Gwen Taylor knows this struggle well. She founded ,Wind and Soul Eco-Lodge and Retreat Center in 2018 in order to reconnect with her own core values, and to provide a place for other busy people to enjoy nature and rediscover the things that are most important to them. If you’d like to support Wind and Soul, you can ,donate to their crowdfunding campaign or ,sign up for their newsletter.
Gwen recently sat down with EnrichHER to discuss what inspired her to start her business, what Wind and Soul hopes to bring to the world, and some things she’s learned along the journey.
If you’d like to be featured in EnrichHER’s Founder Spotlight series, email Victoria at victoria@iEnrichhHER.com
EnrichHER: What motivated you to start your business?
Wind and Soul: When I launched Wind and Soul, it came from a very personal space. It stemmed from a desire to change the way I was living my life, because it just wasn’t working for me. I was unhappy; I was overwhelmed; I was constantly busy. I was working all the time and it was gnawing away at my soul. I frankly had no interest, or enthusiasm, or joy in the work that I was doing. I was acting in a way that was inauthentic. I noticed that my energy was all knotted up and there was simply no space in my life for any resonance, any connection. And I had a strong desire to come back to myself and just listen to what exactly it was that I wanted. And I finally reached that point of no return. There’s that thunderbolt—a realization that if I do this thing, it’s going to be completely different.
I was sitting on the floor of my son’s bedroom. It’s the middle of the night and I’m in a ball on the floor. I’ve got my laptop with me—its light is the only light in the room. I’m wanting so desperately to be with my son, even if the only way to do that is to listen to him breathing while he sleeps. And I just need to do that because I haven’t been with him all day. I was exhausted. I felt like I was failing as a mom, failing at my doctoral program, failing at my job. All I wanted to do was go to sleep, and wake up the next day and spend time with myself so I could figure out how to create a good day. So it was in that moment where I’m trying to wake up my son, stifling my ugly hot tears, just a puddle of pathetic on the floor. But I had that lightning bolt moment. And then I started to just let it all go. I quit my job. I was scared but I did it. I quit my PhD program because it was not serving me. And I said, I’m going to do something altogether different.
I never thought that I would become an entrepreneur. I had to take stock of my life and really examine what mattered to me—my core values and the things that I love. That’s how the idea for Wind and Soul came about. I believe in strongly contributing to the preservation of the environment. Our time here on the planet is a gift. I’m also a lifelong practitioner of yoga, and it has taught me to be a better person.
EnrichHER: I think lots of women entrepreneurs can relate to the feeling you described of being overextending and yearning for more balance. Can you say more about how you try to get your customers to a better place in their lives?
Wind and Soul: We are an eco-lodge that is designed to be a place of introspection and reflection. It’s a place to experience the healing effects of time outdoors in a healthy way. The premium here when it comes to the audience is inclusivity and access; that’s a big deal for me and how I want my customers, visitors, and guests to experience Wind and Soul. I believe that yoga and wellness should be accessible to everyone, really, regardless of where you came from, what you look like. None of that matters, as long as you’re experiencing the joy in discovering wellness. And I think that fresh and healthy, organic, locally grown foods, foods that want to grow where they are, should be readily available to everyone. I think environmental sustainability is a necessity. So we try to bring all those things together in the experience we offer our guests.
EnrichHER: What’s one thing that you’ve learned while on your journey as an entrepreneur that you didn’t expect?
Wind and Soul: There is a lot of learning that happens on this wild ride. I think one thing that I didn’t expect is how effortlessly I fall into this every day. I don’t have a wealth of knowledge or experience or training in this. I wasn’t sure that if after it got hard, I’d kind of say, “Well, you know, I tried that. Let me throw in the towel and I think it’s out of my system.” What surprises me in this learning journey is how willingly I find myself recommitting to it every day. I’m a pre-revenue startup. So at the moment, I’m not making a dime. I don’t care! To put groceries on the table, to keep the bills paid—I work odd jobs. I just want to be exactly where I am.
EnrichHER: We like to give our entrepreneurs the last word in these interviews. Any final thoughts to share with the community?
Wind and Soul: First, I want to say thank you. EnrichHER Society has opened so many doors that otherwise wouldn’t have been made available to me. I’m so glad to be a part of a community of women supporting women, because when we do that, everyone is better and stronger. In terms of final thoughts, I would want to help people learn things that have been uphill battles for me, like learning to say no, or being able to ask for help. Those sorts of things I had to learn the hard way. Look closely at the things that bring you joy and curiosity and interest and grab hold of those things—do them. That’s what starting and building a business is. Even if you don’t know exactly how to do it, do it. That’s what I would say.