Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey by launching a health and wellness business but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jillian Mariani, founder, and general manager of Niyama Wellness, based in Toronto, Canada.
Tell us all about your business...
Niyama is a Sanskrit word that loosely translates to "good habits." At Niyama, we are all about good habits for self-care. We make and sell clean, plant-based natural supplements and other self-care essentials to help people sleep better, move better, and plain live better. Our loyal customers are looking for practical, easy-to-understand, and useful supplements to support their wellness goals. All Niyama supplements are made in Canada, vegan/plant-based, free of gluten, sugar, soy, and made without any artificial flavors, sweeteners, or colors. Owned and operated by a Canadian woman entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience in the natural health space.
What's your background and motivation to grow as a solopreneur?
I spent my entire 20+ year corporate career in vitamins, minerals, and supplements, with small and large brands in Canada. Every day, I was grateful to work on products that benefit people's health and align with my family, and I live. When I left corporate, I wanted to use that knowledge and combine it with my other passion: mindful living and yoga.
While anyone can benefit from the formulas in Niyama, they are inspired by yoga and clean, active plant-based living. Every ingredient is carefully selected to be as clean as possible, and we only use natural flavors and sweeteners in our powder products yet still deliver exceptional taste and experience. Creating products that improve the way our community feels and lives is what motivates me each day. Having your own business is very different from working for an organization, and the entrepreneurial roller coaster can be very challenging, but there is nothing I would rather be doing.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
At this point, I would have to say surviving the pandemic. Niyama launched in January 2019, so we only had one year and a bit before the pandemic. In Q1 of 2020, we were starting to gain some momentum, and then everything stopped.
While 2020-21 has been suitable for health supplements as a whole, it has been difficult for new brands. Natural Health retailers were understandably reluctant to bring in new brands, and the way consumers shopped changed to more of an "in and out, get the list done" shop instead of browsing and discovering.
Our online sales improved, but in Canada, new, niche brands like Niyama need an omnichannel approach to reach enough of the right consumer. And supply chain has been complicated - we were out of stock on our top-selling Sleep Like Buddha because there were no lids available for months. To survive that as a new brand and grow is tremendous - fingers crossed 2022 will see continued improvement, and we can get back on a more vigorous growth curve.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a solopreneur?
Like most entrepreneurs, I put my heart and soul into the business. When things are going well, I feel great about both the company and myself. But, when things aren't going well, I take it all in emotionally, and self-doubt creeps in, causing me to second guess everything. It's like Imposter Syndrome on steroids! When it's your own business, it can not feel personal.
What is the top tip you'd give to anyone looking to start, run or grow a small business today?
- Do your research - know your offering inside and out and how it improves existing products or services that people might be using now. Be able to articulate why someone should use yours over what they are currently using (even if it isn't a direct substitute). If you can't express that, your customer won't get it either.
- Ensure you have realistic expectations about when you will be profitable. Most product businesses take 3-5 years to reach a beneficial state - ensure you can meet your financial needs in the meantime, which may mean keeping your business as a side hustle for a time.
- Ask for help. I've met a fantastic community of predominantly female founders, and their willingness to share learnings and advice has been incredible. We check in with each other, and it helps to talk to others who are experiencing or have experienced similar things in their businesses. So supportive, and I'm grateful for that!
Where can people find you online?
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.