Name: Diana Marie Estey
Business: Alive Anew
Located: Wellesley, MA and Mill Valley, CA
Diana Marie Estey has long been an outdoor enthusiast and a health and wellness buff, and she’s always relished having the freedom and creativity to do her own thing, too. Years ago, when she was working as an outdoor educator in three different states, Diana started running her own weekend trips on the side. She loved offering clients thoughtfully planned excursions for cross-country skiing, kayaking, yoga and more. Eventually, Diana opened her own business, Alive Anew, offering instruction for individuals and groups in outdoor fitness, yoga, meditation and mindfulness. In addition, Diana began leading weekend retreats in New England and Northern California and longer hiking and yoga retreats in Baja and the mountains of Europe.
We spoke with Diana about creating a business based on her love of communing with nature while helping clients build a strong, flexible mind, body and spirit.
Diana, you were working fulltime in the outdoor industry when you started running your own business on the side. What inspired you to add to your already full plate?
Being an entrepreneur had always appealed to me. I like the creativity of working for myself, as well as the flexibility and independence that comes with it. When I first started offering weekend retreats, I discovered how much I enjoy creating really fun opportunities for people to be together, to be outside and to challenge their body. I love building a sense of community and connection.
Today, I spend about half my time working in the public sector – I teach yoga for various studios – and half focused on private instruction and coaching through my business. And every summer, I spend several weeks taking groups of 8-10 people on hiking and yoga retreats in countries including Switzerland, Italy and Germany. I love seeing people feeling happy, excited and energized by an outdoor adventure.
Did you always imagine you’d work in the outdoor/health and wellness industry?
I’ve always been drawn to working outside, but I never expected to become a yoga teacher. I started taking yoga classes during a time of personal transition, and from there, I decided to get trained as an instructor. I knew being a yoga teacher would be a bit more lucrative and reliable than teaching kayaking!
There’s always so much to do, and I have to take care of everything myself. Ideally, I know I should hire someone to focus on things like social media and marketing, but it’s a bit of a catch 22. Investing in marketing costs money, but my business won’t really grow unless I make the investment. That’s one of the reasons Alive Anew has stayed fairly small.
I built my own website in the beginning, and that was a big challenge. Recently, I hired someone to help me with my new site.
Has your approach to running a business changed over the years?
I’m definitely more deliberate in my planning these days, whether it’s for a trip, a class or creating some other type of content. I put a lot of time into making sure I’m offering my clients something inspiring and meaningful.
One thing I’ve always been good at is trusting my gut. My own yoga and meditation practice helps with that, and I’m usually very clear on what’s a good idea and what isn’t. I’d say it’s my strength. Trusting my instincts has helped me avoid having difficult clients in the yoga studio or out on the hiking trails!
What shifts in the industry have you observed?
These days, everyone knows about yoga and mindfulness, and everyone is hungry for it. People want connection, centering and stress relief because they are inundated with input all the time. Now they’re looking for ways to reconnect, to get a hold of themselves. I’d say this shift has been noticeable in the last ten years or so, and in the last five years, there’s been a surge of interest.
For my part, I’m doing more and more meditation and mindfulness work. I’ve practiced yoga for so many years now, there’s a real growth opportunity for me to explore things like Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). It’s fascinating.
Diana, what keeps you going on a tough day of working for yourself?
My work and my practice keep me going. When I learn a new yoga technique, focus on meditation or get outside to move my body in the fresh air, I’m re-energized and re-inspired. It’s really about doing for myself exactly what I teach. &nbs
QB Community members, tell us about the passion that inspired your self-employed profession. How do you stay connected to that sense of joy now that you’re running your own business?
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