Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Amy C. Willis, Founder of HOL + WELL, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is called HOL + WELL, and I founded it in 2019. I am a Sobriety & Mindset Coach, and I predominantly work with women and LGBTQ+ folks who are interested in entering and sustaining sobriety and building lives they don’t want to escape from. The pillars of my coaching practice are mindset transformation, habit change, resilience building, boundaries, and radical honesty. I work with clients virtually in both a 1:1/private and group coaching formats. In addition to being a dual-certified coach, I am also a certified meditation teacher and a certified EFT practitioner, which are modalities I integrate into client work and care.
In working with me, my clients can expect to: receive judgment- and shame-free care, be met where they are at, and be offered evidence-based tools and guidance that will enable them to step closer to the life they want to be living.
In addition to coaching, I am also a writer and speaker. I have written many articles and blogs on various aspects of addiction, recovery, sobriety, and normative alcohol culture; plus, I regularly do guest interviews on a variety of podcasts and host a private Facebook community for sober and sober curious women. I am really passionate about my work and want to make as much of it as accessible as possible for those who could benefit from it.
We have been lied to for years by alcohol companies when it comes to truly understanding the risks associated with consuming alcohol, which is neurotoxic, carcinogenic, and addictive. I am deeply committed to changing the narrative around normative alcohol culture and telling the truth when it comes to the inherent harms that accompany alcohol consumption. My intention here is not to herd everyone into sobriety but instead to provide accurate, evidence-based information so that people can make truly informed decisions when it comes to what they are putting in their bodies, thus enabling them to manage and mitigate their risk. In the current environment of misinformation and muddled messaging when it comes to alcohol, making educated and informed decisions is really challenging. Much of my work is aimed at rectifying this in an effort to reduce the harm caused by alcohol.
Tell us about yourself
About me: I started HOL + WELL because I knew there was a need for sober support options specifically geared towards the unique lived experiences of women and those within the LGBTQ+ community. As a queer woman who dealt with severe alcohol addiction for 15+ years, finding and sustaining sobriety was not only life-saving but one of the most profound and transformative experiences of my life. When I got sober, the options were extremely limited and didn’t take into account the intersecting aspects of my identity that factored into my struggle with alcohol. I wanted to create a care and support option that takes the whole person into account. That is the work I now do within my coaching business.
Everything incredible that exists in my life today is a result of my sobriety. Knowing the power of healing that happens in sobriety, I wanted to create a support option that enabled powerful and transformative experiences for others seeking a sober life.
The work I have the honor and privilege of doing is deeply meaningful and personal to me. I have been sober for 6+ years after grappling with addiction and losing my dad to his alcohol addiction, so I truly understand what it means to struggle with addiction and what happens when effective and appropriate care is not provided. While my own experiences in sobriety initially inspired me to create HOL + WELL, I am now largely inspired by my clients. To witness and walk beside them as they take their power back and step fully into their lives and their authentic selves is the most rewarding and fulfilling experience imaginable. My clients are finding their freedom while returning home to themselves; in addition, they are returning to their partners, friends, kids, and communities. The ripple effect that I witness when my clients decide to show up powerfully and reclaim their lives is more profound than I ever could have imagined. I am also very motivated by the shifts that we are starting to see in alcohol culture, including: the increase in the number of people getting sober and curious, the proliferation of the alcohol-free beverage industry, and the expansion of social events that don’t center around alcohol. The tides are slowly starting to turn, and that’s hopeful!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I built my business on passion, sweat, tears, and tenacity and in the absence of familial or financial support or investments, and I started this company at a very precarious time in my life. I have bootstrapped my business from day one, which has been challenging and very rewarding. In getting sober, I knew that I could do hard things and come out the other side stronger and more resilient. Now, I have the honor and privilege of watching women and queer folks build lives that they love, thrive in, and don’t want to escape from while reconnecting to themselves, stepping into their power, and healing along the way. The impact of this work has been profound and continues to fuel me. This work is powerful and life-changing, and the ripple effect is bigger than I could ever have imagined. I am also really proud that I provide services and care for women and queer folks whose needs are often not taken into consideration when it comes to treatment and care options.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
With my business in particular, working professionally within addiction and recovery comes with a slew of challenges. There is still a tremendous amount of stigma, shame, and misinformation associated with substance use issues, which can often act as a barrier to accessing care. A significant part of my work is contributing to the breaking down of stigma and shame by providing accurate information on how substance use issues develop.
The entrepreneurial journey will inevitably have many ups and downs. In my case, not having a financial safety net has felt really hard over the years. Learning how to manage your own thoughts and emotions, particularly during challenging times, is vital. You can make or break your business, and your experience with it based on what’s happening between your ears. It is also really important to have a solid support network around you, which ideally includes other entrepreneurs who can understand and relate to your struggles because they have been there themselves.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Stay fiercely connected to your why and your mission; this will be your touchstone and north star when things get challenging.
- Build community and collaborate as much as possible, especially if you’re a solopreneur; it can be a lonely and isolating experience running a business alone, so having community and collaborative partners is key.
- Don’t leave your 9-5 until you’re making money in your business.
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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