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Freelancers, Remotes, Location Independents, Digital Nomads & Entrepreneurs

FDN Life Magazine Issue 10 - Jan to December 2021

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SOFIA REGO
– RUNNING A SOLO HOLISTIC HEALTH & WELLBEING BUSINESS

AN INTERVIEW

SOFIA REGO - SWEDEN ENTREPRENEUR - RUNNING A HOLISTIC HEALTH WELLBEING BUSINESS

FDN Life Magazine Issue 10 (July-Dec 2021) - Sofia Rego - Running A Holistic Health & Wellbeing Business

Name: Sofia Rego
Age: 35
Business Name: Fia Ayur Wisdom
Type of Solo Business: Holistic Healthcare
Location: Sweden

FDN Life Magazine Issue 10 (July-Dec 2021) - Sofia Rego - Running A Holistic Health & Wellbeing Business

The signs of summer can be seen everywhere in Sweden today. People flee the city en masse to go to the idyllic countryside for the weekend. There are smiles on faces young and old, and you might even get a hello from a couple walking their dog. The water of the Stockholm city harbour glimmers in the sun, while row upon row of cruise ships are docked, eagerly awaiting the return of their passengers. 

Holistic health and wellness solo business owner Sofia Felicidade Rego drinks in all the sights and sounds around her. As on most weekdays, she is on her way to her rented office located several miles away via subway in Hälsans Hus. 

“I know most location independents don’t like to commute, but I enjoy it. Perhaps it’s my outgoing, extroverted nature,” says Sofia. “I enjoy external engagement and can’t sit for long in my apartment. Furthermore, the 40 minutes’ commute to work is my best time for brainstorming and thinking about the day ahead.”

“I know most location independents don’t like to commute, but I enjoy it. Perhaps it’s my outgoing, extroverted nature,” says Sofia. “I enjoy external engagement and can’t sit for long in my apartment. Furthermore, the 40 minutes’ commute to work is my best time for brainstorming and thinking about the day ahead.”

Sofia started her business, Fia Ayur Wisdom, in 2018, after quitting her career as an Early Child Care Educator at an international preschool. “I love working with children,” Sofia says. “One can learn a lot from them. During my time at the school, I noted how stressed these little children were. ‘Ayurveda would help them and their parents so much,’ I thought. Back then, my wish was to offer holistic health and wellbeing support to children and their parents. Unfortunately, this was a complicated endeavor and difficult to fit into the firmly set Swedish preschool curriculum.”

After realizing her career was not going to allow her to advance the way she had dreamed about, she resigned and took one month to really think about what she wanted to do. As she is a lifelong educator, she decided to create a holistic education and teaching platform for parents and children, which later developed into Fia Ayur Wisdom.

“Since childhood, I’ve always been sensitive. Internally and externally,” Sofia confesses. “My dyslexia often caused issues in school, making me feel inadequate and not quite as clever as the rest of the kids. It was the 1990s, when the most common misconception was that kids with ADHD and dyslexia were lazy and unfocused. As a former teacher, I thus completely understood the suffering many children and families experienced.” 

“Fortunately, my mother and grandmother supported me and tried their best to help me. Eventually, I realized that human beings are all unique, each with their own set of skills and characteristics. I came to accept that academics would never be easy for me, but I learned to cope and realized that I was much better at practical things. I found immense joy in dancing and reading about holistic healing therapies.”

Sofia qualified as a professional Ayurveda holistic massage therapist in 2004, working her way up the ladder as a therapist at some of the most prestigious five-star hotels and spas in the world.

Her clients included accomplished sports stars, wealthy business people, and A-listers from around the world. 

“Perhaps it’s a cliché, and I’m definitely not one for putting anyone on a pedestal, but meeting someone whom you’ve only seen in magazines or heard about often inspired me to become better and more accomplished. At the end of the day, the A-list guest in my therapy room was a human being just like you and me, trying to find their way in the world, coping with internal issues, and making the best of every opportunity that came their way.”

“It’s unfortunate that we often become envious of successful people who have more than we do. It takes hard work to be successful, and a great level of determination and focus – skills I’m still working on today. But I’ve learned the hard way that opportunities are made, not given. You really have to apply yourself in business to get contracts in. Nothing comes by itself. However, it becomes easier the more you get out there, connecting with like-minded people and continuously improving yourself. It’s part of the process.”

Sofia confesses that she never realized how much stress entrepreneurs had to deal with daily. “I was tired of working for other people,” she says, tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear. “I wanted to be able to help people in a wider way, something I didn’t feel I could do as ‘just’ a massage therapist. I wanted to do more to spread awareness of Ayurveda and my unique take on holistic therapy, which includes the spiritual and emotional, not just the physical.” 

As Sofia reaches her office, she unlocks the door. “Welcome to Fia Ayur Wisdom.” 

The smell of white sage and palo santo wafts through the air, instilling an immediate sense of calm and serenity. “I’ve worked hard at creating a space of warmth, acceptance, and peace for the many wonderful people who approach me for therapy each day.”

The next couple of hours pass in a whirlwind. Sofia prepares the treatment room diligently for each client and takes the time to consult with each before and after their treatment. 

Her empathy for her fellow man is evident in the kind and comforting way that she helps people open up to past traumas, struggles, and physical discomforts. Her motherly aura and the space she has cultivated work together to put her clients at ease to deal with these difficult things and leave stronger in body and spirit than when they walked in.

“Therapy is not just about the body,” Sofia says. “I divide my time between holistic and traditional healthcare, and traditional massage certainly provides me with the opportunity to meet more people, but often I can’t help but mix in elements of my other treatments, even with the classic treatments. It’s literally in my fingers, and my clients feel it. Even if it sometimes feels like the equivalent of fast food, spending only 30 to 40 minutes working with each client, many of them come back for other treatments – and that’s when I can make the biggest difference.”

Sofia emphasises the importance of a holistic approach to life and wellbeing. “It’s so important that we as human beings and healthcare workers understand the connection between the mind, body, and spirit. Therapy works best when we focus on the whole of you, or holistically, as taught in Ayurvedic practices for thousands of years. Unfortunately, in our modern world, we’re used to everything being available to us instantly, and usually through just a click, making wellness therapists focus more on turnover than on the clients. 

“Most companies and spas focus more on revenue than on actual patient health and wellbeing. Though we all need to earn a living, there is a difference between earning a living that is honest, just, and beneficial and one focused on short-term financial gain. When I created Fia Ayur Wisdom, my aim was to apply my knowledge of Ayurveda with modern treatment techniques to create a holistic, all-encompassing treatment regime that would be beneficial to my clients in the long term. All Ayur Wisdom treatments, therefore, are focussed on healing of the mind, body, and spirit in unity.”

Just after lunch, Sofia greets a first-time client in the waiting area and walks him to the treatment room. During the pre-treatment consultation, he describes not being able to relax, either physically or mentally, and not being able to shut his mind down. As they talk, he describes what he expects from this session. Afterwards, when he emerges, he declares, “You are a healer!” and books a follow-up treatment for the following week. “I combine what my clients tell me with what I feel intuitively that their body needs,” she says. “After the treatment, I guide the client to dress, take a seat, and drink some water as we go over the treatment they have just received. Seeing the joy and relaxation in their faces tells me everything, even if some of the clients are lost for words.” 

“Is it not tiring to work each day with so many clients?” I ask.

“It can be,” says Sofia. “That’s why I prefer doing energy work.”

“Energy work?”

“Energy work can be either reiki, chakra healing, crystal healing, access bars, or Akashic record healing,” says Sofia. “Think of energy as ‘house cleaning’ – it’s something that needs to be done every so often, especially if you’re feeling blocked or heavy in mind, body, and spirit. Energy work by itself can help release stress, pain, and tension and is very calming to the mind. Combined with massage, I’ve seen amazing results. After all, massage is also energy work but on the physical plane,” Sofia explains. “Most people have misconceptions about energy work, and a lot of people don’t know what it really is. I help people break it down, bring awareness, and, with their permission, let them experience the energies for themselves. Some clients feel a difference right away, whereas others might need several sessions before blockages and issues are worked through.”

The sun won’t go down for another few hours yet, though it’s just after 8 p.m. In the summer, days are long. Sofia cleans up and starts heading home to views even more breathtaking. Sunset colors the world in a golden hue, stretching its rays across the buildings as far as the eye can see. “Seeing this on my way home reminds me of how blessed I am. I’m filled with gratitude for what I have and what I am doing. 

“For me, a day spent with clients is a day well spent. I feel as if I’ve had another day of pursuing my passion for helping others. The walk from my office to the subway is my personal time when I ruminate on what I’ve talked about with clients, and that gives me so much energy back, together with a sense of peace,” she says with a smile.

Sofia confirms that if she were still living in India, she would never have started her own business. She encourages people living in Sweden to take a chance and to register a company.

“I completely understand the stress of starting a first business. Fortunately, the correct information is readily available, well-structured and in multiple languages. The government has a website (verksam.se) where you can find an easy-to-use step-by-step guide to registering your company, irrespective of what type of company you want to set up. You can even pay and finalise registration in just a couple of hours.” 

HELPFUL LINKS

  • Solo Trader Link – Sweden.
  • The Company that helped me register my business was Almi.

Sofia recommends that beginner solo entrepreneurs start with the basics. Trusted friends can help you with stuff that you are not good at (web design, writing, branding), but consult with professionals when it comes to business registration and taxes. She also recommends starting small and building a quality brand founded on the principles of trust, honesty, and wellbeing for all. 

“I was lucky to be selected after applying to a business program for women provided by Impact Hub. It’s a program for startup businesses. The program gave me the foundation that I needed to kickstart my lifelong dream. The program also helped me focus on the things I’m good at and developing a brand that I’m rightly proud of today.

“Many people see business as a way to make millions, climbing the ladder to success at the cost of hurting their bodies, their mental wellbeing, and the people in their lives. I don’t want my business to be like that. Instead, I see business as a holistic entity meant to help solve the problems of everyday human beings – people like you and me who go through the ups and downs of life, trying to make sense of everything.

“I know this might sound like wishful thinking. ‘Come on Sofia,’ you say. ‘Business is brutal.’ 

I, like many others, also have those low-energy days when I would love to be a millionaire and sit on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean, enjoying the sun. But I’ve learned that I would also like to see a world where more people uplift and support each other, which will lead to a world more at peace in which every person prospers, instead of a select few.

“Each person should follow their purpose,” Sofia says, “whether that is through a skill or a trade that you are truly passionate about, while receiving a fair energy exchange for the services you provide. This is one of the things that motivated me to create a holistic concierge service, currently in the form of an Instagram page where holistic professionals and experts from around the world can share their services and also connect with one another in a community that benefits all from the services we collectively offer.”

Sofia emphasizes that if humans work together, they can create a holistic network whereby everyone can benefit, not only financially but in mind, body, and spirit.

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SOFIA REGO

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