This Wellness Founder Is Changing The Mental Health Game
Welcome to Selfmade Stories! We're partnering with Office Depotto spotlight emerging entrepreneurs from our virtual business course Selfmade. Alum Alina Bachmann, founder of Brain Gardening, an online store and mindset-coaching service, talks with us about shifting your mindset in business to reach success.
What motivated you to start Brain Gardening? What problem were you trying to solve?
My personal health journey inspired me to create Brain Gardening during the pandemic because I saw so many people were struggling to cope and access to mental health care was limited.
My 2020 happened in 2018, only I was in quarantine due to chronic illness stemming from post traumatic-stress while the world around me went on. The skills I teach now are the skills that helped me overcome and turn my life around.
Have you always been passionate about mental health and wellness?
Actually, no. My professional background is in art and graphic design. Creativity has been a huge way for me to cope with challenges in life. It was a great buffer during adverse childhood experiences, and I knew at an early age that I wanted to continue so I made a career out of it. However, my health issues eventually eclipsed my ability to tap into that part of myself in adulthood.
In 2018, I found myself at a breaking point where I needed to really focus on my health and work through past traumas in a way that allowed me to release myself from them rather than run from them. At that point, I felt like I lost creativity and my identity as an artist was veiled by the health issues I was facing. I only became passionate about mental health and wellness when I started to recognize the importance of it and prioritize my own. Everything shifted for me as a result of that inward focus. I never want anyone to have to reach the point that I did to make that change. I believe everyone deserves access to resilience tools and that's what inspired me to create Brain Gardening as a resource.
How has the pandemic changed your business?
The pandemic gave me the push to pivot and start this business. I've been a graphic and informational designer for decades. I realize other people's concepts and dreams, translating data and cryptic text into visually captivating and engaging materials. While I find it thrilling to do so and enjoy the process, rarely have I pursued my own concepts and dreams with that same drive. I knew I had much more of a voice and knowledge to share.
The idea for Brain Gardening has been something that I've kind of been holding on to waiting for the right time. Every time I would get projects for others, that dream would be sidelined. When the pandemic hit, I knew I couldn't wait longer. The knowledge was needed now. I ended up voluntarily reducing my workload as a graphic designer for the Florida Institute for Child Welfare in the middle of the pandemic, where many people were struggling to keep a job. I decided to take a step into the unknown because I felt a strong pull that I needed to. I wanted to help people more directly with the resilience tools that personally changed my life.
What challenges have you faced so far as a business owner?
Mindset! It has tested me to my core. Walking into uncertainty is uncomfortable — the brain naturally wants to keep you safe through what is more familiar. When you start anything new, it can take time and mistakes before you establish your "flow" and get more comfortable. When you're a business owner, there are so many things to think about and consider. It can definitely be overwhelming! If you're mentally not in a place to take on those challenges, it can be easy to want to give up. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 20 percent of small businesses fail within the first year in the U.S. I knew I didn't want to be another statistic so I knew I had to support myself through that discomfort.
What strategies helped you overcome them?
I joined Selfmade right after scaling down my workload at my day job and deciding I wanted to create Brain Gardening. I didn't want to walk blindly or buffer in a place where I was googling everything trying to teach myself without knowing what I needed to know. I was part of the Fall 2020 cohort where I really got clear on my idea and learned invaluable information from leaders. The community aspect of the program was especially helpful because I was in a container with women also chasing their dreams, many also feeling the discomfort and uncertainty of that process, and it made me know I wasn't alone.
How have you been able to market your brand and get the word out so far?
I launched products and services this spring and surpassed my public outreach goals. The response exceeded the spaces available for private coaching, so I am launching an evergreen course this summer. I've also been doing interviews on podcasts, like Our Power Is Within. I've been really humbled by the interest and feedback I've received on Brain Gardening's social media accounts. It is a pretty priceless feeling to hear when the content you create has truly helped someone. That's been the best part for me.
What was your most valuable takeaway from Selfmade?
Selfmade was so valuable and information-rich, I went through the program twice! I think the biggest thing I got from it was support. The coaches and guest speakers are incredible — you're not just getting the sugar-coated version of their business story. Real issues and real lessons are at the forefront of the experience, so you get a real look at what it takes and tips that can help along the way. Brit is an absolutely amazing, nurturing, and encouraging person. Her voice and the voices of the coaches are what I hear in my mind during the tough moments. To have that kind of voice louder than the inner critic is so powerful and perhaps the most valuable takeaway I've gotten from Selfmade.
What does success look like for you?
Success is purpose being fulfilled. I think that's what it ultimately comes down to for me at the core level. It's not about bells and whistles or material things to define success for me, because I can have all those things and still not be satisfied. Success is that feeling of wholeness — of fulfillment. Success for me is carrying out the mission and vision of my business and seeing the results lived out by my clients.
How do you stay motivated? Who inspires you?
Self-care is absolutely necessary and what sustains me and my ability to be a business owner. I set aside time to do yoga, dance, and spend time outdoors. It gets scheduled into my calendar as non-negotiable me-time so that I can refill my cup. I think it's easy to get caught in cycles of doing that we overlook the need for resting and being. So much creativity can flow in those still moments that are invaluable. I'm inspired by other leaders who have similar practices where they are mindful and intentional. Naomi Powell, a coach I met in the Fall 2020 cohort of Selfmade, has been a mentor for me in this. I highly recommend her podcast The Lifestyle Edit. It's pure gold.
What's one piece of advice you would give to women looking to launch a business?
Connect to your why and refer back to it time and time again. Especially in the challenging moments where it may feel overwhelming to keep going. That "why" is powerful motivation and if you're not thrilled or passionate about that why, that might be a helpful way to know if it's time to shift gears into something that will be more nourishing for you and not lead to burnout.
What's next for Brain Gardening?
I have a series of online courses with on-demand videos coming out soon! I'm combining neuroscience with somatics and the healing arts to create a science-backed and practical way to manage anxiety, depression, and stress-related illness. I am also developing standalone workbooks that will be available on Amazon.
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