Growing up, Olivia Bowser played individual sports like tennis, horseback riding, and ski racing which fed her competitive nature – she was always in it to win it!
Without a team backing her up, she took losses hard and felt a bit burnt out from feeling so competitive toward the end of college. She began to crave a team and community for support to help navigate life’s wins and losses that can leave you feeling isolated, anxious and stuck.
As a result, Olivia created Liberate, the first-ever mental wellness studio with group classes designed to expand and empower you. As a Certified Meditation and Mindfulness Teacher, she’s on a mission to mainstream mental wellness and bring human beings together on our journey to become our best selves through mindfulness.
We chatted with Olivia to learn more about her business plans as a female entrepreneur.
Name: Olivia Bowser
Title: CEO & Founder
Education: BA in Marketing
Location: Los Angeles, CA
(Fempreneur) Describe your most recent business success and tell us about your next big goal. What’s up next?
(Liberate) Our virtual community is growing solidly. Liberate has grown by 250% since launch and helped over 1,000 human beings strengthen their mental well-being and expand their relationship with themselves and others. Our strong online presence has allowed us to form positive brand partnerships with other mission-driven companies, connect with a global community, and expand into not just virtual classes but also virtual programs as well. We’re focused on building out group programs to create more opportunities for human beings to connect and grow, together. All you need is your body and an open mind to join us.
(Fempreneur) What inspired you to start your own business? What made you decide to take the leap?
(Liberate) In early 2019, a regular catch up with close up friends turned into a deeper discussion about our broader circles and the struggles we were all experiencing. We shared stories of friends overly-stressed at work, experiencing loneliness, or dealing with severe anxiety or depression. I heard the same narrative over and over again: we felt stuck, alone and unsure how to care for our mental well-being.
The initial idea for Liberate began as a “Confidence Camp” to help millennial women love and be kind to themselves. My aha moment came when I realized this idea wasn’t going far enough.
Not only do we all deserve more confidence, but we also deserve to build the skills to help us have the strength to overcome anxiety; the mindfulness to live in the present; the courage to face our fears; and the attitude of gratitude to get us through hard times.
Essentially, we all need to develop and practice mental skills in order to be prepared to face whatever life throws our way, just like we workout again and again to improve our physical health. Supporting our mental well-being requires more than a single class; it requires an ongoing practice and an expansive space to help you live lightly and more fully. Liberate was my solution to this problem.
Related: Book your strategy session to build your business as a female entrepreneur.
(Fempreneur) Then, COVID happened. How did you adjust your business? How did the pandemic impact you as a female entrepreneur?
(Liberate) As COVID grew in the US, my mental health — and that of so many others — took a big hit. A missing corporate support system made me feel stuck and alone. When times get tough, organizations either adapt or stay the same. For me, the lack of response to change with the changing times was a sign this role and path were not for me. I craved a more purpose-driven role that would let me not only take care of my mental well-being but also improve collective mental wellness so everyone could feel supported with whatever they are going through.
I felt that now more than ever, we needed approachable, enjoyable ways to care for our mental well-being just as much as our physical well-being. My vision for Liberate was clear: to help humans everywhere care for their mental wellness and build the skills needed to not only survive life’s challenges, but also to thrive. This vision needed my full-time attention.
(Fempreneur) What was your first job after college/ university?
(Liberate) I launched my career working for better-for-you start-ups in the CPG space, leading brand and marketing efforts alongside C-Suites. I felt a natural pull toward everything health and wellness and did my best to land positions in the space. Yet I always knew I wanted to create something of my own.
(Fempreneur) How do you achieve work/ life balance? How do you unplug?
(Liberate) My most valued routine to protect my energy and create intentional space for the day ahead is a slow, purposeful morning. Every morning I meditate, read passages from The Book of Awakening, and practice yoga. It’s a rather time consuming ritual, but starting the day with this kind of clarity and calm helps create more space in my mind and a calmer inner state to carry with me throughout the day. This helps me direct my energy to listen better in meetings, speak more thoughtfully, and breathe more consistently throughout the day. I’m able to better balance my commitments when I’m more centered.
(Fempreneur) What books do you find inspiring for building your business as a female entrepreneur?
(Liberate) Self-help and mindfulness books can be extremely useful for female entrepreneurs to help strengthen resilience and patience in dealing with the ups and downs of starting their own business. The Power of Now is the first mindfulness book I ever read — and it was a game-changer for me. I was 20 years old, struggling with anxiety and keeping my mind in the present moment instead of worrying about the past or future. My dad gifted me this book for Christmas, so I reluctantly agreed to give it a try. Each page opened my eyes to what life could feel like when living fully embodied in the here and now.
The author, Eckhart Tolle, explains that there is technically no past or future — the only thing that exists is each actual present moment of our current experience, and that to be fully present is to meet each new moment with your complete and full attention. I realized that I had so often been consumed by obsessing about the past or ruminating over the future that I was totally missing what was right in front of me. It took me about 200 pages to really buy into this idea, but it changed the way I live my life. I began sharing this new way of thinking with my family and friends, and the more I explained it, the more I believed in it. Don’t get me wrong! I still fixate on the past and worry for the future, but it takes up a lot less of my headspace than it used to.
Running a business requires learning from past mistakes, letting them go, and then moving on. By living for the now, I can create be a better version of myself and a better female entrepreneur.
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