Le’Nise Brothers spent fifteen years working her way up in an industry that seemingly offers equal opportunities in abundance; but when she fell pregnant at thirty-two with her son, her personal experience proved the opposite to be true.
Knowing that she no longer wanted to return to work at the end of her maternity leave therefore and having grown up in a family of entrepreneurs on both sides, Eat Love Move was born out of the desire for a new start on her own terms that was centred upon ideas that she was truly passionate about.
It’s Thursday 1st February and over what was quite possibly the best white Americano I’ve had in a long time (and given how many Americano’s I’ve drunk in my twenty-five years, I can assure you that’s a statement I don’t throw around lightly); Le’Nise and I sat down in the Drawing Room of Soho’s Charlotte Street Hotel, to discuss the highs and lows that shape her start-up story so far…
Le’Nise Brothers. So Eat Love Move is a nutrition practice and consultancy and I specialise in working with women who are suffering from hormonal issues! Be it that they feel they’re being ruled by the hormones, their menstrual cycle, emotional imbalances, sugar cravings and they just want to get off that rollercoaster; I work with all the issues that come off of that.
From PMS, PCOS and endometriosis to fibroids, post-natal depletion and perimenopause; Le’Nise made the bold decision to walk away from her fifteen year career in advertising and retrain as a nutritional therapist at the College of Naturopathic Medicine in 2014.
She can. She did. So quite a career change then…!
LB. Yes! I loved working in advertising because a lot of it is about psychology and understanding what motivates people to do different things so a lot of what I do now takes lessons from my previous career…
SC.SD. If you loved it so much, what encouraged you to walk away from that career and start Eat Love Move?
LB. So I got pregnant… I was 32/33 at the time and I kept on working while I was pregnant but I started to see opportunities slip away from me. Sometimes they wouldn’t include me in the conversation and then other times they were trying to protect me. I ended up saying, “I’m pregnant, I’m not ill!” Anyway when I gave birth I started to think, ‘is this what I actually want to do? Yes I love advertising but is there anything else?’
I come from a family of entrepreneurs on both sides actually, so I’ve always wanted my own business… entrepreneurialism is in my blood! I just didn’t know what the business would be but I was chatting to someone about it and she just said, “what are you passionate about?” To be honest, in that moment, I said, “I don’t know..!”
SC.SD. Not the best start then..!
LB. It definitely wasn’t a lightbulb moment! It was very much a slow burner but I kept thinking, ‘what am I passionate about? What am I passionate about?’ and I kept coming back to health, wellbeing and exercise. I thought, ‘do I want to be a PT? No. Do I want to be a yoga instructor? Maybe, but not right now…’ I kept doing this mental tick list and finally I came to nutrition…
For fifteen years I was a vegetarian so I kept thinking about my own personal experience because in that period I’d been really depressed, I had terrible anxiety, terrible PMS; it was really bad! I was a veggie because I thought that was the healthiest thing but one day I got really sick and my husband was eating a hamburger at the time and I said, “can I have a bite of that?!”
SC.SD. What was his face like in that moment!?
LB. His jaw just dropped!! It made me feel better though and so I started exploring food and what it could do for me and ended up totally changing my diet…
SC.SD. Diets aren’t a ‘one size fits all’ thing though are they?
LB. Exactly and I’m a testament to the fact that you can be a terribly unhealthy vegetarian! I could rant all day about it but I’ll spare you that!
Anyway I started thinking about my own personal health journey and ultimately it became a question of, ‘is there a career in this?’ It’s a huge space, it’s growing, people in the UK are more open to conversations around health and wellbeing so yes, I realised there is a career in this so I retrained!
After being messed around with her maternity leave and return to work date, Le’Nise walked away from the corporate world…
LB. I didn’t feel like it was a great situation to go back to… It’s frustrating because a lot of creative industries always talk about equality and wanting to provide opportunities but when it comes down to it, it’s about the individual you’re dealing with. Unfortunately the individual that I was dealing with didn’t have much empathy for my situation so I resigned after a fairly fractured process!
With a one year old son at home, Le’Nise started freelancing in advertising to help cover her tuition fees and began her three year, part-time course at The College of Naturopathic Medicine.
LB. It was very intense!
SC.SD. It sounds it!
LB. It was amazing though! It introduced me to a whole new world of people that I would never have been exposed to had I stayed in advertising… The course was a combination of theoretical stuff about how the body works but also getting hands on experience so by the end of the course we had two hundred clinical hours to our name! Incredible!
SC.SD. It sounds it. Before advertising, had you studied sciences at any point in your life?
SC.SD. So it was genuinely starting a new career from scratch!?
LB. From complete scratch! I had no idea about so much of how our body works – I just took it for granted – but it’s something I take into my practice now about realising just how connected the body is!
SC.SD. I’m a daughter of the woman who left the NHS after thirty years to become a homeopath so I’m so open-minded about the holistic side of things..!
LB. Exactly! It’s why I called my business Eat Love Move because it’s not just about exercise or eating right. It’s about getting up and doing things, it’s about the love you have for yourself, those around you… That mind-body-spirit connection which helps me take a really holistic view.
There’s a lot of scepticism in this space where people can turn around and say, “You’re not a medical professional” and I have to say, “No I’m not but I am a health professional, I look at research and everything I say is backed up.” That really solid, evidence-based grounding is so important for me.
SC.SD. So three years of studying later, you get your diploma… did you set up straight away?
LB. I immediately set up! I was ready to go!
SC.SD. I bet! Had you put feeders out for clients during your studies or once you got your diploma, was it a case of, ‘Ok, I need to get to work on marketing’?!
LB. I had clients from my training that I was already working with so some of it was just a natural follow on but my other clients I’ve got from scratch. That’s been the interesting part.
When you’re in College it’s all about science and biology and how you can treat certain illnesses and conditions but then when you graduate and you’re in the real world, a lot of it becomes, ‘ok, how do I market my business?!’ Apart from the time with my clients and professional development, I spend most of my time doing marketing and learning about funnels and emails! That’s my background so it feels natural but it surprised me how much time it takes up!
Having set up her website and social media handles before she’d even started her course, Le’Nise had built up a large bank of health and nutrition based content by the time she’d graduated in 2017.
LB. To set up, it was more a case of incorporating my company, trademarking it, getting a business bank account, getting an accountant, all of that nitty gritty stuff! I did it all while I was waiting for my diploma because I couldn’t start practicing until I had that and my insurance!
SC.SD. Do you enjoy the nitty gritty stuff?!
LB. I do! Someone once told me something and it really stuck and that was, “you need to enjoy the process!” Being able to look back and see how far you’ve come is so satisfying and we’re what, February 1st? On January 1st I felt hugely different and it’s only been a month. You have to enjoy the process!
You have to remember where you were to appreciate where you are now. That journey fuels you because what I’ve found is the life of an entrepreneur can be lonely and frustrating and you need to make sure you stay grounded and you have a network of people you can bounce ideas off with no expectation and remind you of how far you’ve come.
SC.SD. How did it feel on day one of Eat Move Love seeing your first client who was putting trust in the company you’d built for yourself from scratch?
LB. Day one was so exciting! I remember just feeling like, ‘Wow, I’m here!’ There’s no supervision, it’s just you – such a thrill. I feel so privileged to have these women come to me, open up and share their personal stories… a bit like what you do!
SC.SD. I’m always so grateful for the fact that you all do!
LB. Exactly! Health isn’t just a case of, ‘my stomach hurts; what should I have?’ For women especially, there’s so much emotion tied up in it so you need to create a safe space where they can feel like they can cry, they can sit quietly while they contemplate, and that’s ok. There’s no judgement.
SC.SD. You said that the course introduced you to a new world… Where do you find your inspiration to make sure that you’re constantly at the top of your game?
LB. I read constantly! I’ve always been a book worm but as part of my professional accreditation, I have to have a certain number of development hours under my belt so I have to do webinars and go to training and conferences. That forces me to keep on top of the latest research but I like staying on top of things too to know in myself that I’m giving the right advice.
SC.SD. There’s such a mixed bag of advice out there when it comes to nutritional advice. One minute something is super healthy, the next it’s carcinogenic for instance… How do you see through the fog?
LB. It’s a good question! I have to just assess things with a critical mind so it’s a case of knowing where the statement has come from and being able to unpick that. A good example is the ‘low fat, low calorie’ phase which we know was funded heavily by the sugar industry. It’s just a case of questioning everything so if I get a question in my private Facebook group or a question from a client crops up, I can unpack it all in a very evidence based way.
SC.SD. Let’s move on to the challenges…! Any days where you’ve wanted to walk away from it all or perhaps not that drastic (!) that have made you think, ‘this isn’t what I thought running my own business would be like’?
LB. Yes! I knew it was going to be hard because I’d seen family members go through it but there’s one thing witnessing that and then experiencing that for yourself…
If I’m being 100% honest, the first week of January was so rough for me. I felt like I was sprinting in December and I didn’t give myself a break at all because I felt it was such an important period where people start to think about the New Year and their eating habits.
When everyone went back to work in January, my son was still off school and I had this feeling like I should be doing stuff. It’s that word “should” that often gets us, right? But then it was combined with the feeling like I had no energy, I was so tired, just what am I doing?
As soon as my son went back to school, I told a friend how I was feeling and she said, “Le’Nise, it’s ok to have a break!” and I left that conversation feeling so motivated and inspired. Every hour of the day there is something that I could be doing but that doesn’t mean that I should.
So yeh, there’re days where I’ve felt like, ‘what am I doing?’ and since that week, I’ve had moments where I’ve thought, ‘this is really hard’ but there is so much groundwork that I’ve done. It’s not a case of build it and they will come. I have to put myself out there every day and I’ve had to get over these limiting beliefs that I’ve had. I never used to put pictures of myself online and then I realised that I have to sell myself, people want to know who’s behind the company and so I hired a photographer, I now do Facebook lives, Instagram lives and I’m over that. Now I just feel like, ‘ok let’s do this!’
SC.SD. What did that feel like when you initially started putting yourself out there like that because you’re speaking to the girl that has always been set to private, didn’t have a photo of myself on my website for a good few months and it was my mentor that told me that I need to share my face!
LB. I remember this one moment where I’d put something about my business on LinkedIn – LinkedIn is a huge network for me because my old advertising industry contacts use it extensively – and I included a picture of myself… I proof read it so many times and then when I hit ‘post’ my stomach clenched and I had to physically close my laptop and do something else!
I’m not looking for external validation but the comments I got were so positive. Things like, ‘this is amazing, congratulations, you’re so brave for doing this’ etc… and the first time I did a Facebook live, I was so nervous I basically wrote a script! But the feedback was amazing so sometimes these experiences show you that you’re so wrapped up in your head worrying, once you go and do it, it can be incredible!
SC.SD. Absolutely! What about the ‘pat yourself on the back’ moments… what are you most proud of?
LB. When I work with a client and they see positive results it makes me know that this is all totally worth it. There was one particular client and when I think about how she was when she first came to see me, she was in such a bad place, her life was dominated by what she was going through physically and emotionally and by the time we stopped, the change in her was just unbelievable. She wrote to me saying, “I never thought I’d feel like this!” and that makes it all worth it. That’s why I went through all of this, to help people get better and feel like their best selves.
SC.SD. Let’s talk money… How did you fund Eat Love Move and what was your experience like when it came to putting a price on your service?
LB. This has all been self-financed so my savings initially funded the business and I’ve taken a pay cut knowing I will eventually get back to where I was though…
The financial part is interesting because again, that wasn’t really talked about in College. I think you might relate to this from your Mum’s experience but people in the healing space face a dilemma where you don’t want to be seen as money grabbing – you want to be seen as helping people – but you need to earn money…
SC.SD. I had the conversation about ‘knowing your worth’ with Mum a few weeks back and when she first started and she used to say, “I’m sorry but it’s going to cost you….” and then she thought, ‘why am I saying sorry? What I have to offer is worth that!’
LB. Exactly! I’ve had to do a lot of work around owning my value and that can be difficult for women. I think about conversations I used to have with women who worked in my team when I worked in advertising about negotiating because they could negotiate multi-million pound contracts with media owners but they couldn’t negotiate for themselves. You need to own your value and there’s a lot of value my clients get when they work with me so I need to own that and my prices are what they are!
SC.SD. And it’s a case of, ‘either accept the price or thanks but no thanks’?!
LB. Yes. If they can’t afford to work with me that’s ok but I won’t negotiate. I will be offering a lower cost product soon though because I want to be able to work with a range of people from different economic backgrounds.
SC.SD. I suppose when you truly accept that yourself it must feel quite liberating because it takes away the pressure surrounding conversations about money?
LB. Hugely! I’ve done a lot of work around the money blocks that many of us tend to have. I grew up as the spendthrift in the family so for years I’d always thought I was terrible with money and it was actually when I met my husband that he said, “Le’Nise, why do you think that? There’s empowerment in gaining control of your money!” I had to really change the way I thought about it and I stopped letting it control me be it through actively building savings, having open conversations about my finances and negotiating salaries in my old job…
Open conversations are so important as is planning. Having a financial plan but being realistic. Knowing it’s not going to happen at once but knowing where you want to get to. I have a ninety day plan that I work to where I work back and work out what I need to do to achieve my target. It’s very detailed so I know I need to be working with X number of clients in order to achieve what I need to achieve.
SC.SD. And you don’t look beyond it?
LB. Not on a daily basis. I do have longer term goals that I bear in mind, however there’s a lot of research that says working in shorter blocks of time feels more achievable…
SC.SD. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to anyone looking to launch their own business?
LB. That there are different ways to start and you need to figure out what’s right for you. When I first went down the path of nutrition, I took the interim step in the sense that I was freelancing but it’s a huge leap to go from a corporate job to working for yourself both financially and mentally. There are a lot of stories where people quit their job, set up a business and experience overnight success. Yes ok, they happen but what they don’t talk about enough is the grind…
SC.SD. Hence why I set this up because I was so fed up of not hearing about the reality more…
LB. Exactly! I’m a real believer in hard work so my advice, especially for anyone looking to go into the health and wellbeing industry, is be prepared to work hard! Be prepared to put yourself out there. Be prepared that when someone says, “no” it can mean “no” and it can also mean “not right now” and those are two different things!
Own your value and make sure you have a support network. It’s so, so crucial. Facebook has been incredible for me because of all the different business groups on there. You can ask a question and find someone that’s experienced that exact thing so even though you’ve spent the day on your own working; you have a touch point somewhere.
SC.SD. Let’s talk about that support network more… How have those closest to you reacted to Eat Love Move? At the beginning? Now? The whole journey! And have you seen any relationships evolve for the better or worse?
LB. That’s an interesting question. For my family it was always a case of “when?” “When are you going to do it Le’Nise?!” but what I’ve learnt about myself is I have to be ready. I’m not the type of person that can jump into something; I have to be emotionally ready to do it. They’ve all been incredibly supportive though, my husband especially; I couldn’t have done it without him. When I was studying, I’d be at college every other weekend so he’d be looking after our son on his own and he loved that. It’s given him and our son a closer relationship.
My friends have been amazing too. I don’t think anyone that knows me has been surprised by me doing this because they always say I love to help and support people – when I worked in advertising I mentored young women so this is a natural follow on from that.
In terms of relationships that have changed, I think I’ve just become more aware of my professional and personal boundaries. People always ask me for advice so I have to be really clear that I’m not going to just sit and give them loads of advice for free. I’m so detailed with my clients and there’s a process that I’ve built to do that. It’s also being aware that if I do work with friends, they have to respect the personal / professional boundaries. I have friends that are lawyers and accountants, I ask them for advice, yes, but I don’t expect them to do my taxes or any other pieces of work for free. It’s the same scenario and I guess it’s about respect.
SC.SD. Such a good point to raise! How would you describe yourself as a business woman?
LB. Business woman? Ooo I like that! It’s funny, when I think of a business woman I think of…
SC.SD. The power suit!?
SC.SD. Same! It’s always so funny watching the reaction to that question because at the end of the day, you are one…
LB. You’re the first person to ever ask me that! Right, here we go… I’d say I’m very determined, motivated, action orientated so I don’t expect things to just come to me. I know I have to do the work…
SC.SD. And that’s crucial isn’t it. You need to lay the groundwork and you need to keep building on that…
LB. Absolutely! I’d also say I’m energetic, giving and naturally positive – I’m a glass half full person and I love working with people with a similar energy. It really bums me out dealing with negative people…
SC.SD. You and me both!
LB. I guess I have my goals and vision and I know what I need to do to get there but equally, I don’t want to compromise my values and ethics to get there so I’m not ruthless. I want to put only good stuff out there!
SC.SD. Let’s throw a random in… favourite quote?
LB. There’s a quote by Oprah who is one of my inspirations that I’m trying to remember…
Immediately we go off on a tangent about just how incredible Oprah is!
LB. I’ve remembered it! It’s “The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work.”
SC.SD. Spoken like a true Queen! What about down time. You said that you’re good at switching off… What does ‘me time’ look like?
LB. Something I talk a lot about is self-care and I’m a huge believer in that. I’m starting yoga teacher training in May which I’m so excited about but for now I have a daily yoga practice and I find it so valuable. You can get carried along with your emotions as a business owner so just being able to get centred and understand how your body works is so valuable. Also, laughing! You can’t beat it! Laughter and positivity and eating well!
SC.SD. Well you’d expect that from a nutritionist..!
LB. You would! But when you have your own business it’s so easy to eat whatever or forget to eat so for me making sure I find time to eat dinner with my family is really important. So yoga, deep breathing, laughter, and family time!
SC.SD. It’s so funny that you mentioned deep breathing because your voice is so calming!
LB. Is it!?
SC.SD. I’m honestly sat here and feel so relaxed right now! It’s so soothing!
This was genuinely one of the more relaxing interviews I’ve sat through!
SC.SD. You mentioned Oprah… Who else do you find inspiring?
LB. Michelle Obama is just incredible and Marie Forleo who’s more in the coaching and motivation space – I love her!
For me I want to be an inspiration to others and it’s why I behave the way I do because what’s been eye opening is that the health and nutrition space can feel really homogenous at times. Being a woman of colour in this space is fairly rare so I hope to inspire other women to be able to go out and offer a different perspective and cultural view point in whatever industry they’re in.
I had a really fascinating conversation the other day about menstruation and taboos… A lot of the conversation about periods and feeling empowered comes from feminism but what those conversations don’t get into is that there are a lot of cultural conversations and religious conversations still to be had, because for a lot of cultures and religions, menstruation is a taboo. Just being able to provide a different viewpoint that’s not being discussed is important to me.
SC.SD. To round it off then, what are the long term goals for Eat Love Move? Can you see yourself at the helm until retirement? Can you see yourself retiring?! Go for it!
LB. Yes! I can see myself doing this forever! I’m thirty-eight, I’m young, I feel like the potential for what I do is limitless. Women make up 50% of the population! These hormonal conversations aren’t going to go away so my mission is to help women understand their menstrual cycles and understand their hormones and for them to know that they don’t have to fight their bodies. It is possible to have periods and not be in pain or be in emotional upheaval…So long term, I want to educate women and empower women and yes I’m a feminist but I’m not coming at this from a feminist angle! I just want to help them understand their bodies.
There’s so much opportunity with Eat Love Move though. Be it more one-to-one sessions, hosting workshops, creating an app… I have so many ideas. I’d also love a physical space where women can come and learn more, practice yoga and offer them a safe space… a bit like a womb!
If ever there was an award for ‘most memorable simile to end an interview on’, Le’Nise, let’s be honest, nailed it in one!
Leaving a corporate career to set up on your own is never going to be the easy option; especially when you’re entering an industry that can be received with scepticism and the training (in the incredibly complex topic that is the human body and its numerous conditions) requires you to learn everything from scratch. Yet Le’Nise proves firstly that it’s possible if you put the time and work in but that you can also have an incredible time and meet a whole new world of contacts as you go.
For me though, the biggest takeaway was her empowering advice on owning your value; taking control of your relationship with money; and not allowing yourself to get wrapped up in what others think of you, when you share your story for the first time; that I will refer anyone that’s looking to start a business to going forward. And whilst her words were spoken softly – I wasn’t joking about how soothing her voice is – they were pronounced with purpose and genuine care.
Challenging our relationship with our hormones and that time of the month for the better, not to mention our perceptions of what a nutritionist looks like, in what I agree is a fairly homogenous space; her intelligence is obvious, her passion for what she does clear and accordingly I found her inspiring in more ways than one.