Cara Santana’s Guide to Staying Sane When You’re a Mogul in the Making

Cara Santana’s Guide to Staying Sane When You’re a Mogul in the Making
Photo: Cierra Miller/STYLECASTER.

The multi-hyphenate isn’t exclusive to Hollywood. In my tribe alone, almost everyone is working on a handful of projects at the same time and few are exclusive to one industry or skillset. We’re told we can do it all and more often than not, we’re attempting to live out that declaration by any means necessary. Of course, anyone doing this will tell you it can be hard when you’re also faced with a host of disparities. Personally, I’ve never been shy about asking for advice because it makes me feel like I’m not in over my head when pursuing some big idea. And if there’s one unifying conclusion I always come to, it’s that there is no one formula for getting sh*t done without driving yourself crazy. There are, however, people like Cara Santana who remind you that it’s possible to craft a philosophy or routine that works just for you.

In her case, it’s impeccable time management, compassion for others and a bit of naivete. When she’s not acting on VIDA, the actress and entrepreneur is doing everything from overseeing operations to helping raise investment money as the Global Engagement Officer of Glamsquad. And before diving into either of those jobs, she built the Glam App while shooting another TV show (Salem), ran that company for four years and made a graceful exit when it felt like the best time.

“I wanted to do something different but I always had a love for the beauty space, in particular, the on-demand beauty space,” she told me at the 2019 BlogHer Creator’s Summit. “[Glamsquad] gives me the freedom to pursue my other endeavors, acting specifically. It’s pretty all-encompassing, but I don’t have to do all the work that a CEO has to do.”

Still, having a title with the world “Global” in it bears an obviously huge responsibility that can easily take its toll if you’re not setting healthy boundaries. While getting eight hours of sleep every night is still a challenge for Santana, I found it refreshing that she considers taking the focus off herself a form of self-care. In other words, pampering yourself is sometimes necessary, but caring for others is another way to stand in the power you work so hard to cultivate. For her, it’s been going back to her hometown and advocating for families being affected by current immigration policies.

“I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. We sit across the border of Juarez, Mexico. Growing up, it was such a multicultural and inclusive environment where we thrived sharing these two amazing cities,” she said. “When family separation was at the forefront of the media, I couldn’t help but feel hopeless. I think something we tend to forget is that regardless of what you believe politically, this is a humanitarian issue. We need to treat people as people.”

To that same point, when you are taking time away, she recommends simply doing what makes you feel good. So if you’re an entrepreneur like Santana, maybe you’ll be inspired by her simple, but effective approach to business and downtime. Just remember that both deserve your attention and when all else fails, order Postmates and binge some reality TV.

Collaborate to Relieve Unnecessary Pressure

Great ideas come from necessity. So if you have an idea and you’re passionate about it and you see a hole in the marketplace, then I would say follow your passion. If I had known everything that launching a business would entail, I probably wouldn’t have done it. So the naivete that I had really helped propel what I did because I was learning as I went. Build a strong team around you. Know your strengths, but more importantly, know your weaknesses and find people who are better at doing those things.

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Embrace Failure

When I was fundraising, venture capitalists tended to be predominantly male. I often times felt miscredited and judged strictly based on the external. The biggest setback was having to walk away from the Glam App. That was something that really took a lot of time to absorb and make sense of. But my mom always said a setback is a set up for a comeback and I think you can’t be afraid of failure. Take it and pivot.

Start Small With Big Causes

I have an amazing friend Lauren Paul who founded the Kind Campaign. Her day-to-day work is about empowering young women and I sometimes feel so superficial in a way because I’m not doing enough. I’ve said to her, you spend your entire life basically trying to make the world a better place and I’m spending like 25 percent of mine. And then she reminded me that everybody has a purpose. So I think there is a place for everyone. If you’re an entertainer, it’s to bring levity and joy or to educate through art.

Identify something you’re passionate about and start to educate yourself on the facts. Share with your friends. Start a conversation at the dinner table. Knowledge is power. We just need to change one person’s mind and that’s how we create a greater change. Start small.

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Step Away When You Need To

I pray. I’ll call my mom if I need a second. She’s my lifeline sometimes. I go in my trailer and take a nap if I can. But when I’m working, I’m working and when I’m turning off, I’m turning off. The great thing about acting is you can really pour everything into the character so it does alleviate some stuff. It’s escapism.

Remember It’s Okay to Hibernate

When I’m home, you can find me in a good pair of sweats from Cotton Citizen. I feel most like myself without makeup, hair in a bun, and in my fiance’s [Jesse Metcalfe] old tees. Sometimes I lock myself into my bedroom with my dogs and watch really terrible reality TV shows with the blinds shut and order Postmates. I love a good face mask–a sheet mask, oxygen mask. Any mask.

Put Down Your Phone & Go Outside

Jesse and I recently went to Montecito and stayed at the San Ysidro Ranch. We literally just went for 24 hours because it was a girlfriend of mine’s birthday. We didn’t turn on the TV once. We were hardly on our phones. We went on a hike. We spent time with the dogs. We just spent time connecting with each other.

Start an Unofficial Book Club

I love reading. Jamie Chung just gave me a book called The Last Lecture, written by a professor who was teaching at Carnegie Mellon. It’s all about living in the moment. Marianne Williamson is another great author that Olivia Culpo introduced me to. She’s always sending me what she’s reading too.

In our series “Operation Recharge,” we task celebrities and influencers with sharing what self-care means to them, as well as the activities, products and treatments they indulge in for downtime done right.