Jessica: Hey, friends. It’s Jessica Honegger, founder of the socially conscious fashion brand, Noonday Collection. And this is the Going Scared Podcast, where we cover all things impact, entrepreneurship, and courage. Today’s guest is the entrepreneur of entrepreneurs. I have a conversation with Hugette Montesinos-Rodriguez. She’s the founder, editor in Chief, and Creative Director for Disfunkshion Magazine. We are basically spirit animals.
Disfunkshion Magazine is a dynamic movement designed to exhort every woman under the sun to experience the highest standard of living. And they have this great conversation about what it means to really own your beauty, stand up, and own your voice. The heart by Dysfunkshion and Noonday are so similar and so we really wanted to bring that story to you today.
Also, wanted to let you know that the Noonday fall line launches tomorrow and it is the most beautiful inspiring collection yet, especially our statement earrings. So today’s convo with Hugette continues a special series of shows where we’re walking through the chapters of my new book, Imperfect Courage. Go check out the book. The second chapter is called, "Stand Up." And today, we are talking about standing up.
Fashion Spirit Animals
Oh my goodness, I have been so excited. I keep thinking we’re going to have a transcendent conversation today because you’re sort of my spirit animal when I found you on Instagram.
Hugette: I remember you telling me that, and I felt exactly the same way towards you.
Jessica: I mean, not just your style, like, I think you wear the style that I really want to wear, like, your love for pom-poms and tassels knows no…and for layers and just, you know, I’m like, "Oh my gosh. This is my soul. This is how my soul dresses."
Hugette: Oh my goodness. I love that.
Jessica: And then I love your intentionality and just how you speak to your audience. And I’ve told everyone what you do and what you’re up to. But I would love to hear the story behind your story. Tell us a little bit of where you grew up, and how did you get to where you are today?
A Life Lived in Thirds
Hugette: Yeah, absolutely. Yes. So I’m currently 33 years old. And so I like to divide my life into thirds. So the first third of my life, although I was born in Miami, the first third of my life was in Venezuela. At one-month-old, my mom decided we were going back so I ended up spending pretty much the first 10 years of my life growing up there.
Jessica: Where in Venezuela?
Hugette: In Maracay.
Jessica: I lived in Maracaibo that first summer.
Hugette: Oh, no way. Yes. It’s a beautiful place.
Jessica: I just love Venezuela. I mean, it’s so beautiful.
Hugette: It’s wonderful, and there’s just so much going on right now there. It’s just really heartbreaking.
Jessica: I know. It is heartbreaking because I went the summer before Chavez and so it was just a different world and I just…I want to go back someday.
Hugette: Yeah. And it was unbelievable, just the whole experience there. And I feel like that’s where the majority of like my roots and like my juices started to really sort of marinate in like the life that I feel like I was going to live in the future, just because of the way that people lived their lives…and it was a much slower pace.
And then, you know, around 10 years later, my mom decides to move back to Miami for, you know, personal reasons with my dad at the time and they were getting a divorce and these different things. So, I ended up growing up that second portion in Miami where I went to, like, middle school and high school in all those developmental years. And then I’d been in Hawaii for the last 10 years of my life.
So that’s a little bit about where I’ve lived and kind of the founding locations and routes of my life. But, you know, I would say that there’s a little bit of the history that I sometimes share openly, sometimes I don’t, just to be sensitive to other people in their lives. But I was previously married, I’m currently remarried. So having been married at 21 years old and kind of going through that whole journey was a really huge growth spurt for me.
And I would say an unnecessarily fast growth spurt, so experiencing that. And my father never really being around, but still developing sort of like the love and the compassion for this person that I’ve never really, like, understood or been super close to. So there was a lot of like developmental growth in understanding male figures in my life. And so, just always having this idea of this like superwoman hero, which was my mom, in the form of my mom.
“We can have this tendency to think in such binary ways that we have to be ‘”or’ people.” But you have embraced this idea of, ‘”I can love aesthetics and fashion, and I can be ambitious and smart, and I can wear crazy pom-poms.’” Jessica Honegger
And so, I think that definitely formed some major foundations of freedom, and moving forward, and just this idea that we can do it all. I saw my mom in those years that we were in Miami doing the board after having been a dentist for years in her home country and basically doing the board exam with a Spanish translation dictionary right next to her. And so, doing this while she was going through a divorce and raising me and doing all these different things.
So this idea of like multitasking, and multi-dimensional emotional levels, and all these different things that I was able to experience from such a young age, I think have forced, you know, this resilience, but also this desire to really impact the lives of women so that they can also experience resilience in the face of difficulty and transcend to the place that I feel God has called them to live in.
Jessica: Yes, I think I resonate so deeply with you and with dysfunction because you have embraced this whole idea of the power of “both/and,” which I talk a lot about in my book. I think we can have this tendency to think in such binary ways that we have to be "or people." But you have embraced this idea of, "I can love aesthetics and fashion, and I can be ambitious and smart, and I can wear crazy pom-poms."
You know, so you’re so vibrant and energetic, and you also radiate this sense of groundedness and connectedness, and your roots go deep. But then you also have such a light and a glow about you. So I feel like your magazine really embraces this whole “both/and.” Can you think of other “both/ands” that you sort of bring to your life?
Hugette: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I feel like the idea of “both/and” is a perfect definition of something that for years, I think I’ve identified as living in the gray area, and it’s the gray area between two extremes, the black and the white, right? So I’ve never really fit into any of the extremes.
And I talk about this a lot on social media, which is, especially when it comes to the body. You know, there’s so much body talk and body positivity movements now, which are so phenomenal. And I feel like for me, that’s actually, for many years, been a sore and sort of weird spot. Even now, because I don’t fit into any of the extremes, like not skinny enough to be, you know, fashionable or, you know, a style guru, etc., etc., or to be this like perfect style icon.
And also, not curvy enough to be a body positive spokesperson or to be sort of like seen as like this curvy powerful woman. So I’m in this weird in-between and I’m like, "I have embraced what it looks like to live in the in-between and to live in the gray area and be completely content and completely satisfied in my identity and in who I am." So I think that would be another example.
“I think I’ve identified as living in the gray area, and it’s the gray area between two extremes, the black and the white, right? So I’ve never really fit into any of the extremes.” Hugette Montesinos-Rodriguez
Courage and Resilience
But I think overall, my life as a whole has always been living in this gray area between the extremes. So it’s something I’m actually very comfortable with. And not that it naturally happens as a comfort level but it’s something that, because I’ve experienced for so many years, I come to terms with being comfortable in it quick quickly enough. So I bounce back quickly. Yes.
Jessica: Yes, yes. So you said that you thought Disfunkshion Mag was going to be like a 20-year vision and it ended up being a six-month Going Scared moment. And I talk about this scene. Have you seen, Queen of Katwe?
Hugette: I haven’t. No.
Jessica: Oh, my gosh. It is this beautiful, beautiful movie. And it talks about the story of a little girl who grows up in the slum of Uganda, which is actually where a lot of our artisans, some of our artists used to live, with Noonday Collection. And she ends up becoming this Ugandan child chess prodigy, and that becomes her ticket out of the slum. But she really struggles with her identity issues emerging out of poverty and starting to see a world outside the slum.
And her mentor sat down with her one day and said, "Sometimes the place that you are used to is not the place that you belong." And I think the first step in embracing a Going Scared way of life is simply standing up and deciding, "I’m going to leave my comfort zone." And so, I know you’ve had that moment. So tell us about that Going Scared moment you had that allowed Disfunkshion Mag to be now something that we can enjoy and appreciate instead of 20 years from now.
Hugette: Absolutely. Well, I think the biggest revelation for me in Going Scared, especially when it came to this endeavor of Disfunkshion Magazine was that the fear became less significant as I put less value on the results.
Jessica: Mm-hmm. Oh, yeah.
Overcoming Fear of Results
Hugette: Yeah, you know. And so, basically what I was creating wasn’t contingent upon results. And so, knowing and understanding that this was something that I had to create and something that I had to put into the world, did not matter whether I had these results, whether it sold, whether it didn’t, whether it was received well, it was really about a matter of having to create this thing.
And so, I find that even as I work with a lot of different women today, or a lot of the messages that we put out through the magazine or the coaching that I do, or the mentorship that I do with other women, you know, I find this underlying common thread or common denominator, which is that a lot of times we fear that we just don’t know our purpose, or that we have a lot of lack of clarity or alignment.
“A lot of times we fear that we just don’t know our purpose.” Hugette Montesinos-Rodriguez
And honestly, that fear is often not so much in confusion but it’s in the fear of the failure. And so it’s not that we don’t know what we want, it’s not that we don’t know where we’re supposed to go. It’s that we’re not bold enough to say, "It doesn’t matter whether I win or not. Because failure is not really an option here, it’s just the fact that I have to create this thing."
And so, when you all of a sudden shed these layers of fear of failure…in fact, there’s this quote that I absolutely love, and I believe I heard it in some kind of message or preaching at some point which said, "Failure is not that they wouldn’t respond. Failure is not giving them anything to respond to." And that just struck such a chord for me and it resonated with so many of the things that I’ve experienced over the years. And so, I think that’s kind of where Going Scared is such a big theme, is that it’s really Going Scared in spite of the possibility of failure. And that’s perfectly OK.
Putting Fear in the Passenger’s Seat
Jessica: And I think in those moments where we can either stay seated on the proverbial couch or stand up, end up becoming so significant. And I know for me, in starting Noonday, I was afraid of how other people were going to perceive me. I was afraid no one was going to actually show up for me. And I can imagine if fear would have been in the driver’s seat of my life, you know, it still was in the car.
“I was afraid of how other people were going to perceive me. I was afraid no one was going to actually show up for me.” Jessica Honegger
But I was like, "Move on over to the passenger’s seat," like fear accompanies us, right? I mean, it doesn’t just go away, but it’s a matter of not letting it be the driver. And so, you put it in the passenger’s seat and you say, "You know what, I’m just going to keep driving and I’m going to keep going scared." And if I wouldn’t have done that, Noonday wouldn’t exist, and I would have missed out on this moment that I’m having right now with you. So can you imagine, what are some of those things you know you would have missed out on if you’d chosen to stay seated at a particular moment?
Hugette: Oh, man. There are so many things I would have missed out on. And I can relate this to not only my entrepreneurial journey but also my life journey. You know, I think I would have missed out on meeting all the incredible and inspiring women that I’m working with today, and much like yourself. And as you mentioned, getting to speak to you and getting to speak to all the women that I’ve admired for so many years that I could sit down with for an interview or for a conversation.
I would have missed out on the opportunity to travel and see the world in the way that I always wanted to see it and to experience different lifestyles and different cultures, and alternative ways of life. I think I would have missed out, you know, for example, in my personal journey. I think if I would have, maybe after my divorce, if I would have been afraid that forever I was going to experience the same thing or become jaded by my experience, I would have missed out on the opportunity of meeting my amazing husband who I love and trust and the bond that we have together. So there are so many areas in which doing it scared…
“There are so many things I would have missed out on. And I can relate this to not only my entrepreneurial journey but also my life journey.” Hugette Montesinos-Rodriguez
And, in fact, I would take it even a step further to saying doing it in spite of knowing that maybe it failed the first time, which is just even a whole other topic, right, because then sometimes we get traumatized when something doesn’t go right the first time. There’s times when we do it and we don’t know if it’s going to fail because it’s our first time trying it. But after you’ve tried it and it didn’t go well or it failed, doing it again and saying, "I’m still going to be hopeful that there’s another opportunity for me." And so, that for me has been revolutionary.
Jessica: So tell us about…because seven years in, that’s so crazy because Noonday started seven years ago too.
Hugette: Oh, wait. Yeah.
Jessica: So we were both… See, I’m telling you that God was doing on the move for the…on the move on behalf of the Bohemian seven years ago.
Hugette: That’s right.
Making Resilience a Habit
Jessica: Let me tell you. Tell me how you’ve had to really practice resilience over the past seven years, and moving forward, and continuing to live out this dream.
Hugette: Oh, absolutely. I think resilience is an everyday practice for me. And I would even go as far as saying an hourly practice. Honestly, I think resilience, especially in the emotional sphere for me, because I am a very emotionally inclined human. And so, I am very human-contact-oriented. And so, especially in an era where so much of the communication happens via phones, and text, and emails, that human contact is so important for me.
And so because there’s so much of that human connection that gets lost in those fears, whether it’s through social media or email, there tends to be almost like a hardening of the heart for many. And that, I don’t know if I would say fortunately or unfortunately, hasn’t happened for me, so I still become very deeply affected sometimes by, you know, people who are not kind or who like sometimes like to do bullying or some…you know, whatever it may be. And so, just that emotional part of me is constantly working in that area of resilience.
And so, resilience for me has also meant living by what I know, not by what I feel. And so, I have to remind myself what the truths are on a regular basis and rehearse those truths so that those muscles are strengthened in the time when the weakness comes. So, I’m able to pull that from my bag of tricks and be like, "Uh-uh, I know the truth, and the truth stands." And so, that, I think, is probably my biggest practice of resilience, would be in the emotional and mental sphere.
Coaching and Passing Resilience Onward
Jessica: OK. So aside from your magazine, you also have a coaching business. So tell me more how that came to be.
Hugette: Sure. So that actually developed very organically. As I would naturally always love to sit down with my girlfriends, whether it was over coffee or over dinner, I’ve always had a very huge and strange fascination for troubleshooting other people’s lives. So the way that the coaching or mentoring… And I don’t know, I feel really kind of awkward using the word coaching just because it’s so readily used nowadays, but I think I would call it more of like a mentorship that I usually sort of engage in with different women and peers.
And so, it really happened in a very transitional and organic way. And it really just stemmed from my everyday life and just sitting with my friends, basically having chats with them. And it was really interesting because I love sort of putting myself in this sort of like blind spot and being able to just completely immerse myself in the life of someone else. And so, I don’t know if that’s part of like wanting to be entertained by someone else’s story, almost like reading a book or watching a movie. But I’ve always been very fascinated by that.
And so, it always brought this really exciting challenge for me to know where there are areas of stuckness or areas of just friction in someone’s life and being able to say, "OK, let’s talk about that," and always being able to find solutions for my friends. And I found that it wasn’t so much that they were these like radical ideas, mostly it’s just people needing someone to look at things from a different perspective and being able to shine light on truths that maybe they can’t see, particularly in that moment.
Jessica: What are some of those limiting beliefs that you feel like keep women perpetually stuck?
“We make very long-term decisions on small and short-term problems…I like to think of those problems as fleeting.” Hugette Montesinos-Rodriguez
Hugette: Yeah. Well, I definitely think it has a lot to do with the sphere we were talking about earlier, where I feel like a lot of women just feel like there’s somehow…there are no opportunities to step outside of this space or out of these parameters. And so, it’s this idea of either what I’m used to, or what I think is possible based on my surroundings, and based on what I’ve experienced other people around me do.
So I find that, more often than not, it’s just a simple stepping out of the spectrum and just being able to look from the top down, basically like a bird’s eye view, and being able to see circumstances. And so, I like to use this concept that comes up a lot when it comes to suicide. And we’ve just been seeing so much of that lately, just a lot of depression. And that suicide is typically an eternal decision for a very temporary problem. So, yes, I like to apply this idea because a lot of times, we make very long-term decisions on small and short-term problems.
And so, I like to think of those problems as fleeting. And what I normally see is that these long-term worst-case scenarios that we’re afraid of, if we just walk through them, whether it’s mentally or emotionally to the end of the road, and think about what’s the worst that can possibly happen, when we get to that place, and we experience it in just a mental and emotional state, we immediately remove those layers of fear once again, because we’re like, "Well, yeah, maybe that sucked. And maybe that was painful and difficult, but I didn’t die, and it wasn’t the end of me."
So, I like to walk people through that journey, much like sometimes you walk through your ideal life and what your everyday ideal and perfect life would look like. I also like to walk people through what the worst-case scenario would look like. And in that space, you’re able to all of a sudden shed the fear. So it’s a very powerful exercise.
Letting Go of Control
Jessica: It really is. I think that we are…the anxiety is the fear of a certain outcome. And you cannot control an outcome
Jessica: Like, I wish we could sometimes but, I mean, you can influence an outcome, but you cannot control an outcome. And so, there is that level of just letting go. I mean, I equate it to skiing down a mountain. When I taught my kids to…taught them how to snow ski and you actually have to lean down.
And it’s counterintuitive because if you feel like you’re falling, you want to kind of lean backwards, but you have to lean into gravity and just let go. And I think that’s so much of accepting that fear is part of the journey and just letting go. So tell me about some of the women that you’ve been able to coach. I mean, do you specifically… Is it women starting businesses? Or is it…
Jessica: How do you go about doing this? Because I think a lot of my listeners have this heart to come alongside other women and probably are like, "How do I go about doing that?"
Hugette: Yeah, absolutely. So, I’ve worked with so many different women from varying genres and walks of life. So with definitely successful entrepreneurs who sometimes are needing to really figure out that work-life balance because they’ve been so successful in their career that maybe they need a little more loving, and a little bit of more tenderness in their personal life, and how to balance that without their business necessarily falling apart.
I’ve worked with women in the middle of their journey, where they’re just transitioning, and they’re actually growing and scaling, but also wanting to establish really strong foundations for their growth. And I’ve also worked with women who are either starting a journey, an entrepreneurial journey or have none, so whether they want to have one or don’t want to have one.
“There’s no way that you can separate or segment one part of your life from the other. They all interconnect and interrelate.” Hugette Montesinos-Rodriguez
So, I work on a holistic level, where it includes your personal life, your business and career life, your personal offering, your free time. And so, it’s an integrated and holistic process where we talk about all of the different areas or layers of your life because as women, we’re sort of intertwined like spaghetti. There’s no way that you can separate or segment one part of your life from the other. They all interconnect and interrelate.
And so, when one area is hurting, everything else gets affected. So the growth and abundance in one area doesn’t make up for the scarcity in another. And so, I like to make sure that the women that I work with are just kind of being filled and tending to all the areas of their life in a balanced manner, which I also like to clarify, does not mean having 12 buckets and having them all filled till the brim.
That means understanding if you have 12 buckets of your life, each season, you focus on three or four and you understand that those are the ones you want to fill to the brim. And then you shift gears when it’s time to recalibrate maybe three or four months later, then we reevaluate and say, "OK, cool. How are we shifting buckets right now and what are the three or four that need to be tended to this season?"
Jessica: All right, I have to pop in the conversation really quickly to tell you something that you get in Disfunkshion Mag and I want to do for you. We’re doing a contest, and you can win an early copy of, Imperfect Courage, plus Hugette’s favorite boho-inspired styles from our new fall collection. Head on over to my Instagram, that’s @jessicahonegger, with two G’s, for the details. And now here is the rest of my conversation with Hugette.
Going Scared with DISfunkshion Mag
The Going Scared moment six months after you decided, like, how did you just go about starting a magazine? Like, I don’t even know how you go about doing that.
Hugette: Yeah, well, it’s actually interesting. The way that it started was also pretty supernatural in nature because I can’t take full credit and say, "I just like went off and did this thing." Because I was in a journey of just surrendering and trusting God in whatever was next for me, I didn’t know that I already had a deep-rooted desire to have a magazine that had all the elements I mentioned before.
So when this came about, I just started going crazy and applying at a bunch of magazines in Hawaii. I was living there at the time. Hawaii’s also not really huge on fashion or at least it wasn’t, you know, when I was living there at the time. And so, it was a really interesting experience trying to figure out where opportunities could happen. And there was about three magazines at the time.
So I applied and only heard back from one of them. And the one that I heard back from was actually, in no way shape or form, really aligned with my aesthetic or anything I was really truly interested in. I just wanted to kind of get my foot in the door. And so, this magazine was also more of a like urban, sort of male demographic in the 15 to like 25 age range. But they did have this tiny little fashion editorial in every issue.
And I was like, "Hey, even if that means I’m involved in that, I’m cool. Like, I’m learning." So I applied, and at the time, they told me that their fashion editor had just left and they were looking for somebody. And I’m like, "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, this is crazy." And I had zero experience, once again, going scared. And in spite of imposter syndrome, I still went for it. And I was like, "Who knows what can happen?"
So I went ahead and applied, and I got the job. Within two weeks of the job, I didn’t actually perform any of my job descriptions. Within two weeks of being in the job, the owner and creative director tells me, "We need to close down the magazine because our, you know, primary designer and overarching creative director is taking on a job in LA. So he’s no longer able to carry out this magazine."
Oh, my goodness. I was like, beyond devastated I didn’t even know. I was like, "What does this even mean? Why did I get this and all of a sudden I lose it?" And so, I didn’t understand. And so, as we were talking earlier, you don’t understand the pain in the moment, you can only live life moving forward and understand it in retrospect.
So in the moment, I was like, "OK, this doesn’t make sense. But once again, I’m going to surrender it. And I’m going to trust." Well, just a few weeks later, I started to think to myself, "Well, this person clearly has the finances to do the magazine. He just doesn’t have the creative team to do it, or the person who kind of handles it." So I submitted a proposal and basically said, "Hey, I want to take over this, and I know I can do it and basically put together all the details from printing to graphics to photos." And at the time, Craigslist was my friend.
So it was like, "Hey, looking for photographers and looking for writers." And I did everything in such an organic grassroot way and put together this proposal for the creator and owner of this organization. And he basically, you know, asked for a meeting, sat down with me and said, "Hugette, I don’t understand what’s going on right now. And I don’t even understand this concept you’re presenting to me because I don’t think this would do well in Hawaii.
I don’t think anyone would get it, but something is telling me that I need to trust you."
Hugette: It was the craziest thing. And once again, this is God operating, you know, supernatural thing that I couldn’t understand. So, he says this, and I’m freaking out. I’m like, "OK, now, how do I even get started?" So I basically put together the first issue. And he said, "OK, we’re going to go half and half on this. And so I’m going to do the financial part. I’m going to find the advertisers, and you’re going to focus on the creative direction and just basically coming up with the magazine."
“It was the craziest thing. And once again, this is God operating, you know, supernatural thing that I couldn’t understand.” Hugette Montesinos-Rodriguez
Jessica: That’s like a dream.
Hugette: That was like a dream come true. And I was like, "Oh, my goodness, everything I don’t know, and everything I’m scared of, he’s gonna take care of. This is fantastic." OK, so the first magazine happens and he was able to fund it with a very limited amount, it was like a couple hundred dollars. And at the time, I had gotten this tiny little inheritance from an auntie who had passed away in Venezuela, which was $1,000. So I was like, "OK, we’re doing this."
And so, I invested into it, and we basically went together on it. By the second issue, as I was getting ready to prepare the second one, he’s like, "Hugette, I’ve tried so hard. I’m looking for all these advertisers. But all my contacts are in the urban and male demographic. I’ve been trying everything and I cannot find the money for this magazine." Well, at that point, I decided, "We’ve already created this thing, there’s no way I’m going to give up on it."
And I basically had to go out and look for the advertisers, and look for the funding, and look for everything. And from that point forward, I basically did every single part of the magazine. So by the time the end of the second one came about, I sat down with him. He was a very reasonable, kind, and wonderful human who I am still very close friends with and sat down and said, "Hey, listen, I’m doing every part of this and I know that you don’t care about this so much, and this isn’t your baby. But if it’s OK, I would like to fully adopt this baby."
And so, you know, we just completely parted ways and I did my thing and he did his. But I can’t look at this scenario as anything but a placebo that basically forced me into a space of safety so that I would feel like I could do it. And so that’s why I say that I can’t take full credit for having completely gone scared from day one.
But I feel like surrendering in that faith and in that understanding allowed me to walk through that regardless of the obstacles and also not giving up on something. But I do feel that that person was, you know, in my path as some kind of angel that was meant to really facilitate a personal trust in what I could do and where God was leading me.
Jessica: But I also think that’s how God operates because I feel like we step into that unknown and we’re not designed to do life alone.
Jessica: And I know for me, I was so afraid that no one was going to show up for me. But I think you step forward into that moment of Going Scared in spite of your fear. And you find there are others there to rise to meet you, to help you along the way. So it still counts, is what I’m saying. It totally counts. And so, is that Disfunkshion Mag then? Was it always called Disfunkshion Mag or where…?
Hugette: Yes, it was always called Disfunkshion Mag. And the crazy thing is I agree with what you’re saying because if at the point when he tells me, "Hey, there’s no magazine anymore." And I would have just been like, "OK, well, opportunity lost, dream crashed, you know, crushed," or whatever it may be.
At that point, I said, "Well, you know what, I’m going to create this proposal, and I’m going to sit down with them. And I’m going to see what he says. And I’m going to find out all these resources that I have no clue about." I think there’s still…it’s always a collaboration with the supernatural. There’s still a part that we have to do, and there’s still an initiative that we have to take.
And then once we take that bold step, then I feel like that’s where God holds our hand, and is like, "OK, you trusted me, let’s do this." So yeah, it is an absolute collaboration. But yes, it was always called Disfunkshion from the beginning. And I named it that way because the organization that he started was called Dis-n-dat Media Group. So it was D-I-S-N-D-A-T. So that’s how I started Disfunkshion. I wanted it to somehow make sense with his organization. So that’s one of the reasons why I named it Disfunkshion Magazine.
Imperfection and Authenticity
Jessica: OK, so I remember going through Seventeen Magazine, like, I was one of those like…I remember being like 11 years old and flipping through the pages of Seventeen and I got really obsessed with images that I saw in magazines. And what I remember mainly of magazines—these little girl fashion magazine—was this sort of unattainable perfection.
And I feel like it helped contribute almost to my own, like, body image issues. But I feel like you are really trying to swim upstream. I mean, you talk about how you are about embracing imperfection and embracing the journey. Would you say that you’re being very intentional about disrupting what’s been the traditional…? I know you said that there was this…
Hugette: Oh, yeah, absolutely. From the beginning, the core values of the magazine were to create a counterculture movement. Because part of the reason why I felt dissatisfied with the magazines that existed at the time was that none of them carried all the elements that I found essential.
And so as I mentioned, magazines like Oprah or like SELF talked a little bit more about that inner growth, and that inner being, and that inner identity versus the fashion magazines that were always talking about external and extrinsic value. So, that was always interwoven in the DNA of the magazine and the movement. And part of exhorting women towards that higher standard of living, as I call it, is a higher standard of living…means that we’re living within the DNA of who we were created to be, not what the mass culture has told us to be.
And so, that’s where there was this dichotomy between a cultural desire versus an unadulterated sort of innate desire. And so, whether it comes with our identity or the things that we seek in life, it was really kind of getting back to the core of who we really are versus who we are told we are. So, yes, that is 100% the fabric of what we do and why I’m so motivated to put these messages out on a regular basis.
Jessica: And what inspires you? Like, I mean, we create Lookbooks and I’m the Chief Creative Officer of our organization. How do you go about getting inspired and dreaming up your content and, you know, your next issue?
Hugette: Absolutely. So I get inspired by a lot of culture, which has also been an interesting ground to sort of navigate in terms of the cultural appropriation and a lot of the different things that we see right now. But I definitely get inspired by culture. And I find that there is so much beauty and creativity in the different ways of life.
So that’s always been a huge pillar. I remember I used to collect and sort of rip out pages from National Geographic and even from, you know, coffee table art books. And so that’s always been one of my primary visual inspirations. I’m also very inspired by music of the ’60s and ’70s, so I’m a huge, like, classic rock fan, and I love like Jimi Hendrix and, you know, Led Zeppelin. And so, that kind of music always puts me in the space of… I don’t know why, but it just makes me feel like I need less in my life.
When I think about these messages of love and peace and, you know, just people coming together and valuing intrinsic things, I met in some kind of in-between space between beautiful visual material things but very minimalistic, emotional, and mental spaces. And so, that’s kind of one of those gray area spaces for me as well, where I’m a physical maximalist in a lot of ways but a mental and emotional minimalist. So I hope that answers your question.
Knowing when to Unplug
“My mind just cannot handle too much all at once. So, I absolutely need play and rest time.” Hugette Montesinos-Rodriguez
Jessica: Now let’s talk about that because I remember reading a post a few weeks ago, and I think you were like, "I’m going offline. I’m taking a break." And that’s something I have a really hard time doing, especially in the middle of the book launch. I mean, it’s just like I’m wanting to constantly connect with my audience because they’re the reason I’m even able to do what I’m doing.
And then I also get a lot out of it, like I love connecting. And as dehumanizing sometimes as the internet can be, it also does lend a certain amount of connection. So talk a little bit about this mental minimalism that you’re talking about. Like, what does that actually look like practically?
Hugette: Sure. Well, I think, first of all, I have to preface this by saying that contrary to what most people would probably assume, I’m actually someone who does not allow busyness to take over my life. And so, while I do a lot of things, I really despise the word busy, and I despise the idea of consistently being consumed by busyness. So I need…because I’m also…I think being a mental minimalist also means that I’m also like a one-track mind, I’m not a multitasker, I can’t do a lot of things at once because if I try to do even two things at once, I will terribly fail at one them.
So my mind just cannot handle too much all at once. So, I absolutely need play and rest time. And if I don’t have that, every other area of my life tragically suffers. So for me, disconnecting is something that I absolutely look forward to. And I try to do it at least once a month, where I go off the grid, even if it’s for like a weekend. And then every so often, I’ll do it for like an entire week, or sometimes even two weeks.
And I almost don’t even like to put, you know, like dates on that, I’ll be like, "I’ll be back soon." Because I don’t even want to commit to saying, "I have to be back by this date." And so, I need to give myself the freedom to just really rest my mind and my heart. Because as you mentioned, there is such a strong and powerful communication ability on social media and through our platforms that is so beautiful and powerful.
But I don’t ever want that to replace my human connection and my human connectedness with the people in my life. And I feel like finding that boundary is always super important for me, not only with my husband, and with my family, but also my friends and making sure that I always have time for the people around me. I’m not consumed by having to post one more time, or having to send that last email, or having to do anything like that. So for me, that mental rest is just as essential, if not more, than actually getting work done because it’s what fuels my work and my creativity.
Negotiating with Creative Energy
Jessica: So let’s talk about creativity, because you are resting and you’re playing but I’m sure during that time is when the creativity bubbles out.
Jessica: So then what do you do with that, because if you’re intentionally trying to rest and play, does it feel contrary then to begin to create, because that’s a little bit like working?
Jessica: I don’t know, maybe I’m such a weirdo and I think I just need to let go and let go. Do you know what I mean? But my schedule is pretty crazy, and we have 50 employees, and I’ve got three kids with the book and everything else inside…
Hugette: You’re Wonder Woman. I don’t even understand that. Like that just blows my mind, so amazing.
Jessica: But I don’t want to be, it’s just the reality, like the reality is life is very full. And I’m with you. I hate using the word busy, I hate it because to me, it puts off this vibe of like I don’t have time for you. And I want to have like open arms and surrender. Like, you know, I want to live in abundance and not in this scarcity mentality when it comes to my time or my energy.
But I also realize boundaries and rest and play are essential. I just think that my life, literally there’s just not a lot of time to give. And so when I do, which I do take breaks every week, I take a break and try to have an intentional Sabbath and an intentional rest time, an intentional time of unplugging. But then during that unplugging time, since I’m naturally creative, I’ll, you know, I don’t know.
Recently, I had a great conversation with a guy who wrote a book all about having a hard stop once a week, and he’s like, "Don’t listen to self-help podcasts. Don’t read nonfiction, like, you need to just read for fun, like, doing stuff for fun." So what does your rest and play look like? And if creativity bubbles up, do you just kind of go with the flow?
Hugette: Absolutely, my rest looks differently depending on the type of rest that I’m experiencing. So I have the short-term rests, which are every single day, which I’ll explain in a second. Then I have like my intermediate type of rest, which is things like the weekend or like taking a couple of days off. And then I have my long-term rests, which are anytime that I travel or that I go on a vacation.
So each rest has its own, I don’t want to say set of rules, but it has like its own nature to it, right? So for example, to me being creative and getting an idea doesn’t feel like work. So within the work sphere of the things that I do, I also know the things that I love to do and then the things that I hate to do, but I have to do anyway because that’s just the nature of any wonderful thing that you do. I’m sure even with your children, I don’t have any of my own yet.
We have our little munchkin which is my husband’s little daughter, but I’m sure even with motherhood, it’s the same thing. You’re like, "I love these parts of motherhood," but you probably hate waking up at three o’clock in the morning when your baby needs to be fed. So, you know, I think with everything that we absolutely love, there are parts of it that just are not comfortable or exciting.
So I kind of… I’ve had those very well identified. So when I’m in times of rest, I do not touch the things that make my soul crumble or the things that just obviously feel like pulling teeth. But there are parts of it that are always to me, still part of play. So if being creative means writing down, you know, quotes that come to me, or it means, you know, thinking of this new article idea, or whatever it may be, I write those things down. So I always have some kind of like little agenda in my bag and a pen.
So any time ideas come, I’m always writing those things down. So I give myself the freedom to create and to think of ideas as they come to me, but I don’t put pressure on them that they need to be carried out right now or in a certain way. And so, when it comes to those spans of rest, my short-term one is basically every single day. So every day, I give…and of course, this also varies a little bit depending on season. So for launching something major, like a course or like an issue, that varies just a little bit within that month. But on average, I have rest periods every single day. So during my lunchtime, because I’m also Hispanic, I always have like a little siesta.
Jessica: Oh, it’s the best.
Hugette: I always have like a little nap right after my lunch. My body just kind of gets tired, and my mind doesn’t want to think, so I go with it. And so I always take like some kind of little 15, 20-minute catnap. And that just recharges me for the second…
Jessica: Oh, my gosh, this is the life.
Hugette: And then in the evenings, I always have something that I look forward to. So whether it’s like a date night with my husband, or whether it’s like a date night with myself, just going out to the coffee shop and doing some reading for like an hour or two on something I’ve been wanting to dig into, or whether it’s sitting at the pool for a little bit. I always find something that I look forward to at the end of the day.
So it’s kind of like my little mental and emotional treat. When it’s with short term, I also do like a—for sure—a weekly sabbatical. I have one day that’s just really dedicated to my soul, and to my heart, and to my family. Usually, that’s on Sundays, and we also do church and we just have like our spirit time. And then, I have my long-term ones, which are usually when I go on vacation, or whenever we’re spending, you know, quality family time for about a week or more.
And we usually try to do that about every month or every two to three months. Because, I personally, if I don’t have that time, I kind of shut down. So I think the biggest thing I’ve learned over the years is just understanding my mind and my heart and understanding what my emotional triggers are. So I know even times of the day when I’m going to feel a little bit more emotional or a little bit more down.
I obviously won’t schedule anything that is threatening at that time, like a huge promotion that I don’t know if it’s going to do well or not. You know, I’ll try to schedule it in the morning when I’m super, you know, energized or things like that. So, over the years, I’ve learned to work with my tendencies. And I think listening to that, to the inner voice of your mind, your heart, your body, are very important. And that’s one of the things I like to walk a lot of the women through because that’s how you build a successful system for yourself. There isn’t one clear-cut formula. You have to know and understand yourself to know what kind of life you need to build.
Jessica: Well, and I love that you know and understand yourself, and then you’re honoring that self. Because I think a lot of us kind of know what we need, but then we just refuse to stop and give it to ourselves. But you’re actually listening to yourself and creating a compassionate space in order for that self to live the way God designed for you to live, which is obviously in rest and in play. I mean, you take a nap every day. I mean, I did that when I studied abroad in Mexico and Venezuela. But oh, my word, I love it. I’m mean, I have to say.
Hugette: That might change when I have babies. I don’t know. I mean, I’ve heard quite a bit of things. So I’m getting mentally and emotionally ready for that at some point.
Jessica: Well, you know, I do think, I think that’s something. I actually majored in Latin American Studies in college. And I think I’ve just always been drawn to the Latin culture because there’s like a fun and a vibrancy and it’s so relational, but there’s also a sense that, yeah, people are more valuable than time, and the siesta lifestyle is…it’s a beautiful thing.
Hugette: Oh yeah. We work to live, we don’t live to work. That is a mantra of our culture. No doubt.
Keep Going Scared
Jessica: Totally. Totally. OK. So, if you were to say, "In 20 years, this is what I want Disfunkshion Magazine to have accomplished in the world and in the lives of women," what would it be?
Hugette: Ooh, I would say…wow, in the shortest format, it would be that women would discover their identity so they can ultimately live in absolute freedom. I think that would be the underlying message, and that freedom takes on so many numerous forms based on our cultures, our walks of life, our experiences, our traumas, our wins, our failures. But ultimately, that we would live in absolute freedom to be led by our spirit, to be led by our natural callings, and be led by the voice of our heart rather than the noise of our culture.
Jessica: I love that. This has been so great for me today. Thank you so much. Tell us one way that you’re Going Scared right now.
Hugette: One way that I’m Going Scared right now is to be very objective, I am sitting in front of my computer with my wonderful friend and partner Stacy, and we’re getting ready to launch, for the first time, officially launch Instagram Abundance, which is an online course that I decided to launch about six months ago. And I did a pre-launch that was just sort of a screw-it-ship-it mode, and now I’m actually putting all the moving pieces together and we’re formulating an actual launch. So, I’m scared crapless of what the results are going to be. But you know what? I really don’t care and I’m trusting and moving forward anyway.
Jessica: Hugette and I’s conversation was such a great example of what it looks like to stand up. To stand up, go for what you love and keep searching. Remember, the path to success is not straight, it’s circular. So just get going, girl. And don’t forget, head on over to my Instagram @jessicahonegger, that’s two Gs, for a chance to win an early copy of Imperfect Courage, plus Hugette’s favorite boho-inspired styles from our new fall collection.
Trust me, you are going to want what she picked out. I’ll see you next time on the episode of, "Going Scared." Our music for today is by my good friend Ellie Holcomb. Going Scared is produced by Eddie Kaufholz and I am Jessica Honegger. Until next time, let’s take each other by the hand and keep Going Scared.