Chasing Dreams Interview with Mia Bell: From Med School to Beauty Industry

This interview is part of the Chasing Dreams interview series. I’ve interviewed a variety of entrepreneurs and small business owners who have chosen a different path in life in order to go after his or her dream career. Have an entrepreneur in mind you’d like to learn more about? Let me know! Mia Bell is an entrepreneur who completely switched paths to pursue her dreams. She was studying to be an eye doctor when a professor unknowingly sparked the flame that would later become her passion and business helping natural, organic beauty and lifestyle brands get their spots on store shelves (and thrive when they get there).

So many of us are afraid to listen to our gut, thinking what we'd love to do is too hard, too late, or too different. But what's the cost of not trying?

Mia's story is proof that you can change directions, no matter where you are in the process.

Let’s dig in!

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At what point did you know you wanted to follow this career path? How did you know this was the right direction?

My pivot into the Beauty Industry happened while going through my pre-med studies in college. I wanted out!

This was quite a shock because I had been so set on becoming an Eye Doctor. But none of it felt right anymore. My intuition was telling me that I was meant to serve in a different way. I finished up my Bachelor’s degree and moved to Los Angeles where I enrolled in FIDM's Beauty Merchandise Marketing program. While there, a teacher said something that turned everything I believed upside down."Ladies, we are being exposed to toxins through our everyday beauty products." It sounded like complete crazy talk. But after taking a cosmetic chemistry course, it dawned on me how liberal beauty companies can be with the use of questionable ingredients. And how easily accepted it is!

There just HAD to be healthier options out there. For several years I did sales & marketing for mainstream beauty companies all while desperately searching for natural, conscious product alternatives. I even had a blog where I would write about my product discoveries in Spanish. It was the first of its kind at the time.

Getting to know many small natural brands through the blog, I quickly learned about their struggles with getting their products into more stores and ultimately getting them into the hands of more people. I knew just how to do that thanks to my work at larger companies.

Every fiber in my being pushed me to honor that call. Everything about it felt RIGHT.

What are the biggest struggles you've faced while trying to achieve your dreams?

Being okay with the unknown. Nothing and no one can fully prepare you for what you'll encounter on the way towards achieving your dreams.

Some days will test you. Some days will lift you. I’ve learned that you just have to keep going!

Owning your own business can be tough on the body and mind, between long days, instability and really putting yourself out there to reach your goals. How do you stay healthy? Do you have any rituals that help you stay centered?

I'm a recovering, busy body workaholic. To some this may sound downright silly. But it’s a real thing that if left unchecked can be crippling physically, mentally and emotionally.

I've finally learned from all of my burnouts. So, to help minimize anxiety, I cut out caffeine 4 years ago and I even make it a point to enjoy all meals slowly at the dining table (not on the fly, not in the car, not at my desk). I routinely listen to guided meditations so that I can reduce frantic thoughts and meet everything throughout the day with full energy and a clear mind.

And to recharge, I've been following a great piece of advice lately- do activities you used to do as a kid for fun! That's been a mix of tree climbing, hiking, hitting some softballs, reading every night, taking naps, coloring (yay for adult coloring books!) and making special trips to be near a river, lake or the ocean. I highly recommend doing this!

To do great work, you've got to show up as your best possible self.

Speaking of putting yourself out there, overcoming rejection is a big part of chasing dreams. How do you bounce back?

My work is primarily in the sales realm. I've been rejected thousands of times!

Rejection is a key part of making things happen. 

It can be your biggest teacher. In the early part of my career, hearing "no" was devastating. But my mindset about it has totally changed. I get up every day not looking to avoid the 'no's", I get up looking for the people that are going to say "yes!" And if it takes me getting past 5, 10, 20 "no's" to find that 'yes' then so be it.

The 'yes's' to what you want are out there and you have to find them.

What do you do when you're having an off day—maybe feeling down, struggling with self-doubt, or just unmotivated?

I first process my thoughts out loud. So yes! I talk to myself!  I then retreat to a quiet place, cuddle up with some tea and I read or watch something that will inspire me to get through it. I’m also incredibly fortunate to have tribe of strong, business women that I can text or call at any moment.

It's absolutely important to have a support system that can relate to you. You need your peeps!

What is one misconception people have about you and/or your profession?

That it's superficial. I'll admit that conventional beauty companies, their messaging and their sales tactics are completely profit driven but the blooming niche that I serve; ethical, health conscious, natural beauty has a more positive mission.

These small, independent companies are passionate about making the world a better place in so many ways. They sell their products in sustainable and renewable packaging. They use wild crafted, all natural and organic ingredients that you can pronounce (even eat!). Many are vigilant to source from ethical organizations that pay fair wages and respect this earth. They formulate high performance, effective products without harmful chemicals, questionable fillers, nono-particles and contaminating plastic microbeads. These brands don't believe in testing on animals. There are even vegan brands which formulate their products with no traces of animal derived ingredients.

And as a community, their messaging promotes the acceptance of your own authentic beauty. It’s a wonderful and exciting space to be a part of!

What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way?

Oh do I have a big one! It's realizing that I am the only one in charge of my happiness and destiny.

I resisted this idea for a long time. We give too many external factors power over us (other people, the economy, the "I don't have's", the "I don't knows", the "because of x" excuse).

Once I took complete ownership of my path and life, I stepped into a place of knowing a truth- that I have everything within me to succeed. If I don't have it, I will find it. If I don't know it, I will learn it. If it's not given to me, I will ask for it. If it's not in front of me now, it will surely be there soon.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow a path similar to what you have?

Reach out to me! I absolutely love connecting with other like minded folks.

And additional advice I would give is this- START.

Don't wait for perfection. Start where you are today, with what you have and do the best work that you can.

Everything takes longer than we expect. Don't delay your dreams even more by waiting for things to be perfect.

To be honest, it will never be perfect because what you create and who you are will always be evolving. That's the beauty of the journey. Just START.

When do you feel the most inspired, alive and the most like YOU?

When I'm in a true place of service. This means giving of my time, heart, skills and knowledge to causes and entrepreneurs that are doing kind, generous and impactful work. And of course, being around other dreamers!

What people, books, music, etc. inspire you?

I've always been inspired by the works of Mother Teresa, Oprah and Maya Angelou. Marie Forleo (Marie TV), Hilary Rushford (Dean Street Society). Carrie Green (The Female Entrepreneur Association) and Angela Jia Kim (Savor The Success) have been business mentors from afar.

Must-have books on to have your list:

  • The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist
  • Go-Giver's Sell More by Bob Burg and John David
  • Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less by Greg McKewon

And lately, Pandora's Tropical House station has been inspiring a pep in my step!

Describe your favorite moment or accomplishment in your career so far.

There have lots of great moments in my career thus far but my most favorite moment is now. MIA BELL BRANDS is in the middle of its 3rd year in business, my team is happy, my clients are amazing, our retail partners are wonderful and I have a family that supports me in all that I do.

Being grateful for the now is important. And I trust that the future will be just as beautiful!

What’s the most exciting thing going on in your life right now?

2 things: (1) My son just turned 2. He's quite the ray of sunshine! (2) I'm preparing for the next stage of growth for MIA BELL BRANDS which will be a combination of hiring additional staff, offering even more business classes for indie beauty brands and finalizing several new ventures. Can't wait to be able unveil everything!


About Mia Bell

Mia Bell is the CEO & Founder of MIA BELL BRANDS, a national sales representation and business development firm for brilliant, natural beauty & lifestyle brands. A beauty product lover since grade school, Mia was shocked to learn about the use of questionable, toxic ingredients by some of her favorite brands. Armed with her sales and marketing background she joined the growing Healthy Beauty movement. Today, Mia and her team help get safer products onto store shelves and teach conscious companies how to thrive in the marketplace.

Website // Instagram 

Mia Bell Retail Strategy Firm

Chasing Dreams Interview with Dana + Bridget, Founders of Crop Tops & Kale

This interview is part of the Chasing Dreams interview series. I’ve interviewed a variety of entrepreneurs and small business owners who have chosen a different path in life in order to go after his or her dream career. Have an entrepreneur in mind you’d like to learn more about? Let me know! Today’s interview is with Dana Barron and Bridget Shannon, founders of Crop Tops & Kale. CT&K helps women enhance their wellness, beauty and style in a simple, minimalist way. Their message and work are completely in-line with my values, and we hit it off right away during our first meeting.

Plus, both Bridget and Dana are graduates of The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and Bridget was previously the social media director for IIN. I just love how they approach wellness and life in general from a minimalist, approachable perspective.

I had chills while reading this interview because you can feel the passion and dedication they have to their vision. They're both so honest about the fear and excitement of starting a blog and business that I promise you'll come away feeling inspired for your own path.

Let’s dig in! (and stay tuned, because you'll be hearing from them again on my blog in the future.)

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At what point did you know you wanted to follow this career path? How did you know this was the right direction?

It’s been an evolution. We've both always known the nine-to-five lifestyle wasn’t for us, but there wasn’t a single aha moment. It was the culmination of saying yes to ourselves and what we were interested in a thousand times as we went along. In shifting our own limiting beliefs as to what’s possible and committing to trusting ourselves and our intuition. The path really started to roll out when we got clear on what we actually wanted to do and not just what we thought we should be doing. Our initial concept has evolved over the past year, and we’ve pivoted a few times. Adopting a minimalist and essentialist mindset was key to gaining this clarity and direction.

There is so much noise. So much distraction, especially online. We can’t do everything—so what is it that we REALLY want to do? What is the impact we REALLY want to make? We just kept asking ourselves those questions.

What are the biggest struggles you've faced while trying to achieve your dreams?

The voices in my our own heads. A positive mental attitude is the number-one thing that decides what we can do and what we cannot do.

Dana: For me, that means staying out of my own way so I can stop doubting myself and just sit down and do the work that I know deep down is valuable. It’s a daily practice to stay on the right side of it.

Bridget: For me, this means deciding what is most essential in my life, and asking what it would take to achieve my dream (moving out of the city and leaving a comfortable job to do the work that matters most). Removing the ego from the equation has been huge.

Owning your own business can be tough on the body and mind, between long days, instability and really putting yourself out there to reach your goals. How do you stay healthy? Do you have any rituals that help you stay centered?

Dana: Sleep, abstaining from alcohol, and exercise. Sleep is number one. If I’m not sleeping well, everything goes to hell. And I actually quit drinking alcohol entirely for 90 days as a sleep and mood experiment. It’s incredible the positive impact it’s had. I'm sleeping like a champion now. And when I don’t drink at all—as opposed to a glass or two a few nights a week I was having—my mindset, which I mentioned above, is exponentially easier to control. And I’ve also been battling anxiety for most of my adult life, but when I cut alcohol out, it almost entirely evaporates. It’s mind-blowing. And exercise, specifically circuit training, helps me stay clear and energized. So nothing ground-breaking here but, getting good sleep, abstaining from the booze, and working out have been doing the trick for me. Oh, and I’ve recently been really into reading Mike Dooley and Gabby Bernstein as mental exercise—staying in my "trusting the Universe" mindset.

Bridget: I recently moved and am working rough hours, so staying healthy is a work in progress at the moment! But there are a few simple things that when overlooked can totally throw me off. Sleep and exercise are huge. When I’m sleeping seven or eight hours a night and working out regularly I have more clarity, energy and enthusiasm. Another big one for me is unplugging. Lately my tendency is to turn on the computer first thing in the morning, and I have a hard time checking out at night. When I leave zero time for disconnecting, it not only takes away from sleep and exercise, but can lead to more anxiety and frustration. I’ve learned how to say no to things I don’t want to do that may pull me out of balance. A few rituals that help are long walks with my dog, reading a good book at night and cooking healthy meals.

Speaking of putting yourself out there, overcoming rejection is a big part of chasing dreams. How do you bounce back?

Dana: One of the best ideas I’ve extracted from the hundreds of self-help and business books I’ve read is from Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. In it, Ruiz says, "Don’t take anything personally." I try to keep that in mind at all times.

Bridget: Trusting the process has been key for me and knowing that things have a way of working themselves out, regardless of what you expected or thought the outcome might look like. You have to put yourself out there if you’re going to be writing and working online, so learning to let go of other people’s opinions is important. Also, having a solid back-up plan and surrounding myself with people I love and trust has given me the confidence to go for my dream.

What do you do when you're having an off day—maybe feeling down, struggling with self-doubt, or just unmotivated?

Dana: I cry. I take a hot shower. I curl up in bed with a book. I talk it out with my husband. I find that when I’m struggling with self-doubt, the best plan is to just go do something else, take my mind off of it. And come back to the work when it’s passed.

And I always try to remind myself that just because I’m thinking something, doesn’t mean it’s true. twitter icon

Bridget: A friend once told me that when she was training for a marathon, she constantly repeated to herself “one foot in front of the other.” I apply this logic to anything I struggle with, from a long run to an awful day. I try to keep in mind that everything has an end point, so this day WILL be over and tomorrow I’ll feel a lot better. I allow myself to let it pass and tackle the next day with new energy.

What is one misconception people have about you and/or your profession?

Dana: That blogging is easy or that you just write posts and that’s all there is to it.

Bridget: Ditto.

What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way?

Both: It’s so much easier (and more fun) when you have a partner who shares your mission!

What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow a path similar to what you have?

Both: Just start. You’re not going to get it right the first time. Just get going. It will evolve. twitter icon 

And remember that it’s not about you, it’s about the value you’re creating for other people. That always helps us when we’re scared to ship something.   

When do you feel the most inspired, alive and the most like YOU?

Dana: Right after I’ve written something I’m really proud of or read something that really resonates.

Bridget: Helping someone. Whether that’s through writing, a conversation or an action. When I can do work I love and feel passionate AND it helps someone—that’s magic.

What people, books, music, etc. inspire you?

Lately Erin Boyle at Reading My Tea Leaves, Caroline at Un-Fancy, The Minimalists, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown, Miracles Now: 108 Life-Changing Tools for Less Stress, More Flow, and Finding Your True Purpose by Gabby Bernstein, and Manifesting Change: It Couldn't Be Easier by Mike Dooley.

Describe your favorite moment or accomplishment in your career so far.

Dana: I ran a cleanse a few years ago. I had about 35 women enroll. One of them was a woman in her 60s living in Maine, a friend of my sorority sister’s aunt (I love when stuff like that happens!). When I spoke to her after the cleanse, she said her husband wanted to send me flowers. Because after doing the cleanse for just ten days, the chronic pain she’d been living in since her bout of Lyme Disease—a decade earlier—had totally vanished. She felt like she had her life back and her husband wanted to know who gave him his wife back. She cried. I cried. We all cried. I can’t remember ever feeling so professionally fulfilled. It reminded me that there is always SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE who needs what we have to offer the world. Our job is to do the work, put it out there, try to find them, and give them all we’ve got when we do.

Bridget: A big turning point in my journey was deciding to leave my full-time job to go after what I really want to do. There were a lot of factors involved and a ton of fear, and but I’m really proud of the decision because it was the first time I stood up and declared “This is what I want to do. I know it’s going to be hard and it’s risky, but it’s worth it to me.”

Another favorite moment was when we agreed on our partnership terms at a bar (after about three beers) on a cocktail napkin. Maybe not the most official process, but it meant we were both all in. I still have the napkin.

What’s the most exciting thing going on in your life right now?

Dana: This project with Bridget. It’s basically all I think about these days. There’s so much good we can do and most of the time, it’s super fun. It’s so exciting to do the work and watch something grow.

Bridget: Starting this new chapter. I’ve never been more pumped about work and all the possibilities life has to offer. Change is scary, but it’s incredibly liberating and exciting.

About Crop Tops & Kale

Minimalist Health CoachesDana Barron and Bridget Shannon are the Co-Founders of Crop Tops & Kale, a website dedicated to living healthier and happier through the pursuit of less but better. After years of studying personal development, lots of trial & error, complicated diet protocols, and several wardrobe malfunctions, they've figured out a formula to live happier, more fulfilling lives. They write about simple wellness, safer beauty and minimalist style to help readers live their best lives and make the world a better place.

Website // Instagram // Pinterest

My Experience at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition + Special Offer

I officially graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition as a Health Coach two weeks ago. It's hard to believe it's already over. I wanted to recap my experience while it's still fresh in my mind, PLUS I have a great special offer for anyone who enrolls with me as a referral.

Summary

You'll hear the same thing from most IIN graduates. The experience is life changing. You'll learn to think critically about what you're putting into your body and how your lifestyle affects your overall well-being.

You'll not only learn over 100 dietary theories, but also about the sustainability of our food choices and how big business impacts the USDA guidelines. This leading-edge nutrition information comes from the top experts in the field of nutrition and health.

Looking to turn your passion into a full or part-time business? You'll also receive the necessary business and marketing training through the program.

Integrative Nutrition's mission is to “play a crucial role in improving health and happiness, and through that process, create a ripple effect that transforms the world.”

Watch this video to find out why the world needs health coaches.

Why I Enrolled

It's hard to pinpoint the exact reason I enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. It was the perfect storm of interest in nutrition; major health struggles between my fiance and I ranging from migraines to Ulcerative Colitis; and searching for a more fulfilling career, whether that be part-time or full-time. All of my reasons are enough for multiple posts, so I'll save all of that and jump into the details!

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Community

The community at IIN is one of the best parts. Connecting with people all over the world who are interested in alternative medicine and holistic nutrition is amazing. I was part of the May 2013 class, which had around 1200 students. We had a Facebook group for our class and numerous side groups for specific topics, such as Plant-Based Eaters, Women's Health or Blogging.

We had students from all over the world, of all different ages and from all different career backgrounds. You'll encounter medical doctors, pharmacists, school teachers, stay at home mothers, and anything else you can imagine.

Students are encouraged to create a study group in their geographic locations. After you graduate, you'll start coming across other graduates in your every day life. I promise you'll be immediate friends.

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Classes + Curriculum

The curriculum is separated into 40 modules, with 10 modules per quarter and 4 tests (one at the end of each quarter). It's recommended to spend at least 5-10 hours per week on your course work, or potentially more if you're ready to plan a business or already have one. Between the tests you can go at your own pace with the modules. You download them to your Apple device and listen to lectures and read PowerPoints at your leisure. You'll also receive a workbook that contains your assignments. These are optional, but I highly recommend completing them!

The course work is a mix of nutrition, business/marketing and coaching skills. Even if you plan to create a product, open a yoga studio, or just want the nutrition knowledge for your family, all of these skills are applicable to every day life. You'll learn over 100 different dietary theories, but you'll also learn how everything works together holistically. You'll touch on topics such as positive psychology, relationships, sleeping habits, and so much more. A recurring theme is bio-indivuality, which is the belief that no one diet is perfect for every single person. This also applies to lifestyles. From veganism to the paleo movement, you'll help people find what's right for them.

You'll be able to access your course work for life, as long as you download it to your device. This is a plus for me, because sometimes it takes a few times of hearing something for it to sink in!

You'll have the opportunity to apply for AADP (American Association of Drugless Practitioners) membership and also to apply your certificate toward credits to a growing variety of college programs. More information can be found here.

After the normal one-year period course, you'll also be able to enroll in a the Immersion Program. This is geared toward those who are ready to take their businesses to the next level. I'll be enrolling in the January Immersion Program and can't wait. From what I understand, you can complete Immersion as many times as you like.

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Tests + Requirements

We had 4 tests during my class with two chances to take the test. We had a 2 week window to take each test, so that was perfect for those who were extremely busy. The staff and curriculum creators at IIN really understand the fast-paced lifestyle that nearly everyone has, and has developed a way to work around it. Keep in mind that the curriculum is constantly updated, so I can't promise that's how it will be.

During my class we also had to complete coaching calls (small groups discussing the curriculum) and practice "health histories." So, despite the school being a distance learning, go-at-your-pace style, there was plenty of hands-on learning and communication.

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Overall Pros
  • Great community of people. You're sure to make life-long friends
  • Diverse education on nutrition
  • Skills to build a business and help others achieve their health goals
  • Manageable for those working full-time, mothers and busy people in general
  • Taught by the leading nutrition experts
  • Continuously updated material so it is never outdated
  • A variety of payment plans are available
Overall Cons
  • Some people in my class complained that they wanted more nutrition information and less business. I wouldn't personally say this is a con, but it's the only one I can think of. The education sets you up to seek out information and how to make sense of all the different theories floating around.
  • I would have enjoyed a little more science behind the information. The more in-depth information can be found in the books written by the presenters, however.

 

I am in SUCH a better place in life since completing the program, both mentally and physically. There were many times when I doubted myself, my business ideas, and my goals, but everyone is extremely supportive at IIN. It takes courage and dedication, but you really can have the life you want. You just have to create it. Plus, everyone is a work in progress at all times. Nutrition, health and wellness are an ongoing education process.

Enroll and let IIN know that I, Danielle Zeigler, referred you, and you'll receive up to $1000 off tuition + any other special offers going on right now.

Please contact me at danielle[at]daniellezeigler.com if you have any questions or would like to know more. It was hard to include everything I wanted to in this post without making it extremely long!