Bright Spot Studio wonderwomen

I’ve had the pleasure of working with some awesome people over the past 10 years. In recognition of Women's History Month, I'm featuring a few of my amazing female clients. These women are doing what they love while juggling parenting and a pandemic.
Here are their stories:

Kelly DiNardo

Owner of Past Tense yoga studio (and freelance journalist) in Washington, D.C.

Bright Spot Studio client Kelly DiNardo

Learn more about Kelly's yoga studio at pasttensestudio.com. Check out her freelance journalism at kellydinardo.com.

Opened studio: 2009

Why did you decide to start a yoga studio?
In 2008, I was a full-time freelance journalist, part-time yoga teacher and regular yoga studio hopper. When the recession hit, a lot of the magazines I was writing for either folded or had substantial cuts. My boyfriend-now-husband asked what I would do if I weren’t a journalist. I said I’d open a yoga studio. I’m not sure where that answer came from, but it took hold. I hadn’t found a studio that I really connected with as a student, and I recognized a need for one in our neighborhood. So ultimately, I opened the studio I wanted to practice at. Thankfully others felt the same way! Journalism is still very much alive, and today I juggle both jobs!

What's your favorite part about owning a yoga studio?
The people. I have a lot of joy in my practice, and I love sharing that with my community.

What was the biggest challenge you faced?
Before the pandemic, the biggest challenge and the biggest joy were the same: people. Hiring a team, managing schedules, communicating with and holding space for students (especially when they’re stressed out and really need yoga) can be really difficult. But when it goes well, and I see that all the work matters in someone’s life, well, there’s all the joy.

How did the pandemic affect your business?
The pandemic was absolutely brutal. We closed our physical studio for almost 18 months and moved to a new location that required a full build out. It was a massive financial struggle. We are on the brighter side of recovery but still very much in recovery mode.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business?
Don’t let fear stop you. I was definitely naïve to what I was getting myself into, and I’m so grateful for that. I think if I had known, I would have let fear stop me. And the things I worried about before we opened are absolutely not the challenges I ended up facing.

Megan Barnett + Lee Carson

Co-owners of Florasophy in Portland, Ore.

Bright Spot Studio client Florasophy

Learn more about Megan and Lee's organic fiber supplements at thinkflorasophy.com.

Launched their business: December 2020

Why did you decide to start Florasophy?
We developed Florasophy because Megan (functional medicine nutritionist) couldn't find a product that did all the amazing things that she knew soluble fiber was capable of. When we and her patients started using her blends, we knew it was something special that we wanted to share with as many people as possible.

What's your favorite part about being entrepreneurs?
We love being able to focus our professional energy on projects that we're passionate about and that align with our values. In addition to Florasophy, we both own other businesses (Megan co-owns BioLounge and Lee co-owns Hyatt Training). It's important to us to not only provide great products and  service, but also to build cultures and environments that are inclusive, honest and welcoming.

What was the biggest challenge you faced with your startup?
Things move much more slowly than we're used to in the service world. The biggest challenge with Florasophy has been understanding that things can't always be on the upswing. When you put yourself out there to create something new, the corrections can be challenging.

How has the pandemic affected your business?
Truthfully, the pandemic helped inspire us to create Florasophy! Health is always important, but even more so during a pandemic. And given that we both have very full lives, we might not have had the time or bandwidth to create Florasophy if our other in-person, service-based businesses hadn't been impacted by the pandemic.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business?
Going it alone can be tough. Finding a complementary partner can make a world of difference—and a lot more enjoyable! Being clear and honest about roles, strengths and expectations upfront is key to long-term success.


Ellen Sheng

Freelance writer and editor in metropolitan New York, NY

Been her own boss: Since 2010

Why did you start freelancing?
I wanted to try different things and have more control over my time and what I write about.

What's your favorite part about working for yourself?
The control. I can plan my schedule, the types of content I want to focus on, shift my areas of interest and go after the types of clients I want to work with.

What's the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
There are ups and downs to freelancing—projects get cancelled or delayed—and that can have a direct impact on your earnings.

How has the pandemic affected your business?
Things slowed to a halt at the start of the pandemic. Many content marketing clients didn't know what to do so they put things on hold. But there were a lot of opportunities for journalism so I shifted to do more of that. Then, everything came roaring back that summer, and it's been busy ever since. I think many companies see the importance of telling their stories through content marketing.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start freelancing?
Find successful freelancers who are doing what you want to do. Study their career path, what they're doing and whom they work with. Also, get to know other freelancers. I get a lot of work from other freelancers. What's right for you may not be right for them so it's a win-win.

Bright Spot Studio client Ellen Sheng

Learn more about Ellen's freelance writing and editing services at ellensheng.com

Neha Patel

Psychotherapist in the suburbs of Chicago, Ill.

Bright Spot Studio client Neha Patel

Learn more about Neha's clinical practice at nehapatel.com

Been her own boss: Since 2005.

Why did you decide to start a private practice?
To provide the best possible care without the limitations that other settings may have. I also enjoy the flexibility of being able to set my own hours.

What's your favorite part about being your own boss?
Having a vision for my practice and being able to implement it at the highest level.

What's the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
Insurance companies that want to dictate treatment rather than allowing me to determine what I think is best and medically necessary.

How has the pandemic affected your business?
We’ve moved from in-person to significantly more telehealth. As a result, many more people have access to mental health services.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start their own practice?
Talk to other business owners in your field to discover different ways you can set up your business. Learn from the challenges they've faced.

Rachel Katzman

Owner of Sweetly in St. Louis in St. Louis, Mo.

Been her own boss: Since 2014

Why did you decide to start your own business?
When my three daughters (two with special needs) were all in school and things were calmer during the day, I wanted to do what made me happiest—and that was baking. I had no idea at the time that I would be making such detailed custom cookies. I am self-taught with a degree from "YouTube University"!

What's your favorite part about being your own boss?
I love taking a blank cookie and turning it into something special. I also love seeing customers being overjoyed when they pick up their cookies. Giving people food has always made me so happy. It truly is the connection that brings us together and brings so much joy. To have a hand in that process fills my heart.

What's the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
Mastering the different consistencies of royal icing and how they work to create details in each cookie design as well as learning what to do first. It's quite involved!

How has the pandemic affected your business?
Things came to a halt for about 6 weeks. But then people started gathering in smaller groups and ordering cookies again. I also made a ton of emoji cookies with masks!

What advice would you give someone who wants to start their own practice?
Do what you love. I love being alone in my house, focused and in the moment. Decorating cookies gives me all of that. It keeps my mind still and fully present, which I struggle with most of the time.

Bright Spot Studio client Rachel Katzman

Learn more about Rachel's custom cookie business at  sweetlyinstlouis.com.

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