So you have a great idea for a new business that can solve a problem and make an impact.
Should you jump right in and get to work?
Maybe. But not necessarily.
Sometimes we have to test drive our ideas, not only to learn and better understand what the work is all about, but also to stay true to our values (e.g. stability, finances). After all, for many of us, jumping full time into a new business isn’t an immediate option.
This is why I was so excited to to interview Neelu Shruti, owner and founder of Love Child, a boutique studio offering yoga classes, and prenatal and postpartum support.
Neelu started Love Child part time, but is now running it full time. In this interview, we discuss (1) how to make your dream a reality when you have a full-time job, and (2) how creative thinking can help you overcome significant challenges and help you achieve your goals.
Give us some background. Where are you from, and where did you start out?
I’m from Hyderabad, India. I went to the Rishi Valley School in India, founded by the philosopher J. Krishnamurti. I came to the US for college and went to architecture school in Austin. After graduating, I moved to New York and worked in several architecture firms for about seven years. In 2015 I opened Love Child, a supportive space for expecting and new parents in NYC.
What is your mission, the work you want to do?
My mission is to make pregnancy, birth and new parenthood an empowering experience for people.
Can you recall any experiences that led you here?
I had always loved yoga from my time at the Rishi Valley School, and one winter I completed my 200 hour yoga teacher training.
I always thought that when you were pregnant, you sat back on the couch, took it easy, ate for two and somehow, somewhere a doctor would deliver your baby. It wasn’t until I went in to observe a prenatal yoga class during my yoga teacher training when I was blown away.
I had never seen pregnant women, in their third trimester, moving, sweating and working. Immediately the parallel between prenatal yoga and birth became clear to me. You wouldn’t show up to a marathon without training, so why not the same for birth.
I dove in and completed my prenatal yoga teacher training, and taught prenatal yoga but it wasn’t until my yoga clients asked me to be present at their births that I took on the role of a doula. It’s such an honor to be asked to be present at such a special time. I couldn’t refuse even though it meant being ready to cancel everything else for 48 hours at a moments notice.
When I noticed that my work in the birth field was much more rewarding, I left the corporate world to create Love Child.
It was a slow process. For a while I worked in architecture part time, taught yoga and did yoga and doula work part-time.
Since prenatal yoga classes weren’t always at convenient times, I started looking to rent space in dance studios to host classes. A listing popped up in my neighborhood for a space and so I started out as a pop-up prenatal yoga studio.
What challenges did you face along the way, and how did you overcome these challenges?
The biggest challenge has been feeling unprepared for the next step, embracing the unknown and moving forward, believing that the vision you have will work. Not dogmatically, but with flexibility and knowing you’ll have to evolve and adapt. When I look back, the low points, have always lead to the biggest most incredible opportunity.
Can you give us an example of a low point that led to a big opportunity?
I had run Love Child successfully as an eight-month pop up, and decided to sign another eight-month sub-lease. Two months into the sub-lease, the store closed its doors.
I was left in the lurch, just as I was building momentum. I spent a month scouring the neighborhood for other sublets, and entertained the idea of hosting classes in my apartment.
It was the uncertainty of that month that pushed me to think creatively about how I could do things differently. Fortunately, it turned out that the landlord was very excited about what I was doing. Rather than convert the place to a chain store, he gave me the opportunity to expand.
Having thought of a million different ideas, I prepared to create not just a yoga studio, but a community-gathering space. The Love Child Collective was born.
I would never want to go through that again, but it’s true that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. That is – if you can stay agile and creative, and focus on your vision in tough situations.
Let’s chat more about creativity. When are you most creative?
I’m most creative when I’m inspired but the follow through on that creativity happens when I’m most disciplined and work toward a goal.
Can you give an example of how you use creativity at work or to solve a problem for yourself?
For a lot of people, creativity is about emotional expression. For me, coming from an architecture background, creativity is about problem solving, filling in the gaps and making connections that others might not see.
Whether it’s the design of the spaces, creating new programming, marketing or communication, or building client relationships, I give myself boundaries. Say this is my budget, time and goal. After setting those parameters, it becomes easier for me to imagine different outcomes.
I think teaching yoga requires creativity as well. What do you do when you have two parents, a toddler, a crying baby, and a pregnant woman in the same class?
It’s challenging and requires experience, knowledge and out-of-the-box thinking!
What are your favorite go-to resources or experiences to help you build your creativity?
Conversations. Talking to other people, watching people interact and trying to anticipate what their needs might be and how I can create a unique experience for them with whatever resources I have at the time.
What advice do you have for 20 to 30-somethings who want to make an impact through their work but are currently feeling stuck?
Make your passion your work. It may be a slow build, but just start. If it doesn’t work the first time, try it differently. Do it in small increments. We can’t all afford to quit our day jobs. But for anything to happen, you have to conceptualize and dream it first.
Have you been thinking about launching a side hustle but you don’t know where to start? What obstacles are in your way, and how can you use creative problem solving to take action?
Share with us in the comments below, and download the 3-step guide to help you get creative so you can solve almost any problem. (Work Bigger-approved resources included!)
Cover photo is by wocintechchat.com.