You may already be familiar with Britt and her San Francisco-based practice as a doula, yoga instructor and photographer, but what you may not know is just how Britt maintains a flourishing business—taking on 4-5 clients per month and teaching classes and workshops—while managing to take two days off every week, as well as many evenings and weekends, traveling extensively, and continuing to enjoy her first love: fine art photography with a focus on women’s bodies.
We chatted with Britt to find out more about how she achieves such a satisfying work-life balance while keeping her own health in check and maintaining her leadership as an active birth professional. We also wanted a sneak peek into what Britt will be teaching us on the retreat as she leads a business workshop for doulas as well as our daily yoga sessions.
The theme for our retreat is Collaborative Entrepreneurship. What does that mean for you in your practice?
A big part of it is being in a doula partnership. In the summer my partner and I alternate in and out of town. I travel a lot. I make sure I have two days off every week. I don’t book meetings on the weekends and try not to book too late into the evening. Wednesdays are my day for self-care. If I teach a workshop on the weekend, I make sure that Wednesday I’m not doing any work. I often surf on Wednesdays. I make sure that my work is supporting my life rather than my life being about my work! That has always been crucial for me.
What attracted you to your profession?
When I was in school for photography, a fire was lit inside of me to dedicate my work to women’s bodies. That’s when I discovered yoga and started to get into my body and became interested in how women related to each other and each other’s bodies. As I was getting out of college there began to be people in my life who were pregnant, and I just really wanted to be around pregnant women and was photographing everyone around me.
That’s when I started teaching yoga. I realized there was something really powerful I could do with my hands and that’s when I got really into the realm of health and healing.
When I moved to San Francisco, I had been working in commercial photography for a few years and was starting to get very disillusioned with it as a commercial endeavor. It was then that I knew I had to work for myself and that I wanted to work for and with pregnant people. I left advertising photography.
I started to do prenatal yoga training and prenatal massage training. When I was training to learn how to do prenatal massage that was when I first learned about being a doula. I was like, “Oh, I’m totally a doula!” Of course!” I felt intuitively that’s what I already was. As soon as I got my prenatal yoga training, women started asking me to be at their births.
What can retreat-goers expect from your yoga classes and workshop for doulas?
A big focus of what I’m going to be teaching in the workshop is how to create boundaries with your clients. For me that means assuring that my clients are taking responsibility. I’m only interested in working with people who are committed to doing the preparation that it takes to really be an active participant in their birth. I know there’s a doula for every birthing person, but it’s really about being clear on what your values are. I want to make sure people are hiring me because our values match. Ask the questions: “What do you care about? What’s important to you?,” so that you can practice according to what your values are, otherwise it’s not an enjoyable job.
In our retreat yoga sessions, you’ll be able to deepen your self-care by taking time to unwind, tune into your body, and treat her with love. I want us to ask ourselves some serious questions.
Do we dedicate ourselves as doulas to getting attune to our own intuition as much as we tell pregnant clients they should do that? We’re asking pregnant clients to prioritize self-care but is the doula doing that? Is the doula taking her health into her own hands?
We talk a lot about self-care, but tell us more about why it’s at the forefront of building a business.
The self-care piece got really strong for me because I got really sick. I was struggling with Lyme disease for about 15 years and I worked through that. I found that I had no choice. I had to go to acupuncture. I had to get massages. I had to do my yoga practice because I was feeling all this pain in my own body. Initially it was for survival that I had to do that.
In my practice now, I take care of myself. I spend so much money on myself. I take so much time off! I have worked in a partnership for the past year and a half. If I don’t do at least a little bit of yoga and meditation every day, if I don’t cook for myself and eat healthy, unprocessed food, then I don’t have the energy to be a doula. As soon as I know someone’s in labor or even getting close to giving birth, the first thing I do, besides finding someone to teach my yoga classes, is make sure that I’m not going to subside on dried fruit and bars and nuts, but that I’m going to have a real meal with vegetables and protein. If I’m coming out of a birth and there’s a dance party going on that night, I just drink a bunch of green tea and go dancing anyway. I have such a high pleasure principle.
When I went through that really complicated health situation, I had to be my own “doula” and call in other doulas. I really got to see the power of having a doula and being a doula and found that if I let myself lie in the hands of the medical establishment, I wasn’t going to get better. I found a lot of confidence in making my own decisions.
Why and how this retreat will impact our businesses?
There’s this momentum that comes from stepping into your own power and defining yourself as a really awesome doula! For me, the more I say that and take a step back and think “I’m totally qualified, I have a lot of experience, I’m a really good doula!” the more there’s this incredible momentum happens in my practice. I’m showing up to the interviews with a tremendous amount of confidence. I think that probably could have happened a lot earlier. That didn’t have to be after 15 years of practice! It has come from all this work that I’ve done within myself: therapy, meditation, yoga, shamanic work, allowing me to gain a lot of faith and trust in my intuition. And I think the collaborative entrepreneurship theme has to be there because it allows us to hold each other accountable to that.