Giuliana Hazelwood is the founder of Lovely Healthy, the all-things-wellness brand she has been building for years. I’ve been friends with her since she first launched LH and was struggling to find local schools willing to let her use empty classrooms to teach yoga. She is living the juggling act of turning creative passion into a sustainable business. Below is my full interview with her, where she discusses working in niche communities, personal branding, and shifting offline work to the web.
Tell us about Lovely Healthy, who you are, and what you do.
I am a yoga teacher, wellness writer, and lifestyle coach in NYC. Lovely Healthy started as a way for me to organize what I was researching about autoimmune disease, healthy lifestyles and food allergies during the time in college when I became very, very ill. I’ve always been interested in health and wellness, but it wasn’t really until I got super sick that I realized that there wasn’t really anything out there that suited my needs. I wanted a one-stop resource for healthy lifestyle, healthy mindset, and healthy eating that was still relevant to modern, urban life. So now that I’m no longer sick and the blog has grown, it’s really just become a place where people can learn how best to care for themselves.
Like niche genres of music, the yoga community is tight-knit. What are some advantages and hurdles you’ve faced due to the closeness of the community?
The advantages to such a small community are really infinite. It sounds kind of silly, but it’s true: yogis are really, really nice people, so it’s nice to work with them. But it’s way deeper than that: there’s a term in sanskrit, kula, that goes back to an ancient tradition of spiritual practice within a community. Today, the term kula is more often used to a family, group, or community, but it’s interesting to note that the idea of having a close group of people walking the same path is so rooted in the ancient practices of yoga.
It’s the yogic way to help each other, to serve others, and to be kind and generous to each other. I know my teachers and colleagues will always be there for me, in any way they can. It’s such a blessing to work with people who uphold the belief that compassion and honesty are the highest values we can possess. That goes far beyond business and cuts straight to the soul.
I know I would not have been able to survive the year 2012 if I had been working in any other industry. On a deeply personal note, when my father passed away unexpectedly in May, the outreach from teachers, students, and people I have connected with through yoga was one of the most deeply moving experiences of my life.
The downside of the industry size is that it’s a numbers game. Sometimes studios simply don’t have a time slot for a new teacher. There’s only one cover of Yoga Journal per month.
While attempting to turn Lovely Healthy into a more stable business entity, can you touch on branding yourself and what that process has been like?
The process has been amazing, and actually parallels a lot of the work I do on a spiritual and emotional level. As a yogi, I’m constantly observing myself in order to learn and then change what is not ringing true to my purpose on this Earth. I imagine it’s very similar for artists who are always evaluating what they create and asking themselves how they can create a product that more effectively represents what they are trying to say.
So as far as branding and marketing goes, it’s really been a project of asking myself:
- Who am I?
- What am I here to do?
- What do I have to say?
- How can I serve others?
- Who can I serve?
- Is what I’m doing in alignment with my true purpose?
When I can answer these questions, the work of branding kind of happens naturally.
For example, I pretty much just woke up one day and realized “oh this website has looked the same for three years and looks nothing like what I want it to communicate. Time to change. Boom.” I finished the re-design in a day and got a HUGE response from it. Because I was aligning more closely with what it is I’m here to communicate, and the people who are supposed to resonate with my message were able to connect more effectively.
The challenges I have faced all stem from the fact that I don’t exactly know what I’m doing here. I’m flying by the seat of my pants and just recruiting my intuition and the help of great people to figure it out along the way. But honestly, I kind of prefer it that way. I’ve never been a recipe-follower, and I really don’t believe there’s any black-and-white secret to success. I’d much rather be doing it my way, with integrity, and with the help of amazing people.
The work generally done in your field is live, in-person, with the client. I’ve written about turning offline activity into online growth, and vice versa. How are you using that concept in the work you do?
The internet and yoga are becoming fast friends. As yoga teachers and wellness advocates, we have the potential to reach a crazy amount of people with one blog post, one facebook status, one video podcast. It sounds ridiculous but it’s true. So to go from teaching a class of 20 or so students to reaching hundreds and thousands of people is an amazing opportunity for people in this field.
For me personally, that means more video content, more engagement with students and readers on social media, connecting virtually with other people in my field, and getting involved with major media outlets. I used to really resent social media, communications, and technology. But the way I see it now is: if you can’t beat ’em join ’em… and inspire ’em to do some yoga and drink some green juice along the way.
5) Where can we find more from you, and what can we expect in the upcoming months?
Lovely Healthy is going to the next level. I just launched LovelyHealthyTV, my most exciting addition to the Lovely Healthy brand. I’m hiring an intern to help with crazy cray design stuff, and also just finished up with a new designer to roll out some fresh logos. I also love love love connecting via Instagram and Twitter, which I’m still a bit of a luddite with, but is a great way to connect with wellness homies all over the world.
In short, Lovely Healthy is about to become a multimedia, super-interactive, ultra-inspiring, playground for health and wellness homies to get DOWN(dog) with their bad selves. And you’ll want to be able to say you knew about it before it got too cool, so come on over and ch-ch-check it out.
For more information about my teaching, background, and philosophy, you can visit my personal site, www.giulianahazelwood.com.