Wellness provider uses Access to Capital grant to help others through difficult times
Wellness providers are an essential service during a public health crisis. Especially the mom-and-pop variety with deep ties in their communities.
Asha Sims knows that during difficult times her clients count on her for support.
“That’s why the grant from the city was such as blessing,” she said from her studio, Ashakti Wellness & Yoga, in the University area. “It’s hard to do this job if you are worrying about rent and utilities. The grant allowed me to focus on providing services and to be fully present for my clients.”
Sims has over 20 years of experience in the wellness field and is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Supervisor and Hatha Yoga Instructor. She specializes in helping people stop smoking and lose weight as well as treating people for depression, anxiety and trauma.
Sims said it was ironic that March 2020 proved to be a stressful time for someone offering anxiety counseling. Authorities were imposing restrictions on businesses like hers while at the same time people were becoming increasingly anxious and needed her counseling more than ever. Anxiety-related key word internet searches spiked to an all-time high.
Adding to the stressful situation, Sims had just signed a new lease to expand and was preparing to offer classroom space, a larger yoga room and practitioner offices. The new space effectively doubled her monthly rent.
Help arrives in two weeks
Sims said she was not sure how she was going to stay in her location but with help from the city and by working with her new landlord she has been able to keep the expanded space while offering many services virtually.
“I was up late around 2 a.m. when I saw an email mentioning the city’s grant program,” said Sims. “I thought I might as well give it a try and filled out the application the next day. It was really easy and I couldn’t believe it but two weeks later I found out I had been selected. It was a real blessing!”
Sims has used the grant money for rent, utilities and a new air purifier for the office as well as for new technology for providing telehealth services.
Demand for telehealth services increases
To help meet the rising demand for virtual services, Sims purchased the online application, Namaste, to provide online yoga sessions, wellness classes and workshops. The app makes it easier for practitioners to share schedules, book classes and sell treatments and merchandise.
Some of her workshops are now both in person and virtual as she can safely accommodate a small in-person class in her office while adding others online.
“Businesses can thrive virtually just as much as with brick and mortar,” she said. “We have to adapt and capitalize on the economy where it is.”
Sims said COVID’s affect will result in a “changing of the guard” for small businesses. “Some of us are going to be successful, some of us unfortunately will not.” But she sees this as an opportunity for smaller businesses who can adapt quickly to a changing marketplace.
“If you can adapt and survive in today’s challenged economy you will thrive when things get back to normal again.”