Why I knew I was right to start my business when everyone said I was wrong

Wellness centre founder Lauren Lepley reveals her very personal startup story about ignoring all the naysayers and setting up her business in the throes of the pandemic.

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In the midst of global uncertainty and chaos, I, Lauren Lepley, decided to embark on a journey that many deemed too audacious. Establishing Aleafia Wellness Centre in the throes of a pandemic was not just about business; it was about embracing hope and seizing an opportunity when the world felt confined by fear.

Being the founder of Aleafia Wellness Centre isn’t just a title; it’s a testament to my unwavering commitment. With extensive personal experiences, a whole bundle of professional expertise, I was uniquely positioned to grasp the psychological and physical tolls of the pandemic. For the first time in my career, I was truly able to utilise all of my credentials as a Business Strategist, Operations Director, Positive Psychology coach, and a 360 Holistic Wellness Expert. 

This global event, in all its devastation, presented a distinct landscape where human needs were evolving rapidly.

Feel the fear and do it anyway

When venturing outdoors was a task met with trepidation, the idea of opening a brick-and-mortar establishment might have seemed absurd to many. But my vision transcended immediate challenges. I foresaw a time when the paralysing grip of fear would wane, giving way to a collective yearning for healing and connection. Aleafia was conceptualised to fulfil that impending need.

Our path was far from linear. The challenges began to mount even before the doors officially opened, with four distinct “openings,” each presenting its own set of trials. Financial planning and budgeting became an intricate dance, trying to find a balance between conserving resources and investing in the dream. In a time when fiscal conservatism was the mantra, we audaciously chose to believe in the future and back it up with necessary expenditures.

Pandemic purpose

The essence of Aleafia Wellness Centre has always been firmly anchored in its unwavering authenticity. From its conception, the center was not just a mere brick-and-mortar establishment; it was a haven imbued with genuine care and intention. In the unsettling wake of the pandemic, where the invisible walls of isolation grew thicker and minds wrestled with solitude, Aleafia emerged as a beacon of hope and healing.

Drawing from my insights into holistic wellness and the intricacies of the human psyche, I recognized the profound need for a space where individuals, burdened by the weight of the pandemic’s emotional and psychological toll, could rediscover a sense of balance and peace. 

Making the dream real

This vision, however solid in its foundation, had to be malleable in its execution. The unpredictable inflation of costs – from essential materials like timber to human resources – forced us into an innovative corner. This unforeseen challenge, in fact, pushed us further towards our sustainability goals. We repurposed, reused, and became incredibly resourceful, turning challenges into eco-friendly opportunities.

Construction itself became a Herculean task. Without the expected contractors to help, we rolled up our sleeves and embraced the DIY spirit, even as I navigated the added challenge of ‘shielding’ as I was at the time undergoing my cancer treatment. Our financial outlook had to be reimagined, shifting our profit expectations from the optimistic year 2 to a more conservative year 5. This recalibration was not just a matter of numbers, but it reshaped the very essence of our daily operations and long-term vision.

Every cloud

A silver lining in this tumultuous journey was the discovery of my deepest strengths: resilience and innovation. Both became the lifeblood of Aleafia. The importance of community, the human touch, was at the heart of Aleafia. And while the physical world was restricting, the virtual one opened its arms. We delved into the digital realm, creating an online wellness community, all while emphasising the temporary nature of this shift. 

As a staunch believer in Positive Psychology, I understood that our emotional and psychological well-being is often the cornerstone of our physical health. Aleafia’s offerings were curated with this holistic approach, ensuring clients were nurtured on all fronts.

Trust your instincts

The journey wasn’t devoid of critics. Starting a business in such an unprecedented global crisis invited scepticism. Many well-wishers urged reconsideration, and the silent weight of expectation – of failure, of an impending “I told you so” – was palpable. However, my unwavering belief in Aleafia’s purpose was the compass that navigated me through this sea of doubts.

As I reflect on this voyage, the personal growth and the transformation of Aleafia from an idea to a refuge is awe-inspiring. More than a business success story, it’s a narrative of human spirit and resilience.

To those reading, let Aleafia’s journey be a beacon of hope. Challenges are but stepping stones, and dreams, no matter how audacious, are worth pursuing. Embrace your aspirations with vigour and passion, for even in the darkest of times, there lies an opportunity for unparalleled greatness.

Headshot Lauren Lepley founder
Lauren Lepley - Founder of Aleafia Wellness Centre

as well as founding Aleafia Wellness Centre, Lauren is a 360 business strategist and high performance and health coach, plus supports and mentors startup businesses around the UK and internationally.

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