Raspberry Interviews: Amanda Rootsey
Let’s jump right in. Amanda, what is your purpose here on this wonderful earth?
Starting with the big ones! For me it's to really simple - to remember my true nature, find Heaven, Sammadhi, get back to God - whatever you like to call it. So I do my best to always tune in to what feels right and be guided to do whatever I'm supposed to here. And while I'm here I want to help, have fun, love and try to live as gently as possible on the Earth.
How did you come to be where you are right now?
The biggest turning point for me was coming home from modelling in Europe to be diagnosed with cancer at the age of 24. To hear the doctor say that I had cancer totally shook my world, but I'm so grateful for it. I spent two years fighting it with natural and conventional treatments but most importantly, I changed my life. My partner and I simplified, went vegan, started meditating, rescued our adorable staffy and really embraced each moment.
Once we got through those two years, we lived totally off the grid in a recycled shipping container for a year or so to recover. It was a beautiful experience being so connected to nature and relying so heavily on the sunshine for power, the rain for our water and the Earth for our food. I eventually got my energy back and wanted to share some of what I had learned with young women. I had a background in teaching deportment and modelling courses so I merged those skills with subjects like self-worth, positive body image, healthy eating, natural skin care, yoga and more to create a training school for teen girls called Shine From Within.
Having spent so much time modelling I do still love fashion but these days I work exclusively with eco-friendly and ethical brands, am an Eco Style columnist for Nature & Health magazine and am an ambassador for the College of Natural Beauty and also Clean Cut Fashion, Australia's industry body for sustainable fashion. I'm also on the board for Fashion Revolution Day, which raises awareness of ethical working conditions in the fashion industry.
I also love helping women to feel more gentle in their life and tread a bit lighter in a way that feels right for them. I do this through my Gentle-Living Coaching.
What does your current business look like? How has it evolved over the years?
My time is divided between the projects above but I would say 80% of my time is focussed on Shine From Within. We now run programs in schools, on school holidays and Sisterhood Evenings once a fortnight for teen girls to come together and support and celebrate one another.
We've tried lots of new things this year, got in to the schools and developed the one-on-one mentoring for teen girls as well. We've also got an online shop now where we sell our favourite brands of skincare and make up that are all locally-made, chemical-free and actually work!
As it's evolving it's been really interesting to see where it wants to go...sometimes what I think and plan for is just not meant to be so I'm learning to let go a little and go with the flow. The results are usually a thousand times better than what I had been plotting and planning for! The more time I spend with teen girls and their Mums, the more I understand what's going to best serve and support them.
What values drive you to serve people the way you do?
A belief that all people deserve to feel happy and full of love. I think if we can start with the young ones then we can help to build them up and support them to shine their brightest.
A belief that all creatures, great and small, deserve to be here, deserve care and love.
A belief that we have a responsibility. A responsibility to take care of these precious bodies of ours (or something drastic could happen to wake you up!), a responsibility to follow our heart and serve the world in a way that feels right for us and a responsibility to take care of the world around us.
I am super inspired by the home you've built with Dave and your staffy Trudi. Could you tell us a little bit about it, what made you decide to go down this route, and how it affects/integrates with you and Dave both working for yourselves from home?
The home we've built is a two-bedroom pole home on a very steep block in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. It's a regular home (a big step up from a shipping container cabin - but that's a whole other story!) with 2 water tanks and it's own waste-water treatment system - which are both pretty standard in a semi-rural area. We spent time on the design and layout of the house as well as the positioning of it to ensure it was as efficient and comfortable as possible. We spent time researching and met with a draftsman who specialises in eco-friendly design who gave us tips on where to put extra big windows to capture the warmth from the sun in winter and how to position the place so that it was cool in summer and warm in winter. We went with a local builder who specialised in pole homes and could build something for our very tight budget, while also being able to manage the whole process because we had no idea what we were doing! As we made our selections for materials throughout the process we went with eco-cladding and other sustainable choices where possible. We've styled it simply with furniture we already had and a couple of extra hand-made or second-hand things.
We've been in the place for about a year now and the way we use the house has evolved a few times already. It's open-plan with one bedroom and an office that has bi-folding doors between the office and living room so we can open it right up or close it off when I have a coaching call or need some privacy. The action of closing up the doors at the end of the day helps me to switch off from work and enjoy the place as a relaxing home after-hours.
Dave hand makes a range of organic beard and hair care products called D+T and as his business has grown we've moved him out of the office and created a packing station opposite the kitchen so he's much more organised now (and I get the office to myself which I'm quite enjoying!). He takes over the kitchen when he needs to blend and the whole house smells of essential oils. We've got windows everywhere (probably a few too many in hindsight) but it means we always have a beautiful breeze and lovely views of mountains and trees from each room, including the office.
Talk us through what typical day (or week!) in the Amanda Rootsey world might look like:
Most days I wake up and take Trudi out for a walk down to the creek where we have lots of play time and I'm usually oil-pulling at the same time (which gets quickly discarded if I need to call out to Trudes!). I then usually come back and meditate on the deck before getting clear on what I need to do for the day and having breaky with Davey. Sometimes I'll sit straight down to work but I don't like doing this often as I find I can just get so engrossed in it before I've really got my head right for the day. Every day is different as sometimes I'll have coaching clients that I'm meeting via Skype, whether it's a 16y.o. girl in NZ or a 20/30-something woman wanting to feel more peace in her life. Sometimes I've got online orders to post out. Sometimes I fly to Sydney to do a fashion shoot with one of my eco-fashion clients. A couple of times a week during school term I'll have classes to go out and teach in the afternoon at a local school. During school holidays I might have a week-long Shine From Within course running in which case all I do is get up, get ready and go and then come home and collapse in the evenings!
The things that are usually pretty constant in my day are a few hours of admin/marketing work each day and I try to fit in something fun at least twice a week (outside of my work, which is all fun anyway!). Lately I've been making it down to Noosa beach for a swim in the middle of the day to break up my working day and a SUPyoga class on a Saturday morning.
I don't tend to take a whole weekend off and I'll sometimes work until 1am and other times I'll have an afternoon nap or an early night...it's always different and I'm getting better all the time at just trusting what I feel like doing and knowing that I will get everything done. And I do. :) It's when I push myself that I can burn out quickly and am totally useless so I try to remember what I'm always harping on about myself - be gentle!
Writing it all out seems like a big jumbled mess but I love the variety and creativity it allows me and somehow it all fits nicely together.
Down time, and work vs. life balance. How do you make it work?
I just try to give myself reasonable deadlines and find that having a mastermind buddy really helps to keep me accountable. She pulls me up when I'm trying to fit way too much in and celebrates the little victories with me. Working at home together with Dave makes the world of difference too - we pull each other out of our work zones and have a nice meal together, take Trudi outside for a walk or get out for a coffee date to mix things up. I'm still working on the art of saying 'no' but I'm getting much better at it!
What has been your most rewarding project to date, and why?
Hmm I think the Shine From Within week-long Personal Development Course is my most rewarding project. It's such a fun week for the girls and I've really put my heart in to it. We also have some pretty amazing people involved that come in and teach their expertise to the girls. Over a full week about 10 girls, aged 13-17, get to hang out together and do things like yoga on the beach, DIY facials with fruit, learn how to make their own green smoothies and bliss balls with Adele from Vegie Head, learn about movement and how to nourish the body, learn about job interview skills and first impressions, communication and friendships, help each other uncover their strengths and they even do a photo shoot where they learn to do their own make up, work with a stylist to come up with a couple of looks from their own wardrobe that make them feel really confident and beautiful and do a shoot with a professional photographer. The reaction when they get to see, with their own eyes, how beautiful they are in these images is really incredible. The thank you cards, letters and feedback from the girls and parents makes it feel extremely rewarding.
What three key lessons have you learnt in your entrepreneurial path, which continue to carry you forward?
Trust yourself. It's so easy to go and ask for everyone else's opinion on everything but we're all so different and have different priorities and different ways of working.
Connect. It's hard to put yourself out there sometimes but we can get so focused on creating the perfect offering that we forget to connect with the people who need it.
Systems and admin stuff is important. :) My brain doesn't work so well with this sort of thing but when I get systems in place it makes life easier and smoother.
What doubts or fears have you had to face during your entrepreneurial journey?
Can I really survive doing this??? But I've been doing it long enough to know that we are always looked after. We are supported and when I start to freak out that the bank account is getting a bit low, money comes in from somewhere. In saying that too, I had a little admin job on the side for years and that helped me to feel comfortable and gave me the space to work on the things I wanted to. This was another fear of mine for a little while...am I a failure if I can't work in my own business 100% of the time? But I always enjoyed that break from my own work to work in someone else's business for a while - it often gave me clarity. I've learnt not to stress so much and compare myself to others...it's so easy to see other people's success and start doubting your own. But I'm happy, I get time with my little family and feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. To me, that's all that matters.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out?
You can do it! Find a way to work the way you want to. Check in with yourself and trust yourself. Find a coach that you feel comfortable with to get clear on the first steps and just go from there.
Please tell us your favourite:
- Book: Autobiography of a Yogi
- Website: Zen Habits
- Early morning activity: Playing with Trudi
- Late night activity: eating miso noodle soup on the couch with Davey watching something crappy like Gossip Girl.
- Gourmet snack: Edamame.