(Editor: Throughout the month of February, across our Blog and Social Media platforms, we will celebrate Geauga small businesses while highlighting GCPL resources for small businesses. We reached out to Geauga County small business owners and asked them for the story behind their businesses as well as any advice they have to offer other small business owners and those looking to start their own small businesses. The following is an interview with Jen Emch and Erin Moore of Ubuntu Wellness, LLC on the Chardon Square.)
GCPL: When was Ubuntu Wellness founded?
Jen & Erin: Ubuntu Wellness was founded in 2014. At that time, we were renting spaces for our services in Chardon and Willoughby. We found our own space, our current location, on Main Street in Chardon in April of 2016.
GCPL: What is the story behind your business? How did it begin? Why did you decide to start your business? What inspired it? What challenges did you face in getting started & how did you overcome them? What challenges do you face in your day-to-day operations, and how do you overcome them? What is your favorite part of owning a business?
Jen: Erin and I both had dreams of owning a holistic wellness business that could benefit the community with a variety of programming/services that blended both Western and Eastern philosophies. This really was just a pipe dream until Jen came across an ad in the Maple Leaf about a space for rent in Chardon. I remember the ad vividly as it described it being on the historic Chardon Square and would be the perfect space for a yoga or dance studio. I had to see it. At the time, our ideas were just that: ideas and nothing else. Erin and I had no business plan, no capital, nothing. I contacted the listing agent and as soon as I walked into the space. I knew we had to have it.
Erin: Some challenges include marketing on a more obtuse level than social media and branding ourselves so people know we are not only a yoga studio or counseling practice, but that we offer a wide range of services, including counseling, yoga, reiki, dance, massage and corporate wellness. We have reached out for help in overcoming some obstacles and are willing to get out in the media as much as possible. Thankfully, Jen has a professional history and grew up in Geauga County which has benefited our networking and outreach greatly.
Jen: Ubuntu means “I am because we are”. Erin and I felt that really captured the mission and vision we had for our business. We want to remind people, even in the midst of our busy and over-scheduled lives, that we are all connected. It’s compassion, kindness and humanity that connect us all together by sharing ourselves with others and authentically caring for those around us.
GCPL: What kinds of training and education did starting your business require (College, trade shows, seminars/conferences, etc.)? Have you ever used the library to help with this?
Erin: Both Jen and I have our Masters Degrees in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and dance and massage degrees, respectively. Jen offered yoga through the library last year and we also have reached out with fliers for programs offered including Kids Yoga and Girlvana yoga.
GCPL: What resources did/do you find most useful in helping you to start, grow, and maintain your business (Books, software, training materials, databases, etc.)?
J & E: Just reading anything and everything that we could!
GCPL: What advice do you have for people who want to start a business?
J & E: Find mentors; anybody who has started a small business. There are so many nuances to staring a business, it can feel really overwhelming at times. Admit to what you do not know and find resources (people, research, small business groups, etc) to help you be successful. Be prepared. You’re never going to have all your ducks in a row because you are human; however, preparedness and setting up your entity, as Jen spent months doing, was very important. Asking for help is the greatest asset you can have as a business.
Jen & Erin are currently listening to Gregory Alan Isakov. They say, “He’s an amazing folksinger/songwriter and we have yet to hear a song from him we haven’t totally fallen in love with.” Check out his album The Weatherman. He also appears on this Putumayo compilation.