Women in Wellness Share Experiences in Healing
Women’s Wellness Entrepreneurs Share Experiences in Healing
The growth of female entrepreneurship, up nearly 50 percent since January 2020, includes exponential expansion in women-owned holistic and wellness businesses. North Texas is no exception, and these five enterprising women describe how they find balance while running a business.
Dr. Toni Engram integrates holistic principles such as nutrition and prevention with biological dentistry at Flourish Dental Boutique. Since opening in June 2020, she has noticed more solo, women-owned businesses throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. “Women have always been drawn to the healing arts. The world has changed over the last couple of years, and I think it made a lot of people—women and men—reevaluate their careers and how they spend their time. They are choosing professions that are not only more flexible, but also more in line with their values,” she says.
Many wellness entrepreneurs were inspired to pursue a career in holistic health after a personal experience or trauma led them into the holistic arena. “So many times, your mess becomes your message,” Engram affirms. “Your own experience can be a powerful tool to help other people along their healing journey.”
Engram was in the process of planning and opening her new office shortly before COVID-19 turned the world upside-down. Myriad delays in construction and supply chain issues caused much stress, but Engram says she managed it by focusing on what she could control, rather than things that were beyond her control. “I just shifted my focus to eating well, spending time with family, exercising more and breathing.” She used those same stress management tools when ice storms froze most of Texas last February, disrupting her business cash flow.
Engram observes. “Women tend to be the ones keeping everything together. Family dynamics have changed a lot over the past two years. We’ve seen death and illnesses. Often, my patients need to vent, and it really helps to provide a listening ear.” Engram provides resources that might not be expected at a dental office, such as referrals to therapists specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder, assisted living and elder care services. She says, “There are lots of ways to be helpful, but mostly it’s about listening and allowing patients space to process emotions.”
Dr. Toni Engram
Flourish Dental Boutique
1415 State St., Ste. 800, Richardson
Most strides in health care, particularly in the holistic realm, are driven by women, observes Dr. Phyllis Gee. “Women are often the caregivers and manage family health, so they’re often more sensitive to what’s going on around them. When women don’t find answers that we’re looking for, we seek them out. When we find them, we feel a need to share that information.” She believes sharing personal stories is particularly beneficial for natural wellness modalities, as it helps lead to a patient-practitioner partnership.
Gee’s business was also adversely affected by pandemic shutdowns. The February 2021 ice storm destroyed the Willowbend Health & Wellness functional medicine clinic that she had opened just two years prior. The rebuilding process was grueling, but Gee says that in a roundabout way, those challenges helped her find her true purpose. “I did a prolonged detox for 90 days. I started exercising more consistently by getting out with my husband and daughter to rediscover nature. I became more consistent with my morning routine of devotion and affirmation, along with healthier eating and intermittent fasting, which I have continued,” she says.
Gee’s previous experience with an autoimmune disease was the impetus for her embarking on a functional medicine journey. During the pandemic, she focused on her work in metabolic health and refocused on how to rebuild her business and serve more people by creating a comprehensive in-person program to address those issues. She recently added an all-virtual version called Restore Your Health Metabolic Reset Program.
Dr. Phyllis Gee
Willowbend Health & Wellness
4601 Old Shepherd Place, Bldg. 2, Ste. 201, Plano
In her Eco Friends Organic Pest Control business, Lin Ellis uses
natural, plant-based pest control products and educates her clients about pest
prevention measures to create eco-safe environments. Ellis' description of what
is driving more women toward entrepreneurship in holistic businesses is, “Their
families.” She observes how women, being the primary caretakers, often consider
the health of their children first and foremost.
Before forming Eco Friends Organic Pest Control in 2009, Ellis had had an adverse reaction to chemical pest control products. She says that sharing those stories resonates with her clients This and adds to the education component of her business. “I tell them you could eat heathy and use non-chemical cleaning products, but if you have your carpets cleaned with chemical carpet cleaners and use chemical pest control, your babies and pets are crawling around on floors and absorbing those toxins through their skin,” she explains.
Ellis heads off a lot of work-related stress by being upfront, which creates realistic expectations. “I tell them you can’t get rid of ants by just spraying the baseboards and calling it day. We have to find the colony. More importantly, if the client is contributing to the problem, I will tell them. They can’t leave food out or not clean up. There’s no magic pill to get rid of bugs; clients have to work with us.”
Because women are so often good listeners, Ellis says she’s usually the one that fields client concerns. “They just want to be heard,” she says. “As mothers and as business owners, we’re the caregivers of everyone in the household. We make sure everything’s going to be all right so everyone will be happy and healthy. That’s what a mother wants.”
Eco Friends Organic Pest Control
Jennifer Dillon recalls how her coworkers in the corporate world raised
their eyebrows during lunch while she consumed kale salads and superfood shakes.
Now through Ohzone Clinics, the ozone therapy business she formed in 2016,
she’s surrounded by like-minded people. “They’re my wellness tribe,” she
enthuses. “We help each other, and we collaborate to bring all different ideas
to the table.”
Dillon affirms that a desire to build a satisfying, inclusive workspace can be a key motivator for women to start wellness businesses. Another is a desire to share personal experience; Dillon’s interest in holistic modalities began when her family’s illnesses and were not served by conventional treatments. She recalls being skeptical of natural modalities, but after everyone’s health improved through therapies such as ozone, she was inspired to create a different kind of enterprise. By focusing on education and sharing her story with her clients, Dillon created an approachable space to help people. That compassion helps her bridge Western medicine and affordable alternative treatments in an approachable setting.
Owning any business comes with challenges, especially for single moms such as Dillon. “I’m dedicated to every client, and have been very hands-on since day one,” she says. “Balancing business growth while maintaining integrity is still a challenge. It’s trial and error, but I’m enjoying the journey of finding my work-life balance.”
4300 MacArthur Ave. Ste. 150 and Ste. 185, Dallas
The independence of being a business owner is often prime motivation for people to take their education, degrees and certifications to the next level, including practice ownership, observes Dr. Elizabeth Seymour, of Environmental Health Center – Dallas. She notes that resources and help for working women has grown, along with overall social acceptance of women in the workplace. She is grateful that the Center already had solid telemedicine and phone consult protocols in place prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, so she and her staff were better suited to provide their functional medicine services during and after the shutdowns.
“We went from 20 percent virtual visits to more than 50 percent during the pandemic,” she notes. “The blessing was that we already had medical records and office infrastructure in place for that, so it wasn’t a stark change. I think other health practitioners struggled with that if they already didn’t have a platform in place.” The telemedicine option also allows Seymour to create her own work-life balance. She can still see patients from home, and do chores and tasks between appointments.
Seymour says pandemic stress has taken a toll on everyone, but she’s seen an increase in depression, anxiety and insomnia in her female patients. “We’re not through the woods, but through the thick of COVID. People are now getting outdoors and getting sunshine, breathing fresh air and returning to community involvement. Retuning somewhat back to normal helps mental health and coping skills,” she says, adding that dietary and lifestyle changes, along with exercise, help control stress and improve hormonal imbalances.
Dr. Elizabeth Seymour
Environmental Health Center - Dallas
399 Melrose Dr., Ste. A, Richardson