Dawn Villa is an online health & wellness coach and founder of the lifestyle blog, Girlfriends Inc. With a diverse background ranging from healthcare administration to emerging drone technology, we have to admire just how much Dawn is pursuing her own entrepreneurial interests whilst working full-time.
Hey Dawn, how is your day so far?
Hi there! My day has been fantastic so far, thank you for asking!
As an entrepreneur can you tell us what a typical 24 hours for you like?
Work days can be pretty hectic, Monday to Friday. Because I work a full-time, 9-5 job in addition to running my businesses and, of course, I’m a Mom of 2 young boys, life is quite busy! Typically, my days start early, I’m usually up before 6 am and the first thing I commit to, before anything or anyone else, is myself.
To honour this, I meditate and workout first thing in the morning. Then, the rush of the day begins, getting my older son up and ready for school, eating breakfast and packing lunches together. I drop off my son,Justin, at school, which I am so GRATEFUL to be able to do as a working Mom, and then I head off to work.
As I mentioned, in addition to being an entrepreneur, I am currently working full-time as an Executive Assistant at a drone technology company. Throughout the day, and in particular during my lunch break, I will find “power pockets of time” to work my businesses.
Tasks I may squeeze into this time are important and impactful, ranging from checking-in with my accountability groups, replying to messages and connecting to my network. In the evenings, the priority is quality time with my family, preparing and eating dinner together and catching up on the day’s events. Once the kids are asleep, it’s back to work -writing and researching content for Girlfriends Inc. or sharing and connecting with my network and on social media. As you can see, my days are pretty full, so using those power pockets of time are KEY to trying to fitting it all in!
Can you give us a little background information and take us through the journey of how you got to where you are today?
My intention wasn’t to become an entrepreneur; my dream job growing up was to become a pediatrician!
While working in the Operating Room at SickKids Hospital and studying at the University of Toronto, I had a revelation that completely changed the direction of my life: I realised that I wasn’t willing to postpone or sacrifice my future family in order to pursue a career in medicine. It was also at this time that the initial idea of Girlfriends Inc. was born.
How did you arrive at the point of launching Girlfriend Inc?
The initial idea of Girlfriends Inc. was born one day over lunch with a Girlfriend – we would meet for lunch every day and it was the absolute BEST part of my work day! Girlfriends Inc. has evolved many times over since then, but I officially took steps to make it a legit business in 2009, while I was pregnant with my first son. Our maternity leave in Canada is one year, and I naively thought I would have time to grow my blog business while I was on maternity leave with my son. I was SO wrong about that!
Did you research the market heavily prior to launching Girlfriend Inc?
Honestly, no. Girlfriends Inc. has evolved slowly, over time, starting out simply as a business name, then an abstract, crazy idea about creating a “business” that involved and felt like hanging out with your girlfriends. It wasn’t until I was working as a Legal Assistant specialising in Intellectual Property law a few years ago, that I began to understand the concepts of market research, branding, and trademarks.
How did you anticipate the success of it?
I didn’t really anticipate success as a result of pursuing and launching Girlfriends Inc. For me, this is truly my passion project, therapy for my soul, a journey of self-discovery and living my best life and celebrating this life with my girlfriends, all while encouraging other women to do the same and to live their best lives. There truly is nothing as unique and loving as the relationship between women. Living a life, entirely of your own design, is the ultimate success, and that’s the kind of success I’m working towards!
How has the journey been post launch of Girlfriend Inc?
It has been so much fun seeing how Girlfriends Inc. has evolved over the years because it truly is a reflection of my life and what my priorities are at that given time. That’s the beauty of it – it’s ever-evolving, just like life. I’m currently in the process of a brand and website refresh, as I am looking to incorporate services such as my wellness coaching and peer support in addition to the existing lifestyle blog format.
What social media tools did you currently use to build the Girlfriend Inc brand?
We all know the impact and role of social media in our lives and it truly is the bread and butter of a brand these days. Facebook and Instagram are my go-to social media tools, but you can also connect with me and my Girlfriends Inc. brand on other social media networks – SnapChat (still the best filters!), Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest as well.
Can you tell us a winning moment for you so far with Girlfriend Inc?
I had the opportunity to partner with Yummy Mummy Club (YMC) and OvaScience, along with several other women, to share my infertility story and to inform and inspire others on a topic that many women and couples struggle with yet are still reluctant to talk about.
Having struggled with secondary infertility in the pursuit of expanding our family, I found comfort and healing in sharing our story. Without my Girlfriends Inc blog, I may not have had the opportunity to participate in such a project. I am quite proud to advocate for women’s health issues, especially in the areas of reproductive health and infertility.
Best piece of advice you have ever received?
I would say to feel the fear and do it anyway, as my friend and coach, Deanna, would say, “Run towards the puke!”
What are you still learning about in business?
So many things! Learning, especially in business (and with health and wellness in particular) is an ongoing, lifelong journey. Because I primarily connect with my network, clients and potential customers online, learning to stay relevant in the marketplace and in social media are at the top of the learning list.
What has been a particularly difficult time to overcome whilst growing Girlfriend Inc?
When pursuing any venture, it’s easy to fall into the pitfalls of comparison. Being an online wellness coach and a lifestyle blogger, with my businesses based primarily online, I struggle with the comparison trap often. It’s quite easy to get caught up in the pretty, and very distracting, social media scroll! It’s in those times that I revisit my why and focus on my purpose: to live my best life and to encourage other women to do the same!
What areas are you looking at to continue the growth of Girlfriend Inc for 2018?
Health and wellness have been a personal focus of mine for the last few years and as a result, I will be incorporating more of my wellness coaching and peer support services into Girlfriends Inc this year. As I previously mentioned, our branding and website are currently undergoing a refresh and much-needed update with the reveal to come in the next month or so.