Marah Lidey, Cofounder of Shine, met her co-founder Naomi Hirabayashi at work at, where they found it powerful to have a peer mentor in the workplace — especially a fellow woman. 

They were able to support each other through what was going on in their personal lives, at work, or even talk about their credit scores. They were able to meet each other where they were and help each other to improve on all aspects of their lives.

Shine text messages aim to provide that same service for everyone who subscribes. And as of April of this year, they raised $2.5 million in funding to further develop the brand.

“There wasn’t something that existed in our circle where people felt like they had what Naomi and I had given each other,” Marah says, “We would support each other, give tips and help each other day-to-day. If your friends don’t work with you, it’s hard to know how to be helpful — particularly at work. So how do we scale peer-based advice centered on happiness? At first we were thinking a blog or book, but we wanted to use our expertise in texting.”

In their previous roles, Marah and Naomi scaled a program to 5 million users across email and 3 million text, so they had a deep understanding of the space. They decided to just try it and send the initial texts to about 70 people.The feedback they received showed that people were incredibly receptive — people hadn’t received a product like this before. Now Shine boasts more than 500k users.

The Daily Grind

But Marah’s day-to-day routine can be hard to nail down.

“One thing that’s consistent is the daily product,” she says, “It’s our clock now. We’re up around 6:00 a.m. confirming everything is good to go with content and programming of the text that day, since we scope out the topic and write out copy beforehand. Then we’ll check that everything’s set up and good to go.” From about 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. she works from home and then heads into the office around 10 a.m. to collaborate on different projects centered on growth and scaling and executing those ideas. Naomi focuses mainly on partnerships and marketing while Marah is focused on product and user experience, but everyone in the company touches everything and collaborates to make it all possible. 

“I wake up in the AM and try to breathe and stretch before I check any emails or social media,” Marah says, “And then I go to Twitter and see what’s going on in the world before I check my email and hop on to work on the daily Shine experience. I do that for a few hours and then I feed my two cats and hang out with them. Animals are such a stress diffuser, so I'll be the cat lady any day.”

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Shortly after, she’ll jump in the shower and wash her face with an apricot scrub. To keep her curls happy, Marah uses Miss Jessie’s Creme de la creme conditioning cream — for her hair, “it’s life.” Then she uses Ouidad’s curl cream and does a 20-minute curl routine. If she knows she’ll have an outside meeting, she’ll put some makeup on. But if all of her meetings are internal, she’ll put her hair in a bun, wear no makeup and throw some leggings on. Each morning she’ll go to her local bodega for a smoothie and snacks for the day before hopping on the train. Reading murder mysteries on her kindle helps to pass the time during her commute.

Around 8 p.m., they'll either head home or to an event – and sometimes they'll squeeze in the occasional happy hour with friends. Once she’s home, she focuses on spending time with her partner and catching up on his day. She might even treat herself to a glass of red wine. Around 10 pm, she'll settle in to answer emails with her favorite show in the background. (some recent favorites are Homeland and Big Little Lies). 

How to unwind

“We make it a point to do self-care Saturdays,” she says, “We both [Marah and Naomi] live in Brooklyn so we’ll go to brunch, hang with a partner, see friends and make sure to be social, but I also like to have alone time by getting my nails or eyebrows done.”

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Sometimes it does get hard to see friends and family as much as she would like to, but Marah has found that honesty is the key to keeping those relationships strong. For example, when the brand was fundraising recently, of course they were busier than usual. Times like that make squeezing in time for yourself hard, but it’s always been helpful for her to let the people she loves know and to keep them in the loop. When your support network is aware of the craziness in your life, you’re able to plan around those things in a healthier way and schedule ahead of time so that you can still prioritize who and what is important to you.


And her murder mystery moments on the train are a huge factor in unwinding and getting away, too.

“There’s value in getting lost in something when you’re working crazy hours and doing something that you know isn’t sustainable [like raising funding for a start-up],” Marah says, “Just having something that you know is for you to get lost in is super important.”