It’s tough to make friends in adulthood. Without the confines of a classroom to force you together, forging new friendship relies on extending out beyond your comfort zone. Enter Vancouver Neatos interviews, where I introduce you to a new face in Vancouver every week (ish). Want to take part? Drop me a line.
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Navi, I am 28 and just starting up my practice as a holistic wellness coach in Vancouver and India, and soon, globally. My training is in Ayurvedic healing, yoga, meditation, as well as being a certified life skills coach. I’m currently navigating my way through the scary, exciting world of creating my dream life where I get to help people, travel, be connected, and be financially free enough to do bigger, badass philanthropic projects through my organization Global Girl Power :)
What drew you to becoming an entrepreneur?
My family is full of entrepreneurs including my father, so growing up I saw it as a way to really be in control of my destiny and create a life of work that I was passionate about. My dad always had the motto that you should be your own boss and even though I hated how much he worked as I kid, it stuck with me in many ways. As I got older, I saw the value of the choices you have when you run your own business, and with the type of work I do and the hobbies I enjoy, I need a career where I have the freedom and flexibility to play with my schedule, my income, and where I work.
My many trips to India were also very inspiring for me to build up my own business because almost everyone there is an entrepreneur of sorts, from the street flower vendor, the tea stall boy, the saree shop uncle or aunty, and I loved seeing their hustle. The way they have a reverence for their work because it is not only their livelihood but something they created through dedication, hard work, and of course more often than not, survival.
I went through the pretty standard operating procedure of what we are taught in high school of getting an education at a post secondary institute in the so called glamorous marketing industry and thought I was going to be set for life. Little did I know how important it was for me to be in an industry that I was not only passionate about but one where I was heard, seen, able to connect to real people in authentic ways, and where I felt like I was making a difference in the world. I absolutely hated the shark tank we call the corporate world and dreaded the idea of working to make someone else successful by exchanging my time, energy, and ideas for dollars. As I build my wellness practice now, I see that I was born to be my own boss and create my own “normal.”
Is there anything that particularly influences or inspires your work?
People and their stories. We spend a lot of time defining ourselves by our stories and also using them to either separate or unite us with others, for me hearing and being a part of people’s stories connects me to this world and brings me closer to myself. I don’t feel like I am one particular way and belong in one place. Through connecting to the hearts of the people I work with and meet, I feel like the whole world belongs to me and I belong to it. When we connect at the heart we can drop our stories and barriers and come to the core of who we are, and in that there is profound strength and healing.
The varying degrees of suffering I see on a daily basis, like people having road rage, or getting irritated in the coffee shop line up, or not being able to sleep, or chronic pain, or emotional imbalance shows me that everyone is in need of some type of healing. With a few changes to someone’s lifestyle choices, they can dramatically change the quality of life they are living and being able to facilitate that is deeply rewarding. Having done my own internal work to get to this point, I really see the value of the work myself and other healers and teachers are doing, the world needs it.
What advice would you give emerging entrepreneurs?
Well, I am one of them so I am also learning as I go, I would say ask for help and reach out to people who are operating personally or professionally in the way you would like to be and ask them if they can meet face to face for a coffee and pick their brain. For me, it always helps to know that the super successful people didn’t get that way overnight and they also had struggles, fears, and doubts, but made it out alive.
People always say networking is the key, and to a certain degree it is but as a budding entrepreneur sometimes I would get so overwhelmed by trying to be everywhere at once that I had no energy to actually put into my business. So network but in the right places and build a solid tribe of supportive people in the community who you can learn from and also support your fellow entrepreneurs, if you align with someone, go to their events, buy their stuff, promote them, collaborate with them, because that is how you build long lasting relationships, by supporting each other’s growth.
Also, don’t be afraid to get messy and fall on your face. I am one of those people who loves having everything about my work composed, beautiful, and perfect. I realized that by preserving it on this pedestal is not allowing me to grow and learn important lessons that I would learn by just getting into the thick of things and making mistakes. Another important one is, don’t compare yourself to others, it will subconsciously kill you and drain of your energy that you could be spending learning new things that will elevate you to what you want to be, instead maybe reach out to that person and ask them how they did it!
Leave time for your own healing and health, as rewarding as starting your own business can be, it is also very stressful at times, so it’s important to know when to slow down, ask for help, take a break and regroup. Have time outside of your work with non work related friends to let loose, be vulnerable, and share the scary or exhilarating things happening in yourself. When you can recharge yourself, you will be that much better with your business, it’s like a little golden circle.
What do you like best about the entrepreneur community in Vancouver?
I really love that there are so many of us! It is amazing to see how many young entrepreneurs and female entrepreneurs are bringing so much talent and innovation into the world and really following their dreams. I love listening to the stories of entrepreneurs and how their work has shaped their lives. I think the older generation of entrepreneurs I grew up around was a lot more focused on just financial independence and there was not a lot room for dreams and right now, we have the luxury to dream and create our own realities. I also rarely saw any south Asian female entrepreneurs growing up, it was always a male dominated career path, and now I see women just taking charge and owning shit, I love it!
What are the biggest challenges for female entrepreneurs in Vancouver? in Canada? in general? How do you think we can overcome those challenges?
Some of the challenges I can think of are the lack of resources that are available in cities outside of Vancouver. A lot of events, workshops, and educational resources are available in Vancouver but as someone who doesn’t live in downtown Vancouver, I have to invest a lot of time and energy to get those things and be a part of the groups that align with my business. Vancouver also can feel really small sometimes and if someone is already known for a particular business or industry, I sometimes find it can be challenging to find support and break into that industry without stepping on peoples toes and still holding value for what I am offering. I have had the good fortune of meeting some very supportive female entrepreneurs like Glynnis Osher, Madeleine Shaw, and Suzanne Siemens in Vancouver very early on, and through them I was introduced to a whole world of resources and business acumen, so I wish more people would be open to just giving others a chance and share the space.
Over the last few years I have found it very interesting that many of the events I have attended, I am usually one of the only South Asian females in attendance and I am not sure why that is but I would like to see more diversity and inclusion and room for collaboration ( also, especially amongst other female south Asian female entrepreneurs).
Where’s your favourite spot in Vancouver to set up a laptop and get shit done?
I would say a nice coffee shop but honestly I get too wrapped up in my coffee, pastries, and people watching so I would say my home office is the best place when I am not sharing it with my Dad!
Can you share any resources you’ve found most helpful in your career?
I would say that SVI women is a great event to attend, I was a part of it a couple years ago before I started my practice but the connections I made with some incredible women will really be useful to learn from and gain support from while I grow as an entrepreneur.
Karma Teachers where I did my yoga training is an invaluable resource for me because of my dear friend Emerson and the work he has put into creating a community where anyone from any walk of life has access to yoga, resources, teachers, and high quality training. It really brought together and opened up a community that can often be intimidating and exclusive for newcomers.
Girl Gang Vancouver is my favourite resource right now, it’s a Facebook group that has over 4000 female entrepreneurs from all industries in Vancouver and you can post questions, ask for feedback, throw out ideas, share what you are doing, and there is a whole community with a wealth of knowledge that responds. Through Girl Gang I found Stylings + Stories!
What’s in the works for you right now?
I have some more trainings I am doing this year in Ayurveda, yoga, and body work to add to my repertoire, I would like to actively be a part of some community business activities and groups this year. I would also love to create a physical shared studio space for healers to work out of in the South Surrey area so more people can benefit and more people like me have a place they can offer their services out of. Other than that, just putting myself out there, getting messy, offering what I know and hopefully whoever is looking for it, comes!