Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dr. Jo L, Owner of tula soul, located in Minneapolis, MN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is called tula soul. The letters are lowercase simply because I write my poetry in all lowercase letters. There is something softer and more feminine about lowercase. The word tula means balance in Sanskrit, 'poem' in the Philippines and 'wind' in Finnish. I like to think my business is about helping women balance their lives in alignment with the wind of their spirit.
My clients are adult women from diverse backgrounds who are seeking freedom and relief from disordered eating, negative body image, passivity, broken relationships, effects of trauma, addiction, poor health, unwanted habits, chronic pain, unhappiness, anxiety, career dissatisfaction, loneliness, lack of motivation, etc.
Some of my clients see me for trauma-informed, body-positive yoga sessions, which are always individualized and designed to meet each woman's particular goals and needs. My yoga sessions are not what you might imagine. I like to have fun, talk, and laugh throughout the class, and I'm much more interested in proper alignment and slow, steady movement rather than power flow.
Yoga was originally developed for monks to sit for hours in meditation, and it consists of eight different limbs, only one of which is asanas or poses. The other limbs are about ways to live, philosophies, and levels of meditation. I incorporate the totality of yoga into my classes so that it is more than an exercise (which it is not), rather, it is a way of life. Some clients just see me for holistic coaching, some just for yoga/pilates, and some prefer a combination of the services.
Tell us about yourself
When I was twelve years old, I was hospitalized for anorexia (for the first time, most recently, I was in treatment in 2010). I am grateful to be in full recovery now. At age twelve, I had never heard of eating disorders and just believed I was crazy because I was terrified of eating. It was all very challenging, and, as anyone with an eating disorder or addiction will tell you, it becomes a lifelong reminder of your humanness.
A very real gift came from that initial experience of being in treatment at age twelve. I discovered my calling- I wanted to grow up to be a psychologist and to help people. It’s strange to say “grow up” because I already was so adult-like and super-responsible. That decision never wavered, and I earned my doctorate degree in psychology, running a successful private practice for thirteen years. Just before the covid hit, I decided to further my yoga teacher training (yoga has been instrumental in my own recovery) and made the decision to get certified in Life, Wellness, and Spiritual Coaching. I closed my psychology practice and decided to focus on helping women as a holistic coach and yoga teacher. I opened up my business, tula soul.
I'm motivated each day by the knowledge that I was helped by so many throughout my life. Without the guidance and support of many professionals, including my current support team, I would not have made it. Anorexia is one of the fatal mental health conditions, and so many people, including my husband, family, and friends, loved me and supported me even when it hurt them terribly to see me suffer and willfully resist getting well. Despite all the pain, I am grateful for the experience because I channel my own suffering into compassion and empathy for others. I believe this makes my presence genuine and transparent, and clients know this and are comfortable with me. The idea that I can be a positive influence in another woman’s life and perhaps listen to someone into full existence is enough.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Being able to help so many women overcome obstacles to living their best life. Watching them become empowered and seek their own needs and wants rather than taking care of everyone else first. Witnessing survivors of trauma heal and become embodied, truly reclaiming their life. Teaching women to communicate assertively and that "no" is a complete sentence. Spreading the message that all bodies are beautiful and we can accept and love our bodies as they are in this moment, rather than believing we need to change them to fit some false standard of "ideal" and that we can enjoy and have a healthy, rather than a disordered relationship with food.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
For me, marketing and time management are two of the hardest things as a business owner. I prefer and love spending time with my clients, whether in sessions or workshops. While I also enjoy networking, I am not especially fond of direct marketing. Time management can also be an issue because I can easily get distracted by a good book, or I might start writing poetry and forget the tasks I had on my agenda. There is always something else to distract, whether it's laundry (oh, wait, my husband does that!), organizing closets, shiny stuff, junk drawers, or online shopping... right?
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Choose a business that brings you joy, and that is aligned with your values. If your business is something that you are passionate about, it is less a job or career and more of a calling.
- Have a mentor(s). For me, that included my therapist and another wellness coach. Previously, I ran a private practice as a psychologist, so I believe everyone can benefit from therapy, which is just a form of self-study. We all have blinders on when it comes to our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and how they interfere with our functioning. Having a business coach and/or mentor helps with managing all the minutia of planning and running a business, the challenges that come up that you don't anticipate, the questions, and last-minute anxiety over details.
- Find balance in life and make self-care a priority. Work is important, yes, and we get a lot of fulfillment and satisfaction from our careers. However, our work does not define us. One of my favorite poems by the great Sufi poet Rumi goes, "Without love, without love, there is no other task. There is no other work."
Where can people find you and your business?
Alignable : https://www.alignable.com/plymouth-mn/dr-jo
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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