Good Zebra as told by CEO & Founder Erika Szychowski

Good Zebra as told by CEO & Founder Erika Szychowski

I don’t believe in resolutions, instead I prefer affirmations. In January 2015 I made an affirmation to be fearless. Nearly two years later – I’m reminding myself of that daily. I could give you my marketing lingo and tell you all the edited versions of our elevator pitch or I could lay it out here, open up fearlessly and share the good story behind GOOD ZEBRA and all the other bits.

There was a moment that led to this journey, a breaking point if you will – and we will get to that. Black + White [nothing shady] is not only our tag line, but our core value – transparency is the motto for our everyday. So here is the story of this crazy, mixed-up, adventure-turned-brand and what we believe — a legitimate business.  Credit for the foundation, the seed if you will goes to my Father, Mother and Grandmother – for each of them allowed me to bake when I was a small child - no rules, just a bit [barely] of adult supervision and a pile of ingredients to make things up.  Some people invent mud pies and other friends used Holly Hobby Ovens, I was unleashed on the kitchen with The Joy of Cooking and Mountain Mamma’s Cookbook - the later being my mother’s collection of her favorite family recipes and her inventions. 

I found baking was my happy place, I also oddly can bake without recipes, measuring spoons, etc. — which it is now my understanding, to be quite unusual.  Baking is chemistry - I have made some horrific things over the years, some flops and some amazing treats.   Later in my life, I got fat.  I stopped baking. I lost the weight. I moved to Berlin and realized THEY DON’T EAT CAKE. Well, ok, they do - but it’s tarts and EVERYTHING is covered in or inclusive of marzipan.  Death warms over before I will touch that disgusting madness. So I started to bake - again.  For therapy, for pleasure, for the LOVE of a life without marzipan. I became known as the friend that would always bring the proverbial cake. Thought crossed my mind - start a bakery?  Answer was easy - HELL NO - this bitch doesn’t do 4am.  

So life continues, I move back to NYC, corporate America peeks my interest yet again.  I start a global job that takes me all over, I lived the ‘glorious’ life of a New Yorker, and I say this with quotes for a reason. For this life chapter, my work was in the fashion industry, running around the world further opening my eyes and my heart to incredible people and experiences. Amassing a new chapter of stories and yet in all this excitement and adventure: I. WAS. SO. DONE. Corporate life ruled my world for too long and it was time for change.  Its not that I wasn’t grateful, for this experience and the countless others over the years is what gave me the strength, the courage if you will to be – FEARLESS. I was just exhausted – I found that the more senior I became, the more rules imposed upon me – I used to refer to it as the “death of creativity” – the brain that was taught to question everything, to think outside the box and to constantly strive for solutions was being caged.

Tom Peters has said “Get fired. If you’re not pushing hard enough to get fired, you’re not pushing hard enough”. So that pretty much catches you up to the point that Good Zebra was born.

 

4 comments

Carrie Parker

Nice to hear a little more of your “why”. I’ve walked away from the lights and glitz too. It was totally worth it!

Lisa Arbetter

Beautiful story, beautiful journey, beautiful person. Oh, and yummy treats!

Ben Szychowski

I am the luckiest brother on the planet to have a sister that follows her dreams and shows the rest of us how it’s done!! Love you sis!!!!

Sheryl Beier

Congratulations on a great journey. Great cookies too!

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