A woman’s true advantage is that she can draw upon her softness and strength in equal measure when, and where, it is needed. More and more companies are recognising this, which is why we are increasingly finding women in senior and leadership roles or running their own businesses.
From my perspective, the idea of being a successful businesswoman on my own terms meant that I had to question who I was working for and how my input, both mentally, physically and energetically, was affecting my output. A lifetime quest for sharing knowledge and living a healthy, fulfilled life led to one conclusion… to vow to combine my power and strength with my inherent softness and empathy. In 2015, at the age of 35, this was a key driving force in my career change.
At the time I was a vocal coach and singing teacher, helping people of all ages to find and develop their voices. My business was successful and growing, with talk of franchising and taking on more staff. Whilst I found this rewarding, I knew deep down that this was not my true calling.
I took a journey inside myself, exploring the silence, listening to the stillness, searching for my inner voice. One thing that had always been clear to me was that I had a natural ability to encourage people to shine and achieve great things. I wanted to continue to encourage people to be the very best versions of themselves, but knew that this must also apply to me. I needed to push beyond my own boundaries or, to quote internationally renowned yogi Ganga White, to “Stand on the shoulders of the past to find out how to see further into the future”.
I remember how excited I felt at this point. I had found a sense of relief, as I could give time to exploring other strengths I had, beyond teaching. I had determined how I wanted my life to be, how I wanted to be different and how I wanted both my business and the way I do business to be different. This business was going to be an expression of who I am.
Changing career and following my new path was not all plain sailing. I really felt that I was bringing opposing sides together – the strong, powerful, no-nonsense, straight-talking businesswoman with the serene, balanced and softer approach of the yogini. Yet even as I wrestled with this, I found there was common ground in my:
- Commitment to achieve
So, in January 2017, Yummy Yoga Girl was born and the time had come to make my dreams a reality. I surrounded myself with experts and drew on my NLP and hypnotherapy training to build my self-belief and work through any doubts which were consciously, or unconsciously, holding me back. I utilised skills from my previous career and learned new ones, including qualifying as a yoga teacher, and consciously set out to broaden my horizons by travelling and pushing outside my comfort zone.
I started to meet other women who were following a similar pattern, that is, setting up their own businesses and running them with their values and principles at the heart. This was supported by research published in July 2017, which found that women setting up their own businesses between 2003-6 and 2013-16 rose by 45% compared to 27% of men. When asked why they had started their own business, women cited ‘greater flexibility for personal and family life’ and the desire for ‘freedom to adapt my own approach to work’.
On my return to the UK, my plans were falling into place. YummyYogaGirl was growing. In Autumn 2017, I launched a boutique yoga-wear range inspired by my passion for slow fashion and sustainable shopping. I project-managed the entire process and brought a team of talented women together to design and produce a collection of clothes which, I believe, reflect the intricacies of the modern-day woman’s life.
Since then I have added two further collections to the original one, launched an online community with supporting resources, developed partnerships with like-minded entrepreneurs and am looking forward to the future, which includes building a yoga retreat in Southern Europe.
I am building a brand with the sole purpose of making pioneering women proud of the natural beauty of their bodies, mirroring their, and my own, soft and strong aspects through my choice of material, designs and colours. My online platform focusses on motivating and inspiring us to be the best versions of ourselves, by looking after our own physical and mental health and those around us, because I believe this is how we realise our aspirations.
Looking back now, part of me still can’t believe my transformation. My learning journey has been phenomenal, not just because I have had to educate myself about the clothing manufacture and production process, but the sales and marketing side as well. The technical elements of the business are, I admit, the most challenging part for me, learning how to produce and edit online videos, how to use email marketing software and online payment systems.
So far, my roles as a CEO include coach, project manager, buyer, communicator, advisor, writer, seller, creator, presenter, producer, financial analyst and director! But I have loved it because throughout my journey I have drawn on my inner strength and core principles to guide me in my development and decision-making and I can honestly say that I have built a business which truly reflects my values, heart and soul.
Finally, a few of my top tips:
- Planning… I have become a better businesswoman as a result of investing in improving my planning and organisational skills.
- Forward planning helps me to remain calm in the face of demands and deadlines, focussed in meetings and on track to making my dreams and visions a reality.
- Ask for help, employ people who you love to work with and are amazing at what they do. Learn from them, enjoy the process and connection of creating something together
- Be kind to, and look after, yourself. When you need to, take a moment to step away, reconnect and remind yourself of why you are doing what you are doing.
- Reassess, review and change tack if necessary. If you feel you are pushing against something, question yourself and be prepared to make changes because this is how we develop personally.
- And finally – meditate. Build it into your daily routine, maybe at the same time each day. This is a crucial part of learning about who you are, how you deal with certain situations, how you can react in a way which is more beneficial to you and others involved, and to question what it is you truly want within decision-making and life experiences.
Wellbeing Health and Lifestyle Coach
Practitioner of NLP