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Episode 122. Building a Thriving Wellness Business with Katherine Cynewski

Episode 122. Building a Thriving Wellness Business with Katherine Cynewski

Cait: Hello, and welcome to today’s episode of The Born To Rise podcast. I’m your host, Cait Scudder and today my guest is the amazing Kat Cynewski, a business coach for purpose-driven wellness women, the founder of Be Well Events and the Be Well Method and a 500 hour vinyasa yoga instructor. After getting a BA in psychology, she worked in corporate sales and business management for several years before making the leap into full-time freedom as a yoga instructor. She loves supporting other ambitious wellness leaders to step into their full power and turn their passion into a wildly profitable yoga business. Kat is also a fellow resident of Portland, Maine, I am so freaking excited to have you on the show today, Kat. Thank you so much for being here.

Kat: Thank you so much for having me, Cait and Whoo, Portland.

Cait: Yes, so good. Even though it’s 7 million degree, right now I got it’s sunny out. I was thinking about yesterday, Ella went for a walk outside with our nanny. I had to call her to basically make sure that the ventilation is up because I don’t want her to bake inside of there. It’s 99 degrees.

I am really, really excited to have you on the show. Because I feel just what you do and the background that you come from is going to be so interesting for our listeners because we have a lot of women who are interested in wellness and who want to become entrepreneurs, or in the stage of becoming entrepreneurs, or whose wellness background really informs their trajectory as an entrepreneur. 

But I think for a lot of women who come either as yoga instructors, or massage therapists, there’s this big gaping hole, it seems between the skill set that they develop as wellness professionals, and how to build a profitable business. I know that’s your exact area of expertise and zone of genius. So for our listeners who don’t know you yet, we’re gonna dive into all that. But tell us a little bit more. I just read your bio. But tell us a little bit more about who you are and what you do and how you started the amazing business and companies that you have.

How Be Well Events Started

Kat: Yeah, absolutely. So I grew up in Maine that’s where my journey started. Even when I was a kid I loved dancing, I love connecting with people and storytelling and all of these things. And I really started to fall in love with psychology in high school, and then pursued it in college because I love connecting with people and understanding why we do what we do, how we can live a happier and more fulfilled, more Purpose Driven Life. It started with that psychology with that social psychology, why we make decisions that we do. And then it really developed when I found yoga when I was actually in college, my brother passed away. So I was in a really tough bad place there. I found yoga shortly after, and totally dove into that, which changed my whole mindset and really my life. 

I had been working in corporate sales and business management, and was just really feeling when I got to my mid 20s I was feeling I had made all these choices, going to college starting with a really secure and safe corporate job moving up the ladder climbing the corporate ladder selling all my soul and my time to be socially accepted or approved in this role, and really felt burnt out and unfulfilled and yoga was my outlet. I spent all my time in yoga, meeting people with different perceptions and different backgrounds. 

Travel played a huge role in that as well meeting new people in different places. And my first yoga retreats are what sprung me into realizing that I needed to do something different with my life and that this corporate role and this corporate ladder wasn’t really the path for me. So I ended up jumping, just full force into trying to teach yoga full time. 

That’s how I naturally started this events company because I loved connecting with other people in the community. As someone, who in college and my younger years partied a lot and connected with people that way, it was really important for me to try to find outlets that were healthier, that were really more authentic and raw and helping people grow into themselves without that layer or the need to only go out and go to bars or do things that. 

So that’s what started the events company. And then naturally from that, growing my brand, growing my marketing. People started to ask me how can I do this? How can I grow my brand? How can I do events, and I started doing a lot of free coaching to start from that. Then I finally developed a coaching program to help other yoga and wellness professionals really connect to their community and grow profitable online and offline businesses. So kind of everything in a nutshell.

Building A Community In A New City

Cait: I love it. That was the most distinct tell me your story in a nutshell that I think I’ve ever heard. I remember having a conversation with you before today. Just hearing about why you aren’t based in Boston. Tell us about that? You know that the whole landscape of events has changed but I know for you the community component was so so big and you built a thriving profitable community here in Portland before you were even living here in Portland. Talk to us about that process and what you’ve found really made Be Well Events, your events company, so successful even before you were living here full time.

Kat: It’s funny to think back on that. It’s just almost funny that I was living in Boston working full time and sales in Boston, actually. And teaching yoga in Boston. I had never taught yoga. I had lived briefly in Portland for a year or two. But I didn’t have a community and I definitely didn’t have a yoga or wellness community there. So it was kind of Whoa, what’s going on here? 

But how that started as I actually met someone who had started a brunches. I think it was called Brunches Of Boston actually. I met her at a networking event and random networking event that I went to. I was like, we should do a brunch and yoga that that would be amazing. So we partnered on that. And as I was promoting that a lot of people that I knew in Portland were wow, oh my god, we wish there was something like this in Portland. That’s so cool. 

In the back of my mind, I love Portland. Portland has an insane amount of restaurants, beautiful outdoor spaces, just a really well tight-knit community I find because it’s a smaller city. I just felt really drawn to doing those events in Portland. So honestly, within a month, I was like, Yeah, let’s do it. I just didn’t really overthink it. I just jumped right into it and reached out on Instagram to one of my favorite kombucha places and just said hey, do you want to partner with me on an event or yoga at the komboochery, Urban Farm. 

I did go to Root Wild after that. And they weren’t there yet. So they kind of split off and went there. But two amazing businesses in Portland. And that was the Bend ‘n Booch Series that I had started, which was just a pop-up event and class. 

My thing was really to make it more of an experience and not just because other people obviously do yoga classes in different areas. But I really wanted to elevate that experience for people, draw the community and really help people connect a little bit deeper and make it really fun with photo booths and swag bags and just kind of making it a really exciting experience. 

So I was traveling back and forth from Boston to Portland, all the time. I mostly used Instagram to get the word out and partnerships. So I would just reach out to yoga instructors, businesses on Instagram shamelessly, a lot of messaging, a lot of outreach and just said, Hey, this is my mission. Would you like to partner with me? I think part of what made that successful is I was so in it, and I was so passionate about it. I knew exactly what I was doing and why and I was able to get that message across to other people who quickly jumped on board and were like, this is awesome. I want to be a part of it.

Cait: It’s so amazing. What I love so much about your story Kat is I feel it is so perfectly almost emblematic of what entrepreneurship is you saw a gap. You saw a desire in the market, you saw resonance with a customer base of like, Hey, this is super cool. This is happening in Boston, but it’s not happening in Portland. You identified the gap, you felt super aligned with the soul essence of this mission and you just did not wait for somebody else to do it. You acted and you created that niche.

Maybe you’re not really humble bragging here, but I’m gonna humble brag for you, you freakin grew the Well Events from literally nothing when you weren’t even living in the city to the among our demographic of millennial working women in Portland. It’s the most successful events company here. You have in a pre COVID world, I think January 2020, was your last big festival, right? 150 women. That is unbelievable. It’s so amazing. 

I love that you shared really the humble beginnings of that and how it was literally nothing more complicated than you identifying a gap, choosing to fill the gap, reaching out getting scrappy with it, getting in the DM making messy action, and building it. And it became not the only thing you do, but it became huge. You blew up. I think that that is really inspiring. I can imagine that a lot of people look at that and are how did you do it? And you’ve literally just said to us you just do the things? Yeah, just did it just tried and failed a couple times and kept showing up. 

How To Manage Multiple Income Streams

So good. I love that so much. So you obviously have multiple streams of income, which we’re going to talk about in a moment, because I think that’s just the name of the game. Entrepreneurship is the diversification of income streams. You’ve got Be Well Events, you also have a coaching business, you’re also still a yoga instructor. I love that you host retreats and events you do so many different things. 

I guess first and foremost, talk to us about how you stay sane and manage your week? I feel with multi-passionate entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs who have multiple streams of income or multiple endeavors, that’s one of the things that I hear a lot is how do you manage your week? Or how do you not get overwhelmed, and you’re still driving to different studios in classes. So tell us how you do that. Gow do you find calm within? I don’t want to say chaos, but within the business of all the different things that you do?

Kat: Yeah, great question. I think this really comes back to a couple of things. Sometimes it does feel a little insane but I something that’s been super helpful for me with all these different things is time blocking, and really organizing my calendar. Because starting out, this was definitely not something that I was amazing at. 

I was working a full time job, it would be all hours of the night and all of my off-hours. Now what has helped so much is just really getting clear and time blocking and not just accepting any class that comes my way because that’s really not my main revenue or the main branch of my business. I do it because I love it. I love connecting with the community. I love teaching, I love yoga, I love the energy and sharing that practice. But it’s not something that I am needing to cling to the revenue from. 

So I very easily say these times work for me, and these times don’t. I really try to block certain days. I have a couple days where I teach three, that’s the most, actually I teach in one day is three yoga classes. And that’s my yoga day and I’ll work on my retreat, and I’ll stay very focused in that energy on that day. 

How To Take The Pressure Down 

Right now, I teach seven public classes a week, which is a decent amount still. But a lot of yoga instructors feel to be successful, they need to teach a ton of classes. And that really just leads to burnout and starting to resent being a teacher and going back to corporate is what I find. So what I’ve heard even a lot from clients is that by building out this online program, what I did with the coaching business is building out that online platform helps relieve some of that pressure from teaching so you can do it because you love and you enjoy it. You don’t feel the need to be running around at all hours of the day to shop classes.

Cait: I love that so much and I’m so glad you brought up that point taking the pressure down. I think that’s so relevant for wellness and wellness professionals, yoga instructors, but just in general and entrepreneurship when all of our eggs are in one basket. It can feel really pressurising. In a relationship, if we’re expecting our significant other to meet literally every single one of our needs, that’s a lot of pressure to put on one person. We can get into the place of doing the same things in our businesses of expecting one thing to produce all the income or all the fulfillment, especially in the online space in marketing, it gets really weird. 

I’m sure you’ve seen this, so much of marketing that feels really desperate or out of alignment. I love that actively, unconsciously coach both have designed your business, but also coach clients through diversifying their income and their needs so that not the entirety of their business rests on one thing,

Kat: Definitely. I think there’s a balance with that, too, because I see a lot from people as they try to do everything, and they bounce from thing to thing. So it’s finding that balance of, yes, keeping the energy fresh and being excited about what you’re doing and having multiple income streams without just starting something thinking that’s not leading to exactly what I imagined right off the bat and ditching it and trying something else. So I think it’s important to note that balance of sticking with something that you’re excited about, through some ups and downs, but also having that diversity across the board and across your passions.

What To Do When You Aren’t Seeing Results Right Away

Cait: It’s so true. I’m so glad that you said that because I think especially in today’s world of instant gratification economy where we’re like, shouldn’t I just be able to Amazon Prime that? Results directly, right now. There is sort of this discard. If it doesn’t give you something in four seconds mentality. Let’s just say for example, you have a client who’s frustrated or one thing in their business isn’t producing results. But you can see that it’s something that just requires a little bit more patience and finessing. What’s something that you think is important for entrepreneurs to keep in mind, if they’re not seeing a result yet straight away on one particular offer or arm of their business?

Kat: I think definitely keeping in mind that anything really takes time to grow. Nobody starts out as an overnight success. I think especially these days with Instagram marketing, and so many things online, people see these success stories, they see the best foot forward. They just expect that everything that they should do should be insanely successful also. Bringing them back into the viewpoint of the success that they are finding. 

Failures That Lead To Success

A lot of times people are so focused on that end goal, and not those little action steps to actually get them there. Those little wins along that journey and along that path and really enjoying that journey. Taking note of things that could have been shifted or adjusted, because that’s a huge part of the growth process is making mistakes if you don’t make mistakes, you’re not really going to grow and you’re not going to expand to that higher vision. So owning those failures, quote unquote, or those missteps, and using them to your advantage to continue to grow. I think just helping clients see where that is and how they could use that or adjust going forward.

Cait: It’s so beautiful. I feel you’re really speaking to one of these fundamental pillars of entrepreneurship, that it’s really easy to want to zoom past because it’s not as sexy to talk about and yet it is literally one successful entrepreneur that hasn’t had to learn how to integrate failures as feedback. 

Even when you’re talking about how you built your events company and reaching out on Instagram. Do you get all these sponsors? I’m sure you got rejected a ton of times but so many of you stopped at one of those rejections. We read on your bio, founder of Be Well Events and we’re like oh, my God this woman is a powerhouse. She’s freaking amazing. But you’ve had so many failures that have led to that ultimate success. I love the reminder you’re giving us of not stopping when you get those failures because that’s actually part of the building material of your success.

Kat: I think also using that feedback as growth. If I had done one event and it was a flop then I would say Okay, this isn’t something that the community is super interested in. Why? What part about it? How could it be made better or shifted to be something that people really love? 

And if it’s the total hit and I think you don’t know what works until you also see what doesn’t work and it could be just a subtle shift in how you’re talking about it or how that message is coming across to people.

How To Pandemic Proof Your Business

Cait: That’s really practical advice. I love that so much. I want to talk for a second Kat about and you’re such a perfect person to talk with us about it, but I want to talk for a minute about the future of wellness. I said before, we’re in a post COVID or this weird, maybe-still-in-hopefully-done with COVID world, where for a long time last year no matter what state or country for that matter you lived, in person classes, yoga, bar fitness, Pilates, everything was closed. 

I think for a lot of wellness professionals, that was really scary to even massage therapists and things that. So it was a really scary time, income-wise, and it really reminds me of the equivalent of when you remember last year when Facebook and Instagram were glitchy for two days, and all these business owners were like, Oh, my God, I need to build out my email list? 

I feel the wellness industry really had, along with several other industries, that shake up of realizing, Oh we’re so dependent on in-person what does it look to diversify? I just think it’s so incredible. So obviously, you’ve got your coaching business, you’re an in person yoga instructor, as well as do online stuff. But you’re also the CEO of an events company. And revenue wise last year still did better than even in previous years? And so how do we basically pandemic proof or future proof our businesses? As for people in the wellness industry? What does that look like? What does it look to diversify ourselves enough that everything doesn’t sink when a curveball happens the world’s getting shut down?

Kat: Yeah, I think that with everything getting shut down, it was a real nice way to be woken up to the fact of all of my eggs are in this one business basket and finding that diversity, but also, I saw a lot, specifically with yoga instructors, switching to that virtual model after of having been something they thought about for a long time, and they never ripped the band-aid off and took the plunge. Or they thought, oh, everyone’s already doing it, I’m going to be just another person showing up in a saturated market. And I just don’t think it’s right for me. 

But the fact is that if you are online, and you’re building out an arm of your business that is available to reach people from all over and not in your direct community, not only is that going to help you in a situation that if for any reason your local COVID situation happens, then you have the ability to reach so many more people, but also it allows you to expand outside of that 10-15 mile radius that a lot of service providers in wellness are stuck to if they’re just focused on in-person. 

I think a lot with the events, having that part of the coaching business was a total game changer and a total lifesaver. Also being able to just pivot and reprioritize and going back into how do you juggle all the different things? I think it really comes back to the priority. Prioritizing things at any given time.

How To Create In-Person Events For Revenue Growth

Cait: I think that the diversification and prioritization is massive. I think that’s such a huge, huge takeaway. I guess on the flip side now that the world at the point of recording this, who knows what it will be in August when we release it, but is starting to open back up. The world is hungry for events again, and I think that whether it’s in the wellness industry or even for entrepreneurs or coaches of every description, and consultants even. 

As a successful events company owner, what are some of the ways that we can start to think about creating in-person events as a revenue grower for the business, not just from revenue from ticket sales, but also the incredible undulations that can be made and the sales that can happen after that?

Kat: Yeah, great question. I view events largely as a community builder, which also can be a massive lead generation for any online programs or your other avenues of business. If they all tie in together and relate to each other in a cohesive way. Then they can just build off each other and I find that when people meet you in person, they connect with you. They see your energy they’re in that experience, especially if it’s an elevated really feel-good experience, then they’re much more likely to become a client or to want to continue that relationship going forward. 

So it really is a huge piece of growing any type of business doing events, connecting in person, as much as I think connecting online is amazing and so beneficial. I think that in person connection, and that connection through events is really unmatched.

Questions To Ask Yourself On How To Bring An Event To Your Community

Cait: I love that so much. If there are coaches listening to this who are like, Okay, this kind of freaks me out, but also I know that she’s right and this is a really good thing to do. What are some early, almost mental checklists, these sorts of thing? I know you got that Capricorn organized AF vibe, but talk to us about some of the things that even if you’re working with clients, and helping them think through how to bring an event into their community, to start to generate things what are some just high level? Some of those early questions to start to ask ourselves and things that our listeners can really think about and ruminate on moving forward.

Kat: I think definitely having clarity around what purpose the event is there for are you using it as a lead generation? Then how can you set it up in that way? When are you going to make time to talk about wherever you’d to funnel people into next? How does it directly relate? How does it speak to the same type of person that’s going to maybe go into that program? So having very clear intentions on what do I want out of this event? And what purpose is it solving? Is it going to be a revenue-generating event where I charge a higher ticket price for people to come?

Then I’m really focused on over-delivering my expertise at the event. Or is it an event that is more of a lead generation to funnel people into another program or into your community? Then how can you set it up that way?

So first, being really clear on what your expectations are, and who it’s for. Then a huge part of the event is partnerships to successful events, is finding people that are as excited about the mission as you and that are going to be ambassadors for this experience, or for this event. You’re telling all their friends and super excited whether that’s as simple as having volunteers that are really excited about the event or about what you’re doing, or that people that are partnering with you in form of speakers or sponsors, I even find a lot of vendors and sponsors, are really excited about the opportunity to share their brand. So they’re doing a lot of promoting for you. All of those different pieces allow the event to not only get more attention and more spread, but it’s the right people, and it’s from trusted sources that are as excited as you about it. 

One last thing that I see is to plan further ahead than you think you need to because I see a lot of people jumping in and are like, Oh, I’m gonna do this next month, and a lot of times, it really does take time and more time than you might think.

Cait: Yes, so true. I love that so much. I love everything that you said there about thinking about the purpose and the intention of it not just Alright, we’re gonna hang out, but what’s the intention? What’s the purpose? What’s the messaging around that? I think just good marketing in general. It’s connected to a deeper mission and not just as yummy vibes. But what is this really about?

I love that you spoke to having the forethought to think about where are people ultimately going here. So yes, it’s creating the most exquisite experience. I know you support clients with having a really detailed event checklist of all the stuff that you need. But then also thinking about the macro flow of the event as it relates to your entire product suite. So not just a jewel experience and making that phenomenal, but also where people move through after they go into the event. So it fits in. 

I love that so much. So beautiful. I’m curious Kat and this is a question that I ask all guests who come on to the show, obviously, it’s called Born To Rise. Honestly, I really love to bring in experts who are freaking crushing it but also who are human and who’ve gone through hard stuff and have had to kind of rise above that in order to make something powerful and beautiful. 

It’s not we’ve done that in spite of having gone through hard stuff and needed to rise from that. But we’ve done that that was a formative part of the journey and I’m Curious for you in your life or in your business, if there’s a particular moment that was really, really hard for you, and that rising above that has been a formative part of your journey in business or just in life in general, either one if it’s related to life, I know you mentioned your brother’s passing, and that was really formative for you. It could be anything that has shaped the trajectory of your business and success.

Kat: Yeah, definitely. My brother’s death was very impactful. In the moment, it led me down the opposite path that I wanted to go for a short time. So it really woke me up to the direction that I wanted my life to go, which started to give me this vision of the way I was living wasn’t the way I imagined my life looking. So it really woke me up to how do I want to live this one life? What do I want to be doing? What do I want to look back on and see? Did I accomplished or I did or didn’t live up to the potential that I knew I had inside?

So that was obviously a huge pivotal moment. And even though that happened when I was only 22, and I didn’t start my entrepreneurial official journey until I was 25, mid-20s, somewhere around there, it was the catalyst for that change in direction and those steps in a new direction. 

The second one that really got me out of my daily grind, and my autopilot mode, was my first yoga retreat, actually, which just gave me the space to really consider what I wanted out of life and what direction I was heading. I would say those two things early on, are what really kind of woke me up to doing living a totally different life.

Cait: It’s so beautiful. I really appreciate you sharing all of that and even sharing this really friggin hard thing happen and it was really hard and it led me in the opposite direction. But all of that going down the opposite direction and being really into partying and whatever that woke you up to what is now so deeply connected to your mission, which is creating powerful spaces of connection that don’t rely on basically numbing out but that relies on going deep. 

It’s it all gets to be. What I’m really taking away from what you’re sharing is that every challenge gets to be fodder when we have that growth mindset and allow it to be so even the really really really hard stuff and I think that’s absolutely such an important message. So thank you so much for sharing that. 


The last question I always love to ask for people come in the show is just if you could leave our listeners many of whom are women in wellness or women who are existing entrepreneurs wanting to be entrepreneurs, and just interested in leading their best, most radiant lives with a piece of advice, what would that be?

Kat: Stay committed to the vision and keep showing up for it. Keep following that call, keep moving in that direction, even if it’s not today, keep moving towards it and keep making those bold choices each day that are going to help get you there.

Cait: I love that the bold choices each day. So good Kat. Thank you so much. I feel you just dropped so many pearls of wisdom. where can our listeners follow along with you be connected with you, stay in the loop about your events in all of your offerings? How can people stay in contact with you?

Kat: You can follow me on Instagram at KatCynewski  or the event specific page is the Be Well Method on my website is BeWellEvents.com

Cait: beautiful. Thank you so much in all of those links. You guys will be in the show notes. This was such a good conversation Kat so many gems. 

Katherine: Thank you so much. Thank you so much, Cait. It was awesome to be here.

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Hey, I'm Cait!

Boss mama, wife, and 7-figure CEO empowering women to build profitable, purpose-driven businesses that change the world.

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