Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in mental wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jennifer LeClair Avery, Founder of Healthy Routes, located in Ottawa, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Healthy Routes is a counselling, coaching, and mentorship service for teens and families who are seeking additional support during challenging and transitional times. As a youth organization, our mission is to provide healthy alternatives and life-long skills for youth to thrive during their teen and young adult years. We offer a safe space for teens and families to open up, learn new skills and find "healthier routes. Mental health, self-esteem, and addiction prevention are at the forefront of our services. We are based out of Ottawa, ON (Canada). The Ottawa area offers in-home sessions (walk/talk and cocoon sessions) and virtual sessions for families that live far away or prefer remote sessions.
Tell us about yourself
The inspiration for founding Healthy Routes in 2015 came from my daughter. As a parent of a child with anxiety, I searched for a place where she could interact with peers dealing with similar health issues. Apart from clinical counselling, there were few opportunities in our community for children with mental health issues to participate in fun, activity-based workshops showing them they weren't alone. For that very reason, I sought to fill a void for children in need.
With the help of a team of professionals (educators, psychologists, and curriculum designers), I developed a program called girlsC*H*A*T (confident, happy, assertive tweens). Through this six-week program, girls learn how to manage their mental health and navigate the waters of adolescence in a fun, positive space. The mission of Healthy Routes continues to evolve today as new programs, services, and resources are developed to improve the quality of life for children and families who suffer from mental health-related issues.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Transforming Lives. Seeing the feedback, results, and testimonials pouring in from overwhelmed families has been the most significant accomplishment. We see considerable shifts in the well-being of kids and their parents who were feeling frustrated with the results of just traditional therapy alone. The amount of transformation we see in as little as a few weeks to a few months is remarkable, and it's an honour to be part of that process with these families.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Work-Life Balance. As a business owner, the greatest challenge is balancing your passion for your company with personal and family responsibilities as a single mom and knowing when to rest and unplug. A reminder I try to live by is, "It is perfectly okay and even necessary to shut down, kick back, and do nothing right now, guilt-free" –and when I do, you'll find me either in nature or enjoying a book and a cup of coffee. It helps rebalance and recharge me so I can show up as my best self for others again.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Always Keep Learning - As there is always something new to discover and learn, continuous learning is a must. Always remember that every new lesson learned must also be adapted and adjusted.
- Don't be Afraid to Fail - Failure is how we learn. Making mistakes is a core part of learning and building resilience in every area of life. You can't get anywhere in life without taking risks.
- Be Creative/Unique - Always look for ways to improve your business and stand out. Being open to new ideas and different approaches will help your business soar.
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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