Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Gillian Soder, Owner of Body Labs Yoga, located in St. Albert, AB, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Body Labs Yoga provides functional Anatomy education for movement professionals elevating their knowledge, awareness, and (most importantly) confidence to provide safe and educational classes to the public.
Tell us about yourself
Honestly, it's been a ride. (Especially if we talk about the past two years 🥴) But when I look back, things become quite clear... In 2006 I graduated from University with a Forensic Anthropology degree and had no idea what I would do with my knowledge. I had spent many, many hours in the gross dissection lab as an undergrad, looking at and learning the human form... I might not know what my career would look like, but I knew it would encompass anatomy.
Between 2006 & 2014, I worked as a Forensic Pathology tech (aka performing autopsies and death investigation) and as a Coordinator for the Transplant Program at the U of A hospital. This is where I had the privilege to walk families through the process of donating their loved one's tissues for transplant. It was extremely rewarding to work but also taxing.
My entire career to this point had been focused on the healthcare of death. But now I had children... and I wanted to be able to put my energy into my family. I wanted my kids to have access to their mother in a way that working in the OR throughout the night did not allow. So I did a major pivot. I was certified as a Yoga teacher in 2013. Found a few public classes and began teaching. I messed up. A lot. Then I messed up some more. But along the way, I learned that trying to recreate another teacher's class, or sequences did not work.
I learned that my true voice, what I was good at, had anatomy at its heart. And so, Body Labs Yoga was created. There is nothing more exciting to me than seeing that"AH HA" moment when a student realizes just how unbelievably wondrous their existence is and how their body performs literal miracles every day. This is the foundation of every single one of my offerings. Every class. Every workshop. Every course. They are all rooted in this wonder for the human form regardless of age, gender, orientation, ability, or size.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I suppose most people will expect me to say something inspirational here... But if I am completely honest? My biggest accomplishment and what I am currently most proud of is the fact that as I scale up my business, I have been able to scale back my work in death investigation without financial strain. This new work/life balance and the opportunity to be creative and be in the community that Body Labs provides me is quite literally an exercise in healing for my own mental health.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Confidence. It is so easy to be discouraged when you aren't able to sell an offer. When you create something, it becomes a part of your story, so when the public doesn't want to pay for that, it is really easy to take it personally.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- For each offer, you put out to the world, have a plan. If it is a workshop, know what your minimum number of registrants is so that you aren't paying out-of-pocket. Be sure that you can pay yourself for your time, or you will come to regret your energy investment.
- If something doesn't sell, don't take it personally! Sometimes it's not the offer that is wrong; rather, it could be the location or how you advertised, or even the season of the year.
- Your social media followers DO NOT make or break your business. Don't let the numbers tell you differently.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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