Social Enterprise Startup Story: Eat Move Glow
Laura Phillips, co-founder of Eat Move Glow, is a physical education teacher, cancer survivor and wellness enthusiast. Laura aims to empower and support people affected by cancer with nutrition, exercise and wellness tools.
Laura has always been full of energy with a great appetite for life. So when she started feeling tired all of the time coupled with a loss appetite, she knew something was up. Because of her age and healthy lifestyle it was put down to something minor and she carried on. However her ill-health continued to get worse, suffering with night sweats, breathlessness and flu type symptoms.
Enough was enough and after being unable to walk from the car to house, Laura attended A & E and was diagnosed with pneumonia, and a collapsed lung. The doctors feared there was something more sinister going on, and a further PET scan confirmed their fears. At 34 she was diagnosed with stage 3 'Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma' , cancer of the blood, the 5th most common cancer. Five days later and Laura was hooked up to her first of six chemotherapy treatments.
So six months on, no hair, some green smoothies, a pinch of Turmeric and some yoga later, one stubborn tumor remained in the spleen. Laura opted for a splenectomy over radiotherapy and out the spleen went.
The excellent treatment and support that Laura received, has inspired her to give back. Laura has created her own support group for people affected by cancer, Eat Move Glow. The group provides and shares nutrition, movement and well being tools. It aims to empower and support people, making sure no one is alone during their treatment.
How did you start putting your idea into action?
The business began as a website and a blog on food/nutrition advice that had been set up originally by a friend of mine who was in remission from ovarian cancer and a nutritionist by trade. I took over the website and continued the blog. I then expanded using ‘meet up’ to organise the group meetings. I also used Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to spread the word about what I was doing and kept up my private email account for close and existing community members.
How did you let people and potential clients/customers know what you were doing and market your organisation?
I promote all our Eat Move Glow events, workshops, groups and local resources on our facebook page(Eat Move Glow), twitter handle (eat_move_glow) and instagram account (eatmoveglow). It is still work in progress and I’m still building the community with every spare piece of time I have. The Bath community has been amazing, I work closely with the Bath charity ‘Good for Nothing’, Enactus (Bath University Business Volunteering Group), Bath Indie Chat, Cancer Research UK, Lymphoma Association, World Health Heros, Well Bath, Wellbeing College, Bath Yoga Studio, Jo Kitts Yoga, Sue Judge Nutrition and Sarah Lillywhite Health & Fitness. I have been overwhelmed with the support, guidance and help I have received from so many more people around Bath.
How did the SEIP bootcamp help you to develop your business/strategy etc?
The programme was really interesting and it was great to meet other social entrepreneurs. It was helpful to look at all the different business model options and we were given a great template for a business plan.
It was also useful to start building a network for Eat Move Glow. I was put in touch with Good for Nothing and subsequently won its enterprise support competition. I’m also now working with Enactus and have had some support from the Dot Project. I would never have made those connections on my own.
What are your long-term goals for your organisation and aims for the future?
There is such a universal need for nutrition, movement and wellness support for people affected by cancer. I would love to partner with larger cancer organisations to generate a wider pool of resources and expand the community so that it is accessible to all.
My ultimate goal is to have a Eat Move Glow centre focused on cancer rehabilitation before, during or after cancer treatment. I would have areas for cookery and nutrition, relaxing and spiritual support, counselling, exercise – everything to support a healthy lifestyle. Bath was originally renowned for its healing waters and there is a great community of people here to make it work again as a healing city.
What do you do in your spare time?
During chemotherapy treatment I started to paint and used art therapy to relax,I still find that it helps to this day. I also do yoga, meditate and walk daily. I love to be sociable, organise dinner parties and enjoy time with family and friends.I do not have the copious amounts of energy I had before cancer which impacts on my physical activity levels. I am currently still in remission from non-hodgkin's lymphoma and have another year and half left before I am officially all clear. The key focus for any cancer patient/survivor is to live as long as possible and as healthy as possible after diagnosis. I incorporate nutrition, exercise, wellbeing in every aspect of my day to aid in my recovery and life.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of setting up their own social enterprise?
Networking is really important, talking to people and meeting for coffee – to expand your contacts and spread the word. Also listening to other social entrepreneurs to find out what has worked for them. Also, don’t worry about making a mistake or failing, just learn from your mistakes. Perseverance is key!
Would you recommend the SEIP bootcamp to others and why?
Yes 100%. It really helps to see other business models and to break down and understand how they work in more detail. It is also useful to explore what social enterprise actually means and looks like to others people to see yourself in context.
In her ‘spare’ time, Laura also volunteers for cancer charities including Cancer Research UK and is recruiting for its Relay for Life 24 hour walkathon on 23rd June. If you would like to sign up a team of 8-10, please contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org and join in the fun. It’s a family event so all age groups are welcome.