Allie Cunningham Set It Down
Allie Cunningham, founder of Set It Down. (Credit: Courtesy of Set It Down)

Allie Cunningham was living in a beautiful mountain town, working at a fly-fishing shop, and helping with their social media presence when her doom-scrolling habit began. The act of staying on top of Instagram and other platforms began to consume far too much of Cunningham’s time. She wasn’t walking her dogs as much, or getting out to explore the mountains – and she knew she had to make a change. In 2020, she launched Set It Down, an online shop selling macrame kits and puzzles designed to get customers off of their phones and away from their screens. Set It Down also offers free worksheets and screen time checklists to help folks spend less time online, and more time living life in the real world. Today, the Telluride, Colorado, entrepreneur is focused on growth – while also trying to carve out ample time for the outdoor and creative hobbies she loves. 

Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.

How is your business different from others in your industry?

Set It Down motivates individuals to set down their screens, rather than keeping them logged on. We offer fun screen-free activities and self-care products. I want to help people unplug and be more present. Ultimately, I aspire to be the next Outdoor Voices – without the apparel. Getting people moving, happy, excited for each day, and doing things for themselves – not for social media!

Tell us about your biggest success so far. 

​​I won the Stuck-At-Home Startup Challenge, a female-founder-focused competition hosted by e-commerce site For Now, in 2020. I also love receiving feedback from customers about how Set It Down is inspiring and motivating them to get off their screens. That keeps me going – not sales.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?

Keeping my momentum going. If I am on top of my operations and manufacturing, then my work/life balance isn’t there. If my work/life balance is right, then I am behind on creating kits and content. As I don’t yet have the funds to pay for an employee, I’m keeping my small business small for now. 

Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?

Working from home, remotely, in an area where you need to hold down about 3 jobs just to get by, takes a toll on your mental health. It makes me do a flip-flop between striking work/life balance and fueling production, because at the end of the day, I need to make an income, but I also need to be inspired myself. I have recently started seeing a therapist – but only because my health insurance covers the sessions. Otherwise, it’d be too expensive.

What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs? 

Just start if you are on the edge of doing so. Enjoy the ebbs and flows of being an entrepreneur, as you’ll always figure it out. My favorite thing these days is being “wrong” and learning from it!

How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?

Looking back at my happiest days. And, I get off my screens – which are typically the reason for my darkest days – and I go move outside!

What is your go-to song to get motivated on tough days? 

Anything by The Chicks or Shania Twain. I’m especially loving “Gaslighter” by The Chicks these days.

Who is your most important role model?

Actress Jennifer Garner. ◼

Facebook: @setitdown

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