Around these parts, we like to learn about and from people who are running their own businesses – business we love and admire, and the ladies who are running shit behind the scenes. In this edition of mind your business, we pick the beautiful brain of Talia Chai who runs her own health, beauty and lifestyle coaching business out of Toronto. Read on for insight about her work, the most common problems she encounters, and her best words of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs – as well as what it’s like to be a “recovering perfectionist.”
milieu: Tell us a bit about your background. What led you to becoming a health/beauty/lifestyle coach?
Talia: My first degree is in acting. After a short period of pursuing an acting career, I realized my heart was no longer in it and I wanted to do something different with my life. After almost a year abroad interning I decided I wanted to go back to school for holistic nutrition. I enrolled at The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition in Toronto and so began my health and wellness path! After graduating I moved to New York and completed the Chef’s Training Program at The Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts. It was one of the best experiences of my life.
Once I moved back to Toronto I focused on trying out lots of different things in both the food and health industries. I taught healthy cooking classes, worked in recipe and development, worked in catering, worked with nutrition clients and began working at one of the best clean beauty boutiques around. I realized that my primary goal is to help others feel their best everyday, love themselves and the skin they’re in, and inspire them to make the most out of each day. And so, Talia Chai Wellness was born. It’s a healthy lifestyle brand and I get to work with clients to help them achieve all of their goals and feel better than they ever knew they could!
milieu: What kind of research did you do when you decided to actually launch your own business?Talia: Talia Chai Wellness was going to be an online business, so first off I knew I needed a kick ass website with awesome branding. I had done a ton of research on what I wanted the look and feel of my brand to be and then I hired the right people to execute it. For me that was Emily Thompson from Indie Shopography for website design (and so much more) and Braid Creative for branding.
I’ve also been following Marie Forleo for years, she’s a HUGE inspiration and mentor. In 2013 I joined B-School, her marketing training program for online business owners which helped me in every aspect of building my business.
milieu: How do you get your name out there?
Talia: When I first started this past December, I was blogging once per week. I found this to be a great way to get my name out there by putting out free, valuable content. Now I’m also focusing on doing collaborations with other wellness-based companies that I love as well as guest-blogging, podcasts and of course, social media!
I’ve found all of the above to be challenging, easy and fun at times. More than anything I learn a ton every time I try something new. Social media has been the biggest challenge for me, there’s so much to learn and so much to do, it could be a full-time job on its own.
milieu: The term lifestyle coach isn’t new to me, but having a “beauty coach” specifically is an interesting idea – do many clients come to you for specific issues or is it often a more holistic approach?
Talia: I believe that beauty is truly reflected from the inside out. So I work with clients who want to clear up their acne or get gorgeous glowing skin, or get into amazing shape by starting on the inside. We look at what they’re eating/drinking, how they’re moving and sleeping and most importantly, how they treat themselves. Are they kind to themselves? Do they love their bodies and the skin they’re in? Are they incredibly stressed out? Once we work through each of these areas, it’s absolutely incredible to see how people start to look and feel. Then we also take a look at the products they’re using on their skin and see if we can clean those up as well by leaning towards the best toxin-free options. Everything is connected and it’s easy to be motivated by external results, but real beauty must start within.
milieu: What are some of the most common issues or challenges your clients come to you with?Talia: Bloating, fatigue, poor sleep, weight gain, skin breakouts/acne, hormonal imbalances, and a general knowledge that they’ve been neglecting themselves and their health and they’re ready to take control!
milieu: What’s the most rewarding or exciting thing that’s happened since you launched your coaching business?
Talia: Getting to the point in my business where clients were finding me on their own (not through family and friends) was pretty gratifying! Building a team has also been incredibly rewarding. I currently have a team of two interns who are da BOMB and we are making great things happen. I love being able to work together and support each other. I try to provide as much mentorship as I can. There’s a lot of girl power going on.
milieu: Any new offerings/plans on the horizon you can tell us about?
Talia: Yes, yes, yes!! I’ve just completed writing and photographing my very first cookbook. It took me three months to do, I worked my butt off and I am very proud We’ve also been shooting season 1 of my healthy lifestyle series, Clean Living which will be launching on YouTube soon. I got to interview awesome people in health and wellness and explore beautiful, healthy places in Toronto. It’s been so much fun to do. To find out when both projects launch, you can sign up for free updates on my website!
milieu: What advice would you give someone who is looking to go into a similar business for themselves?
Talia: If you’re not 100% sure what you want to be doing, keep trying out new things until you figure it out. Surround yourself with wonderful, supportive people because it can be a difficult road ahead and you need to do everything you can to stay positive and believe in yourself. If you’ve found the business that you know you want to pursue, go after it with everything you have. Don’t forget, consistency is everything so make sure you’re putting out high-quality, consistent value. Don’t give up, work hard, be kind to yourself and let the magic happen!
milieu: What’s the best business advice you’ve ever been given?
Talia: Focus on giving. Give value, give service, give yourself, and the rest will come.
milieu: On your website, you talk about aiming for authenticity rather than perfection – but so many women (and men) feel the need to be perfect, or at least aim for it. How do we balance our desire for progress and improvement with happiness and contentment – how do we strive to improve ourselves without stressing about perfection?
Talia: As a recovering perfectionist, I’ve learned the hard way that aiming for perfection does not lead to success. If anything, it leads to failure. Perfectionism can be paralyzing. For a long time, I kept waiting for things to be “perfect” until I let myself move forward. This happened in my personal life, and in my career. I suddenly realized that I was wasting so much time waiting instead of just doing. The thing is, we are all going to make mistakes and fail. And those mistakes and failures are vital to our success! The most important thing is to take risks and try because that’s the only way we can truly grow and move forward.
I think that we can balance our desire for progress and improvement with happiness and contentment by practicing gratitude. As I said above, moving forward is a good thing, it’s great to have goals and ambitions, but it can be dangerous to get into the mindset of, ‘Things will be really great once I finally finish ____.’ or, ‘I will finally be happy once ________ or ________ happens.’ Why? Because there will always be something else. Something else to achieve or something else to desire. So if we only let ourselves be happy because of these external achievements and things, we will never get there. Gratitude is an incredibly powerful way to love and appreciate everything we have NOW and it’s something everyone can practice. No matter what, there are always things to be grateful for. A roof over our heads, a loving relationship, a kind encounter with a stranger, a beautiful, sunny day. When we get into the habit of appreciating these very small, daily moments in our lives, we can truly experience happiness no matter what else happens.
Stressing about perfection is a waste of time because we all know perfection doesn’t exist! Self-improvement comes from progress, making little changes and taking little steps. Most importantly, though, we need to remember to be kind and to love our beautiful, flawed, imperfect selves along the way. Those flaws are what make us authentic, unique and brilliant.