"My initial idea was to empower women."

According to ‘Prowess’, a UK organisation supporting women in business, women make up around 17% of business owners in the UK with numbers increasing in recent years. A survey from Prowess also found women are more likely than men to think about the social, ethical, and environmental considerations in business as important. The Gryphon spoke to Chelsey Needham, a University of Leeds graduate of Philosophy and Politics, who has started up her own local business ‘InnerSense Guru’, aiming to provide a range of holistic treatments including yoga classes, massage therapy, alongside running her own alternative alcohol-free club night, ‘The After Glow’. Chelsey is also a yoga teacher at LUU for Yoga society and teaches at the ‘We Are Wellness’ yoga studio in Hyde Park.

What is the ethos of your business ‘InnerSense Guru’?

InnerSense Guru is about getting in touch with your intuition or inner gut feeling that I aim to get people to connect with. The word ‘Guru’ is associated with India and means darkness to light in any way they need transformation in their life. Through yoga, massage, and holistic events I found the tools which helped me find my inner intuition, which initially I connected with when I was in the Yoga society at LUU and discovered my passion for yoga and organising events. I think that university is about using the mind, but the body and intuition is lacking. Yoga is about the mind and body connection, so doing yoga helped me discover that. And really I think that there should be more activities that integrate mind, body, and spirit connection into our daily lives. My event, ‘The After Glow’, aims to empower individuals (particularly the feminine qualities in the self) and to bring together individuals who want change and are working toward change and transformation; it’s a celebration of change.

In what ways do you use your business to empower other women?

That’s interesting because my initial idea was to empower women. The mind is seen as above the emotions, so I aim to bring an awareness to the emotions that are often seen as feminine. I believe that, by understanding my body, I understand myself and the world better when I pay attention to my emotions. In social situations, emotions are suppressed and can spring out on us at different times, but yoga allows you to release them and bring out emotions. I also think that the idea of self-love for women and understanding their emotions and boundaries is important; as women are seen as the givers, caring for others means that they can lose sight of themselves, so I intend to allow them to replenish their emotional energy and re-connect with themselves. I also use belly dancing as a tool to empower women as it allows you to love your body, against media portrayals and images of women, and it shows that all women are different. I also like the collective feel of belly dancing, as it is about celebrating individuality, and the dancing itself is freeing yet teaches you about the boundaries you’re comfortable with. Again, it’s not about the sexualisation of women but the appreciation of other women; it’s not about competition either but about connecting women to love and support each other. I find that any activity, whether it be massage or yoga or even anything in our daily lives, can teach us about ourselves if you integrate mindfulness into it.

Do you find running your own business empowering?

Yeah I love running my own business, it gives you freedom, teaches you self-discipline, time-management, and self-promotion. You need to find yourself work and, with the nature of my business, I run a lot of the classes and events myself so I do almost everything! You’re also able to make your own money and so it feels like you’ve stepped out of a bubble and have all this freedom to create, and, I think, view the world differently, as you have a special platform to give people other people.

12140855_10208457109483842_5031346346779111728_oWhat skills would you say you’ve gained from running your own business?

I’ve learnt how to organise events, communicate with other people, promotional skills, and working with social media, but the biggest thing is learning about myself! Also the relationship between giving and receiving – when you’re self-employed you dictate how much your service is worth and it’s difficult to put a price on what you’re doing, especially in a world where good things are seen as charity. So learning about what I am worth, and to be flexible to make it accessible to people of different backgrounds, at different stages in their life and their journey, in relation to values of worth. Ultimately, I recognised what I’m comfortable with and others actually respect that. In this industry you get an interesting range of people usually people who give a lot and forget to give back to and value themselves.

Do you think it is important for women to consider running their own businesses?

Running your own business is really freeing and fun; it’s having an idea you’re passionate about. I think that businesses are seen as only for making money, which our economy promotes, but we need women and other people to start businesses that make money and also have a deeper meaning that society and communities can benefit from, as well as giving women a feeling of freedom, control, and flexibility of running their own business. Also, the financial freedom brings other freedoms alongside a successful business. [Running a business] differs from the workplace in that there are dynamic – in business you have freedom. With ‘The After Glow’, my alternative club night, a lot of the alcohol and club nights are run by men so I have entered a male-dominated industry, giving women a space to dance and socialise more freely.

Would you say that the health and well-being industry is female orientated?

Most yoga teachers are women but the entertainment industry is male-dominated. Statistically, more women go to yoga classes than men too. I just have a desire to create and again it’s a non-physical thing that I feel I am connected to.

What does the future hold for ‘InnerSense Guru’?

Holding events for businesses to improve work place dynamic as well as getting ‘The After Glow’ to Freshers’ week 2016!

It seems that being a woman in business can be as empowering for others as for herself; having more women working in autonomous positions allows for greater flexibility, not only in the work that they do but also in the way that they earn and in the opportunities for creativity. It is also necessary to note that, with more women working together and supporting each other in professional and other ventures, we can promote a sense of unity and solidarity in the face of subordination in sectors that are currently male-dominated like business, technology, or even entertainment. Speaking with a businesswoman aiming to uplift others through the work she does can cause us to think about what actions we are taking to uplift the women around us or even ourselves; little by little, we may find that encouraging women around us causes a ripple effect to incite change and inspire the largely suppressed majority.

Stephanie Uwalaka

Find ‘InnerSense Guru’ on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/InnerSense-Guru-752010571595698/?fref=ts&__mref=message_bubble and keep updated with Chelsey’s upcoming event ‘The After Glow’ at the Hyde Park Book Club on 11th- 19th March here: https://www.facebook.com/events/184471481921479/

[Images: Jack Roberts]

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