In Conversation with Katie Brindle of Hayo’u

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Describe your business in a few words?

Hayo’u is a gua sha tools and wellness brand, combining the ancient wisdom of Chinese medicine with innovative tools that achieve long lasting results in just one minute of daily use. Hayo’uFit is the UK’s first dedicated online Qigong platform, offering both courses and flow classes.

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

There were a few reasons really. I could see that the Eastern philosophy that I had trained in had an answer to the Western illness epidemic. As a consumer, I believed that companies need to offer responsible, long-term solutions to the products they were selling and offset any environmental damage along the way. As a practitioner, I could see that people wanted to be empowered about their health, but didn’t know where to start. And as a mother, I wanted to do my part to safeguard the planet for my children, contributing to a better world, not a lesser one. 

During my time as a Chinese medicine practitioner, I quickly realized that the prevention and self-treatment of illness was the secret of longevity in ancient China. Basically that when my patients practiced the self-care techniques I suggested in between treatments, they would get better so much more quickly. And I wanted to be able to reach more than one person at a time! 

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

I’ve been working in Chinese medicine since 2002. Alongside practising massage and reflexology, I studied Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and qualified as a Five Elements Chinese medical practitioner, graduating from the UK’s Integrated College of Chinese Medicine.

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

No, I wanted to be an opera singer! But I had a car accident, and that dream was taken away from me. I became an entrepreneur by necessity when I became a therapist and realised that I needed to scale up my knowledge.

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

There was no strategy! I had no idea what I was doing, it was a total baptism of fire. I learned on the job at great expense and I led by the vision of what I knew to be true. I literally learned everything the hard way.

We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?

So many! I could write you a book. I’ve made every mistake you can make. I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is who to trust – both in terms of employees within the business and competition/ agencies on the outside.

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

Without a doubt the testimonials that we get every single day. When we have awful days, I just pause to look at the flood of gratitude and it feeds me, it keeps me going and literally makes my heart sing.

When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?

I’ve discovered I’m bad at interviewing because I see the good side in everyone and been badly stung as a result. So, my technique is to leave it to someone else who is really good. Know what you are bad at!

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

We have actually seen a positive impact during the pandemic. I noticed that suddenly people were very interested in self-care and preventative health. And as people have been stuck at home with no access to their usual facials and spa treatments, self-treatment and creating a spa in your own bathroom has become so much more popular. We’ve had more time to indulge in looking after ourselves.

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

We are planning to launch in America this year, which is hugely exciting – and we’ve also got some pioneering NPD in the pipeline. So, growing the business, and also making progress with our sustainability goals. And setting up a charitable foundation, which is first thing I’m planning on implementing once the business is solidly established.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

The importance of community! Both in the sense that I’ve experienced the power of the organic community (the QiGang!) that was formed off the back of me just sharing my morning Qigong on a live feed on Instagram – and in the sense that our customer care at Hayo’u goes above and beyond. Self -care is preventative health and we are actually offering a service, we spend a lot of time answering questions and helping people with their health queries.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?

SO MUCH! I’ve learned everything on the job, I would have saved myself a fortune if I had known it all at the outset!

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

By practising what I preach! Qigong. Qigong translates as ‘life force practice’ and it is quite simply the most incredible exercise. By strengthening your life force on the inside, you will see the results on the outside. Life force is the very thing that makes you feel alive and energised and healthy – and the minute you start to practice you’ll feel the difference.

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

I have dyspraxia and dyslexia. Which means that I am not the most organized person. Thankfully I have a PA to help me with that! I struggle to read spreadsheets and I have no concept of how long it takes people to do things. It’s very annoying for my team! Although it has also made me quite good at explaining things in a way that’s simple to understand.

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

Tapping, gua sha massage and breath. 

Breathing. Properly. You can live for weeks without food and for days without water, but you can live for only minutes without breathing. This makes breathing the most powerful self-healing cure we have. It is at once so profound, so subconscious and so crucial to our very existence. Yet we barely use it to our advantage. Chinese wisdom places huge importance on breathing because it is one of the two major ways we create quality qi.

Finding a few moments to just sit and be still, whilst focusing on your breath, automatically switches the nervous system over from the active yang phase to the calming, restorative yin phase.

Tapping with bamboo is an ancient Chinese therapy called Pai Sha that works wonders for your general wellbeing.  It’s a simple, pleasurable, yet hugely effective way to support and maintain your health, no matter what your age or physical state. 

According to Chinese medicine an absolute fundamental of health is a good circulation of qi and blood around the body. This flow can be disrupted or stagnate for any number of reasons; a sedentary lifestyle, stress, emotional upset or injuries. 

In as little as one-minute a day, an all over body tap can clear areas of stagnation, support lymphatic drainage, release tension and encourage a smooth flow of blood and qi around the body. Tapping will instantly energise you in the morning and deeply relax you in the evening. 

This exercise gives your circulation a serious wake-up call, so it’s a great antidote to feeling tired or sluggish. technique should take anywhere between 1 and 5 minutes to practise – and daily is great, but whenever you feel like it! 

Gua sha massage. It’s unbelievably beneficial, yet feels so good that you’ll be only too happy to make it part of your daily routine. Gua sha is a type of therapeutic massage technique that you can do on yourself using a round-edged tool. It’s been widely practised in China for thousands of years. ‘Gua’ means to scrape or rub, whilst ‘sha’ describes the temporary redness that results. 

The body gua sha tool is also a half-moon shape but is made of thinner jade or metal, because your body benefits from a little more intensity. You can also use a jam-jar lid.

Gua sha was traditionally given by family members or friends for a huge range of conditions, from fever, muscle pain and musculoskeletal problems to inflammation, chronic coughs, sinusitis, diarrhea and migraines. It was also considered good for the prevention of illness, with treatment focussed on a particular area of the body depending on the issue. It’s said to maintain and strengthen your constitution, increasing your longevity. If you are new to gua sha, working on your chest, back and shoulders is a good starting point.

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

I always say that I’m not a businesswoman, I’m a woman in business. I’d like to think that my story illustrates that anyone can do it. I had no training, just a good idea and I got on with it and stuck with it. I have gumption, tenacity, passion and integrity. Those qualities in modern business are just as important as understanding how to read a spreadsheet!

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