Last Christmas (#blogmas2020) I had the idea to feature health care workers doing great things outside of their careers in health care, and my first article was well-received. My follow-up article also did well so this month I’m back with part three. The pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of many, especially health care workers, so it’s great to see that there are many who still make time for their passions which lie outside of medicine, nursing and physiotherapy. Here are their stories.
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Hey Lovelies! I’m Kori (Coryanne Ffrench). I’m a 26-year-old physiotherapist, fitness trainer specialising in female fitness, massage therapist, tutor and owner of AerobiCore. I’m also a major Swiftie and proud parrot mom. I have a great relationship with food, but my bed and I are still trying to work things out.
What inspired Aerobicore? I was pretty active growing up. Fast forward to being obsessed with Pilates, dancing and physiotherapy. While growing up, I’ve seen and heard, too, how females are usually treated at the gym- either as eye candy (the girl whose body type society accepts) or a burden (the girl who “needs to exercise” but also shouldn’t bother the male trainers who are trying to talk to the eye candy girl). So, my brand found its niche as a safe space for all females to fall in love with fitness without objectifying or judgmental eyes. After my internship year, I needed a stress relief outlet but suffered from wanting absolute perfection. Thus, I didn’t end up sharing Aerobicore until 2020 when COVID gave me more time. With no more excuses, I found things to reorganize at my day job until there was literally no other job that I could create for myself, and I launched my first official summer workout series that year. It was a blast! Everyone was pushing me to host another series soon, which boosted my confidence in my service. I accepted that I would improve over time, so I jumped right in and I’m loving it!
How do you balance Aerobicore with physiotherapy? I was in a private research job for 33 months where I functioned mainly as a physiotherapist, then research assistant and eventually research coordinator. I also did tutoring after work and on weekends. So, I made a schedule to design workouts on my downtime on the weekends, then I picked a day to batch create YouTube videos once a month. I also know when to ask for help! I have great friends who’ve helped me on location projects, and my brother-in-law edits my videos so I only tweak and approve the videos before posting. Now that I’ve quit my day job, I have more time to take on private patients, students, massage clients, and fitness clients. I still try to stick to using my days off for designing workouts for my clients and for filming workout videos. I’m doing a lot more than when I had a day job, but I’m a lot less stressed because I actually enjoy all the jobs I’m juggling now, and I do them on my own schedule.
What’s next for Aerobicore? Well, I can finally check off my Instagram and YouTube goals, so now I’m working on creating my website. Again, I’ve been guilty of wanting perfection before launching, but I’ve taken the first step and bought the domain (www.aerobicore.fit). I’m hoping to launch by Christmas! It will be a forum for health advice, healthy and fun recipes, workout classes (live and pre-recorded videos linked to my YouTube channel) and more. I can’t wait to share that with everyone! After that and in no particular order, I want to host more workout series, teach more group classes and boot camps, and create merchandise to help persons to take charge of their fitness. I just want an empire really. You know, nothing major. I want to continue to grow and merge my fitness, massage and physiotherapy businesses to serve as a safe and more holistic approach to health, being comfortable in your own skin and pampering yourself.
Physiotherapists are unsung series in the fight against Covid-19, and lay a lot of the groundwork in helping patients recover after a Covid-19 pneumonia. Kori advises us to be considerate and remember that everything we do affects the people with whom we come in contact, including the most vulnerable persons around us. She advises us to wash our hands, regularly sanitize our belongings, avoid congregating in public and to wear our masks. She also reminds us to protect our mental health and keep in touch with friends virtually or to meet up responsibly. Find Kori on Instagram at @kori_massages and @aerobicore, and also access her workout videos on YouTube. Follow her for updates on upcoming massage-a-thons for October and December.
2. Tawah Restaurant
My name is Dr. Akeen Matthews, a Trinidadian living in Jamaica for 7 years. I initially came here to study medicine but instantly fell in love with Jamaica and its people. Although I’ve been practicing medicine for 2 years, I’ve always indulged in my passion for cooking; a passion that stemmed from my parents, who are both chefs. I’ve been in the kitchen since I was 5 years old, learning and eagerly participating in what little I could manage with the prep work daily.
What inspired you to launch Tawah? Jamaica, like Trinidad, has a diverse culture in terms of food. While on campus, I noticed that my passion for cooking was also a great way to bond and exchange with my fellow Caribbean counterparts. There are so many commonalities and differences that blend well to get us our own yet connected food identities. The inspiration to launch my own restaurant was then birthed to show both our differences and celebrate how connected we are as a region, drawing us closer through food. The lack of representation of Trinidadian food was also very influential.
How do you balance medicine with being a new restaurateur? The journey so far has been tremendous! Although we’ve only been opened for 1 month, the reception and genuine excitement to try new food by the Jamaican population have left me speechless and humbled. I’m still in the process of growing the business, which has my full attention at this time. I will always love medicine but I’ve given myself at least 6 months to nurse this new venture before I begin coupling it with medicine.
What’s next for Tawah? My aim is to make Tawah a holistic Trinidadian experience all over Jamaica. Our food, music, and festivals share so much in common that it would be a shame not to indulge in a Caribbean fusion that promotes love and unity.
Akeen’s advice for fellow doctors with a passion outside of medicine is to take the leap and just do it. Put pen to paper and bring your passion to life by having a proper plan in place. Yes, medicine is your calling but nobody said it has to be your identity or your only calling. Find Tawah on Instagram and ENDS via the 7Krave and Hugo delivery apps.
3. Soma Glow Ltd.
I’m a 26 year old unconventional Jamaican medical doctor, mother and entrepreneur. I’m that doctor that many people find difficult to believe that I actually am because I sleep, eat and breathe skin and self care – it’s a big part of who I am. I describe myself as passionate, down-to-earth and resilient. Anything I do, I do it from my heart and I do it well.
What inspired you to create SOMA GLOW? The truth is that I’ve always had a passion for skin care. I was always interested in cosmetics, hair and skin care and have aspired to start my own skin care company. It was my dream to have my own skin care line. I’ve been working on SOMA GLOW By Dr. Glow long before the official launch in February 2021. I spent countless hours planning, researching and testing various ingredients. I think the dawn of the pandemic and the birth of my son really gave me the extra push I needed to launch. I’m somewhat of a perfectionist and kept putting it off because everything wasn’t exactly how I wanted it. 2020 really showed me that life is short and you can’t keep waiting until everything is perfect because it will never be. So after years of hinting to everyone that I was working on my skin care line I literally just started the business and published the website. I started out with three core products because those were the only ones ready at the time, and they went like hot bread!
How do you balance aesthetic medicine, Soma Glow and motherhood? Two words: adaptability and flexibility. I had to find a way to still make an income while being able to care for my son. The pandemic has really forced me to make some rash decisions. I took a break from face-to-face and in-office treatment. I take all my clients virtually now. I’m a full-time mommy so I’m home with my son while running SOMA GLOW and taking virtual consultations from home. This is a temporary decision that has proven to be the best choice for SOMA GLOW and my personal life right now. One thing that has helped me to balance is to plan, and plan especially for adversities as well as establishing a routine at home for my mommy duties. I won’t lie, it’s not easy but it’s definitely very rewarding. By the time I decide to go back in-office, SOMA GLOW By Dr Glow will be in a great place as a brand. As for now in the building phase, it still needs my undivided attention.
What’s next for SOMA GLOW? I’m currently working on a store-front for SOMA GLOW locally as well as working on ways to penetrate the regional and international market.
Dr. Glowww’s advice for doctors who may want to pursue unconventional paths:
- Don’t quit – Use that 9-5 to fuel your side hustle until you’re in a sustainable place to quit.
- Don’t be swayed by the naysayers- Medicine is a very traditional and customary field. People easily judge and look down on you for taking alternative paths. Just know what you want and go for it.
- Be willing to take risks and make sacrifices. Always remember that the time is going to pass whether or not you execute and there are others doing way more with way less.
- Find something that you actually enjoy because it, too, will get hard.
- Finally plan, research and take time to study whatever it is you’re planning to venture into.
4. Cakes by Nev
My name is Nevado Simms, proprietor of Cakes by Nev, medical doctor and a graduate of China Medical University. I am currently employed in St. Ann and I love baking! I’m self taught and all my scrumptious creations are homemade.
How did you get started? I’ve been baking from about 8 years old, and used to bake and sell cookies in high school. It has always been a passion of mine but the business really blossomed in China (2017) when I made a cake for a friend’s birthday and everyone loved it! Orders kept coming in and the rest is history. For me, baking is an art and it’s also therapeutic. Baking cakes from scratch and experimenting with new flavors is a skill I think I have honed throughout the years. Baking has become more than just a hobby, but also a second source of income.
How do you balance baking and medicine? Man! I always try to accommodate an order but orders can get quite overwhelming at times, especially when dealing with time-consuming designs and the unpredictable work environment. I try to advise customers to order at least 2 weeks in advance and I usually start planning by then.
What’s next for Cakes by Nev? The sky is the limit! I would love to do a cake decorating course to provide more gorgeous cakes. I currently supply MM Tropical Flavors Devon House in Ocho Rios and Salem with strawberry cheesecakes, and I’m working on tapping into the destination wedding market. Stay tuned!
The favourite thing Dr. Simms has baked is this red velvet birthday cake with vanilla buttercream icing in May 2021. Find Cakes by Nev on Instagram.
I am Chris-Anna James, a young female Muslim who works as an Accident and Emergency Registered Nurse and owns two businesses, including Fabhijabeez. I’m known for being a detail-oriented, well-organized team player and very goal-oriented. I never miss deadlines and I love to challenge myself. I’m a good communicator and I can juggle multiple tasks at once. I exercise professionalism and enthusiasm in anything I do. Additionally, I am very adventurous, loving and a people person who loves to encourage others whether we are on the same path or otherwise.
What inspired Fabhijabeez? Let’s rewind to the days when I sold scarves in nursing school in late 2018. Back then, sometimes I couldn’t find scarves in shades I wanted. I love pretty things so I just said let me buy fabrics and get them done myself. Persons admiring the beauty and quality of my scarves started requesting different types, plus headbands. I jumped onto it without before even knowing how to sew properly. I used to go to my dressmaker every Saturday and observe her sewing, and then my Hubba (spouse) bought me my first sewing machine and told me to try until I get it. I didn’t sleep that night. I stayed up and sewed and sewed until I got one good headband at 6:35am that morning. I slept for 4 hours then was back at it. Fast forward a bit, I started making all kinds of headbands with the feedback and high demands, started adding donut turbans, head-ties and the list goes on.
Next, there were ongoing messages asking why wasn’t I selling bonnets. I was a bit reluctant as I saw numerous people selling them, but from day one there’s this thing instilled in me that no matter how many people are doing the same thing, they won’t do it like you. “Nobody is you, and that is your super power.” Furthermore, I gathered a lot of information on how satin is good for hair, so I said why not. I took it upon myself to start off with bonnets upon request, then began taking wholesale orders for not just for bonnets but for all my hair necessities. Overall, Fabhijabeez provides great quality products hence why I’m always bombarded with requests of doing more and I love to bring out the happiness in people.
How do you balance nursing with Fabhijabeez? This is a very tough question. I don’t even know how I do it, but I do– from sewing on my days off, to sewing in the nights after work and on the weekends. What I do especially for wholesale orders is allot a time frame for completion and ensure all customers agree to it before continuing with an order process. I have bitter days, sad days, days when I cry and when I feel it’s too overwhelming, but I just schedule a day or some hours for sleep and then I’m up again to finish up. Additionally with this pandemic where longer work hours are expected and things are overbearing most of the time, I just try to have work along a scheduled time frame, have my household help with little details like pressing, turning, trimming, etc. I look forward to hiring an assistant who is passionate about my business as well.
What’s next for Fabhijabeez? To expand in all possible areas of a hair care line: adding new items as time progresses, getting into more stores, providing wholesale to the big hair stores here in Jamaica and even abroad. Also, to provide jobs and continue helping people forget about bad hair days.
RN James believes multiple streams of income is the way to go. She believes that the Internet has made it easier, faster, and more affordable to generate multiple income streams. If one source of income drops, you have other sources to help you get by and you can offset the slow periods in your small business with your main job. This also helps you avoid boredom by giving you different things to do daily. You can create income streams based on your interests, talents and passions. Find Fabhijabeez on Instagram.
I hope you’ve found their stories inspiring and learnt a thing or two. Please support their business endeavours, and follow their social media to stay in touch. Also, please nominate other health care workers pursuing their non-clinical dreams below. You may see someone you know in part four.
Adventures from Elle takes a hiatus until December. Until then, stay safe and keep exploring!