“We’re not encouraging people to consume. We’re encouraging people to make better choices when they decide to buy something.” This quote from Kelly Breakstone Roth can be applied to just about any industry – we need to guide people to make the best choice. But how can we do that? For Kelly, she’s found a way to give her customers the best value and bring them a global perspective they can’t find anywhere else.
Kelly Breakstone Roth is the CEO and Co-founder of The Nopo, a curated platform offering Fair Trade fashion and home decor.
Dana: Welcome to Hustle and Gather, a podcast about inspiring the everyday entrepreneur to take the leap. I’m Dana
Courtney: and I’m Courtney.
Dana: And we are two sisters who have started multiple businesses together. And yes, it is as messy as you think. Because we know that starting a business, isn’t easy.
Courtney: I mean, we’ve done it four times. And on this show, we talk about the ups and downs of the hustle and the reward at the end of the journey.
Dana: And we love helping small businesses succeed, whether that is through our venue consulting, speaking, or team training, we love to motivate others to take that big leap.
Courtney: You could just use our misadventures to normalize the crazy that is being an entrepreneur, because every entrepreneur makes mistakes,
Dana: but we like to call those unsuccessful attempts around here.
Courtney: And we know it’s just part of the process. And today we’re learning from Kelly Breakstone Roth, co-founder and CEO of The Nopo. Prior to founding The Nopo, Kelly worked as head of branch for the Israeli government for more than a decade, leading cutting edge multimillion dollar projects. Kelly is married to Alad and is the mother of three daughters. She’s an average traveler and a potter. Kelly, welcome to hustle and gather
Kelly: Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to be talking with you today. And I have to say the fact that your sisters is really exciting for me. As you mentioned, I have three daughters. So just the thought of them one day, building something together is just so exciting.
Dana: Yeah, I know. I can’t imagine three girls. I have one,
Courtney: I have one and that’s enough.
Dana: Well, thanks much for coming on. We’re so excited. I am like so interested to hear about kind of your previous life working with the Israeli government and how you kind of got into the entrepreneurial path.
Courtney: So are you from Israel?
Kelly: Yeah. So I was born and raised in Israel. My parents are American and they kind of moved to Israel in the seventies. They were hippies. They wanted to build this exemplary society in Israel, still working hard at that. And so I grew up in this household where we were taught, you know, you have to impact the community that you’re living in.
Um, so it was very clear to me from a very young age that I’ll be working for government and, and trying to help, and after about 12 years there I started feeling like it was time for me to continue creating that impact, but in a place that brought into expression, some of my other passions. So I would love my career.
I loved doing what I was doing, got to work with the brightest minds in Israel on the most urgent problems, but I’ve always been an intrapreneur, wherever I was in life. So even in government, I kept on finding myself, trying to create things that didn’t exist before. And then, I guess I was seeing 40 kind of loom around the corner.
And it was like, like, this is the time. If you want to reinvent yourself, if you want to be doing those other things that you’re curious about, this is the time to do it. So as part of that transition, I joined the executive MBA program of Northwestern University., they’ve got a, a joint program with Tel Aviv university. So that was like my first step into the entrepreneurial world. And I ended up meeting my co-founder there. So the rest is history.
Courtney: Oh, so interesting. Isn’t it in Israel, like doesn’t everybody do two years in the military, like mandatory?
Kelly: Right. So anywhere between like three and five years, I guess if you’re going to be an officer. For many women, it’s about two years. There are a wide range of positions now available for women from combat to, to being, a pilot, but also doing a lot of interesting work in terms of medical staff and technology and satellites. And so it’s like a really, really interesting way to kind of explore what you’re interested at a young age.
Courtney: I’m interested in that in general, because obviously we don’t have a program like that here in the United States. Like what, what do you think some of the benefits are of that like kind of for everyone kind of goes through that same path.
Kelly: Yeah. Well, first of all, it’s a melting pot. It really is a melting pot. You got people together from every different area in Israel, different socioeconomic levels. You really get to meet people that you wouldn’t meet anywhere else. And I think while college in the United States gives you an opportunity to meet people from, you know, different parts of America.
You might still be in the same socioeconomic or even cultural kind of group, whereas in Israel you’re really getting to meet other people. I think that at the end of the day makes you more sympathetic, empathetic to others. You make friendships that are just, you know, so precious and lead you throughout life.
You get a hell of a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. You know, you become a commander at very young age, you get responsibility for managing military campaigns. It’s, it’s pretty, it’s pretty crazy. It’s very intense. It’s not all great, obviously like a lot of people also leave traumatized, and have to kind of really rebuild themselves after the army. But if you’re lucky, then it will put you on this course where you become very aware, you become very responsible. You become, resourceful and can really, you know, push things forward. And I think, you know, they say Israel’s startup nation.
That’s probably one of the reasons, because at a very young age, you get thrown like way in the deep end and have to like figure yourself out very quickly.
Courtney: Yeah, Yeah, that’s so interesting. I know that is like, I can’t even imagine I, what is it? Like 18, 19
Kelly: yeah, Babies,
Courtney: Babies Total babies.
Kelly: you don’t think you’re a baby at 18,
Courtney: No, you do not but give it a few years. You realize that you were,
Kelly: yeah, yeah, yeah
Dana: So tell us a little bit about your time, you know, with the Israeli government and what kind of lessons that you learned there that made you either feel very confident walking into your entrepreneur path, or maybe that made you take a little bit longer to start that journey.