Welcome back to our Founder Stories series, where we sit with inspiring and influential women to dive into their entrepreneurial journey and discuss all things business (and wellness). Today, we speak with Steph, Luca and Cristina, the founders of wellness space House of Wisdom.
Steph is a sound therapist, who specialises in playing the gong; creating a space for deep relaxation and healing. After years of working a corporate job, she was feeling unfulfilled and lacking purpose. Steph took the plunge into the wellness industry, training as a nutritional therapist, before finding sound therapy and the Gong through her Kundalini yoga practice.
Luca is an entrepreneur and a motivational speaker with a decade of business experience as a leading operator in the London hospitality sector. Despite his success, Luca felt there was something missing, which led him to training in life coaching. He set up a number of free seminars to empower his community, giving them the tools to make a positive change in their lives.
Cristina is passionate about women’s rights and self-love. Her mission is to share her personal journey with eating disorders, how she found her purpose and voice; to support and empower the younger generation. After leaving home and travelling the world at a young age, she faced personal struggles with body image and self love. An emptiness she did not understand, reinforced her desire to live in alignment with the life she had always wanted. The fear of losing what she had, pushed her to face her reality, accept what was happening and look for help on how to overcome it. This decision changed her life.
FLAURA: What inspired you to start House of Wisdom?
SLC: In today’s society we have lost our way, disconnected from nature and community, overloaded with information. Anxiety and stress is at an all-time high. People are feeling unfulfilled, they are unsure of how to find balance in what they do and what they are passionate about. We are providing a space and tools that help to deconstruct the limitations they currently put on themselves, to understand their own potential and actualise their dreams. All our classes are designed to remind us that everything we need is inside. It has just been forgotten, not lost. Finding that innate wisdom, that you are born with.
House of Wisdom was created by people, brought together by their passion to empower others to find their inner wisdom. They made it their prerogative to find out what it really means to be connected to who you are, exploring different techniques that have been learnt through the ages and bringing them together in one space, so that others too can find how to balance their body and mind. “We are on this journey together, and together, we become a force for the change we want to see in the world. We are a community.”
F: What makes House of Wisdom different to other wellness spaces?
SLC: House of Wisdom is a social wellness space, dedicated to helping you on your journey of self-discovery, self-empowerment and personal transformation.
Our minds are just as delicate as our bodies, full of knowledge and wisdom, yet we don’t give them the love and care that they deserve. Our programmes are based on ancient practices, supported by modern science. From breathing classes and sound therapy to meditation and movement classes, House of Wisdom will help you reconnect with your true-self and find the balance between mental and physical wellbeing.
F: Could you describe the journey from when you started to now?
SLC: The dream of HOW started with a conversation, a dream and very quickly manifested into reality. This was the second location we looked at, and we fell in love. As we found this beautiful space so quickly, the finalised concept, branding, and design of the space which would usually take months and months, was condensed. We found our location in August, started building in January and were ready to open our doors in March. A few days before our press launch it was clear to see that we were going into lockdown. We moved our schedule online sharing our sessions for free, which was successful. After a month we decided to focus our attention on relaunching in August. We opened our doors on the 17th August, sharing sessions for free for the first two weeks to see the response we would get. Many established studios were still not opening due to uncertainty of the response of group sessions. We were overwhelmed by the response of people traveling across London from East, South East and North West to join the sessions. September and October continued to improve, we were scheduled to have our best month in November and lockdown 2.0 happened. We were still able to operate all sessions that focused on mental health and wellbeing support. Moving anything movement related online. We reduced our in-studio schedule quite drastically and reduced the capacity of classes to 10 people. Despite this the response was again positive, with the feedback of people grateful that we were still able to support them at this time.
F: What has surprised you most about the entrepreneurial journey so far?
S: It has been an adjustment to my life, learning to balance my family and friends with work. Learning when to switch off and set boundaries. At times it’s been really tough, but the love, passion and belief I have in this project is what has kept me going. I’m constantly surprised with curveballs considering the current situation, but we have to practice what we teach. Pick ourselves up and keep moving forward.
F: How do you keep your team motivated?
SLC: We have been very lucky, we are currently a small team and each member truly believes in the success of the business. It is important for us that everyone that comes on board has an interest in the field in some capacity. Even if they don’t have experience in well-being. We encourage all our staff to join the sessions so that they can speak truthfully to the benefits and their personal experiences.
S: As someone who used to be self-employed as a teacher, it is important to me to try and raise the bar for well-being practitioners, and their experience in studios. We regularly check-in on their journey’s through lockdown, and aim to create a community feel between us. It is easy to find yourself working in isolation when you’re self employed and the essence of community is so important to HOW.
F: How do you define “success”?
L: Success is often seen as a financial aspect in our society. However, the biggest challenge we all have today is to develop our personal definition of success and happiness that is not financially related. It is about enjoying this amazing journey called life. Its ups and downs. It is about developing awareness and consciousness in our daily living to finally being in control of our life.
F: What are the best/worst parts of being an entrepreneur?
L: Today it’s cool saying “I am an entrepreneur” but only very few people understand the meaning of sleepless nights, anxiety and stress due to running your own business. However if we understand the the path to success is also being most of our time in a plateau, we can learn to enjoy the journey and everything we learn inbetween.
F: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
S: When I was young and trying to figure out exactly what it was that I wanted to do when I left school, a family friend and very wise man gave me the best advice that has stuck with me ever since. “Short of going to prison, there is nothing in your life that you can do that will negatively affect your future. Don’t worry about making mistakes, these are areas for growth. Take chances, grab opportunities, if you fall down learn from it and keep moving forward.”
L: To understand the battles worth fighting and the battles that you just have to let go.
F: What advice would you give to anyone looking to start their own business?
L: Plan your worst case scenario and make sure you are ok with it. If you are, just go for it. Get a good team around you!