Hitha Palepu was one of the first Dagne Dover fans back when we launched in 2013. At the time, she was in the midst of working on her blog, Hitha On The Go, which focused on helping women save time and energy on things such as packing, traveling, how to dress for work, and what book to read next. While she still maintains the blog today, she has shifted her focus to publishing purposeful content on her blog and social media channels that she hopes can start meaningful conversations amongst her followers, as well as her pharmaceutical company, Rhoshan Pharmaceutical.
Tell us about how you first came into contact with Dagne Dover.
I was invited to an event where Mel, Deepa, and Jessy were launching their first three bag styles. Immediately I just thought it was very much my aesthetic, and the functionality story is one I gravitated towards. So I just remember emailing them to follow up afterwards and introduced them to my blog. At the time I had started doing more packing-type and travel-type content so there was definitely a fit there.
How did your blog start?
I was working with my dad at his pharma company and felt I needed a creative outlet, otherwise I would go crazy. At one point, I wrote a post called ‘10 Essentials You Need for a Long Flight’. I remember putting it up on Pinterest, hopping on a flight to Asia, and when we landed in Thailand, I had more traffic than I’d ever had. It had been repinned like 50,000 times and it sort of took off from there.
I’m all about making my life more efficient and living it in an easier manner, whether that comes from packing a suitcase or a workbag, to organizing my day and week, to finding enjoyable activities with my kids. It can be mind-numbing to build the same Magna Tile tower over and over again, and it can be exhausting constantly nursing all day. I’m sitting there breast-feeding and topless and thinking “What am I going to do that is both relaxing but still entertaining or informative in some way?”
My #5SmartReads started very selfishly. I read the news every day and I wanted people to talk about it with. So I just started putting it up on Instagram and slowly people started to find it interesting. Now there’s a Highlight for it, the weekly newsletter, and Facebook group where people can post their own smart reads and discuss the day’s reads that I posted about. There are some really smart women that partake, and I’m honored to be connected to them through the internet and to hear their insights and what they think.
What’s the best career advice you’ve received?
Career and passion can be separate. A career should enable you to pursue your passion in a way that makes sense for your life. So if you’re the type of person where your passion needs to be your job, then there is that option. And I think that’s the one we talk about the most. However, you can have a job that is fulfilling and compensates you very well but gives you flexibility or ample weekend time to pursue your true passions. I don’t know where we got down this path that they have to be one and the same. They don’t have to.
You know, pharma is not my great passion. I care deeply about it, but I am passionate about helping women live their best lives. In the content I create and share, the conversations I hope I’m starting, in being real myself, having conversations one-on-one with people. That’s what I’m passionate about. If I believed that this had to be my life’s work, and I was struggling to figure out how to make the money to make Hitha On The Go or #5SmartReads, I don’t know if it would have been as successful as it has been, because there’s something really nice about knowing where your paycheck is coming from.
If you are afforded a really good quality of life for work that you are good at and that challenges you, that, in my mind, is great, if it gives you more time to pursue the things you really care about. And don’t be in a hurry to monetize or side hustle your hobbies. Have things in your life that are purely for your enjoyment. Just because you can start sharing it on Instagram or selling it on Etsy doesn’t mean you should.
When do you feel most empowered?
I call them the rare perfect days. It’s a day where I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot with work and where I’ve spent really strong quality time with my kids. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, but the mornings when Rho eats his breakfast and packs his backpack and is out the door with no tears. And when we do a fun activity that afternoon that’s fun for both of us. That Rhaki wants to nurse at the times that are perfectly open for me. And I’ve been able to have an actual conversation with my husband, not about the kids or work. And I’m in bed before midnight. That feeling at the end right before I’m falling asleep. Those days happen maybe two to three times per year but when they do, they are my most empowered-feeling days. It’s the day that you feel you get to be your truest self and everything worked out.
What is your greatest strength?
It’s prioritization and planning. It’s not about having a plan for when things go right. It’s about planning for when things go wrong, being able to pause, take a step back, assess the big picture, move the pieces around the board, and figure out what you’re going to do next and some other ideas to backfill that in case that doesn’t work out.
Also being able to show my true self. Once I started actually sharing that type of content on the blog and sharing what I really cared about, that’s when it really started taking off because people respond to authenticity. We’ve been told not to waste energy on feeling bad, sad, or frustrated. I disagree. Give yourself space to feel those things so you can understand what needs to happen to resolve issues and conflicts and problems and get to a happier state.