Caitlin Fox: When Your “Side Hustle” Is Much More Than That…But You Also Have Bills to Pay

by DC Startup Week Team

The Glow Club is more than just a meditation studio. As founder Caitlin Fox puts it, “it’s a meditation studio for people who don’t meditate, but should.” Does this sound like you? Most likely. It’s an exercise for your brain — a way to tackle emotional struggles head on and work through them in the thirty-minute class format. 

This week we interviewed Caitlin Fox, owner of The Glow Club, a new meditation in Shaw, DC. Caitlin works in marketing full time while also running this studio “on the side” — but to us, this is much more than just a side hustle. We’ve asked her a series of questions about how she balances it all and avoids burnout.

1.What do you love most about the DC Startup Community?

The inclusivity. Admittedly, I had a ton of preconceived notions on what I imagined it would be like to start a business and what the community would be like and I was just wrong. The familial energy that exists within the startup community in DC is astounding to me. And it’s because we’ve all been there. Or are there. Or are at some point in our journey will be there. This community’s willingness to offer advice and help has been humbling, inspiring and critical for me.

2. Tells us a little bit about yourself and your business.

My entire career has been in marketing and branding. I have always been career-oriented, determined to work my way up the corporate ladder and I did so at a very young age leading to a lot of success early on. As many of us can relate to, along with innate ambition can come a price you pay – and it took quite a toll on me and frankly my personal life. That on top of living in a city where you are in the hub of political chaos and not feeling like you do enough or protest enough and on and on. For me, there was really no outlet. I began practicing meditation as an alternative to therapy because at the time, the idea of talking about how I was feeling was nauseating to me. So I started meditating. Every morning, every night – I treated it like my own little fitness routine. I would force myself to sit with my emotions, I would teach myself tools to release my anxiety and stress and most importantly I just stopped to check-in with myself. And the most surprising thing happened…I began to physically feel change in my mental and emotional well-being. And I thought, WOW. In that moment it occurred to me that meditation kind of had a branding problem. There’s this idea around meditation that it’s for those who have an endless amount of free time, or have devoted themselves to a life of wellness on a remote mountaintop, or that the intention is to reach some spiritually elevated state. But really it’s a tool to exercise a muscle that can physically change how you feel, perceive and ultimately live your life. So using my background I decided to launch a concept that would re-package the idea of meditation, that positioned itself as an exercise studio for your mind and a social activity for an audience and demographic who may not have considered the real benefits it can provide. I wanted to create a space that could become a complement to our fitness routines, for an asset we use every single day and a habit that can improve decision-making, emotional intelligence, stress control among so much more.

3. What inspired you to become an entrepreneur and start The Glow Club?

At a young age, I had a notebook flooding with all of the business ideas I had. I was always imagining and creating, I lived a lot inside my mind but it’s a place where I was free to let my imagination go. I always wanted to build something, I just didn’t know what shape that would take. But thinking about the root of ultimately what led to me entrepreneurship was this desire to have full control over my destiny. To be in a space where I can live outside of what I was constantly creating inside my mind, having the opportunity to make decisions that ultimately determine the success or failure of something I built. This idea of putting yourself out there and seeing what you’re made of.

4. If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give yourself when you first started your business?

To be your own biggest cheerleader. Starting a business is one of the most vulnerable things I’ve done. Especially one where when I told people who knew me I was opening a meditation studio I’d be met with subtle confusion and a “that’s interesting.” Your vision is yours for a reason. Especially if you’re doing something a little differently. For me, there was this fear of rejection on the concept and also frankly, it was challenging to explain without being able to show people. But if you’re not going to amp yourself up and be your own advocate, why should anyone else?

5. How do you balance working full-time and running a meditation studio?

Well luckily, the business I launched is practically the antidote for a busy lifestyle and one grounded in self-improvement so that helps. Truly, it’s not easy. But I also reject this concept of when people are told to simply follow their dreams, let everything fall by the wayside. That’s not easy or always realistic. For me at least it’s not. I’m fortunate to be in a situation where I still love what I do on both sides. It feeds my soul in different ways. I’m also extremely fortunate to have people who are supporting this balancing act. But the best and honest answer I can give on how I’ve been able to balance both is presence. I’ve been training my mindfulness muscle for a bit now and this is one of the situations that it’s paying off in spades. Being fully present in that job, activity, event, or situation at that time allows me to tap into efficiencies like you wouldn’t believe. When your mind is split, your presence is split and frankly, you’re not giving either scenario what it needs. I’ve strengthened this muscle and because of that, the weight doesn’t feel so heavy.

6. Any tips or tricks for busy entrepreneurs to incorporate mindfulness into their every day routine?

Totally. Dovetailing on the above – the worst thing you can do for yourself is to split your mental presence. We all have some much we’re juggling. You know all of the stuff you have to get done. Thinking about it is only causing you pain and is taking away from whatever you could be learning or absorbing in the present moment you are in. The easiest way to bring yourself back is your breath. Yeah, that thing you totally take for granted. This should be your anchor every. single. day. As entrepreneurs we maybe have this need to ya know, control things – well this is your chance. You can control your ability to take a moment to become present in your body and space by simply remembering you have your breath. 

Thanks, Caitlin! In order to successfully run a business, we all need to give our brains a break rather than keep working and working towards burnout phase. Running a “side hustle” while hustling at your full time job is admirable, and we can all pull some lessons from Caitlin’s experience.