What you’ll learn in this interview:
- How this writer and yoga studio owner found the confidence to go her own way and make her business work for her
- The one course you can take to connect your self-reflective practices to the moon phases whenever you need them
- How her new book WANT: 8 Steps to Recovering Desire, Passion, and Pleasure After Sexual Assault (Mango 2019) can help empower survivors and their loved ones to live rich and joyful lives after trauma
- What books to read that will teach you about how the nervous system holds trauma, how relationships work, and how to manage your finances without worry
- The one piece of advice that will empower you in your business and help you move forward with what you really want to do
- Where to find guided meditations and reflective practices to help you empower yourself to connect to your body, your power, and your pleasure in everyday life
How This Writer And Yoga Studio Owner Runs Her Business Behind The Scenes
1. What do you do? Who do you help?
I run Ocean and Crow yoga studio in Vancouver, BC with my mom, Jane, where we offer intimate yoga classes along with unique workshops like Yoga for Feminists, touch-based Restorative yoga, and classes for recovering from trauma.
I’m also a staff writer for Spirituality and Health Magazine where I focus on mindfulness practices for the messiness of real life, and I’ve written two books:
- Secrets of the Eternal Moon Phase Goddesses: Meditations on Desire, Relationships, and the Art of Being Broken (SkyLight Paths 2016)
- WANT: 8 Steps to Recovering Desire, Passion, and Pleasure After Sexual Assault (Mango 2019)
I love to help my students, clients, and readers connect to their bodies and their sacred relationship to themselves so they can access their desire, their pleasure, and their joy, and feel empowered to go after what they want.
2. List your favorite business tools.
- SmarterQueue – I love that you can schedule posts on Facebook now. At my yoga studio, we have programs with pricing deadlines so it’s great to be able to load up the posts and then forget about it. I also find the event modalities and post-boosting abilities really helpful on my Facebook business pages.
- Planoly – I think Instagram is a great way of expressing my brand and what I care about in a way that helps keep the right people following me.
- I use MailChimp for my personal newsletter, where I like to send out personal pieces of writing just for my newsletter subscribers. It’s a very intuitive platform and I love having the opportunity to write something really personal every month for my followers.
- Boomerang is very helpful for scheduling emails. I’m a big fan of having boundaries around when you are sitting down to do your marketing and it’s great to be able to get everything done and then walk away from the computer screen.
- We use Pike13 at the yoga studio to manage our students and it’s a great product. There are so many options for how to set up classes and registrations and very intuitive for the students to pick up and be able to schedule themselves for classes.
- I do a lot of writing and editing in my life, and I find Google Docs is fantastic for being able to switch to different platforms and share edits with the people I’m working with.
- Grammarly is a fantastic editing tool. It’s more than a spellchecker and catches so many little mistakes that can make your emails and everything else look so much more professional.
- Jane, my mom and business partner, handles the accounting for us. She uses Quickbooks and Google Docs.
3. What is a good course, website or book you would recommend and why?
- I have a few online courses available at the magazine I write for, Spirituality and Health. One of them is called Stress Management Skills for Real Life, and it’s full of tools from yoga, mindfulness, and other modalities for a healthier and calmer everyday life.
- Another is called Moon Goddess Meditations, and it provides a guided meditation and journaling practice every night for the 16 nights of a moon cycle, each one associated with a different Tantric moon goddess. I love this course and I still do it all the time! It’s a really lovely way to tap into my imagination and stay close to my intentions and reflections, especially when I’m going through an emotional period or a transition in my life.
- The Spirituality and Health website, where I am a staff writer, is full of reflective blogs, longer articles on the many forms spirituality can take, guided meditations, beautiful art, and all kinds of things to explore when you’re in a reflective mood.
- I am a huge fan of B*tch Media for feminist perspectives on pop culture.
- The School of Life has some really excellent philosophy on life and relationships.
- This is a newsletter, not a website, but The Ann Friedman Weekly is a great one that rounds up interesting reads from the week from a thoughtful feminist perspective.
- One of the most fascinating books I read in researching my latest book about recovering from sexual assault was Tom Digby’s Love and War. It really explains how patriarchy works in all of us and how it affects our intimate relationships. It’s quite mind-blowing.
- Gabor Mate is a doctor in Vancouver who has written several fascinating books that really combine traditional Western medicine with a more holistic viewpoint. When the Body Says No really explores how trauma and stress are held in the nervous system, which can create health problems when we don’t change our stress coping strategies. He’s a really good writer, too, so his books are informative but also really fun to read.
- Worry Free Money by Shannon Lee Simmons totally changed the way I deal with my money and it really did take a lot of the worry out of it!
- I know it has some problems, but Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In was incredibly helpful for me as a female entrepreneur. It did point out some ways that I was holding myself back simply because I had learned not to have confidence in myself as a boss. It helped me push past that and really move forward in my career.
- Obviously, my new book WANT: 8 Steps to Recovering Desire, Passion, and Pleasure After Sexual Assault is a must read for everyone! It’s my story of recovery, but it’s full of information about how trauma impacts our everyday lives, which is something pretty much all of us can relate to. Even if we haven’t experienced it ourselves, it’s pretty likely someone we love has been through some form of it. Most books about trauma out there are sort of intense and depressing, and my book is a hopeful antidote to all the devastation we’re going through as we come to terms with the Me Too movement. It’s meant to be accessible to everyone and the focus is really on how life can be rich and amazing after going through a terrible experience. I like to joke that it’s the most fun book about sexual assault you’ve ever read. But I mean it, it really will be!
4. What is the best piece of advice you have received?
- Ask for help.
- If everyone likes it, you haven’t made a strong enough statement.
- Get clear about who you want to work with and let everyone else go.
5. What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
- I love giving advice to other entrepreneurs, in fact, I created a little group of women business owners in Vancouver so we could share resources and help each other out. I find women tend to have a harder time stepping into their boss-ness and they need a support system to remind them of their value. Asking for help, whether from your friends, a community, or a professional business coach (mine is Michela Quilici and she is magical, is truly the secret to success, in my opinion!
- I think the most important advice I’ve given the other entrepreneurs I work with is that you have to understand that there is a difference between the product you are offering and the work of running a business around that product. You can definitely, for example, run a yoga studio with the values you bring with you from yoga, but teaching yoga and running a yoga studio are completely different skill sets. Take the work of business and marketing seriously, and figure out how to do it in a way that is in alignment with what’s important to you as a person and as a boss.
6. What is your beauty and/or fitness routine?
I am very aware of the pink tax – the way women are pressured into spending way more money (let alone time and energy) on their looks than men are! But I do still like to look pretty and I try to find the simplest shortcuts to maximize my natural beauty that I can. So I do a few things:
- Skincare – I use an anti-aging cream and an anti-acne cream at the same time which tells you something about how aging is not what I thought it would be. Then sunscreen. Then makeup.
- Lately, I’ve discovered eyebrow shadow, and I love how it makes me look a little more expressive. Nothing like powerful brows to feel like a powerful woman.
- I let my hair part itself. It has moods. Right side part is feminine and flirty, left side part makes me look a little shy, and center part happens when I don’t give a f*ck what anyone thinks. Center parts are fierce.
- Yoga usually three times a week. I used to do athletic vinyasa styles only, but now I mix it up with Yin and Restorative. Stillness practices are absolutely vital for calming the stressed-out nervous system of the modern age.
- Gym once or twice a week. I’m lazy about it but the cardio helps me sweat out stress and the squats help me keep my unstable sacrum secure and pain-free.
- I try to move in some way, even if it’s just a little bit, every day. We eat and sleep every day so we have to exercise every day, even if it’s just a walk with the dog or 20 minutes of rolling around on the floor stretching.
- I do a lot of physical work at my job as a yoga teacher, especially when I’m doing hands-on touch with my students, so I go often to the student massage clinic in my city. I find it’s an affordable way to keep up with my own self-care, especially because my intention is just to relax and be touched in a nice way, not to get any kind of clinical massage work done.
7. List the products or items that are indispensable in your life.
- My dog, Finnegan! He gets me outside twice a day and he’s a great cuddler and an even better listener. He was a rescue from the pound, and adopting him was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
- My rice cooker and vegetable steamer are pretty much responsible for my healthy diet.
- Red lipstick. It’s great when I want to look put together without really having to try very hard.
8. Which female entrepreneur(s) do you look up to and why?
- Michela Quilici, my business coach, has taught me so much about how to run my business in alignment with what really matters to me and to see my uniqueness as strengths that can set me apart. She is amazing at what she does.
- Shannon Lee Simmons broke away from her male-dominated job in finance to create her own business called the New School of Finance. She was able to create a business that was more accessible to the people she wanted to work with and created something that really makes people’s lives better.
- I really look up to my mom, Jane. She joined me in running Ocean and Crow yoga studio about five years ago, shortly before she could have retired from her day job if she wanted to. She still has so much to give and she’s got a lot of passion for the work that we do. I want to be that awesome when I hit retirement age.