Meet Cassie Fox, Founder of iZRA. iZRA is an online magazine and brand for ages 10+ that promotes positive lifestyle and engagement with existing support services. iZRA also run presentations in schools on emotional resilience and creative vocational workshops such as DJing, Videography and Entrepreneurialism.
Hey Cassie! First off, tell us a little bit about yourself:
I’m 25. Live in Mandurah, Western Australia. Am a little obsessed with my dogs, Nala and Mackey – a German Shepherd and a Shitzu, the ultimate odd couple! I currently work at a Bank, and in my spare time you could find me pretending to study post-grad business, running by the beach, procrasti-baking so much that I make myself sick, or getting caught up in some spontaneous creative project. Friends and my amazing church seem to occupy a lot of my time too!
In February 2014 you launched iZRA. Where did the passion and dream for this begin?
iZRA was one of those things that, I guess, was the culmination of a lot of different experiences in my life and has evolved from a need I saw.
In my second term of Year 12 my family moved. I went from the top of all my classes with countless friends, to failing every subject at the new school and spending lunchtime in the bathroom wishing the bell would ring. This upheaval of my world threw me completely, and for the first time I started considering ways to end everything – I just couldn’t see life getting any better.
Thanks to some people who took the time to help me in that season, I ended up pulling through and actually really excelling – ranked in the top 8% of the State. It was in that time though that I experienced first hand just how dangerous it is when someone, teenagers in particular, feel isolated and try to deal with things on their own.
I went on to study Public Relations and International Aid and Development. After some time working in those fields I had this vague vision of creating an online community that could potentially eliminate some of that isolation. I didn’t know exactly what it would look like, but it was one of the burdens that just keeps you up at night.
The need I saw was that there are brilliant support services out there, but they can’t always target their branding, tone and the channels used, to the teenage market and really be in the social media space effectively. So I wanted to create an attractive and relevant brand that could be in that space and that could encourage them to engage with those services.
Are there any surprising lessons you’ve had to learn?
How long do you have? I’ve had to learn so many lessons!
One of the biggest things I’ve had to learn is that if you have a great idea and genuinely want it to succeed, irrespective of the quality of the idea, the environment you bring it into can be make or break. It’s one thing to have the seed of an idea and all of the ingredients to make it grow, but if the environment of that idea is hostile, you’re going to have an uphill battle.
I had to get really intentional about the kinds of people I let influence my life and worldview. I didn’t just cut out anyone who didn’t think big or wildly cheer me on, but I made sure that the biggest influences in my life were like-minded and willing to challenge me to do something with my dream.
A little more significantly though, I had to become a lot more disciplined in my thought life; the internal environment of the idea. I gave far too much airtime to doubt and negativity which made my brain a pretty hostile place to be. It’s hard enough starting a creative venture by yourself, but near impossible if you’re not even on your own side.
I also had to learn to reframe how I saw failure. Being a little bit of an idealist and perfectionist, anything that didn’t turn out the way I had imagined was classified as a failure in my mind. So I had to very quickly reframe how I saw it and ensure it was accompanied by only positive connotations: “failure teaches me more than success ever will”. When I reframed how I approached results, a lot of the fear seemed to fade away. Suddenly the whole creative journey became an experiment where outcomes are no longer right or wrong – they are valuable tools and ideas that will help me find the perfect balance between what the market wants/needs and what I feel led to create.
Something I am personally impacted by with iZRA and yourself is the unwavering commitment to seeing the next generation take ownership of and live free lives. Most of us have young people in our immediate worlds. How can we support them in ways they would find actually valuable?
Wow – thank you! One of the things I’m insanely passionate about is speaking future and purpose. When I reached my lowest point I lost the ability to imagine a good future and couldn’t see or find hope in anything beyond the reality I was in.
Our work in schools and our online content revolves around this concept of future and finding purpose, whatever that looks like – whether it’s just a hobby for now or a dream you’re investing in for later, the ability to imagine and work towards future makes us able to endure some pretty difficult present times.
So when I speak one-on-one to young people in my own community, I make sure to listen and sympathise with current struggles – everybody wants to know that their feelings and experiences are valid. When I do share though, I spend the majority of time speaking to their future, their potential and their value – encouraging them in the things they are passionate about. If they’re crazy about surfing and come alive when they talk about it, who cares if they are going to be a pro surfer one day or not? Time doing what they are passionate about is going to build them up, and help them cope with struggles they are facing in their present. The same goes for all of us, those things that make us come alive are always going to energize and help us deal with those parts of life that drain us. Similarly, finding purpose and time spent doing things that we are wired to do helps build our confidence for those areas we lack confidence in.
What inspires you?
Constantly swinging from extrovert to introvert, I am inspired by time with people, making genuine connections and sharing experiences. Also, just time to write and process my thoughts, exploring ideas by reading and listening to podcasts. Some favourites are Erwin McManus, Seth Godin and C.S. Lewis.
If you could sit down with a feminine heart over coffee and conversation, who would it be and why?
I would love to sit down with Lisa Messenger of the Renegade Collective Magazine. She has an amazing capacity for creative ideas and making them happen, truly seeing all of her experiences as opportunities for growth. I really admire her mix of creativity, positivity and hard work.
– image credits: provided by Cassie Fox