This isn’t a story I share often, but when I do, I receive many surprised responses. So, I thought it was worth sharing with the Elan community in hope that you can continue to learn more about me and how Elan came to fruition.
I am an Accountant by profession, having graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Commerce and Arts degree. Being the child of Asian migrants with little education, doing well in school and getting a “good and stable” job was the goal. I naturally fell into the rat race with the aim of scoring a role at a Big 4 which I did. On my second day of work, my boyfriend at the time, now husband and father to my four children, was walking me to my office building and on the way, I turned to him and said, “I don’t want to go, can I go home?”. I sounded like a child refusing to go to school but, deep down, I knew something didn’t quite feel right. I didn’t feel aligned, and it didn’t set me alight but the 21-year-old me didn’t know any better and was worried more about the people I’d disappoint if I didn’t go through with this job that so many graduates were gunning for.
Fast forward 3 years, I became qualified as a Chartered Accountant but was never looking forward to the workday starting. One day I was on a flight to a client interstate and the plane experienced severe turbulence. An elderly man next to me sensed my nerves and queried why I was heading to Western Australia. I explained that it was for work and asked him the purpose of his trip. He was on his way to South Africa to be with the love of his life. In that moment, I realised that if the plane did go down, I would have died for work whilst he for love. Once the plane landed I quickly made my exit and, without warning, started to throw up. Whilst I had made wonderful friends and learnt so much through the experience of working in a big corporation, I questioned what it meant to spend so much of our time doing something we didn’t enjoy.
Shortly after this experience, I was engaged to my boyfriend, but I also tore my ACL right before my wedding. I needed a plan to leave my job but doing nothing wasn’t going to cut it. I took some time off to have surgery, get married and go on my honeymoon. At this point, I knew that corporate life was not for me but I didn’t know what I really wanted to do. My husband, a lawyer at the time, also decided the corporate world wasn’t for him. We had both grown up with parents in business so naturally we gravitated towards some type of small business. We landed on a Mex-Tex franchise. However, my father’s disapproval weighed heavily on me and I couldn’t help but feel disappointed by his reaction. He comes from the typical Asian parent mindset was to work hard to give our generation a good education so we could secure a “comfortable” office role rather than doing laborious work. We powered through anyway, this was difficult for a self-proclaimed “good girl” as going against my parents was extremely difficult for me.
The first few years of our marriage were spent working on the business which over the years moved on to a few different things. We didn’t stay in Mex-Tex forever, but it did teach us work ethic, systems and processes amongst many other important skills. I loved owning our own business, but it wasn’t without its own pressures. I think many people see the glamorous side of being a business owner but not the stress and pressures it brings with it. These challenges may include:
- Unstable income
- You never switch off (it wasn’t until Christmas 2022, ten years after being in business, that I had a break without having the need to turn on my laptop and process payments because I finally had someone looking after it!)
- Superannuation is something you consciously must set aside.
- There are no “departments” when you are a startup – you are HR, IT, Accounts, Finance, Strategy etc.
But I had faith that the hard work then was to create the future I wanted. It wasn’t until I had my first child that I really discovered what I really wanted to be doing. Many of us can find a new sense of passion, calling and creativity when we enter a different portal, the role of becoming a mother.
"Birth entirely blows [some people] up and as a result they go down this full self-actualisation path. They change careers and many move down the route of something creative they’ve always dreamt of pursuing. They are more open to connecting to new communities that speak their language and share their same values."
-Yahna Fookes, HOWL Issue 1
It was during my confinement after the birth of my eldest daughter that I dreamt up of Elan. I hope that through sharing traditional practices and knowledge that women feel comfortable and worthy of the care and support that we innately know we deserve but have for too long brushed aside. I had, and still have, grand plans for Elan even though a pandemic and growing my family might have put the brakes on it. I am in a season in my life where I want to enjoy my babies while they still want and need me and allow this business to slowly flicker away and as I gently tend to its embers, but I know I will soon be rebuilding up this fire. After having had 4 babies, my mission has grown, and I can’t wait to share its warmth with mothers and families everywhere.
What I do for work today is a far cry from my auditing days and when I started Elan, it really brought to life for me the Japanese concept of Ikigai, the combination of purpose, meaning and enjoyment working harmoniously together.
Note: Not everything you love should be turned into work. This is an important thing to remember, i.e.: some passions are meant to remain as hobbies. For example, just because you’re a good cook does not mean that you should open a restaurant because once the stress of running a business kicks in, it can very quickly become non-unenjoyable. Remember to keep some things special so you have things to look forward to doing induring your downtime, enabling you to rest, regenerate or get creative.
Elan House of Wellness is dedicated to nurturing, nourishing and empowering new mothers and families. Elan’s purpose is to support mothers during their pregnancy and postpartum journey. Currently, we aim to:
- Change the thinking around what true postpartum maternal care looks like through education, dialogue and sharing of experiences.
- Provide tangible tools of support that will care for mothers and their families.
Whilst this mission continues, we have grand plans for Elan, and we look forward to sharing them with you when the time comes.
Did motherhood open you up to changing directions in terms of work and passions? Or are we deep in survival mode? How can we carve out some time to still do some things that we love even if just in small doses?
I hope you have enjoyed learning a bit more about my background and I would love to hear more about your journey too as you transitioned into motherhood.
With love and gratitude,
HOWL Magazine Issue 01
See Instagram post here.