It’s necessary to take time away and give myself time off. As a small business owner, it’s hard to “turn it off,” but so important. I’ve learned this along the way but still practicing.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andra Maddox.
Andra Maddox is a native New Mexican. She moved to Taos, New Mexico in 2002, where she lives with her husband and two children. She is trained as a licensed massage therapist and certified yoga instructor.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up in southern New Mexico. My parents were entrepreneurs and instilled in me the value of hard work. I began working for them in 7th grade and continued through high school. We also gardened as a family. Living in southern New Mexico, where the soil is rock hard, growing anything is a labor of love, and it took all four of us. Because of them, I have a strong work ethic and spend most of my time outdoors, working the land.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I come across many quotes that resonate with me. However, my favorite to date is by Mary Oliver, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” This quote is a guidepost for my aspirations, dreams, and choices.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I read all the time. It is one of my favorite things to do.
Books that most impact and inspire me contain a common theme about the human condition and what it means to be human. As a Licensed Massage Therapist, I am also intrigued by the human body and our innate wisdom to heal and thrive. Some of my all-time favorites books are:
The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson
When the Body Says No, Gabor Mate
The Tao of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff
A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles
Gift from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
I worked as a licensed massage therapist in Taos Ski Valley when life came to a halt in March 2020. Before this career, I wore many “hats,” as most women do. My husband and I started a tree care/landscaping company in 2006, and we continued to operate that today. In 2014 I received my Massage Therapy License and became certified in yoga instruction. It was then that I first began working outside the home since our two children were born in 2006 and 2008.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
In 2018 I began my own small business, Zia Botanics. In 2019 I began to sell my products to the public via our local farmers market. I was again making plans to sell my products at local markets in and around New Mexico when the pandemic hit. I had the product(s) bottled and ready to go and no place to sell them. I did not have a website or social media presence, so I was in a lurch. Because of the Pandemic, I had to take my products and business nationally. I worked tirelessly to build my online store, social media presence, and marketing strategies.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
When I first made my skincare products, I gave them to several friends and family. Then, when the feedback started rolling in, and I heard how my products were helping their skin (and their kids, husbands, and grandparents’ skin), that convinced me that I had something special. It was then that I decided to go down this new path!
How are things going with this new initiative?
Things are going great! I have received such support and love from friends and family and my local community, which inspires me every day! I love what I am doing. I get to marry my passion for nature, being outside and working with plants and the land with caring for the human body.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I saw joy, passion, and determination from my mom and grandmother when they were in the garden, working, growing, harvesting, and putting up food that has stayed with me. It is part of who I am today. I remember one time being at my Grandma Tommie’s house when she was in her 80s. Her trees needed care, so my husband and I were in the yard with other family cutting and hauling limbs, and there was Grandma Tommie right beside us, dragging limbs. Eventually, someone told her it was okay for her to go inside, that we had this project covered. I’ll never forget her response. She said, “I don’t want to go inside!” She wanted to be right where she was, working in her yard alongside us.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
It’s been fascinating how my new product, Natural Ally Hydrating Toner, has resonated with people. I hear from people all over the country (US) that are benefiting from this product. I find it very interesting that it doesn’t matter the climate you live in; it seems we all need more hydration.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- How much time social media takes to do it well. It’s been a learn as I go experience for sure!
- To be super intentional with my daily/weekly tasks calendar and stick to it no matter what. As a business owner, I am responsible for everything, and it’s easy to be distracted by the numerous things that pop up in a day.
- It’s necessary to take time away and give myself time off. As a small business owner, it’s hard to “turn it off,” but so important. I’ve learned this along the way but still practicing.
- That autocorrect isn’t 100%, so proofread. 🙂 I am horrible at spelling.
- Don’t assume what others are thinking. It’s easy to get caught up in how we think something is going to land with people. These are just guesses, though, and are usually way off, so follow your intuition and go for it!
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
For me being outside, among nature and my plants, is very calming and soothing. I do try to limit my time spent on news feeds and social media daily. As a massage therapist, self-care is a big focus of our training. Meditation, exercise, journaling, being in nature, listening to beautiful music are all practices that center and calm me when I am stressed. I have recently taken up Tango dancing, and that has been a great outlet and a source of joy!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Wow. The movement I would like to inspire would-be to reconnect people back to nature and thus themselves.
We, as humans, have existed as part of nature for longer than we have been removed from it, as we often are in our current modern lives. I believe nature holds for us wholeness of being. If we seek out nature, then the capacity we have to live more fully expands.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Definitely Michelle Obama. Her care and love for people and advocacy on behalf of others is uplifting and inspiring. @michelleobama
How can our readers follow you online?
People can find me on Instagram and Facebook @ziabotanics and through my website, www.ziabotanics.com
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!