Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jacqueline Stevens, Owner of Home Grown Nutrition, LLC, located in Brunswick, ME, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a registered dietitian specializing in maternal and child health and the owner of Home Grown Nutrition, LLC, located in Brunswick, ME. In my private practice, I guide parents and families through pregnancy and postpartum nutrition, lactation, and the introduction of solid foods to their babies. I also provide support with navigating food allergies in infants and children, peaceful mealtime strategies up through age five, and one-on-one women's health functional nutrition therapy. I practice nutrition counseling from a weight-inclusive paradigm, focusing on intuitive eating and body positivity to help break generational cycles of the diet mentality. I created Home Grown Nutrition because I am passionate about helping families foster an environment at home where food is both joyful and nourishing. I meet with clients in-person or online, and I am also able to accept commercial insurance at this time.
Tell us about yourself
I decided I wanted to become a dietitian when I was fifteen years old after doing a career report on dietitians! After completing my bachelor's degree in Human Nutrition at UMaine, I attended graduate school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. It was a perfect fit for me as they offered different options for concentration, one of them being maternal and child nutrition. I had always had a passion for nutrition and was specifically fascinated by human milk and breastfeeding because I saw it as the simplest form of nutrition and a laser-focused subject in an otherwise very broad field.
Once I started working as a dietitian back in Maine, I realized pretty quickly it was hard to find a job in the niche area I wanted to work in. For eight years, I worked in various positions in the public health space and did everything I could to maintain my knowledge in maternal and child health, including obtaining my certified lactation counselor credential. I started Home Grown Nutrition the summer before the pandemic after starting a family with my high school sweetheart turned husband. I decided if I couldn't find the perfect job, I needed to create it! This was a terrifying experience for me, not only because I had never envisioned myself opening a business but also because I had a nine-month-old at home and still felt like a "new" mom. My motivation was to find myself again or to find my new self as a mom-entrepreneur who could utilize her creativity and passion for perinatal health and help other parents along the way.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I had a tough postpartum experience filled with depression and anxiety, along with extended healing from a rough birth. I experienced the run-around new parents can face and the lack of support they can feel from the medical community. I have such empathy for new parents, and I love that I have created a life where my career is supporting this vulnerable population.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
It can be very isolating to be a business owner and solo practitioner. I found it really tough at first, not having another set of ears to brainstorm with or bounce ideas off of. It was especially easy to doubt myself and wonder if starting a business was worth it. I have really found it valuable to reach out to others in the entrepreneurial space. I have learned that we all have similar feelings. My office is now located inside a building of like-minded perinatal health professionals, and I team up with another dietitian who helps me with insurance billing. Even though my business is my own, I have found others to partner with, and this has gone a long way.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Embrace imposter syndrome. As a new business owner, it is normal to wonder if you are qualified or good enough. I have found out that other entrepreneurs who I thought were so confident also feel this way. I am scared a lot of the time, and I do things anyway. Each time I try something new, things become easier, and my confidence improves.
- There is not a perfect time to start a business. I waited until after my son was born to start my business, and if I had waited for the "perfect time," I never would have started. I took the plunge with a nine-month-old, and now I am better for it! I have been able to grow my business while I evolve as a parent, which has allowed me to become a more insightful practitioner for my clients.
- Be yourself, and your clients will find you. It can be tempting to try to please everyone, and this is not realistic. Feeling like you need to work in a way that doesn't align with your goals to attract everyone is a quick way to feel unfulfilled, which is the opposite of why you started a business in the first place. There are plenty of people out there for everyone.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I provide bi-monthly workshops where I gather groups of parents to learn about different nutrition-related topics having to do with their babies/toddlers. This has been a great way to have people get to know me and spread the word about my business.
Where can people find you and your business?
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