Mother of two, Wife // Founder and Owner of Vital Float
Written by Jessica Gedge, Photographed by Joelle Segal
In today’s busy world, many of us consider multi-tasking to be as natural as breathing. But how often do we actually take a moment to slow down and refocus? We were very intrigued when Claudia from Vital Float reached out to us to share her story. We visited the beautiful float centre in the Distillery District in Toronto and learned about Claudia’s journey to entrepreneurship.
Tell us about your business and how it came to life.
When I first tried floating, it changed my life and my career path.
Though an engineer by trade, after working for over ten years as a Project Engineer, Sales Manager, and Admission Consultant, I began to struggle with mental exhaustion in the workplace.
I met a peer who introduced me to floating and the timing was perfect. It was just what I needed. As soon as I tried it for myself and experienced the profound relaxation and benefits to my mental health, I knew that I needed to get involved and introduce more people to floating. I began researching float therapy and its benefits and I became wholeheartedly convinced of how incredible it would be for more people to try it.
I decided to leave my corporate career to become an entrepreneur. Floating perfectly fit my goal of creating a business in which I would have the ability to help people who have struggled with similar issues to those I faced.
Floating helped me to realize the need to prioritize wellness in my own life, and also helped me understand that what drives me is not numbers but people. Understanding people’s needs and coming up with the best services and solutions for them is the thing I’m most passionate about.
When I tried floating, I realized that, as with any other issues with our health, we need to establish a regular practice of prevention to be in control and maintain good health. That realization changed my life forever.
Now here I am with Vital Float Centre in the Distillery District. It’s a small business created out of passion, enthusiasm, and a belief that floating as a practice, can truly help the people. My goal is to provide people with an escape from the many demands of modern life, relax their senses, and improve their mental well-being through the healing benefits of floating.
You mentioned that you were able to prioritize your own mental wellbeing – this is critical not just as an individual, but as parents.
Yes while I was working the corporate life, sometimes I would be travelling for up to 20 days at a time. I’d be missing key moments in my children’s lives and it would cause me stress and guilt. So being able to find a way to be there for the family and recognizing that I needed a change was key.
What is your favourite part of your business and why?
I love meeting people from all kinds of backgrounds, ages, needs, and I love engaging with my customers, knowing about what they do, and why they come to float. It’s amazing to learn about all the interesting things people do in Toronto and their passion to achieve their goals or change careers to suit their lifestyle and beliefs.
I know for many entrepreneurs managing employees is stressful but I like that part of my job; it feels strange being a boss after so many years of working under others’ directions. I want to be a good boss, someone who cares about my employees, someone who understands that we all have families and that life, not just work, should be a priority while still being responsible for our jobs.
What areas of the business do you want to grow and expand?
We want to focus on helping anyone who could benefit from the recuperative benefits of floating, but we’ve also seen that our athlete clientele and those in the wellness community have really taken to the experience that we offer. So we are working on growing the community around these areas of our business.
How do you stay organized?
I consider myself a super organized person, I attribute this to my early teens when I was a swimmer back in Colombia, swimming every day from 4pm to 7pm and twice a week from 6am to 7am. I needed to be organized with my time to be able to do homework, attend all the weekend meets, and have time for friends.
Nowadays, my husband makes fun of me because I make lists for everything. It took me a while to use the phone calendar, I still love the desk calendar and I used to have things in different colours in the calendar to separate family and work events. Now I only manage the phone calendar.
I still have a notebook where I have bullet points with the things to do every morning and read my email. Then I make a list after reading all the emails so I can prioritize my activities. For me, answering emails is super important, I think everyone deserves an answer within 24 hrs, including social media direct messages and comments, Google reviews, etc.
I usually leave the admin work to the end of the day (bookkeeping, payroll, orders, inventory, etc), so I concentrate on the day to day operation of the centre, clients, cleaning, and employees first.
Tell us about your family and how you balance being a parent and a business owner.
Work-life balance is the most difficult part of being a business owner. Since Vital Float just opened 5 months ago, I need to be there as much as I can to be sure customers leave the centre happy, with a story to tell, and with the desire to come back.
As a parent you think your kids need you the most when they’re babies or little kids because you need to be there to feed them, play, take care of them when they’re sick, etc, but I’ve learned that when they’re teenagers and young adults they actually need you the most. When they need to talk, it’s usually right away and you need to be there for them. At the same time, you also need to teach them a lot of independence, responsibility, and many other values and skills for life. I want to be there with them and for them.
As a family, we created a sacred space for the four us during dinner time. This is a space where no phones are allowed and we share about our day. We also have our Pizza Friday nights; we make our own pizzas from scratch and the 4 of us spend the evening around the kitchen. Now that my son is in first year of university, things have changed a little bit but we still dedicate a lot of time to our daughter.
I also make sure that the school events are a priority in my calendar. I usually attend all the school events and all the kids’ extra-curricular activities. I schedule my shifts at work around those activities–an entrepreneur privilege.
Do you have a favourite skincare product you can recommend?
Skincare is also part of self care for me, and a way for me to unwind. I like to think of it as something I do no matter what. Sometimes you can get so caught up in your life and in all the things you have to do, but I think that no matter how stressed or rushed I’m feeling, I can always find time to start and end my day with a good skincare routine. In those 5-20 minutes during my routine, I just focus on myself and my health, blocking out all the worries and tasks of life.
Recently I became allergic to traditional skincare products and make up, so I needed to make a change and I found Wildcraft products. They’re local, made in Toronto by a fantastic woman. The products are natural, amazing, and affordable. I decided that I wanted to carry Wildcraft in Vital Float and we have the products for the customers to use after their float session and as merchandise for sale.
What is your go-to dinner recipe?
I am Colombian, we came to Canada 15 years ago and we still cook and eat a lot of Colombian food and treats. For me, Arepa is the go-to dinner. It’s a type of food made of ground white corn dough; the dough is formed into a patty and then grilled, and you can add to the top anything you want, butter and cheese, chicken, pulled pork, avocado, tuna, etc. Anything you can imagine can go on top of an Arepa. It’s an easy, quick, and healthy dinner.
Recipe for Arepa
1 cup warm water
1 cup pre-cooked white corn meal (such as P.A.N.®)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Mix water, corn meal, mozzarella cheese, butter, and salt together in a large bowl. Knead until mixed well and the dough has a soft consistency. Form balls the size of a medium orange and place them between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Flatten with a rolling pin to your desired thickness.
- Cut the dough into circles. Remove the plastic wrap and remove excess dough.
- Coat a griddle with cooking spray and heat to medium-high. Add arepas and grill until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Serve immediately.
Claudia’s welcoming personality and business background mean that despite only have been open for five months, Vital Float has become a core part of the local community. We are so inspired by her story of taking a big plunge with her career and shifting focus to a business that prioritized her own mental wellbeing as well as that of others. To learn more about floating and to book your next float, click here. Follow along on Instagram over here.
And don’t forget to enter the contest below for your chance to WIN one of two pairs of passes for complimentary floats at Vital Float! Please note, each winner will receive a pair of complimentary floats for you and a friend to be booked at the same time.
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