it.

Gresham Harkless 08:26

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. That they can trade a war story, so to speak, because they've had the exact same thing happen. So that makes so much sense. And you guys have any events that you can find out about all the events depending on whenever you're listening to this as well, on the site correct?

Sara Alepin 08:43

Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. For sure. We always have, everything on our website, so and we're super active on social media, so Instagram is at District Bliss Events. We don't plan events technically, just to make sure that is not an excuse thing. We just host events. We're not like in the wedding planning.

Gresham Harkless 09:03

There you go. Thank you for making that designation because you might have just gotten a bunch of phone calls saying, I'm getting married tomorrow, can you plan this for me? So that's good to know. But definitely having those business events is definitely huge. What do you feel, and I know we talked about a little bit offline about why you started it, it's having those creative entrepreneurs, is that what you would consider being like your secret sauce and the reason that you started or what makes you feel kind of sets it apart and makes you unique?

Sara Alepin 09:30

Yeah. And I think really the lighthearted welcoming kind of vibe that we have there is. It's just, I really needed a place where I felt like I belonged and I realized that a lot of other people felt the same way. And I wanted to like, find my people and I think the welcoming, lighthearted, positive and really caring about connecting people and helping people succeed, I think is probably what has made District Bliss so successful. Having that like real drive to see other people be their best selves and live their best lives and do it while they can, like to have that ability to live your best life the way you want to on your terms. And so having that real support system kind of thing, I guess is probably what I would call our secret sauce, is that lighthearted, welcoming and really caring about other people and their businesses.

Gresham Harkless 10:40

Definitely appreciate you for doing that. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit and ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be an app, a book, or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Sara Alepin 10:52

So I actually have kind of a weird routine because I know I should be better, but I don't love routines. So what I do is I start my day in this room, which is my, like living room essentially. And usually, I light a lot of fires in the fireplace, which, you know, kind of like gives me that like comfy, warm feeling. And then I move down to my office, which is down a flight, and work in there for part of the day. Then I come back up at the end of the day and work in this space because I feel like at least then if I'm not in the same room, I feel like I'm accomplishing something, it helps me move through my day. I guess it's like my commute time.

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Gresham Harkless 11:41

The best commute ever, especially around here.

Sara Alepin 11:45

I just need different scenery. I get so bored of looking at the same thing. And if I'm just sitting on my computer, I need to be visually stimulated.

Gresham Harkless 11:57

I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. That is a word of wisdom or a piece of advice, or if you can hop into a time machine, what would you tell your younger business self?

Sara Alepin 12:06

Probably to remember that just because I love what I do doesn't mean that I am my ideal client. And thinking about like the way, not that I'm particularly selling anything, but the way that you sell.

Gresham Harkless 12:24

Now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different quote and quote CEOs on this show. So Sara, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Sara Alepin 2:33

Being a CEO means that I have the freedom to run my business the way that I believe it should be run. And to be in control of my own destiny and my own success. I am, at the end of the day, the person who takes the hit if anything goes wrong, but I'm also the person who gets to celebrate the successes and then, pass that along to my team.

Gresham Harkless 12:58

By quote from Sarah Alepin. So I truly appreciate that and appreciate, your time even more. What I want to do is pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you can let our readers and listeners know and then of course, how best they get a hold of you and find out about all the awesome things you guys are working on.

Sara Alepin 13:15

Yeah. I mean, I would love to see all of you guys, all of the CEOs out there, the aspiring CEOs at some of our events and get to know more about their business and help find other ways that I can grow and support other, CEOs, business owners, aspiring or current, because I know sometimes it takes a long time to take the leap. And, you don't have to be full-time. It doesn't matter. To me, that doesn't dictate your level of success because some people just wanna have like a cool side thing. So if you would like to reach out, Our website is We have a really cool blog. You can find all of our events on the website. And if you are looking for a really rad group of people who wanna support you know, really help build you up and support the community you should definitely come and check us out.

Gresham Harkless 14:15

Awesome. Awesome, awesome. Well, thank you so much again, Sara. I truly appreciate you. We will have the links in as well in the show notes so that everybody can follow up with you, connect and see all the awesome things you guys are working on. But thank you so much again, and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Outro 14:29

Thank you for listening to the I'm CEO podcast, powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at I am CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and everywhere you listen to podcasts, subscribe and leave us a five-star rating. Grab CEO gear at This has been the I am CEO podcast with Gresham Harless. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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