“I actually never really meant to start a business,” says Annie Clarke, founder of Mind Body Bowl, an online space where she shares her teaching, recipes and inspiration to help you connect to your own sense of balance. The yoga-teacher-come-foodie-come-published-author was Deliciously Ella’s first employee, and she spent almost two years with the company (tenure in start-up terms) before branching out on her own. “I left the company when Ella came to restructure her team – she needed more support in areas that weren’t my strengths,” she says assertively.
The parting was mutual and very amicable – the two remain close friends – and it lit a path for Annie that otherwise may not have been visible. She started writing more frequently, preparing meals, and teaching the practice of self-care through her yoga classes. “It was actually Ella who gave me the much needed kick to do my own thing, although at the time I had no clue whatsoever what that would mean for me, or that I would ever do anything like what I’m doing now,” she says.
Annie is transparent and open—admirably so. “I think authenticity is the most important thing in any business,” she says. “I believe it as humans too, we are at our best when we are truly ourselves and acting from our own truth.” It would have been impossible to take her brand to where it is today without acknowledging and listening to her inner voice and allowing herself to be guided by intuition. This freedom lead to the growth and evolution of Mind Body Bowl. “[It] grew out of my attempts to connect people to themselves, to show them that they are their own best teacher and that they have the power to learn from their own bodies, minds and experiences to find out what works best for them.”
ON STARTING HER BUSINESS AFTER WORKING AT DELICIOUSLY ELLA: I never really meant to start a business. I started working for Deliciously Ella as the first employee there – part-time initially while I finished my degree, and then full-time thereafter. I had my own blog that was always a creative outlet/hobby but I was incredibly reluctant to label myself as a blogger as it was really meant for my eyes only. During my time at Deliciously Ella I did so many different things (as is usually the case when you work for a small brand), but I loved how no two days were the same! It was an incredible beginning to my journey within the wellness sphere – I learnt so much during my time at Deliciously Ella and most importantly Ella and I grew to become great friends. I left the company when Ella came to restructure her team – she needed more support in areas that weren’t my strengths. It was actually Ella who gave me the much-needed kick to do my own thing, although at the time I had no clue whatsoever what that would mean for me, or that I would ever do anything like what I am doing now!
FYI – YOU HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS INSIDE YOU: I think authenticity is the most important thing in any business. I believe it as humans too – we are at our best when we are truly ourselves and acting from our own truth. I’m so sure that you are far more likely to succeed being authentic and true to yourself rather than trying to be something you’re not. I do my best to be true to myself and those around and me, in my personal life as much as in my work life.
HOW MIND BODY BOWL TRANSITIONED FROM A HOBBY INTO A FULLY-FLEDGED BUSINESS: It never really launched – it grew organically. I began to pick up on how regularly people try imitate what others do with regards to trying to find balance or a lifestyle to suit them and, in doing so, it would bring up lots of negativity or feelings of failure/disappointment. Mind Body Bowl grew out of my attempts to connect people to themselves, to show them that they are their own best teacher and that they have the power to learn from their own bodies, minds and experiences to find what works best for them.
THE FINANCIAL CHALLENGES OF CREATING HIGH-PRODUCTION CONTENT: Finances are not easy at all. I’ve always been careful about brand partnerships because, despite the fact that they can help out with bills, I feel strongly that no amount of money would be worth compromising my authenticity for. Producing content for social media (particularly YouTube videos) is very expensive and time consuming. I do sometimes think it would be much simpler to step away from social but at the same time I see it as such an amazing community that I want to continue contributing to. It can be a little tricky making it work from time to time, especially now I have started to grown the Mind Body Bowl team but I try not to attach myself to money and save wherever possible!
HOW HER DEBUT BOOK CAME INTO BEING: It’s a non-prescriptive approach to wellness that empowers the reader to connect with themselves. I wanted to show people that they can feel amazing by listening to their bodies, their emotions and their minds. And eating simple, healthy food is a big part of that too – so it also includes some frill-free recipes to give people some ideas for the kitchen too. I think people are starting to question their wellbeing more and are becoming increasingly conscious of their lifestyles and what balance means. Once you realise how good you can feel, I think it will always be something people come back to when they start to feel like they lose that to working too hard or partying too much, or whatever else they are doing. Yoga has been a total game changer for me. It has totally changed my approach to my own wellbeing, my relationships and pretty much everything else. I am a lot more adaptable and open to whatever comes my way and I really love that I can see that change in myself.
ON THE DANGERS OF BECOMING OBSESSIVE ABOUT HEALTH & WELLNESS: I think it is something that we should all be aware of. I really feel that there is a two-way responsibility, particularly online, in terms of what we share and what we consume from social media. There is an incredible opportunity for the growth of supportive communities online but like anything there is always a risk that it might not be that way for everyone. But the responsibility lies with both influencers and individuals to approach it all in a sensible way and do what we can to encourage a positive community.
ADOPTING HEALTHIER PRACTICES IS EASIER THAN YOU THINK: I genuinely love wholesome, natural foods and think they are totally delicious and a really exciting way to fuel the body. I love to both cook and eat and have found that eating well a really powerful effect on the way I feel so for me it’s about maintaining balance – in our minds, bodies and emotions, and food plays a big role in that for me. IT doesn’t have to be complicated. There are so many opportunities to make healthier choices everyday so starting small is great. For example, try turning your phone off at 9pm to give your body a chance to wind down and improve sleep quality, or increase your water intake to 2 litres a day. That said, it’s equally important to remember that when you have a lot on and it all seems too much, don’t beat yourself up. We are all humans just doing our best!
WHEN IN DOUBT, PREP: I used to be so great at prepping – I would spend an hour on a Sunday night making a big batch of roast veg, hummus, quinoa, almond milk, etc. and cooking a big ratatouille or similar. Now my weeks vary so much that if I do that it often goes to waste. But for anyone that is trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle, I would really recommend investing that hour one day a week – it saves you so much time and effort later on and helps you to make better future choices too.
WHY EMBRACING QUIET TOWN MIGHT JUST BE THE BEST THING YOU COULD DO FOR YOURSELF: It’s about finding that time out just to be with myself. It was actually an idea that used to terrify me but now it is important and something that I really love. It has made me so much more balanced in so many ways – I don’t get stressed at the same things, I am much more easy going and I am definitely more open to just letting things unfold without attachment. And that, for me, has been a wonderful thing to learn. Do something that works for you. If you like being outdoors, go for a walk. If you love to read, that’s a great way to take time for yourself too. Start by cultivating stillness in a familiar way – then see how you can develop it later. If I’m not at my best, my work suffers. Most of the work I do I’m surrounded by amazing people who I feel I want to give my best. Self-care isn’t selfish. By investing in yourself first, you have so much more to give.