It’s an ever-inspiring experience to connect with amazing female entrepreneurs that make the SoulPowered community so diverse, authentic and exciting. And, let me tell you, this edition of our #WomenWhoLead series highlights a woman who embodies ALL of those attributes.
I am thrilled and honored to introduce Alex Mazerolle as the most recent innovative, influential and inspiring female entrepreneur I had a chance to interview for our #WomenWhoLead initiative.
Alex is the epitome of a leader and entrepreneur at heart; someone who has forged her own path in life since early on in her professional career.
From owning two businesses in the movement and mindfulness world to being a catalyst for big conversations amongst women in the Vancouver B.C. area, Alex leads in every aspect of her life. She’s also a testament to what being a conscious entrepreneur means, navigating business and life with a clear vision and understanding of how she is contributing to her community, leaving a legacy of future women leaders in her wake and creating tangible change and impact all around her.
Join me in welcoming Alex to the SoulPowered community, and check out her beyond inspiring take on business, partnership, community and leadership.
How did you get to two businesses?
By accident! I thought I was just a yoga teacher who wanted to teach teen girls how to do yoga. I quickly realized that to make yoga ‘cool’ and relatable to a younger generation, I needed to build a brand around it. It happened very naturally for the most part. Once Girlvana started to thrive, I was looking to ground it in a community; I wanted to create consistency and give girls the option of drop in classes. I was already working with my now business partner, Jian Pablico, and his youth program Varsity Initiative - and he was the one who suggested a permanent space.
Why did you start your company/business?
I’ll speak to the Distrikt here. We felt there was a need to bring yoga and fitness to the city in a real and human way. The industry is getting really corporate and out of touch and we wanted to create something different; we wanted to change the game. We also knew we wanted a home for our youth programs and a place to create community. It was the natural next step to grow our mindful youth movement and continue teaching our crafts without limitations.
What compelled you to step up as a leader in this world?
I think I have always naturally assumed this role. In my early twenties I hosted a night at my house called Live Your Life Thursday…my friends would come over to drink wine and chat about real stuff. We would share what we were grateful for in our lives and it ended up being this really intentional space for us to heal, thrive and grow. I see it now as the beginnings of my purpose and vocation of bringing girls and women together to share. I always knew I wanted to create spaces and experiences around taking off the armor that we wear, sharing stories and lifting one another up. Once I started teaching yoga on a more regular basis, it really gave me the tools to feel confident teaching a leading others.
When did you know you were stepping into a calling or a purpose?
I was coming out of a big yoga teacher burn-out (something that happens a lot and no one really talks about). I was sick and exhausted and just done. One of my favorite sayings is, ‘When you hit your knees, you are in the perfect position to pray.’ And that is exactly where I was. I remember literally being so desperate for meaning at that point in my life. I was 24, up late one night and it just came to me. Teach girls. That was it. From there, Girlvana was born. I started teaching in high schools and dance studios and anywhere that would have me. I had never felt so certain that I was on the right path.
What is the boldest thing you have done on your path?
Started a business with someone I had known for less than a year! Jian and I were collaborating on some youth events, but we really didn’t know each other all that well. When I think back to it, it seems crazy to have invested all this money and time; there is so much risk in opening up a brick and mortar. But I trusted him, I trusted our vision and I had zero doubts that we were the two right people to make this thing happen. It was really bold to open a studio in a city that is so saturated with studios, but I trusted us and knew we were going to kill it. I feel like the luckiest person in the world to have found such a strong and steady partnership. Jian is my rock.
What’s been a moment of understanding or realization that your work has created an impact on others?
There are so many. I think the first Girlvana Yoga retreat on Galiano Island. The teens had surprised all the mentors with letters they had written for us. We sat at the dining room table and read each one and bawled our eyes out. It was all so new, bringing teens up to an island for five days of yoga, meditation and journaling. I knew it was going to be really fun but I had no idea that it was going to change lives the way it did. Hearing the words from the girls’ experiences broke me wide open. I’ll never forget that day. Ever.
Why do you lead?
I lead because it’s natural. It’s not forced. I have done a lot of work in my life be it yoga, therapy, healers, you name it…and I have always wanted to share with people that there is a way out of our pain and suffering. And not only that, once you free up that space, the whole world is waiting for you to step up. We each come into this world brimming with gifts and talents. The world needs us to get in touch with that and contribute. What else are we here for? To suffer and be miserable really can’t be the point.
Where do you really shine in your role as a leader? What’s your sweet spot?
I think my ability to keep it real. I lead from a place of rawness and honesty. I never wanted to create an untouchable and perfect image. I think my classes and retreats resonate so much because I’m so human. I’m just trying to figure it all out, just like you.
What is your vision for the future?
I look to the teens that I mentor to be the voices of the next generation of women. They are already so wise. It gives me so much hope for the future. For myself, my vision is to slow down a bit and simplify. I’ve been hustling for a long time and I am really craving some space and stillness.
What has been your biggest learning being an entrepreneur?
I have learned just how capable I am. I never thought I could run two business, teach all of these classes and still brush my hair and put mascara on in the morning. I have learned the more real and relatable I am, the more my brand resonates. I have learned that the money always shows up, the problem always gets solved and that wine is good and being in nature heals.
Was there ever a point in your journey that you doubted what you were doing?
No. I was scared yes, and naïve, sure but I knew what I was bringing to the table. I never doubted that.
What has been the most effective growth strategy for your business?
Just stay true. It is our motto at the studio and the words we truly live by. It has allowed us to grow organically and attract the right people. People don’t just take one class as a fad, they stay, they buy a membership because they feel like they are a part of something special. We’ve created such a real tribe, and one that people want to be a part of. So, as the tribe grows and flourishes, as does the business.
What would Alex of today tell Alex at 25 who was just starting a business?
“We did it girl!” I wouldn’t change a thing. That 25 year old was so brave and I love her!
What would you want other women entrepreneurs to know?
Self-care is everything!!! I am really just getting this now. Stay in bed all day when you can, get a massage, buy the nice candle, fill your house with fresh flowers. Do it! As women we naturally take on the caregiver role and then we start businesses and we try to do it all….nothing works unless you are taking care of number one.
How do you continue to develop yourself?
Um..therapy! Haha. But for real. We can do every course and seminar in the world on business but if we aren’t right with ourselves, nothing works. I have an incredible spiritual teacher and an incredible therapist. Both are an essential part of my team that keep me together so that I can be more for others. As a teacher, you must always stay a student. The deeper I go, the deeper I can take people. It is so important to keep figuring myself out so that I can help others.
Who are some women entrepreneurs that inspire you?
I’ll go with two that are directly in my sphere and doing amazing things in my community. Laura Patrick who owns Kids Physio. She has three locations and is a wife and mom. She’s incredibly real, passionate and I have so much respect for her. I learn so much from her each time we speak. And the other is my dear friend Keighty Gallagher, owner of Tight Club. She is so committed to being original, staying innovative and is one of the most genuine people that I know. I had the pleasure of having them both at my last retreat and it was so nice to connect and feed off of one another. The sisterhood is alive and well. Finding a tribe of likeminded women is so key.
What’s your take on living and leading with soul?
For me it is about being real; listening to what I feel called to do and getting out into the world to do it.
Alex approaches yoga and movement with a sense of honesty, rawness and a lot of humour. Her message is all about showing up as you are and working with where you’re at, creating a safe and friendly environment so people can relax and be themselves. She is the founder of Girlvana Yoga (a youth based yoga + meditation initiative for teen girls) and co-founder/co-owner of Distrikt Movement (a movement studio in North Vancouver, BC, Canada).