"Deep down I knew there was something else out there for me. I realise now that I probably wasn't ever going to 'work it out', I just had to try something and see!"
- Laura Thomas, Founder of Happy Sugar Habits
We love the fact that your business was inspired by your own personal experience of saying goodbye to sugar. Can you briefly explain a bit more about it?
Happy Sugar Habits helps people get control over sugar and embrace a healthier and more natural way of eating that moves away from mind dominating cravings, emotional eating and painful calorie counting. As a qualified health coach, I support individuals 1-2-1 on their own journey to find new freedom and balance with sweet food. I also run an online sugar detox group a few times a year. My personal experience taught me that the social and potentially emotional challenges of sugar and cravings are usually not as well considered or talked about, so that very much inspires my approaches and methods.
Tell me more about your career before starting your business?
I was a management consultant for a big company for 4 years. I worked for some fantastic clients and relished the steep learning curve that consulting lends itself to. I wasn’t really sure where I was heading long term though and had always seen consulting as a great foundation until I worked things out. Deep down I knew there was something else out there for me, but I very much struggled with knowing exactly what it was. I realise now that I probably wasn’t ever going to ‘work it out’, I just had to try something and see!
What inspired you to start Healthy Sugar Habits?
With a keen interest in health, it came to my attention that I had an unhealthy relationship with sugar and I wanted to do something about it. Back then, sugar wasn’t making the headlines as it is now, so I spent hours researching everything around it and scouting out foods that contained less sugar than what I was eating. I felt so much better when making the changes. I was so shocked that I’d been eating all these low fat ‘diet’ products that to be honest, I started to feel a bit mislead and let down by the whole system. I couldn’t help wonder why more people weren’t aware of sugar, how controlling and addictive it is… oh and the fact that it’s in nearly everything! This led me to the idea to start a blog about it in a bid to raise awareness, but also to help guide and inspire others in making healthy changes.
How did you manage building your business alongside your full time career?
It got to the point in my job where I wasn’t as happy and wanted a change. I decided that I wanted to take a sabbatical and throw myself into the blog and give myself some space to learn about the online world with a view to seeing what happens. At that point I didn’t really have a product idea or any real plan for where it was all going, but something somewhere was giving me faith. Fair to say lots of people thought I was going mad! I got a lot of ‘What?…You’re taking a sabbatical to blog about sugar!?!’. At the end of my sabbatical I had an idea for how things could shift into a business and I had enrolled in my health coach qualification, but I had absolutely no money left. I was truly blessed that my former employer found me an amazing new job training graduates that very effectively utilised my skills and experience and could also be part-time. So for the past year I’ve continued to work 50% in this job and 50% on the business to build it up slowly by myself. I’ve come to love the dynamic mix of both, even if they are worlds apart some weeks.
What’s been the biggest highlight?
My biggest highlight by far was working with my first few clients and seeing the changes in them, especially when at the start they didn’t think that certain changes were even possible. Getting e-mails from readers to say I’ve helped them or inspired them is just the most incredible thing too. It makes all the hard work worth it in a second.
What’s been the biggest challenge?
Dealing with the whole emotional journey and the more isolated nature of self-employment and entrepreneurship. I really didn’t think or prepare myself for this one! When I work at home on my own too much, I start to climb the walls! I’m learning how to manage myself when it comes to this and I’ve grown phenomenally over the past two years in terms of personal self-development from all the ups and downs.
You’ve built a fantastic online community through your blog posts and social media. What’s your secret?
Thank you! I think just that deep down desire to want to help people and also being myself. It took me a while to be more comfortable being myself online. I was very nervous at first of what I was saying and what people would think of me, so I tended to hold back a lot and deliberate for ages over blog posts. The ones where I’ve opened up scared the heck out of me at the time, but then I realised they’re what help people the most. I think readers see that I’m a (relatively!) normal woman evolving on my own health journey and finding peace with sweet food, rather than being this perfect sugar-free angel telling everyone they should quit forever.
What advice would you give to other women who dream of starting their own business?
Don’t wait for ‘the idea’ or the perfect moment. Pick something and get started today. Start something on the side and experiment. I’ll never forget buying the Happy Sugar Habits domain on a whim without very much thought into the name at all. I just wanted to complete the action of setting up a website and blog and making a start. I’m very very glad I did!
What’s next for you?
I’m looking to expand Happy Sugar Habits to reach more people through live events and workshops. I’ll also continue to coach. The more I work with people 1-2-1, the deeper I understand the nuances of sugar addiction and cravings in their many forms which interests me immensely. One day I’d love to write a book on it all.
What’s your favourite quote?
“You have not failed until you quit trying” I like it both from a business angle but it also applies nicely to changing sugar habits at challenging times!
Laura is a certified health coach supporting individuals in their journey to break free of sugar and sugar cravings. She helps people feel more confident and empowered with their health, finding peace with sweet food both socially and emotionally. Laura is the founder of Happy Sugar Habits, has presented her own radio show and has been featured in publications including Elle Magazine and The Daily Mail.
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