What Matter: Sonya Passi On an Early Bookmark-Making Business and Overthinking

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Debbie Millman has an ongoing project at PRINT titled “What Matters.” This is an effort to understand the interior life of artists, designers, and creative thinkers. This facet of the project is a request of each invited respondent to answer ten identical questions and submit a nonprofessional photograph.

Sonya Passi is the founder and CEO of FreeFrom, a national organization on a mission to create pathways to financial security and long-term safety for survivors of gender-based violence. Passi is also the co-founder and CEO of CHANI, the #1 astrology app for self-discovery, mindfulness, and healing. Her greatest passions are building workplaces centered on care and well-being so that everyone on her teams can thrive and creating business models that generate wealth for everyone involved.

What is the thing you like doing most in the world?

Being with my wife. Even when we are working together, it is joyful. But our downtime/playtime is next to none. 

What is the first memory you have of being creative?

When I was very young—5 or 6—I had a bookmark-making business. I would illustrate bookmarks—mostly with Disney characters—and then decide how much my imaginary customers were willing to pay for them. I’d then use the money to buy plastic food. 

What is your biggest regret?

I feel very lucky to say I have no regrets. That’s intentional. I’m an overthinker, so I don’t do things if I think I’ll regret them. And I also refuse to be held back by fear, so I’ve never failed to act on something I wanted. 

My greatest shame, however—when I was about 10, I teased a kid I’d heard my brother teasing. It was one time, but I’ve never let myself forget how awful it was. 

How have you gotten over heartbreak?

I don’t know if you do get over true heartbreak. It’s a portal to healing your greatest wounds and understanding yourself better. I guess if I get there, I’ll let you know. 

What makes you cry?

Anytime I watch a movie or tv show where the parents come around and accept their queer kid. 

How long does the pride and joy of accomplishing something last for you?

LOl. Well put it this way, this week, Queen’s “We Are the Champions” played on loop in my dreams. I’m not lacking for joy. 

Do you believe in an afterlife, and if so, what does that look like to you?

I do. It looks like many more lifetimes with my sweetheart. 

What do you hate most about yourself?

I hate nothing about myself. However, I have such a sensitive digestive system that I basically can’t eat any fruits or vegetables. I would like to heal my belly and eat watermelon before I die. And an avocado. 

What do you love most about yourself?

My ability to actualize my ideas (said the Aquarius).

What is your absolute favorite meal?

Spaghetti Bolognese and mille-feuille.