We interviewed Marina Zelenovic from zen beginnings and found that, though she’s got a tonne on the go with her business, as well as two young children at home, she manages to maintain an inner calm throughout it all!
1.Tell us about your business.
Zen Beginnings is a multi-disciplinary wellness centre and yoga studio that focuses on prenatal, postnatal & parenting issues. We offer wellness services that are safe during pregnancy, postpartum as well as for infants, kids and all family members, such as: Acupuncture, Bowen, Doula, Lactatation Consultations, Massage, Naturopathy, Nutrition & Psychotherapy. We also offer workshops to take the stress out of: Pregnancy, and Parenting. We have: Childbirth Prep classes, Breastfeeding & Newborn care classes, Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy, Natural Therapies for Common Pregnancy Ailments, HypnoBirthing®, Sleep Training, Post-Partum Care & various parenting classes and moms groups. We provide free childcare when new moms want to take a yoga or pilates class or have a much needed massage or other treatment. We are also the only place in Toronto to offer Itsy Bitsy Yoga® a special style of yoga that is great for babies from birth to 4 years of age, that helps not only develop the bond between child & caregiver, but also helps with physical development of the child. Lastly, we offer yoga for kids (3-5, 6-9, 10-12), teens and families. Our teen groups also address issues such as: body image issues, bullying and fitting in.
2. Other than being an entrepreneur, who are you? Tell us about yourself.
I am a mom of two girls, 2 & 4 years old. I started off as a nutritionist and worked with many elite athletes, from the Argos, to the Leafs, Jays and even Olympians. But my true passion was helping kids start off on the right foot, nutritionally speaking. I love giving parents the tools they need to help their kids live as healthy lives as possible, with minimal use of medications. I am also a childbirth educator, and love helping women make informed choices during their pregnancies and feel empowered in the process. I love yoga and love it even more when I do it with my two girls.
3. What motivated you to go into business for yourself?
I have always wanted to help people and dreamed of creating a space where people would learn the tools they needed to live more healthy and balanced lives, without feeling overwhelmed. There are lots of wellness centres and there are even a couple of parenting centres, but there are few that are both. After becoming a mom I realized that women are most vulnerable during their pregnancies, and that not all treatments are safe, nor are all therapists qualified to work with pregnant women. I wanted to create a place where women knew that no matter what treatment they received during pregnancy it was SAFE and all under one roof. Also, there are many natural treatments that are very good for even very young babies or kids, that many parents do not know about, and by having a place that focuses on prenatal-parenting, customers can feel confident that any and all therapies are safe for all members of the family. I wanted to help empower women when they tend to feel most vulnerable. Maternity leave & Parenting can also be tough, and isolating, especially in our society, and I wanted to create community here at Zen Beginnings. A place for women (and men) to get together to learn valuable tools to help them be the parent they want to be, while also providing them with various fitness classes, treatments and a place to get together and just hang out with other moms (over a tea) who may be dealing with the same things they are. A place to feel safe and secure, supported and informed A place like this did not exist and so I wanted to create it.
4. How do you overcome challenges and obstacles in your business?
We ask our customers what they want and listen to what they tell us and come up with new programs or workshops to meet their needs. The biggest challenge has been getting our name out there, and in that regard we have tried many and various avenues to reach our customers and continue to do so. I think that with any new business finances are always an obstacle, and this is an ongoing struggle. Getting advice from professionals has been very helpful.
5. What are your greatest strengths as an entrepreneur?
I am very open to hearing opinions. We have a large staff here and everyone brings something different to the table, and it is nice for me to be able to consider various options before making a decision. I am very level-headed and adaptable. I do not have a problem changing that which is not working or trying something I had not considered before. I also have a lot of experience working with people and I listen to my gut about things. I also have learned how to delegate that which can be delegated.
6. What is one piece of helpful advice you would give to other entrepreneurs?
Write a business plan and talk about it with different professionals. Tweak it as needed. Having a plan is like having a map and will help you get to where you want to go.