10 Badass women who inspire the heck out of me! Part I

en·tre·pre·neur

/ˌäntrəprəˈnər/

noun: entrepreneur; plural noun: entrepreneurs

a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.

synonyms: businessman/businesswoman, enterpriser, speculator, tycoon, magnate, mogul

BADASS (ok, that’s not part of the definition, but I think it should be).

Taking on greater than normal financial risks is just the beginning of creating your own business or brand. It is dedication like nothing I have ever experienced before and will test even the most confident of women and men. When I decided to change my career in 2016 and start WanderFreely, LLC., I did so with a BIG dream, a love of yoga, and no clue what I was doing! I had never run my own business, I didn’t have any savings (that’s NYC living for you), and I questioned myself multiple times a day if I was crazy for leaving a life I had worked so hard to create to dive into an unknown future.

It’s been almost three years since I took the leap and I am still swimming. It hasn’t been smooth, there have been days when I wondered if I should just move back to NYC and get a “real” job again, and most days I still ask myself if I’m crazy. Yet, each day, I keep going. Why?

Because I believe in creating my own life. Because I trust in the teachings of yoga. Because I honor the growth available through coaching. And because I LOVE the community that I have met in the years since I have started this wild journey.

The biggest thing I wish I had known when starting WanderFreely is that I didn’t have to do it alone. Asking for help, encouragement, or suggestions doesn't make you weak or incapable, it makes you human. Taking the first step to create your own life is scary and exciting and it is also very possible, especially with the support of Kula (community).

With this in mind, I am so proud to share some badass women who have greatly impacted my life and who, like me, are creating on their terms. I asked them all to share the scariest and most exciting part of starting their own business. Why? So others know that it’s possible and that we all have moments of doubt, however, when you stop and look at the community around you, you’ll see that you are not alone in your dreams.

Thank you, ladies, for having the courage, strength, and passion to take the plunge!

Photo: © Monika Broz Photography  www.monikabroz.com

Photo: © Monika Broz Photography www.monikabroz.com

Kristen Brunello Yoga Educator, Life Coach, Founder of The Yoga Ground & Always a Being West Orange, NJ

The most frightening part about being an entrepreneur is the hustle. There isn’t paid time off or sick days. There isn’t guaranteed pay or salary. How much I earn is directly connected to how much I hustle.

The most exciting part is being able to make my own rules! Whether it's Always a Being, my eating disorder recovery coaching business or The Yoga Ground, my new yoga studio in West Orange, NJ - every decision that comes up is mine to make - which I guess is also sort of frightening. But it is mostly exciting. I’ve managed yoga studios and fitness clubs for other people, and, like most jobs, it's required me to implement policies I didn’t always agree with. It is SO hard for me to do that, especially with a smile. Now the only policies I have to answer for are the ones I make myself. And that sits so well with me.

@the_yoga_ground @always_a_being www.theyogaground.com www.alwaysabeing.com


Photo credit by @queengidrea or Chanel Govreau

Photo credit by @queengidrea or Chanel Govreau

Emily Siy Yoga Educator & Founder of Emily Grace Acupuncture New York, NY

The most frightening thing about being an entrepreneur for me is being alone in it and the endless “what if’s” with no one to really get immediate feedback and support from. I don’t think of myself necessarily as an “entrepreneur” which is what helps me get through it. I say this to mean that I do not 100% of the time think of my work as a “business” but rather 90% of it is connected to finding ways to reconcile why I am here living in this life on this earth. I do everything non traditional -NO work life balance. Very little separation between personal and work life. Yes to checking my phone on weekends and late at night and “day’s off”. The second I decided this would be my life’s work and end game was when I realized I do not have time for “what if” or “work-life balance”. I didn’t choose this to become a successful in an industry but rather to be able to live with myself, got to bed at night and wake up in the morning being ok with the person I am and how I interact with what is around me. This to me is something I have to work on every day. Because I chose this to be my end game it can be a little scary sometimes that I’ve put all my bets on it.

The most exciting part about being an “entrepreneur” is being able to set my own rules and boundaries. Not having to deal with the microaggressions of being in a traditional work setting around people who I may or may not get along with really takes away a huge layer of stress. I feel have more control over the choices I make in my business and it allows for my business to be more of a reflection of me and less of a “business”.

@emilygraceacupuncture www.emilygraceacupuncture.com


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Melanie Lennon Life Coach, Motivational Speaker & Yoga Educator San Francisco, CA & Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

The thing that makes being an entrepreneur such a rewarding experience is both the most frightening AND the most exciting thing: I am forced to consistently see what I'm really made of. Running my own business has brought all my shit to the surface and has required me to take a long look at what I value most, as well as dig into the depths of my greatest insecurities. It has required a continuous clearing out of my system of all the thoughts and habits that keep me stuck because what I put out into the world is a direct reflection of the work I put into myself. True self-care is absolutely VITAL to being a successful, long-term entrepreneur, which was something that surprised me, but has brought more joy into my life and made my output more sincere and genuine than I ever could have imagined.

@melanielennon www.lifeiscaramel.com


Photo: ©Mikela Millington

Photo: ©Mikela Millington

Liz Butler Yoga Educator & Founder of Liz Fair Yoga Charlottesville, VA

The scariest part about pursuing entrepreneurship is rather predictable - the unknown. And not your average "who knows what the future holds" kind of unknown - it's that plus the fact that there is no longer an outline for you to follow. A traditional 9-5 gives you a nice little roadmap towards "success". Do X and Y will most likely follow. That assurance (even if it may be false in some cases) falls away once you decide to be an entrepreneur. 

The most exciting part? The fact that literally anything is possible. Once you move past the fear of not knowing the future, you can see the unlimited potential within it. So much space to create connections. Space to build communities. Space to just invest in your passions and what you love. Not having an outline is terrifying. But it is also liberating. 

@lizfair_ www.lizfairyoga.com


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Madison Karpan Yoga Educator, Writer & Founder of Madison Elyse Yoga Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands & Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

It’s funny, I don’t really think of myself as an entrepreneur. Most of the time I just feel like I’m pursuing the things that I’m passionate about, and I coincidentally (sometimes) end up making a little money.

When you’re not sure where your next paycheck is coming from, that’s terrifying. I’m pretty sure every entrepreneur has intimately experienced the feeling of being broke. But once you let go of the “I need…” mentality, you discover that you’re willing to live on much less in order to build a life that makes your heart sing. The most exciting part of working for yourself? The sky’s the limit. The bigger you dream, the more you’ll achieve. There’s nothing better than being your own boss and creating something that you’re truly proud of.

@meelyse www.madisonelyse.com