Karen Ciulla – Building a business on well-being
Changing life and career focus to find inspiration,
flexibility and financial freedom
So here I am. A 46-year-old American woman who has been living in Spain for 20 years. A six-month trip meant to be a solo adventure to learn Spanish, prove my independence, and see what else the world had to offer, turned into my life. And I’m consciously grateful for that internal urge that pushed me not to conform to the norm. I very well could have continued to work in an advertising agency in Boston, marry my boyfriend, enjoy weekends in Cape Cod and live life happily ever after.
However, there was something inside me that said “there is more to discover,” “take a risk,” “follow the road less travelled.” Since then, I’m happy to report that I’ve managed to make a very happy life for myself and my family, obviously with the bumps and twists that prove your patience and willingness to adapt along the way. But overall I feel that I have very little to complain about. I am happily married to an Argentine-German; I have two happy, healthy, trilingual kids; I have friends who I consider family; and most recently I moved to a house just outside of Barcelona that gives us a healthy dose of mother nature everyday.
During the past 15 years I have made a successful career in the online digital sector and have had the fortunate experience of working for international, forward-thinking companies that provided me with an above-average salary for the Spanish market, an international work environment, and the opportunity to travel to the US, Asia and throughout Europe. Everything seemed just perfect!
But, as I mentioned, I am not a conformist and I believe we CAN actually have it all (ok, maybe not EVERYTHING…I mean I’m not holding my breath for the €1M bonus check, but a lot more than we allow ourselves to think is possible.) Throughout the past year I have been working with a coach to identify the things that I would like to have in my professional and personal life. My list included:
● A focus on health and wellness: The American in me has kept me doing home workouts in small Spanish apartments for many, many years, and taking care with what I put into my body.
● Flexibility: As a mother of two and a person with many interests, I wanted to break out of the 9-6 work environment, to not be limited in vacation time, and to be able to go for a hike on a Tuesday. I wanted to be able to pick up my kids from school some days and actually enjoy my time with them instead of watching over my computer in case an email came in. I wanted to be able to spend long periods of time in the US and Argentina to be with our families.
● Passion: This was the biggest item on the wish list. I wanted to wake up on Monday and feel excited to get to work instead of hoping that Friday afternoon would magically appear sooner. I wanted to feel involved and connected to the ideals of the company I worked for and what I was investing my time in.
● Contributing to society: In some way shape or form, I wanted to contribute to the greater good, and to leave this earth a little bit better as a result of something I did.
● Economic contribution: Yup…I wanted all of the above and I wanted to earn money at the same time.
In August of last year I was discussing this with a girlfriend over dinner. She said, “I want you to meet a friend of mine who started her own business two years ago, and it sounds similar to what you are describing.” That was the beginning of my journey of making changes in my life and remembering that feeling I had 20 years ago when I decided to move to Spain. Since then, I have embarked on a professional and personal project that has ticked all the boxes on my list. I have successfully launched my own business selling natural cosmetics and supplements with zero investment, and have grown personally and professionally in the process.
As a health-conscious woman and mother I was aware of how important it is to limit the amount of chemicals and processed ingredients in our food, but I had not considered the personal hygiene and cosmetics my family and I were using. In terms of skin care, I put very little effort or concern into having a routine, or the products I was using. Well… I was in for a surprise. After two weeks testing the products, I was sold. My skin has literally changed and has continued improving over the past months, and I am receiving compliments about how healthy and fresh I look. I became much more aware of how many toxins and chemicals we put into ourselves and our families without realizing it, just by showering, applying deodorant, brushing our teeth and keeping our skin hydrated.
I have not only improved my skin and health, but have been able to put my energy and dedication into a project that gives back to society. Sustainability and ethical business practices are the main pillars of the business. The company is pioneering sustainable practices with raw-material sourcing, manufacturing, packaging and logistics. I’m inspired and supported by a team of other entrepreneurs who do not compete, but actually help in my success. For the first time in a professional setting I am provided with training and tools applicable to personal and professional development.
And the greatest change is that I am now my own boss. I decide when I work, when I take that hike on a Tuesday, or when I spend an afternoon in the park with the kids. The only person I answer to is myself. I grow my business based on the energy and work I decide to dedicate to it.
I’m always interested in meeting and collaborating with like minded women who are interested in designing their lives based on their beliefs, interests and self determination. Please feel free to contact me at: email@example.com
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