Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Megan Sheldon, Co-founder of Be Ceremonial, located in North Vancouver, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Be Ceremonial is an app that inspires and empowers people to create their own ceremonies and rituals to acknowledge significant moments in life. We offer personal accounts for anyone seeking ceremony in their lives, as well as care provider accounts for caregivers who want to support their clients or patients with rituals.
We're trying to shift the narratives surrounding death, dying, and grief by bringing more awareness to the power of ritual regarding our mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
Tell us about yourself
I ran a Brand Storytelling Agency (Narrative Communications) for years, helping companies tell their stories. After my husband and I were married, we experienced three recurrent miscarriages while grieving the loss of his father to ALS. We're not religious, nor do we subscribe to a strong spiritual faith. Hence, we had no idea how to acknowledge these losses and compounded grief.
I started to create my own rituals to honor my grief, drawing on universal themes and ensuring I wasn't appropriating from other cultures. People started to reach out and ask me to create ceremonies for them, and the next thing I knew, Seeking Ceremony was born.
I became a Celebrant and End of Life Storyteller, helping people craft their own rituals and curate ceremonies focused on storytelling. When Covid-19 hit, my husband lost his job (as a software engineer), and so we decided to build the thing we wished we had when we went through loss and grief.
We launched Be Ceremonial in January 2021 after a year of testing and connecting with health care providers, end-of-life doulas, funeral directors, and hospice volunteers. We designed the App as a 'Choose Your Own Rituals, Create Your Own Ceremony' experience, giving people the tools and knowledge they need to bring ritual and ceremony into their life and death experiences.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Taking an idea that didn't exist anywhere and building something that we've never seen before from scratch. My husband and I built everything ourselves with zero external funding or support. We also did this with two small kids at home.
When Covid-19 hit, we pulled our then 2 and 4-year old from daycare and had them home with us as we bootstrapped this venture. We worked until midnight most days, trading off childcare and business responsibilities with very little external help.
Launching our App in January felt like we'd reached the top of a very tall mountain, and we did so together as a family. We, of course, celebrated this accomplishment with a ceremony 😀
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
There's no off button. We are constantly on. We're always working, or thinking about work, or stressing about work. We don't have evenings or weekends the way other people do. To make this work, we live and breathe it. We're okay with that because we believe in this with every ounce of our being.
We also recognize that most days, we're exhausted and depleted. Finding time for self-care rituals has become our number one priority. Suppose we aren't operating at full capacity. In that case, we can't expect to build a business that supports people in their most challenging moments. We now think of self-care as the fuel for our engine; it's vital and cannot be ignored.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Test, test, test! We had an idea early on, and we tested it with a small group and learned so much. We then took our next idea and tested it with a bigger group; we realized we needed to re-evaluate. Now that we've launched, we have to keep testing and re-evaluating. This work is never done, it's always an iteration, and we have to keep building on it based on what we learn.
The best way to do that is to connect with our users and listen to their stories, always asking the hard questions and being open to receiving hard responses. You need thick skin to take a passion like this and scale it into something far bigger than any one person. We need to hold onto the integrity of why we started this and be open to feedback and change along the way.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Our Western society hasn't properly prepared us for grief. We were taught that grief was something to 'get over' or 'get past.' We were taught five stages followed a sequential order. We now know that grief is messy and beautiful and a reflection of the love we hold.
Finding ways to honor that grief through ritual and ceremony is one of the most rewarding experiences; it helps us feel seen, appreciated and acknowledged. We hope everyone can find a way to acknowledge whatever transition or change they find themselves in. Ritual and ceremony is not something you need to be taught; it exists within you. We're here to simply help you remember.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.