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12 INSPIRING PEOPLE. MARCH: DONNA HAY
Mar 23, 2023
March is the month for empowerment, we've had International Women’s Day and a reminder that we have all come so far. This month I am really proud to share Donna’s story.
Donna set up WILDWOMAN after going experiencing what she refers to as ‘a train of grief’, after experiencing more funerals at the age of 25 than weddings. Through this painful and difficult journey Donna set up a business to help others who are going through challenging periods in their own lives, encouraging us all to take time for ourselves – no matter what is going on in life.
WILDWOMAN is a self-care subscription box designed just for you. The aim is simple: To help you take time for you for yourself and each box includes a carefully curated array of gifts and personal development books to help you rest, play, connect and learn.
Donna thank you for being a part of our 12 inspiring people series this year.
How did you get the idea for WILDWOMAN?
After losing myself in some tidal waves of grief, I found it really hard to articulate how I was feeling. I felt like I was literally lost out at sea and hoping that something would come along and save me, but to be honest I didn’t want to put the work in that I knew I would need to, to cope with the swim back to shore. So, I enrolled in a local mindfulness meditation course that promised me I could pretty much sit in silence for 1 hour a week and prove to my family that I was ‘coping’.
That course took me on a HUGE journey. From the first week, attending with my yoga mat under my arm – thinking it was going to be like a yoga class…to thinking about quitting in the 3rd week…to leaving on week 4 with pins and needles in my hands and feet and this strange, spacious feeling in my mind and lungs…but significantly better. Meditating was helping me to heal. Living mindfully was transforming my life.
At the end of those 8 weeks, my teacher gave me a book – The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma – her words to me were – ‘Donna, you need to read this…’ and that book took me on a pathway to discover bookshelves I had never really stood in front of. The self help section. I was hooked. The books were opening up parts of my mind that had felt like they were never opened and so I started telling people around me about the books, about how I was learning, growing and fully feeling. It was then that my best friend suggested I start a bookclub…
The entrepreneurial spirit in me decided to build a community on Instagram to run alongside these Brighton based bookclubs and soon, when people across the country started getting involved in reading the books I was sharing, I learnt that actually I could create the bookclub experience but in a self care based subscription box that would help people discover exactly what I was discovering too. This was 2018 when the subscription box market was booming so it was a huge sign for me to go for it. And so, WILDWOMAN was born!
Where does the name come from?
Whilst hosting my regular bookclub in Brighton I pitched the idea of a subscription box to the members and told them that I was struggling with a name for the box. I wanted it to evoke a powerful feeling.
On that very same night, a now friend of mine had come along to experience the bookclub for the first time and bought with her an unexpected gift for me. A copy of Clarissa Pinkola Estés book, Women Who Run With The Wolves – with a simple message for me…’read this’. Just a few pages in to that book, that very same evening, it became totally clear…WILDWOMAN was to be the name.
Grief and death is such a difficult subject, what tips have you got for people who are going through this at the moment?
I think first and foremost be kind to yourself. Take exactly what you need in any given moment. Whether that looks like wrapping yourself up in a duvet and spending an afternoon crying or whether you feel like you need fresh air, a flask of tea and a group of friends. I think living in the moment when you are experiencing grief is very important. It allows us to fully feel our feelings and in my experience that’s what helps us heal.
I would also say protect your boundaries. It’s likely that many of your friends and family will want to reach out and offer help and support. Go with whatever feels good for you but remove any pressure of feeling like you need to respond to everyone. Take everything at your own pace. Grief has no time limit.
You started by mending yourself – what was the lightbulb moment for your business?
My background before WILDWOMAN was always marketing. And at the time I went through this grief I knew that my working life needed to change, to enable me space to heal so I went freelance – supporting small businesses locally with things like PR, website design, copywriting and social media.
I was working with another small business in the craft industry, helping them to build a new product offering in the subscription box market and it just so happened one of the agencies I used to work at was hosting a subscription box marketing event that we went along to. It was sitting amongst the likes of Craft Gin Club and Birchbox and a whole host of subscription box start-ups that I noticed a gap in the market for something that was non-fiction related, with a deep focus on personal development and self care!
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I am big into human design and my type is a Manifestor. This means I am like a sponge for ideas which I absolutely recognise in my day to day. I can be inspired by the smallest details like the weather believe it or not! But I’m also very intuitive, so a lot of my creativity comes from tuning in and listening to what my community is feeling or needing. I’ll then create an experience or box based on those needs and so far this has served me well. Every box, every event, every retreat always seems to come at the exact time it is needed.
What is the hardest bit about running your own business?
I think loneliness is a big one. When you work for yourself or you are the director it’s really hard for someone on the outside to totally understand how you are feeling in those moments of panic if a wholesale order is lost or when you get caught up in comparison traps of ‘is this good enough’. It’s even hard sometimes to put it into words! But that’s where connecting with like-minded business women and men is super important! Build your tribe early on and it makes the hurdles easier to overcome.
There is so much information and noise out there, how do you find time for you?
Over the years I have been on a complete transformation of what is important to me and time is one of my core values both in my relationships with others and with myself. It’s really easy to put appointments in the diary with everyone else isn’t it? I literally schedule time in for me too.
I block it out and communicate it with clients so that I don’t feel bad for taking the time for me. Some might say my boundaries are tight but it’s how I protect my self and my energy…It’s something I know I have to have in place because it fills up my own cup, and everyone needs that to be overflowing to allow us to give more out.
What books would you recommend for people who are at a turning point in their lives?
Where do I start…there are SO many but for those at the very beginning I would recommend two books:
Tell us a little about the retreats you run?
We started running retreats at the end of last year after years of wanting to do so but having to put plans on pause due to the travel restrictions we all faced.
So far we’ve ran and sold out two of our Reading & Relaxation Retreats – one that was held in Sussex and another most recently in Anglesey, Wales. The retreats are an invitation to completely rest in incredible surroundings. To connect with likeminded women and to be held in a safe, non-judgemental place so that you can drop back into who you are.
They have been very transformative for every woman who has been on retreat with us so far – it’s amazing how just 4 days of complete calm, no distractions or decisions to be made can help us regulate ourselves. And for me, there is no bigger honour than to witness the calmness wash over a retreat guest – I am so passionate about helping women slow down and prioritise themselves and so the retreats feel like the pinnacle of this.
How do I join WILDWOMAN?
You can subscribe to our quarterly boxes via our website - https://iamawildwoman.com/ and chose from our standard or premium boxes. Our premium, annual subscription also includes access to our online community too where we hold a bookclub, a self care workshop and a sharing circle every month.
And if you are interested in coming on our next retreat or event then make sure you sign up to our mailing list or connect with us on Instagram for all the announcements! Sign up here
And lastly, what are your favourite Sarah Verity rings and why?
I am the proud owner of 4 Sarah Verity rings, and each one has been purchased by myself at a poignant moment with WILDWOMAN.
When I started the business I bought myself the Atomic Blue Sunstone to support my courage to build and grow the business and to help me feel powerful. Then I purchased a pink quartz after my breakup to help heal my heart and most recently after hosting the first retreat I purchased the Audie Dark Iolite ring and the Siren Malachite ring to support my spiritual practice and the transformation I was going through at the time.
Almost every day someone asks me about my rings – I LOVE them! Next on my list is the Highway Star in Green Marine Quartz to help spark my creativity as I start to write my very own book…
Shop our Blue Sunstone rings to gain your inner power here
Get your Creativity on here