Pretty When We Win is a series that seeks to reconceptualize pretty by draining it of its negative power. This first iteration highlights inspiring stories of entrepreneurs who identify as women; it hopes to encourage contemplation of the word pretty and explore how we use it in our daily lives.
Instagram can be a treasure trove of talent, and Shaina Singh is a testament to that statement. I have had the pleasure of building a friendship with Shaina over the past couple of years, and our conversation topics range from skincare to equity in the workplace to intersectional feminism. The more I learn about her—and what she does as a therapist and dating coach—the more I am in awe of her. I think you will be too!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a psychotherapist and a dating coach in Austin, TX. I live and breathe relationships, and inclusivity is at the core of my commitment to being a psychotherapist. I believe that we all deserve to be in thriving and happy relationships. On a personal level—I am a new mom, avid hot yoga practitioner, scuba diver (shark diving is my favorite), world traveler, foodie, backyard food grower, dog volunteer, an advocate for pitties, and a feminist.
Please name a woman who inspires you and why.
MY MOTHER! Honestly, I wouldn’t be in this country or this world if it wasn’t for her. My mother is the epitome of hard work, selflessness, courage, and love. She left an abusive marriage in India when getting a divorce wasn’t easy during that time. Her case was one of the very first in the courts where a woman was seeking a divorce. She was a single mother who made an arduous decision to leave us with our grandparents so she could move to the USA to give us a better life. The courage that it took to do this is awe-inspiring! I have immense respect for her. My mother has always put my sibling and me first. She has defined parenthood for me, and my life is advantaged because she did all the hard work to make it so.
What served as the impetus to start your business? Was it a career switch for you?
I had a burning desire and a vision to offer a haven for people looking for support and healing with their relationships. I also wanted to help single folx who are struggling in this modern dating world and help them find relationships, navigate the dating world, and build secure attachments.
What is the hardest part of doing something on your own?
F.E.A.R! Because I am responsible for doing everything and making all the decisions for the business I worry often.
What keeps you up at night?
Doing the right thing! I consider being a therapist a privilege and recognize that I am a part of people’s lives when they are vulnerable and experiencing distress. Often at night, I mull over the work I did in sessions, how I supported my clients, and sometimes, I have breakthroughs in my dreams! I am consistently working on learning, growing, and attending various trainings because I want to always give my BEST to my clients.
There is room for everybody at the table; if the table is small, then demand/make a bigger table.
What struggles have you encountered that you feel are unique to women entrepreneurs? What’s the toughest part of being a woman entrepreneur?
We as womxn are conditioned to compete with each other. We are pitted against one another. I have chosen an amazing and supportive tribe of womxn; however, I do see this issue very prevalent in the womxn entrepreneur community. I truly believe that the entrepreneur community can become even bigger and thrive if we all supported one another. Another thing, men should be educated and empowered to be allies to womxn so they can also fight for equality.
What kind of weight does the word pretty have for you? What does pretty mean to you?
Growing up, I often heard that beauty and brains was the perfect combination and that, unfortunately, not everyone can be pretty and smart. I was once told that I was “too pretty” to be a feminist. My name in Yiddish means beautiful, and I have reclaimed my name as beautifully hard working and a badass.
Where do you find strength?
I am surrounded by some brilliant, hard-working, inspiring, social justice-minded beautiful womxn, and I derive my strength from them. I also believe that a lot of my strength comes from my family of origin.
What inspires you?
CHANGE! As a relationship therapist, when I can help folx find their way to secure attachment with their partners, it is a pretty inspiring thing. As a dating coach, when I can help single people break unhealthy dating patterns, it is a moving experience. As a social justice-minded therapist, when I see people standing for the right thing and using their privilege to fight oppression, I am inspired.
What’s your favorite way to connect with your clients/partners/customers?
Being a psychotherapist and dating coach means that I can build alliances and trusting relationships with people. Psychotherapy is a vulnerable process and hard work; the relationship between the therapist and client directly affects the outcomes of the work together. I pride myself on building authentic and sincere professional relationships with the clients I serve. As we are living in the COVID-19 world, all my work has moved to virtual for the time being, and I have learned that I can take the face-to-face work quite effectively to the virtual world.
Can you offer some advice to other women who are looking to start their own business and/or make a career switch?
Take the risk, be proud of what you’re offering, be authentic, when you get to the top, help other women get up there. There is room for everybody at the table; if the table is small, then demand/make a bigger table.
Feature photo credit: Shaina Singh
For more from the Pretty When We Win series, visit the Entrepreneurship section of The Mocha Minimalist.