Broadcast Journalism; I cut my journalistic teeth in newsrooms throughout the BBC then went into making social documentaries. A media mogul headhunted me to help him grow his empire and lured by cash and fast cars I moved away from what I loved into a more strategic position. I was great at my job, well paid and miserable, desperately so for a long time, but from that misery I began a journey of change. When I finally left the media I felt a huge wave of grief, everything I’d ever trained for given up on, all of that hard work lost. But that’s how I really found my true purpose, and the ‘wrong road’ I’d taken was actually the right road for the life lessons I needed to be a really great teacher.
How did your career change after having children?
When I found out I was pregnant with my first child I’d just got a big promotion which involved constant world-wide travel. I had to forgo the role and take a step back, for someone used to running very fast in a forward direction this was a disorientating experience. Having to slow my pace and not being out burning the candle at both ends gave me time to breathe, something, I came to realise, I had barely done in years. And that’s when the meditation teacher in me began to emerge from the new quiet. It was such a relief to just be where I was and recognise that life was not a race. Like a tightly coiled spring it still took quite some time for me to fully slow down – I was back freelancing when Grace (now 7) was just 3 months and giving myself a terrible time for being ‘not good enough’ at either role of mother or media me. I suffered terribly with post-natal depression. I attempted to act my way through the depression as if I was some domestic goddess/supermum taking conference calls at 6.30am whilst breastfeeding. It was a hard act to keep up and eventually I crumbled, totally broken.
Where did the idea for your venture come from?
I fell in love, completely and totally with mindfulness. I was besotted, it was my saviour from myself. At the time it wasn’t that widely known in the UK, most people that I tried to talk to about it thought I had totally lost the plot and joined some cult so I had no choice but to train to teach it. I felt compelled to share what I had gained from it in a no-nonsense kind of way.
How did you move from idea to actual business?
Having booked a hall I sneaked out in the dark and pinned up posters around my neighbourhood. I felt a bit silly and slightly nervous, both of using a industrial stable gun and that I might be arrested for sticking posters in the wrong places. Then the enquires started to come in, few at first then many many more and courses filled and then the referrals started and the reviews came and before I knew it I had a thriving business.
What’s your USP?
Mindfulness is brilliant so it’s not like I need to sell anything. My teaching style however is unique, just as we all are. I am just me totally and completely (I’ve tried and I’m not very good at pretending to be anyone else). That means that there may be swearing and I won’t be wearing socks with my sandles.
Who’s your target audience?
On my last course the age range of participants was 17 to 70’s. The initial session of a group class is always so exciting, such a variety of people from all walks of life, backgrounds and professions coming in through the door. It is a marketer’s nightmare but my dream come true. Mindfulness is for everyone, it is certainly never too late to change your mind and it makes my job so wonderful to have a diverse range of students. I love a challenge, so often those clients who are quite resistant at first are the biggest cheerleaders by the end of the course.
How do you spread the word about what you do?
To date it has mostly been word of mouth, I have been so fortunate that things have grown so beautifully and organically that I have never (yet) had to spend any money on advertising. I am only just entering the world of social media following many requests from clients to share hints, tips and inspirations. I am passionate about adding a bit of the magic of mindfulness to people’s lives however I can so hope to use these platforms to spread this far and wide.
What’s been your most successful marketing strategy?
By mid-way through a course my students are walking talking adverts! They smile and people everywhere they go ask them what on earth has happened to cause this.
What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
Having faith in myself. Despite all my media training and experience I was still so nervous delivering my first courses, I felt vulnerable and exposed, I feared being questioned and judged. But ultimately my passion and knowledge shone through, I got over myself enough to just be there and be really honest. I had to accept that you can’t be everyone’s cup of tea and you don’t need to be either. I now have complete faith that I know my stuff, I know what works and I know how to help people be less stressed and enjoy life more.
And your proudest moment so far?
There are so many moments! Seeing people go back to work after months off with stress or depression. Having clients say they have totally turned their lives around and that they genuinely feel empowered to be calm, happy, relaxed. I never tire of hearing ‘this has changed my life’ and feel incredibly grateful to have the best job in the world.
Who inspires you?
I am a believer that you should work with people that inspire you, I continually invest in my own learning and choose to do so with people that really resonate with me. I am lucky enough to have trained with some of the greatest teachers in the world and through this have met many like-minded souls who form a network of inspiration and friendship.
How do you balance your business/venture/career with your family?
It is important for me to walk-the-talk, being mindful with and of my family is at the foundation of everything I do. That’s not to say I always get it right, balance is a continually evolving practice on the road of life. Plus I am notoriously terrible at admin. One of my greatest anchors of balance is my husband, he too runs his own business from a little office at the bottom of the garden where I can wave to him from my laptop at the kitchen table between meetings. We share school runs and club drop-offs and we just make it up as we go along, there is rarely a plan but it seems to work for us.
Can you share your top three pieces of advice please about starting up your own business?
1. Do what you love, or at the very least love what you do, because success cannot be measured in earnings alone. 2. Have faith in yourself and just be yourself (the best and boldest version you can muster). 3. JFDI