Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health & wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Emily Haugen, Founder of Zenful Yoga, located in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Hi! I'm Emily. I am the owner of Zenful Yoga which is a local Vancouver-based company that sells sustainable, high-quality cork+rubber yoga mats and yoga accessories!
Our customers are primarily Vancouverites who practice yoga and appreciate a high-quality yoga mat. We've also recently started doing pop-up events where we've been able to showcase our acupressure cork massage balls and handmade essential oil products (including our yoga mat spray & crystal meditation candles).
Tell us about yourself
I started Zenful Yoga after I completed my capstone university project, which asked us to create a business and do all the research to develop a comprehensive business plan. After researching products related to yoga (one of my favorite activities), I discovered cork+rubber yoga mats and learned more about the environmental impacts of regular yoga mats, and from that, I was hooked! I decided, after my project, that I would actually launch the business that I spent so much time researching because I was so passionate about the product.
It really amazed me that TPE/PVC yoga mats (the typical 'cheap' mats) are so incredibly bad for the environment, and yet nobody is talking about it! On top of that, cork mats last so much longer, and cork is an incredible material for yoga (especially hot yoga) because the surface is naturally grippy, and when it gets wet, it becomes even more grippy. Living in East Vancouver, surrounded by yogis and environmentalists, I knew this product would be perfect for the local market.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment has probably been the feeling of success that came from designing all my yoga mats myself, doing all the market research myself, and then finally launching my business in early 2022.
Seeing it all come together and the amazing support that I received right away from my community was so powerful. It's what keeps me going!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things for me is trying to be "all things, all the time." As a business owner, you wear a lot of hats, and for me, trying to run a business on top of running the non-profit that I co-founded (She Connects), as well as a 9-5 job, can make me feel a bit overwhelmed sometimes!
I've been incredibly lucky to have the support of my business partner, Sarah, who has helped transform my little idea into a full-fledged business.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do your research before you launch. It can be really exciting to have an entrepreneurial idea but make sure to do market research (actually talk to people and survey them) and online research before you jump in head first.
- Understand a business is like a cat - it can live for a really long time! This is not a commitment you enter into lightly, thinking it will be a 6-month project. If you are investing your time and money into a business, it can take a really long time, and for the first year or two, you might not make any profit. Be prepared for that commitment!
- When things get hard, remember why. Why did you start this company? It must have been something you're really passionate about; otherwise, you wouldn't have done it. Keep letting your "Why" guide you forwards, and push through.
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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