Melanie (Om Shanti) Charlebois is the co-owner of the Bodhi Tree Yoga Centre in downtown Kemptville. She and her husband Rob took over the business from its founder about a year ago and since then have been settling into their new roles as business owners and partners.
We had the chance to sit down with Melanie and talk with her about what she feels is most important for her when it comes to business ownership and life in general. She has some great insights. Not just for entrepreneurs for anyone who wants to live their values and make a difference every day.
Stay close to your roots
Yoga and spirituality has been running in Melanie’s veins since birth. “My mother was a spiritualist,” she says. “She taught intention, meditation and just being a good person.” When she found the Bodhi Tree after moving to Kemptville she immediately felt at home as it taught the same movement combined with yoga philosophy that she had grown up with. “I definitely believe in vibration,” she says. “You put out your vibration and it comes back to you.”
Melanie also fell into her spiritual name, Om Shanti, quite serendipitously. Om Shanti means vibration of peace and calm and it was given it to her by her yoga teacher at an Ashram in India. “It reflects what he sees you offer to the world and to your community,” she says. Melanie says she has always felt connected with the vibration of peace and even had the phrase tattooed on her arm a good two years before her teacher offered her the name. “I’ve always known about it through a deeper level of understanding,”she says.
It shouldn’t be too hard
Melanie says she believes that most things in life shouldn’t be forced or difficult. There is a difference between hard work and “banging your head against a closed door,” she says. Her transition into ownership at the studio felt right and everything just seemed to fall into place. “The fact that I worked for the Bodhi Tree and had been an integral part of it for ten years made it so easy for me to transition into the ownership of it,” she says. “I’m learning something new every day as a business owner but there are no real surprises.”
Melanie doesn’t shy away from the fact that there is competition in town when it comes to practitioners and studios that offer yoga. “I can’t offer the right thing to everybody,” she says. “I like the idea of them going where they need it most.”
As a community she believes that businesses need to acknowledge each other and help each other as it is difficult to operate in isolation.”Community is about sharing, getting together and building on each other in order to build yourself up,” she says. “It’s a push and pull, everyone has to work together.”
Do what you love
In order to support herself and her family Melanie works at another job to bolster her position as co-owner of the Bodhi Tree. Although it helps with floating the business she doesn’t see it as any less important as her role at the Bodhi Tree. This is because it allows her to live out her passions just as much as teaching and spreading the message and philosophy of yoga does. “It’s talking about resilience and mental health and your own personal well-being, ” she says. “It’s not that far off from what I do at the studio.”
Loving what she does is important for Melanie. She brings an entrepreneurial passions and spirit to both her jobs and always strives to live out her core values. “I live with passion,” she says. “That way none of it feels like work.”
Outsource the rest
As a busy mother and yoga teacher Melanie knows the value of good nutrition. BUT she doesn’t particularly love being in the kitchen. That is why she has someone deliver five nutritious frozen meals to her every week. That way she can ensure she has at least one balanced healthy meal once a day, and she can focus her energy on things like developing yoga teacher training curriculums or a new style of yoga class. “If I can outsource it all the power,” she says. “I can give it to someone else who loves cooking, can benefit from a few extra dollars and it is going to offer something that is good for me. It’s a win-win.” Melanie has figured out that by outsourcing some of the cooking she can save herself about seven hours a week. “That’s no small potatoes,” she says. “It’s almost a full work day.”
Nothing is above you
While she outsources her cooking, Melanie says she still cleans the studio herself. It gives her time to decompress and she feels like it is something that really adds value to her clients. “No task is beneath me,” she says referring to story she read about a senior monk who chose to clean toilets,“You walk into a bathroom, you sit down, you see a clean toilet, you are happy, that is not below me,” the monk said.
Be who you are
“What I do is who I am,” she says. When people are not authentic in their work it means they have to work overtime to present something that they may not be able to connect with. “Those people burn out so fast,” Melanie says. “It’s a lot easier [to smile] when it’s already there.”