1. Give me some background information on yourself and your business.
My name is Asha Dickens and I own October Lotus. October Lotus is a holistic healing company that, at the moment, offers both Reiki services (sessions and attunements) and healing herbal formulas in the form of yoni steams and drinkable herbal teas for reproductive wellness.
2. What made you decide to become a entrepreneur? How did you get into your work?
After rupturing cysts on my ovaries twice in the span of 5 months in 2016, I was diagnosed with endometriosis. It also happened to be one of the most challenging years of my life on all fronts, my health, family health, relationship, career. After my laparoscopic surgery, my doctor suggested I begin taking birth control to prevent ovulation & thus, reduce the likelihood of cysts forming on my ovaries. That option didn't sit well with me but it was the only option I was given. I tried it & immediately knew that was a bad choice. I began researching holistic ways to ease or prevent my symptoms. Someone suggested I try Reiki to ease my symptoms. During this time I also discovered yoni steaming & quickly got off of birth control. I began using simple herbal recipes I found online. My discomfort was greatly reduced. I began to learn more about herbs & endometriosis. I started thinking it was possible herbs could possibly resolve some of the suspected causes of endometriosis. I enrolled in an herbology course & educated myself then created a formula for endometriosis & fibroids. The results were great. No more ruptured cysts, & according to my ultrasounds, my fibroids shrank. I also fell in love with Reiki & decided to get my own attunement to become a Reiki practitioner.
During all of this I quit my job. I worked a very high stress job in advertising for 11 years at that point. I was burned out, unhappy & at the beginning of a spiritual awakening. My plan was to quit in October, take the remainder of the year off & figure out my next move in January. Well that didn't happen. I quit in August & never went back to a full time job. I became a full time entrepreneur. I started an advertising agency with two friends/colleagues. I was still making my herbal blends for family & friends & they loved it. I decided to also launch October Lotus & the rest is history.
3. Please share your endo/chronic illness story (as much or as little as you'd like).
My endo diagnosis caught me completely by surprise. I had literally no indicators that there was something wrong. My periods were mild & "regular", no painful cramps, urination or otherwise. Then Memorial Day 1996 I woke up with a horrendous hangover (& I'd only had 2 drinks the night before). As I was getting ready to go to a family BBQ I was hit with the worst cramps I'd ever experienced in my life. It was hard for me to move. I got to my aunt's house & felt miserable. It was hot outside but I felt like I was overheating. Then I passed out. That was my first ruptured cyst. 5 months later I repeated the cycle, but I knew what to expect so I wasn't caught off guard in the same way. But from that moment I knew I couldn't experience that again. I've ruptured a cyst once since 2016 and that was last year. It was because I stopped my regimen of yoni steaming & tea.
4. What were the best & hardest parts of starting your business, both personally and professionally?
The best part of starting my business was doing something I really love & enjoy. I felt so good about the idea of helping women. I knew how my body responded to Reiki & herbs & I really wanted to share that with the world. It dawned on me that this work is really my purpose. In 2015 I'd had an intuitive reading with my friend & mentor Jamila White & she told me she saw me working with herbs & women. That just sounded like nonsense to me at the time, but after I created October Lotus, I remembered what she'd said. That further confirmed I was living out my purpose. When you realize that, it makes things just a little easier because you do everything out of love.
There were two things I found difficult about starting my business. The first was that while I knew not to expect success out the gate, I didn't think it would take quite so long to see results. I was so naive thinking that just because I built it people would come. LOL!! As if people were just sitting around waiting for me to launch my business. Treating October Lotus like a real business & not just a gift was a difficult transition, although I knew how to do that.
The other difficult piece is that I suffered (& still do to a degree) from imposter syndrome. You question yourself a lot with every step of your business. When things were moving slow, the thoughts were, 'is this even a business? Is this really a product people want? You're a marketer, not a healer." When those thoughts start to get stronger, without fail, someone says something to encourage me. Whether it's a message I read that seems to be for me, or a compliment from a client, a message from my ancestors, they all help me snap out of that doubt.
5. What did you learn about yourself and your support system while studying/training and starting your business?
I have an amazing support system. I knew I had an amazing family & great friends, but understanding that you also truly have folks that support you is priceless. I learned that I had more support than I thought. When I left my career I assumed people would think I was crazy. I also had a hard time releasing my previous career, which was my own issue. The people in my life embraced my business. They encouraged me to move forward & to execute my idea. Those friends & family who'd tried my herbal blends reminded me constantly that I have a quality product & not to give up. Through this process I learned that I couldn't ignore my purpose any longer. I am a healer. I learned that entrepreneurship is difficult, but I am supported both physically & spiritually. My faith has been tested many times, but I've learned that when you are doing the work you are meant to do, you will always be fine.
6. What is your niche? What defines and separates your brand and business from others?
There are two components of my business. There's the womb wellness aspect & the Reiki Master aspect. My niche is ultimately people who are seeking alternative, more spiritually based ways of healing. I offer Usui Reiki to both men & women. My womb wellness products & sacral chakra related energetic healing sessions are for women. I enjoy supporting women. I love being able to provide a natural alternative for our healing. My brand is different from other Yoni Steams & herbal teas in that October Lotus focuses specifically on reproductive challenges. Each of my formulas were developed with the symptoms & causes of specific issues in mind. I developed each blend to individually combat issues like endometriosis, fibroids, ovarian cysts, dysmenorrhea (cramps), fertility support, PMS/Menopause symptoms, menorrhagia (heavy cycle) & general detoxification.
7. Where do you see your business in 5 years?
In five years I see myself operating a fully functional wellness business. My goal is to increase my offerings. My desire is for October Lotus to be offered at wholesale in health food stores or to alternative health care practitioners. I will continue to offer Reiki sessions & attunements, but likely on the more limited basis. I will begin working on my Doula certification in mid-August, which I would like to incorporate as another part of my support for women throughout the reproduction lifespan. Lastly I would like to be able to offer herbs beyond womb wellness products, but for other health issues. I'd like for my business to operate as an apothecary.
8. What advice do you have for any entrepreneurs looking to start/revamp their business or change careers?
I have 3 pieces of advice for entrepreneurs:
- Have faith. Do not give up. The pull to give up will be so strong, but don't listen to that, unless you have a really good reason to quit. It will not be easy, but do not give up!
- Befriend other entrepreneurs. You will need them to bounce ideas off of, to support you & sometimes commiserate with you. But you will need someone around you who can relate to what you are dealing with & can offer you support.
- Be very clear about your business. Know what you offer, why it is necessary & the industry or category your business falls in. You should clearly understand the industry your business is in. Be aware of the advancements & happenings in the industry. Ensure that you are clear on how you will make a profit, while also providing the best products/service possible. But please know your business & make plans for the future.
9. Who do you look up to or admire in the womb health and wellness community?
I admire so many women in this space. There are three that I will highlight here:
- Queen Afua. She isn't specifically a womb wellness practitioner but she is one of the first women who helped me understand the connection between our emotional body & our physical body. I love her dedication to helping women, Black women, move beyond our traumas toward overall physical & mental health.
- Beatrice Dixon. While I don't know her personally, I love her story & her products. Beatrice Dixon owns & operates the brand The Honey Pot Co. She began her business after suffering nearly a year with BV. Her ancestor gave her the formula for her products & thus began The Honey Pot. I love this story. It reminds me a tiny bit of myself. I know my work is ancestral & spiritually led. I love that she acknowledges this side of herself & incorporates it into her business & products.
- Lauren Kornegay. Lauren is the founder of the non-profit Endo Black. I just love what she is doing in this space as an educator & resource for women with endo. She is so dedicated to this work, it's motivating. She's also really kind & helpful. But I so admire her advocacy for women with endo.
10. Tell me about your most recent "business win."
My most recent business win is probably not what one would consider a "win" per se. But for me, wins look like accomplishing my goals. I received my Reiki Master attunement earlier this year, which has helped me tap into more of my intuition & healing ability. In August I will be taking the workshop which kicks-off my Doula certification. I'm really excited about those things & what happens next!