This post was originally published on NOEW.org. New Orleans Entrepreneur Week is a festival celebrating entrepreneurship and innovation in New Orleans. See it all happen this year March 19-24, 2017.
Sheena Mannina had struggled with her health throughout most of her early life. Severe menstrual cycles left her silently suffering and her adolescence was mired with medication varying from antibiotics to hormone therapy. When her health didn’t show any signs of improvement through doctor’s prescriptions, she decided to bypass their recommendations and seek alternative healing methods.
She started by exploring nutrition. She began researching juices, raw foods, and experimenting with a myriad of diets. She was hungry to learn more about what she could do to improve her health. She wanted to learn first-hand about creating juices and raw foods. But at the time, Mannina, a New Orleans native, says there was nowhere to do that locally.
So, she decided to leave home and make a move to the Northeast coast. Mannina had been working in what she says was a rewarding and steady marketing job in Baton Rouge. She left and accepted an hourly wage position managing a juice bar in the Hamptons, where she learned the ins and outs of creating raw food and juices. But Mannina says she knew from the start she wanted to bring everything she learned back home.
In November 2013, Mannina opened Raw Republic, a raw juice bar uptown serving up organic, pressed juices and smoothies. (We can’t keep our hands off of the coco cacao smoothie.) Last summer, she brought in an in house chef to create specialty raw and vegan foods. Think organic avocado toast and nutrient packed acai bowls. In July 2016, Mannina expanded and opened The Space, a holistic healing space that offers Shakaju, a form of acupuncture without needles, health coaching services, nutrition and energy healing, and meditation. In June she launched her podcast, Raw Talk with Sheena, where she has candid conversations with holistic health practitioners about spiritual health and topics including birth control, energy healing and nutrition. In between working her magic, she opened up to The Distillery about the highs and lows of helping clients live healthier, happier lives, and why it’s important not to lose yourself as an entrepreneur.
What led you down this path?
I think the journey started from a place of wanting to heal myself outside of conventional medicine and practices. When you become so frustrated with a method that everyone else around you is using, and it’s not working for you for a variety of reasons, you start questioning what can I do with my own knowledge, and what will actually make a change? And so through that method of self-discovery, I was given a lot of information and inspiration to go down the route of nutrition, holistic healing, energy work and spiritual practices. It’s all been a process of learning what makes me healthier and happier.
When did you begin experimenting with nutrition?
I began to research when I was living in Baton Rouge. I enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and became a health coach. I had a health coach of my own during that time as well. I worked with a lot of raw food chefs and gained a lot of insight into why people eat the way that they do and how certain diets affect people. I began observing and watching my clients and seeing what creates the most radical shift for people and what brings people to a state of being healthier and happier which is the ultimate goal. Getting them out of their cycles of eating and thinking, and patterns and the way they live their life and bringing them to a place where they can experience more positivity in their lives.
What has been the most difficult part about this journey from when you began the process of realizing there was an alternative to healthcare, to where you are now?
For me, it’s been not deeply identifying with the success and processes that take place in a business. I think often times entrepreneurs marry the business to their personal lives, to their everything, so that means with every up and down with the business, you’re experiencing an up and down personally, which is very difficult to swallow, because you feel personally responsible for every single thing that takes place, until you become mature enough in business and your personal journey to know that they are separate.
“So the pain came when I was attached to what other people’s perceptions of what a business should be or what a business owner should be. I started releasing that and saying this is actually my life and this is its own entity. And most of the time, bigger and better things happen outside of your control than what happens under your thumb.”
There’s only so much we can do to affect everything. When you see that you don’t have control, and you start releasing, you can do the same for your business. When I said, I don’t really have full control over what happens to me personally, that’s when I realized I don’t have full control over everything in my business either, and so I released that which I’ve held onto for so long.
“But unfortunately, we’re immersed in a society that perpetuates hard work, hard work, hard work. Depletion, depletion, depletion. Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice. And I don’t think that needs to be the case, but I’m convincing myself as I say that because it’s something that we as a society have believed for so long.”
So for you, the hardest part was releasing this idea that you have to do and control everything?
Yes, do everything, be everything, and that the business had to be perfect. And that I had to do everything that everyone else says is a rule to be successful. I am in the business of learning. So if you don’t allow yourself to make mistakes and to fail, you’re not going to learn from an experiential perspective that sticks with you and you understand in a deep level.
If you don’t fail personally, you don’t know what failure means. If you don’t see something around you fall apart, you don’t understand why. You can’t live your life based on other people’s rules and what other people say is going to happen. You’re missing out. Why would you want to rob yourself of that experience of learning? It’s like trying to say it’s not important for you to experience sadness. That experience is just as important as you being happy. Because without one, there is no other. We live in a universe of polarity. You have to experience the darkness to see the light.
Do you want to talk more about the hardest part of this?
The fear of failure. That’s truly what’s kept me awake at night. It’s what has driven the part of me that is not creative and progressive. It’s the part of me that I’m working on bringing an acceptance and love to. And that it’s all coming to a place of acceptance and that failure is okay and that whatever happens to me personally and to this business is supposed to happen. Maybe it’s the fear of it actually being something bigger than I’m ready to accept.
That’s scary too, isn’t it?
Yes, everything that signifies change and growth before looking at it seems and feels really scary.
Was there any part of this where you thought Oh God, what am I doing?
Yes, like how many can I count? It’s too many to count. And the really interesting and cool part about it is that you don’t know if it’s something that’s bringing light to your personal growth, or for the growth of the business because they mirror one another.
So many of the ways that I’ve grown have been through feeling the ups and downs of this business. Over the past three years, it’s been the biggest teacher in my life, along with my relationship. And I’m so grateful for all the shit that they’ve brought up.
If you feel insecure, it’s going to come through your business. If you feel afraid, it’s going to come through. If you aren’t confident about your message, it’s going to come through. Your business is going to ask you why don’t you feel confident in this decision? Why aren’t you confident in this message?
And it’s going to feel like pain. And if you can look into it and say, why am I not confident? Is there something I’m not seeing? Or is there a bigger message in this for me, or is this something that I don’t believe in that I’m promoting because someone else said that I should be? There’s a lot of growth opportunity through the process of business.
I would say that anyone that has a love or is passionate about what they do, that they have experienced just as much darkness as they have light through their business because it’s an expression of individual growth and learning.
The first time I got a cash flow statement that showed if all the checks went out, we would be negative, that was not a good day for me. And it still happens. It’s not the best day ever when that happens. It’s like, fuck. You feel like your world is ending, and then you recognize that your world is not ending. But I have to continue showing up for what I can do best and that continues to teach me things that I’m good at and not good at and it teaches me how to ask for help.
If you can’t have acceptance and love for your business because the numbers are showing something negative, than how can you have that love and appreciation when the money is flowing in?
Is it difficult to remain being a source of inspiration to your clients as a health coach when you are going through the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur?
Yes, and it brings up the issue of boundaries and needing personal space from my clients and customers, and employees. I need space to process. It’s when you haven’t been giving yourself that space, or allowing yourself to process, or taking care of yourself, despite what’s happening around you.
And shit is always happening around us through personal or business experiences. We can give lists of what we’ve experienced, what we’re experiencing now and what we’re going to experience in the future. Despite the shit, are you giving yourself the space and time that you need to be in a state of presence and give yourself what you need?
What do you do in those times when you feel depleted? And what advice would you give to an entrepreneur in a similar place?
A lot of times entrepreneurs will feel that shit is going crazy and the numbers aren’t adding up, and it seems like the exact time that you wouldn’t be taking care of yourself, but that is the most important time to do so. If you take the time to check in a couple times a day, your body, mind and spirit will speak to you. It will give you messages. Take a walk, meditate.
It’s not a selfish thing to take care of yourself. It’s actually one of the most self-less things you can do. That’s a major requirement and commitment. And it can’t just happen once, it’s a continuous practice. It involves so many different things. It involves saying no a lot, to friends, to family, to potential business opportunities.
When you check in, and give your mind, body and spirit, it will guide you in the most miraculous directions. You’ll say no to something because you’ll feel in your gut that it’s not right, and you’ll be given something bigger because you trust your guidance system.
What if an entrepreneur only has time to do ONE thing for their health during the day? What would you have them do?
Go outside if possible, ground yourself in the earth or the grass, put your feet on the ground, close your eyes, take a deep breath and ask, what do I need?
What do you enjoy the most about the work you do?
There is always something new to learn. A new source of inspiration for healing, a new method, an old method that I haven’t discovered, there’s always new information and yet sometimes the most inspiring thing comes from spending time by myself.
What are you reading right now?
The Reconnection by Dr. Eric Pearl, The Universe has your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein, and Anything you Want by Derek Sivers.
What motivates you to wake up and do the work that you do?
The fact that I see people changing through my messages, these juices and through the information that’s housed here in these people. I see miracles. I really do.
Any other last words you’d like to share with readers?
I wish that I had known and felt that everything is always okay and everything that I had experienced is part of the process and the faster you can accept that, the faster those things will work themselves out. And being more playful and light and letting things go and being more accepting of myself and the trajectory of owning a business. Having a love and an appreciation for all aspects of the process. That’s what I want more people to feel.
*Editor’s Note: This interview has been condensed and edited.