A healthy DOSE of work-life balance for wellness innovator businesswomen

Businesswomen Hettie Holmes and Shara Tochia .

It’s tech innovation meets wellness -- two British businesswomen with strong Irish roots targeting so-called “healthy hedonists” are encouraging others to find that ever elusive work-life balance.

Second generation Irishwomen Shara Tochia and Hettie Holmes are the co-founders of online wellness magazine DOSE -- an acronym of dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins, which heighten happiness and pleasure in the body and mind.

Targeted at health-minded people who like to let loose, their site promotes feel-good content and experiences from high-energy workouts to wholesome brunches, active adventures to “healthy-ish” cocktails.

It is a tried and tested formula to live by, according to Ms Tochia and Ms Holmes -- but it wasn’t always this way, they said.

Despite having worked in wellness since 2011, their 20s were typified by stress and burnout “as a result of working 100mph launching startups”.

Ms Tochia -- a regular visitor since childhood to her mother Breda Tochia’s home village of Moycarkey in Tipperary to see grandmother Mary Ryan, who now lives in Thurles, and women she credits as inspirational, strong and encouraging role models growing up -- launched the UK’s first online fitness booking aggregator and went on to launch 1Rebel fitness studio, while Ms Holmes was part of the founding team that launched Facegym.

They said they have since learned how to juggle their work and lifestyle priorities to find a balance and through DOSE, they now encourage other healthy hedonists to find theirs.

Ms Tochia, a part-time spinning instructor, makes fitness a key part of her routine, while Ms Holmes divides her time between a co-working space in Great Portland Street, London and her home in North Devon.

Ms Holmes, whose grandparents and family hail from Dillon’s Cross in Cork, said: “You could say that technology is a double-edged sword. While it has been a great enabler of flexible working, it has also contributed to a blurring of the lines between our home and business lives. Flexible working means work days are fluid and no longer have clear beginnings and ends but we don’t find this to be a problem.

“I have never been suited to regular office hours. I tend to work for intense periods in the early mornings and evenings, checking emails throughout the day. This allows me to factor in time to walk my dog, enjoy the wellness benefits of living in the countryside, and make time to start a family. I don’t find that my leisure time is being eroded by business connectivity. I can still appreciate the beauty of my surroundings while getting the job done.”

The women say they are part of a growing shift of remote workers seeking out flexibility and self-fulfilment for a healthier work-life balance, citing figures from the UK’s Trades Union Congress’ that 1.6 million employees regularly worked from home last year.

Despite working from different locations, the women say their business has gone from strength to strength.

Since launching the online magazine in 2016, which saw them execute digital partnerships with global brands, the brand now communicates to an audience of over 50,000, has written a book “DOSE: a healthy hedonist’s guide to London”, and has recently launched a podcast series, interviewing some of the most innovative minds in wellness -- which is now a multi-trillion dollar industry, according the movement’s Global Wellness Institute.

Last year, the business launched offline event partnerships with global Unilever brands, Heineken 0.0 non-alcoholic lager, creating the first nightclub indoor cycling event to a sell-out audience of 1,200 and smaller intimate events with Fabletics and Aveda.

The company now reaches a national audience and has multiple events planned for 2019 including a sold-out International Women’s Day panel in partnership with Classpass.

Ms Tochia said: “Yes, we work beyond the traditional eight hours but we are fortunate to have families that understand the nature of our work and over time we have learnt to establish boundaries – such as no phones at the table. We don’t believe that there should be a division between work and home lives. It’s all just life, at the end of the day.

Their ability to achieve all of this, while living a flexible, self-fulfilled lifestyle, is heavily due to technology, Ms Tochia said.

“We use apps like Dropbox, Quip, Pipedrive and Slack religiously to make our day-to-day tasks quicker and simpler. Our team can work remotely, so these tools allow us to maintain a steady flow of communication with them wherever they are in the world. Slack is like our Whatsapp for business.

“We have multiple threads going throughout the day with different team members, for everything from events to editorial and brand briefs, which helps us to compartmentalise and stay focused.”

Their proficiency and strategies to build integrated technology have enabled them to keep the management of their website and analytics tools in-house, and launch a book with a manuscript that can be easily updated to reflect the changing state of the fitness industry and prevent listings from going out of date.

Ms Holmes wrote and designed the book using skills from a past life designing brand strategies for startups.

As DOSE grows, Ms Tochia said, the need for technology will only increase.

In order to grow the business, we will be using technology increasingly to help us better understand our readers and their needs. We will be making some strategic hires over the next year to help us deliver content to our readers in a more targeted way.

This adaptability to learn about their millennial consumer and deliver them what they want all goes back to a genuine care for their readers’ wellbeing, Ms Holmes said.

"We don’t want to spam their inboxes. We want to deliver targeted content and experiences that are relevant to their needs to help them live happier, healthier lives.”

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