With a background of twenty years in working with vulnerable young people and families to help them recover from drug and alcohol addiction, it seemed inevitable that if Haidee Dampney was to run her own business, that it would be focused around helping people to improve their wellbeing.
In 2015, Haidee set up Yoga with Haidee, after training and gaining qualifications with the British Wheel of Yoga. The practice tied in neatly with her own personal drive to work for social equality and helping every person to experience the benefits of yoga.
“The leap to setting up the yoga business was scary. I was used to a regular salary coming in and I felt extremely insecure,” Haidee states. “This insecurity continues to be a challenge today, but you get better at dealing with it as the number of clients builds.”
Haidee then set up The Tree Project Community Interest Company (CIC) in 2017 with the vision of helping to create a world where everyone thrives and to provide opportunities for both individuals and the community. Based around The Five Ways to Wellbeing (Connect, Learn, be Active, Notice & Give), it highlights the simple actions that people can take to improve wellbeing. As a CIC, it can access funding to help those without access to wellbeing opportunities, of which yoga forms a part.
“If young people have a space which is calm and safe, it can help to build their confidence and help them to frame their lives in a different way. Hopefully, this can lead them to make more positive life choices,” Haidee explains.
Haidee connected with the Accelerating Women’s Enterprise programme, primarily to help with The Tree Project CIC. “I had gone through a difficult experience where a professional that I employed didn’t carry out some work in the correct manner which had an impact on the project,” she explained. “I realised that I needed help to sort things out as by then, COVID-19 had arrived.”
“The AWE team helped me with my confidence in making decision, before which I was questioning whether to continue with the businesses,” she stated. She signed up for a range of workshops and had regular 1:1 sessions with the AWE team. “The help that AWE gave me was fantastic!” exclaimed Haidee, “I especially enjoyed the workshop on Imposter Syndrome and working through it, it helped me to realise that I had a lot to be proud of – I ran two businesses, and I can now say out loud that I am a female business owner.”
By providing her yoga classes online, Haidee has managed to maintain a good level of clients and the work of The Tree Project CIC is steadily building too, despite the lockdown.
“I really value the support that the AWE programme has given me as it gives me the space as an entrepreneur to develop ideas and approach the challenges in a more structured way,” said Haidee. She has also made a strong connection with another woman on the programme which provides a support network for ideas too, which she describes as “one of the most important benefits of the AWE programme, as it reduces the feeling of isolation that all sole business owners experience.” She adds that the workshops and support from AWE gave her the practical skills and the time to work through key aspects of the business such as working out your buyer personas and pricing as well as planning promotional strategies and where the business is heading.
“One of the biggest challenges as a new business owner is around finance and setting up the right systems to make this side of the business work. However, the best bit about running your own business is that you can manage your own time.”
“One thing that the programme has taught me is to break down the work into manageable chunks and to carry forward the experience I had in my previous career,” says Haidee.
She explains that she “loves being my own boss and has tremendous enthusiasm for the work that she does.” She does emphasise that it also allows her to shape her working week around her family and time for self-care – “I’m living how I want to work.”
“My advice to anyone at the beginning of their start-up journey is to bear in mind that you will be responsible for all aspects of the business – some you might enjoy while other bits you might not. Be prepared to work hard as it is definitely worth it,” says Haidee.
Looking to the future, Haidee is looking forward to returning to face-to-face contact with people, particularly young people who will have been affected greatly by the recent lockdowns. She is also working on a funding application for a scheme which has the potential to help more vulnerable young people which excites her. She highlights the Dalai Lama quote below which is her inspiration for moving forward.