Michelle D’Avella is an author, certified Breathwork facilitator, and spiritual mentor. She helps her clients empower themselves to heal their emotions and transform painful experiences into valuable life lessons.
Michelle is an advocate for showing up for yourself, honoring the healing process, and creating a soul-fueled life. She has been featured in Forbes, W Magazine, MyDomaine, and more.
What's special about your work at Pushing Beauty?
I help people process their painful life experiences move through areas and times they feel stuck. All of my work incorporates Breathwork, a powerful healing tool which helps us quiet the mind down enough to feel our emotions and connect to the truth within us.
What was your main motivation to start a business?
I have always been highly driven and creative and right out of college found myself partnering in a denim store in Philadelphia, a clothing line, then a graphic design business, a dog bandana company, and so forth.
I didn’t intend to create Pushing Beauty, but it was a feeling in my soul desperate to come to life. I felt very called into the business of healing from my own experience healing. I naturally shared what I was learning and a business emerged.
How did you start it? Did you have any previous experience as an entrepreneur?
As mentioned above, I had a lot of experience starting and failing businesses. This was the least intended to be a business and the one closest to my soul. I didn’t put pressure on it to be something that it wasn’t ready to be. I allowed it to grow and evolve along with me.
How did you validate your idea?
Haha it sounds like I am going to be giving some unconventional answers to these questions. I didn’t really. I wrote from my heart and shared and allowed myself to be vulnerable. I received feedback from people that my writing was impacting them. They felt less alone.
I often receive the message that I put into words the experiences they couldn’t. That motivated me to share more, but for me the sharing and creating has always been a necessity of my soul. I believe I would be doing it even if it wasn’t my business which I am very grateful for.
How did you finance your project?
I was running a graphic design business at the time, but most of the work I do doesn’t need funding. I write and because I have a graphic design background I am able to create anything I need to make my work look somewhat professional.
How did you market and promote your business when you were launching?
When I began writing my blog I didn’t have any offerings aside from a private Breathwork session or maybe a virtual group breathwork session at the time. I wrote for a couple of blogs who featured my work and that would get some traffic to my site in the beginning.
How long did it take you to start getting the first results and see you could create a viable business ?
I wrote for a few years before I started having any opportunities to make money. When Breathwork found me I didn’t intend to teach it, but I ended up being drawn to a training and then people in my life began asking me about this work. This business for me was very organic at first.
I knew it was the work I am here to do, so I set intentions every morning to have the time to be able to focus only on Pushing Beauty. One year it happened. All my graphic design work slowed down and I instead of freaking out I started focusing more on Pushing Beauty because that’s what I asked for.
I created workshops and online offerings that really resonated with people, and I knew I could make this my full time work but I was also opening to shifting if I needed to. Pressure kills creativity.
What are the main ways in which you are able to monetize your activities ?
Working with people 1:1 brought me most of my revenue and then working in groups and creating guided meditations helped subsidize my income.
How long did it take you to switch full time to Pushing Beauty? What has been your revenue progression as a side hustle?
After starting my blog at the end of 2012, I made $10, 000 in 2015 mainly through 1:1 mentoring. I knew then that Pushing Beauty could be more than a side project. In 2016, I dedicated more to Pushing Beauty and also developed new offers like workshops and online mentoring. My revenue progressed to about $50 000 that year.
In 2017 I made about $80 000 and was able to quit my graphic design job to focus full time on Pushing Beauty. I'm on track to make over $100 000 this year (2019).
What do you like most being an entrepreneur?
I have always loved the freedom and flexibility of being an entrepreneur. I like to create my own schedule and work from wherever I happen to be. I also love to play around. I love creating new programs and offerings based on what I notice my client and students needs are and what wants to come through me.
What has been your biggest challenge/failure as an entrepreneur?
Allowing myself to be seen and heard. I actually created a program called Overcoming Fear of Being Seen & Heard in Your Business about everything I’ve learned which might be a nice offering for your readers and would be happy to do a promo code.
(Check out the program and use the discount code INSPIREDTOSTART for $5 off if you're interested in it. This promo code ends June 14th 2019, so act quickly.)
You have several activities like coaching, blogging, podcasting, book writing... How do you keep focused to make sure your business is moving forward without spreading out ?
I am not strategic about this like some people I. I work on what feels most important to me at the time. I haven’t written much this year because 1:1 work is taking up so much time but that’s OK with me. There are no rules. You get to run your business the way you want to. I’m not interested in burning out to live up to the belief that I have to do things a certain way.
What are your business goals for this coming year?
This year I am focused on my 4 month program called Relentless Healers: Grounded Soul. It sold out the first run and I will be opening it again in the fall. I am also going to be moving my 6 week course on working through depression to a digital platform for self study which I’m really excited about because it’s an important offering that has really helped some people.
How can an aspiring entrepreneur start building a business now as a side hustle? What would be a good business type to start as a beginner?
I am all about what I call a Soul Based Business. I’m interested in creating something that adds value and that feels true to me. I think that is going to be different for each person. My biggest advice is to not be afraid to start and to not be too attached to it being the way you think it should. Allow it to breathe and grow.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I’m not a perfectionist. I have quality standards and once I hit them I don’t hem and haw over tiny details that will hold me back from sharing my work with the world.
What's your favourite quote?
I think for the purposes of this interview the Teddy Roosevelt quote that is at the center of Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly is pretty appropriate.
It goes, “ It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Any good book to recommend to an aspiring entrepreneur?
I don’t really read business books anymore but in my early twenties I read a whole lotta Seth Godin.
Learn more about Michelle and her work at www.pushingbeauty.com and follow her on Instagram for daily doses of inspiration.
Here's a video where Michelle shares her story on finding her soul work.
Find more of Michelle's side hustle story on this Side Hustle School episode .
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