Boss Lady - Kayce Johnson

Bella Vita launched a blog titled “Boss Lady” in March 2017 - after years of being inspired by the women that we are friends with, work with, or do business with, that are building their empire doing what they love.  Running a business takes work, and getting started takes courage. At Bella Vita, we wanted to take this opportunity to praise and encourage some of the great female entrepreneurs we have met over the years and we hope to inspire more young women (and men) to follow their instinct/talent/passion and become entrepreneurs.  


My team and I are reaching out to the woman owned businesses that inspire and amaze us on a daily basis.  We will start with a brief background, then dive into the nitty gritty of running a business, what keeps them inspired, and everything else in between.


I grew up on land that has been in my family for generations. It is a pretty magical place with lots of woods and fields. It lies on a bed of crystals outside of Hot Springs, AR.  I was lucky enough to have my grandparents right up the road from my mother’s house.  They always had a garden and were constantly outside. My grandfather created beautiful wood sculptures and even designed their unique dome-shaped home.  He comes from a long line of folk artists and passed that creative drive on to my mother and me. My grandmother and mother really helped mold who I am today.  My mother is such a strong person.  She taught me to think for myself and never be afraid to question or speak up for what I believe in.  No matter what situation I have seen her endure, she manages to pull through with grace, understanding, and a sense of dignity. She truly is my rock. My grandmother inspired my life by teaching me about meditation and opening me up to various Eastern philosophies early on. She provided a great American Indian influence and beautifully recounts tales of our family’s heritage.  She writes poetry and instilled in me a huge appreciation for words and beauty. She taught me how to slow down, listen, and helped me develop a love for the earth. My grandmother had a collection of books that she kept on a big bookshelf in her basement. That is where I first found books on yoga, meditation, mystical practices, poetry, Eastern philosophies, and living off of the land.  

  1. Give us your elevator pitch.   As a collective group at Arkansas Yoga Collective, we are dedicated to bringing the transformative practice of yoga to the community. Through our studio classes, informative workshops, and community outreach programs we intend to build and grow with the community from the roots up. Only through love, compassion, and respect of all people that we can create the change this world needs. We are all part of the Collective, united by a shared Earth.
  2. What is your business? I co-own Arkansas Yoga Collective in Little Rock and am the 'maker' behind the organic and natural body care line, called Kind Folke.
  3. When did you start your business?  I studied Psychology and Art in college and eventually received a Master’s of Psychology. I worked in the mental health field for 8 years until opening the yoga studio AYC, which I run with my business partner, Wesley Pilcher. We celebrated our 4 year anniversary in June. I started making all-natural products for myself when I was a teenager due to having very sensitive skin. That eventually grew into making products for friends and family. It has now grown into an organic and natural body care line, called Kind Folke, and a full-fledged love affair with the plant world.



  4. What helps you get started each morning? Coffee, diet coke, 10 mile jog, meditation?? I like to sleep and I love cuddling in a soft bed. So for me to begin my day, I have to spend some time convincing myself that I need to get moving. Before I open my eyes, I try to express a sense of gratitude for the day and for those I love. I then visualize pure, white light coming into my body, filling my entire being with energy and love. I stretch a bit and love on my fur babies (who at this point are usually wanting out of the bed).  After I am up I either splash my face with cold water or take an ice cold shower, which typically does a lot for getting me going. If I am teaching, I will also drink some coffee or matcha once I get to the studio with some super herbs like Maca Root and Kind Folke’s Plant-Based Collagen Powder to help me sustain the energy throughout the day. 
  5. Tell us about a day in the life of running your business.  I begin most every day as above, typically waking around 4am. My morning then consists of mainly teaching group and private class sessions and running the studio. I spend my afternoons working with herbs and essential oils while making Kind Folke products.  I also use this time to complete some of the “behind the scenes” activities that it takes to run a business (marketing, accounting, responding to emails, etc.).  I always sprinkle sessions of yoga and meditation throughout those “work” activities, typically beginning my day with Kundalini Yoga, a strong posture practice mid-afternoon, and ending my day with Qi Gong/Restorative postures and meditation.  Those sessions are crucial for me to have a successful day.



  6. What keeps you motivated?  I stay motivated by loving and believing in what I do. I get to see the effects that taking care of your body/mind/soul through using nurturing, all-natural products and practicing yoga have on people on a daily basis. I feel honored and lucky to be able to do what I do. I do not feel like I am ever really working or not working.  Every moment of my life touches and reflects on what I have dedicated my life to - living fully and as consciously as I can.
  7. Describe your dream day.  My dream day would be a day of sustaining the appreciation for and seeing the beauty in every moment, no matter what I am doing or what is going on around me… Also, I wouldn’t mind being beamed up by a fun alien crew along with Erykah Badu and some of my closest friends and family. Then dancing the day away as our UFO hovers over Miami.  
  8. What is your greatest strength/super power?  I do not like to back down from a challenge. I love going deeper into and growing the things I care about. 
  9. Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat?  Instagram



  10. What do you do in your free time? (ha! What is free time?!)  I pretty much do everything I do in my “work” time, haha. I practice yoga and study herbs/natural-healing methods.  I love reading poetry and creating/expressing myself through various mediums.  I take different trainings in yoga and herbalism. I like to travel, hike, and be by water. I try to spend as much of my free time outside as I can.  
  11. If an investor gave you 1 million dollars to use toward your business, how would you spend it?  I would spend it expanding on everything I am currently doing so it could reach more people. 
  12. What’s the biggest risk you ever took; how did it go?  Leaving my job and opening a yoga studio is the biggest and best risk I have ever taken.  



  13. Name something you hate doing but have to do for the good of your business. How do you make it tolerable? Sometimes I don’t like all of the little technical things that go into making sure that everything runs smoothly, especially things like balancing the books and making sure the website is running correctly.  I typically make those moments tolerable by putting on a good playlist and working on them in a relaxing outdoor environment, weather permitting.
  14. How do you handle discouragement?   I try to turn discouragement into motivation.  I will give myself a break to get to the root of why I am discouraged.  I then come up with ways to align myself more closely to what I visualize myself doing/being - my true nature.  Sometimes that means simply shifting my perspective. Other times, I make lists of steps to take to work towards my goal in a more realistic way. 
  15. Which iconic person inspires you?  I find inspiration more in feelings conveyed through colors and words than people. The people who are the vessels for that inspiration are many and change often. 



  16. Do you have a favorite, inspiring quote?  I love words so this changes a lot. My sister once said, “Just enjoy the view.” It sounds simple but I go back to that often, especially when I am taking life too seriously. It reminds me to slow down and enjoy each moment.
  17. If you could choose anyone to pick as a mentor, who would you choose?  My sister is my greatest mentor. Her light inspires everything I do. 
  18. Who are you in your next life?  An intergalactic half pharaoh half mermaid who spends her days swimming through gold space dust.



  19. Any secrets on how you balance the ins and outs of running a small business?  I use a technique I learned from one of my close friends and spiritual teachers, Bonni McCliss.  It involves recognizing stress as energy, learning how to hold the energy, then expanding on how much you can hold.  To be successful, you must learn to hold the energy of whatever you are trying to succeed at. Many people reach success but few can hold it.  I try to transform the stress into energy that I can use as fuel. I re-frame any negative self talk or doubt into holding the space with as much dignity and grace as I can. You can do this with any emotion. I also try to always come from a place of abundance. Whenever you start saying you do not have enough of something - time, resources, money, etc. - that is what you end up manifesting. You will never get ahead with that mindset.  Instead, I do the best with what I have, focusing on the abundance that is available in that moment (even if it is an abundance of lessons in the form of a setback) and I keep moving forward. 
  20. What’s the best advice you have for other women wanting to be entrepreneurs? If you truly love it, go for it. It will be worth every bit of energy that you put into it.  


Visit Arkansas Yoga Collective and Kind Folke in person
at 7801 Cantrell Drive, Suite D, Little Rock, AR 72227
Or
on social media:
AYC: Instagram - Facebook - Pinterest
Kind Folke: Instagram - Facebook - Twitter

All Photos By: Saira Khan

Read More

Boss Lady - Christy Bourns Ward

Bella Vita launched a blog titled “Boss Lady” in March 2017 - after years of being inspired by the women that we are friends with, work with, or do business with, that are building their empire doing what they love.  Running a business takes work, and getting started takes courage. At Bella Vita, we wanted to take this opportunity to praise and encourage some of the great female entrepreneurs we have met over the years and we hope to inspire more young women (and men) to follow their instinct/talent/passion and become entrepreneurs.  


My team and I are reaching out to the woman owned businesses that inspire and amaze us on a daily basis.  We will start with a brief background, then dive into the nitty gritty of running a business, what keeps them inspired, and everything else in between.


Hi! My name is Christy Bourns Ward. I was born in New Orleans, LA (while my dad was in dental school at LSU) but I moved to Arkansas when I was 1 or 2. I grew up in Benton and majored in Political Science & Journalism at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. After a short stint in Washington, DC, after college I moved to Little Rock where I currently live with my husband, Derek, and our two-year-old son, Henry.

  1. Give us your elevator pitch.  When it comes to designing, life is my toolbox. I draw inspiration from all facets of it – travel, experiences, music, the day-to-day. I believe there’s value in cherishing life’s ups and downs and many detours. I use these inspirations to create jewelry that tells the story of where we’ve been and where we hope to go. For me, great design is a product of the heart as well as the hand.

  2. What is your business?  Robinson Lane Designs - I create hand-stamped jewelry using various metals, vintage components and stones.

  3. When did you start your business? 2002! Crazy that it was 16 years ago. It started as a hobby and I went full-time in 2004.



  4. What inspired you to make the leap? I was working full-time and Robinson Lane became a second full-time job. While I loved my career in marketing, my true passion was design and jewelry. Time-wise, something had to give. I decided to leave my job and pursue design full-time. I gave myself a timeline, set some goals and dove in headfirst.

  5. What helps you get started each morning?  Unsweet iced tea and snuggles with my son! I wish I could say it was exercise but I’m slow-going in the mornings :)

  6. Tell us about a day in the life of running your business.  I usually start the work day on my computer – updating my social media accounts, responding to email and checking my calendar. I spend the rest of my day fulfilling orders and creating new product. The past year and a half with my son has changed up the way my work day looks. He’s at home with me so I mix in a lot of play time and usually work while he naps.



  7. What keeps you motivated?  Honestly, I love my work so much. I love what I do and consider myself lucky that I get to do it. Designing and creating meaningful pieces brings me so much joy and that joy keeps me motivated.

  8. Describe your dream day.  I love to discover and try new things and my dream day would involve some sort of ‘discovery’. Whether it be exploring a new location, discovering a new favorite food, or learning a new skill. Ideally, my husband and son would be with me!

  9. What is your greatest strength/super power?  My positivity. I’m able to look at the positive in almost any situation and make the best of any circumstance (no matter how challenging or chaotic it may initially seem).



  10. Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat? All three! Although, I’m more active on Facebook (facebook.com/robinsonlane) and Instagram (@robinsonlane). I mainly just lurk on Snapchat…

  11. What do you do in your free time? (ha! What is free time?!) Currently, my favorite way to spend free time is going to the park with my son, Henry. We both love being outside and the change of scenery is good for both of us. I also love reading a good book and getting lost in a great story…

  12. If an investor gave you 1 million dollars to use toward your business, how would you spend it? No question, I’d use it to hire an employee or two. For me, the most difficult part of owning my own business is wearing all the hats. Designing, production, photographing, updating the web site, social media, accounting, fulfillment and distribution, ordering supplies, long term planning, etc. It’s a lot. I’ve definitely improved over the years and have gotten in a groove. But, at the same time, I’m not as strong in some areas as I could be. I’d love to be able to focus on my strengths (design and production) and have help with the rest.



  13. What’s the biggest risk you ever took; how did it go? Besides jumping out of an airplane at 10,000 feet – the biggest risk I’ve taken is putting myself in a position to follow my dreams and own my own business. Wouldn’t change any of the successes or challenges for anything…a true growing experience.

  14. Name something you hate doing but have to do for the good of your business. How do you make it tolerable? My husband will tell you that my weak spot is anything related to accounting/numbers. It’s just not fun or easy for me. To make it more tolerable, I’ve passed that job along to him. :)

  15. How do you handle discouragement?  I’m of the belief that how you handle discouragement is very telling of how successful your business will be. If you learn from it, analyze what went wrong and change your course of action and adapt – you will be successful. If you let it upset you, make you bitter or don’t allow for change – you will have a hard go at being a successful business owner.



  16. Which iconic person inspires you? It’s not one single person but the Female Entrepreneur. I have female friends in all walks of life who are pursuing their creative dream – whether it be film production, design, art, music, health coaching, etc. These women are who inspire me. Hearing their stories, watching them overcome challenges, collaborating and brainstorming with them. This fuels me!

  17. Do you have a favorite, inspiring quote? I’ve got two: Micah 6:8 – Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God. The second is “Never resign to a typical life.” It’s actually a lyric from ‘Vaporize’ by Broken Bells and it encourages me to be myself, not to settle and to chase my ideas and dreams.

  18. If you could choose anyone to pick as a mentor, who would you choose? When it comes to my business, I have two mentors: my mom and my husband. Both know me well, know my business and bring great ideas to the table. I wouldn’t be near as sane without them by my side supporting me.



  19. Who are you in your next life? Hopefully still a creative but maybe I’ll know how to play guitar….that’s been a dream of mine!

  20. Any secrets on how you balance the ins and outs of running a small business?  Probably not much of a secret but you must be able to adapt and go with the flow when you own a business.

  21. What’s the best advice you have for other women wanting to be entrepreneurs? I tell everyone that if you have a clear idea and a passion you can make it work! It takes dedication, hard work and motivation – some days will drive you bonkers – but it’s so rewarding and fulfilling. Totally worth the effort it takes…so hang in there.

 


Follow Robinson Lane Designs on social media:
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

All Photos By: Saira Khan
Read More