Inspire Me Series

This Founder Explains Why Self-Care Must Be a Priority When You Have Big Goals

Shape House founder Sophie Chiche says you can't forget to put yourself first.
This Founder Explains Why Self-Care Must Be a Priority When You Have Big Goals
Image credit: Courtesy of Sophie Chiche
Entrepreneur Staff
Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture.
5 min read

Editor’s Note: Inspire Me is a series in which entrepreneurs and leaders share what motivates them through good times and bad, while also sharing stories of how they overcame challenges in hopes of inspiring others.

When you’re launching a business, self-care sometimes can be the first thing that goes out the window.

But for Sophie Chiche, the founder of Los Angeles-based urban sweat lodge Shape House, the last thing she wanted to do was lose sight of self-care, especially since her company’s mission is to help people de-stress.

Yet, during rapid growth, focusing on self-care was challenging for Chiche. She opened up Shape House in 2012. Each sweat lodge offers $50 55 minute sweat sessions, set up on a bed and wrapped in something akin to a very warm sleeping bag. Chiche says that the sessions are meant to help boost your skin, sleep, stress and weight loss.

In the first four years, the company rolled out four locations, but in year five, things got hectic. Chiche and her team set about launching an additional six locations, with the majority of openings being in New York City.

Between being away from her routine and all the things that can and did go wrong when rapidly expanding, it was at times tough to keep her composure.

“[It was juggling] the construction, [my teams], my partnership with my business partner, my own personal life -- my daughter was graduating that week,” Chiche recalled to Entrepreneur. “We didn't sleep very much you, but I don't regret a second of it.”

Knowing the importance of clearing her head, Chiche would either take a walk or ride her motorcycle.

For our series Inspire Me, Chiche shares her insights about how to show up as your best self.

Related: These First-Time Founders Share What Gave Them The Inspiration to Take the Plunge

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

What was the last major challenge you had, and how did you motivate yourself to tackle it?

The growth. It struck me that I have a lot of resilience. Everything that happened that either wasn't good or a problem, we needed to solve. [I learned] how you come out of it is even more valuable than the thing itself.

I showed up for my team in a way that I think was inspiring, because every time we would do something we could have done better, I would look at that as well. We are building the plane as we are flying it. You have to be OK with making mistakes.

What is the biggest lesson you learned from the experience?

Through everything, I need to hold onto me, because if I'm well, then I'm a better leader. My days were filled with dealing with plumbing issues to having an interview on TV to meeting the new team. They were crazy days. But if I stayed myself, ate good food, slept enough and invested in me, I could show up.

Who is a woman that inspires you?

Arianna Huffington. I was part of the team that started The Huffington Post. She's one of the most inspiring people I know. She's not necessarily always easy to work with. She is intense and she demands a lot of herself, and she certainly demands a lot of the people around her.

But she has an ability to be present with you. When you're with her, nothing else matters, and you feel it.

I loved her creativity. She would pull up her sleeves and get in the mud with us when we would need to solve something.

What do you do to motivate and inspire your team?

I see the best for them; I perceive their potential and inspire them to get there. I'm a therapist by trade and was a journalist, so I'm always into identifying when someone is not being kind to themselves, which translates to people not performing as well.

I bring some of my therapy experience to help tap into more of a joyful and optimistic nature. My bigger role, other than being the face of the company, is to support them. 

For those women who are looking to start a business, or have begun one but are feeling discouraged, what advice do you have for them?

Take care of yourself. What's going to cost you the most is you. If you have a good idea, you will get there. If you're not there for the long run, you're not going to be very helpful to the project, the idea or business.

When you have 15 things to do, one of them should be to take care of you. If you don't, then those 15 things aren't going to be very well done, and you're not going to be very inspired or creative. Don't put yourself last on the list.

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