July 22, 2020 · Behind The Scenes

A Day in the Life of Social Entrepreneur Carla Maria de Souza


Whether you’re raising funds for a creative project or a new business idea, running your own crowdfunding campaign is no easy feat. It takes a healthy dose of passion, discipline, and commitment to bring your ideas and concepts to life, and get your backer community excited about them. Ever wondered what a day in the life of an entrepreneur on Indiegogo is like? We’re here to give you an exclusive glimpse into 24 hours of their day. 

We love promoting a woman entrepreneur. And when that woman is helping other women around the world in the process? It’s even better. Carla Maria de Souza is the mastermind behind Project Três, which helps women in Kenya and India become financially independent by creating and selling handicrafts. Carla, who lives in Berlin, promotes their work on Instagram and sells their items on the Project Três website

COVID-19 has made Carla’s work even more urgent, and she’s crowdfunding to get additional support for her artisans.

“In light of the recent global pandemic, we are not able to provide the support that all the artisans need. In addition, the ones that secured jobs outside our project with our help, are no longer working due to the consequences of COVID-19,” she writes on her campaign page. “Our work allows women with limited education and experience to become financially stable, foster positive social networks, care for their children, and improve their overall quality of life.”

“In India, we call them our ladies and in Kenya, they are our mamas,” she continues. “They are family to us. These women are mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, housewives, and refugees. Some of them have experienced domestic violence, divorce, acid attacks, and had little access to education.“

We sat down with Carla to find out how she spends her days as she works on Project Três and how she advances Project Três’ mission. Read about a day in Carla’s life below and scroll down to see her answers to our brief Q+A.

7 A.M. I wake up between 7 and 8, depending on the day. Before COVID-times, I used to wake up before 6 to go to yoga, but for some reason now I’m not getting that energy just yet. Anyways, I respect my body, sleep more, and start when I feel ready.

8 A.M. I start the day by writing in my diary. I have been doing morning pages for 15 days now, and I love the habit. After that, I brush my teeth. I try to practice yoga between 4 to 6 times a week. Yoga gives me a clearer vision for my day, for my work, and for my personal life. It’s crucial for me to keep on growing personally together with my project. I wouldn’t sacrifice one for the other. 

9 A.M. I make myself a coffee, go to my working space between 9:30 to 10, and start reading my emails and Whatsapp messages first. (I’m from Brazil, and we use Whatsapp for work a LOT). 

10 A.M. I open my calendar to see what tasks I will focus on that day. Recently, I started working on just three tasks a day. My work involves dealing with sales and business meetings, checking on the ladies in India and Kenya, and handling emergencies. I realized I needed to stop pushing myself so hard. It makes my life easier, and it also means I actually get more things done. 

11 A.M. This is when I prepare orders to be shipped, or work on writing some content for either my personal social media and projects, or for Project Três. I also read a lot from the other people on our team at this time of the day. 

12 P.M. Since I don’t eat breakfast, I really need to have lunch by noon most days! I prepare a lot of food at home. My husband works close by, so he can also join me for lunch. I cook some nutritious vegan meals for us and I make an iced matcha, which I’m really addicted to right now.

1 P.M. Sometimes before going back into work, I read a little bit. I read more than one book at a time, and I added to my after-lunch routine thanks to my colleague Amanda.

2 P.M. When I do have meetings with our team, they usually start around 2 p.m. and last until 5 or 6 p.m. in my time zone. We have 32 people in our team, in eight different countries, and this time usually works well for everyone. Lately, the meetings I’m having the most involve:

  • Management – We work on project structure, think about better ways to get funds and grow our project without losing our values, discuss our finances, and improve organization.
  • Sales prospects – We figure out partnerships with brands and organizations that want to produce fair trade products with us and partnerships with stores that could carry our products.
  • Social impact – We talk with our artisans to see how they are, gauge if conditions are changing or not, and check on the work they’re doing in India and Kenya.
  • Design – My background is in fashion design, so it’s very important to me to follow the process of our visual identity. We are currently working on our new website and we just changed our branding, so we are still talking a lot about this right now. I also collaborate with the women in India and Kenya on product development, so very frequently I’m researching new ideas for us to put into practice. 

7 P.M. Here I check my schedule and start to organize my next day’s activities. I clear my table, write down what I want to do the next day, say goodbye to the people online with whom I was working, and that’s it for the day. 

8 P.M. I put on some music and start preparing dinner, or I just go out. (In Berlin, places are already open.) I meet friends or my husband, and enjoy the evening. 

9 P.M. This is when I read or watch some series. Then I meditate, and go to bed around 11 pm. I have been meditating on the chakras, and I love how it’s been making my sleep really calm. 

Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of what their day is like, get more inspiration in our exclusive Q&A with Carla below!

INDIEGOGO: How and why did you start Project Três? Was starting an organization for social good something you always intended for yourself?

CARLA MARIA DE SOUZA: I’m originally from Brazil, and I went to California to take some time off, think about my life, and learn English. I started working in a coffee shop, and it put me in touch with people from different backgrounds. It showed me how, when you don’t have privileges, you don’t get to choose how your life goes. It makes you feel hopeless sometimes. 

I had suffered domestic violence myself for my whole childhood and part of my teenage years, and had seen my mom’s struggle to overcome domestic violence with my father. I know how a woman feels when they are afraid of losing their lives or putting their kids in danger, and I wanted to support women going through this and help them find a way out. 

My background is in fashion design, and I decided to use these skills to teach handcrafting to people with fewer opportunities as a tool to become less vulnerable. It had never been my intention to start a non-profit, but once I connected clearly with this vision, I just had to do it. So I started Project Três in 2016 in India, with 1500 USD I raised when I was in California selling necklaces made out of recycled wood.

IGG: What makes Project Três unique? 

CARLA: We want to truly give these women power over their own lives. All the managers and directors in this project are the artisans themselves. We don’t hire outsiders with more experience to perform the jobs. We help them to do it on their own. And the products themselves are beautiful, fair trade, and as sustainable as possible. We don’t sacrifice design and functionality.

IGG: What’s your biggest piece of advice for women entrepreneurs who want to start their own businesses and become financially independent?

CARLA: Trust your dream and stay connected with your truth. Ask yourself, why do you want to wake up in the morning and do this work? The answer is not going to come from outside. It has to come from you. It’s normal to doubt your potential and how much power you have, but learn how to make these voices go away.

IGG: What tools, such as gadgets, apps, books, or podcasts would you recommend to anyone starting their own business project? 

CARLA: For books, I recommend The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and Light on Life b B.K.S. Iyengar; this is a yoga one, but it’s brilliant. For apps, Slack and Airtable. For extra hacks, exercise, intermittent fasting or 36 hours fasting; you should read about fasting benefits! And therapy. I love Theta Healing, but any therapy is welcome.

IGG: What’s your favorite Indiegogo campaign, or a campaign you’ve recently supported?

CARLA: This one is my favorite. It’s a collaboration of TOMS and So iLL shoes to introduce kids to climbing. 

To support the female entrepreneurs in Project Três, check out the Indiegogo campaign page, follow their Instagram, or visit their website.