Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dr. Devatara Holman, Founder of Marin Oriental & Integrative Medicine, located in Sausalito, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I am a doctor of Oriental and Integrative Medicine. I founded and ran my own medical clinic with my husband, Dr. Evan Shepherd Reiff. We serve a population of local and international patients who want to heal, maintain, or optimize their health through proven natural methods. Many of them have tried Western medicine and found the results to be unsatisfactory. Sometimes they have been entirely written off by Western medicine, meaning they have been told that Western medicine has no way to explain or provide resolution to their concerns. Others come to us because they prefer to follow a natural path with their health, healing, and wellness because it suits their overall approach to life. We function as primary care practitioners, so we see all types of patients and the whole range of concerns you would expect in modern society. In addition, we are licensed acupuncturists, Chinese herbalists, and Functional Medicine practitioners. I am also a Qigong master of over 30 years.

I am also trained and authorized as a Buddhist teacher in the Dzogchen Buddha Path Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. This provides us with skills to thoroughly address the profound emotional, psychological, and existential questions concerns patients experience today, as well as their physiological health.

Tell us about yourself

Since I was five years old, I have been focused on going the China and Tibet. I felt deeply driven to seek out the great holders of the ancient wisdom traditions of the East. I wanted to meet living wisdom-holders and learn how to lead a life based on the profound wisdom teachings, learn how to sever the very root of suffering and how to establish myself and others in True, unchanging happiness. It sounds like a lofty goal, I know. But I no longer hold back in speaking the truth of that aspiration. It was truly what I had in my heart, and it has been the primary driver of my entire life.

I studied everything I could to prepare myself for that goal, including the language, religion, philosophy, history, anthropology, economics, and politics of that region. After completing my first master’s degree — in Chinese Language and Philosophy — I went to Taiwan via a Stanford University program to do a post-graduate study to perfect my language skills. I spent the next ten years living in China and Tibet, where I worked as a translator/interpreter and sought out teachers. It was difficult to find and connect profoundly with teachers at that time because of the political climate. Yet, despite that obstacle, I did find them! I found two very profound Wisdom-Holders who fulfilled and went far beyond all my expectations and who both encouraged me to develop practical skills that would allow me to bring the wisdom I was learning into the world to benefit others.

While engaged in the work of translation and interpretation in Western China, I was asked to interpret for some Chinese doctors in a traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital. When my work was complete, the doctors encouraged me to study Chinese Medicine. Their aspiration for me to learn and develop the skills of this ancient tradition was so strong that they almost would not let me go without a commitment to study under them. That was my cue to study this form of medicine and the art of this form of healing. Knowing that my intention was to understand the profound root of suffering and how to cultivate True Happiness, my doctor-teachers assured me they would also introduce me to reliable teachers who knew the subtle secrets of ancient energy medicine traditions. With that, I was on my way.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My answer is twofold here. First, developing my work and clinic to the point that it is growing organically. I no longer need to advertise or work to bring in new patients. Patients who I can truly help find me. It happens on its own. Second, finding the staff that is dedicated to supporting our greater goals and, staying with us, developing the clinic, and creating an ever better, ever more efficient, more joyful, more meaningful, and positive experience for everyone – our patients and our doctors – everyone! Both were very great achievements and keys to maintaining love and joy and success in our business, and for those we serve.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

We feel such great joy and a sense of fulfillment in our work. We are deeply honored to help others so profoundly and to help them to be inspired and capable of doing even more good things in this world. We also truly love our patients. All that said, it is also true that my husband and I work all the time. We are always doing all we can to maintain that perfect work-life balance. Still, we don’t clock out and leave the work behind us. Our work is with us all the time, and we are always with it. It is a way of life. Honestly, this is what makes it challenging, but it is also what I love about it. There is no separation between life and work, and that is part of what makes it both beautiful and challenging.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

First, make sure your intention in your business is to bring benefit to the lives of others and this world. This must be everyone’s main goal right now in this world. We don’t have any time to waste on corporate greed and selfishness. To really be successful, we need to constantly want others to be happier, experience more benefits, and improve their life in some way. All that we all do needs to think about the greater good and what we can do to improve this world and the lives of the beings in it. There must be a strong and sincere intention to first benefit others; then, in so doing, and because of that, you will also find great benefit for yourself.

Second, we need to constantly make sure that we are making decisions based on what is to the greatest benefit of self and others equally, body and mind equally, now and the future equally, here, and everywhere equally. This must be the highest priority for everyone in this world!

Third, make sure you are doing what you love and what embodies your highest skills for the dual benefit of yourself and those you serve. Focus on using your highest-level skills in your work. Then you will have a great, positive impact on the world, for others, and for yourself, and you will feel constantly energized and happy.

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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