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E20 From Photographer to International Yoga Teacher: Nicole Wild’s Winding Path 🧘‍♀️🗺️

Updated: Aug 27

Pursuing a new passion after building a career in something else bring up A LOT. Most people are hesitant to leave something because they think they've spent too much time on it. Here's the truth: if it's no longer for you, you're free to move on!


In this episode of The Pollen Podcast, Nicole Wild shares her winding life from pursuing writing, to music, to photography, and finally, being a yoga teacher! Everything comes together — even if you don’t feel like it will just yet. Your past experiences will enrich how you shape your future like stepping stones. Keep walking, and who knows where you’ll end up someday.


Assess and reflect. If there are things in your life that no longer serve you, it may be time to shed old leaves to make way for the new.


Listen to this episode and be encouraged to let go and try something new!


Create your own creative entrepreneurship story of clarity, professional confidence, and profit. Join Diana’s 90-day group course Camp Clarity and learn everything you wish you already knew, like how to land dream clients, harness the power of social media, and make the money you deserve. Learn more here.


🔥Here are three reasons why you should listen to this episode:

  1. Understand how your life is a series of stepping stones and how past experiences will all come together to support your success.

  2. Learn to shed your old leaves to make way for the new. 🍂

  3. Remember that success takes time and that consistency is the path to getting there.

📘Resources

🎧Episode Highlights

[01:58] Introducing Nicole

  • Nicole is an international retreat and yoga teacher. She holds both in-person and online yoga classes.

  • She describes herself as a feeler — everything affects her significantly. She used poetry and wrote music to express herself.

  • When she was in high school, she started nannying for a family. The mother encouraged her to start her own fitness and health journey, where she eventually found yoga.

  • While studying photography in college, Nicole was teaching yoga classes. When the pandemic hit, she started uploading yoga videos which launched her yoga business.

  • Nicole's life is a winding road. She was able to follow her intuition and let go. Even as her path changed, Nicole was able to utilize her past experiences to her benefit.

[15:36] How Nicole Built Her Instagram Following

  • Nicole’s Instagram blew up because of her professional poses and photography.

  • These pictures started back when Nicole was studying photography. She often centered her assignments around yoga poses.

  • Nicole notes that most of her traction on her Instagram came from her YouTube channel.

  • Consistency in showing up is critical when building a social media following.

  • Live your own unique story.

Nicole Wild: "You are unprecedented and unrepeatable. So you've never been before, no one has ever been you before, and you will never be again exactly who you are and how you are. Because of that, you are incredibly unique, and then simultaneously [you] weave the same fabric as everyone else's.” - Click Here To Tweet This

[20:57] Learn to Shed Your Leaves

  • Imagine if trees never shed their leaves and instead held onto their dead leaves season after season.

  • Like the image of a tree covered in dead leaves, we need to shed our old leaves to make space for new ones to grow.

Nicole Wild: “We need to shed the old layers and the old leaves and let them go so that we can make space for new things to grow.” - Click Here To Tweet This

[22:01] Nicole’s Instagram

  • Nicole was inspired by Jade Alectra’s Instagram account, where people need to request the page to be able to follow it.

  • Similarly, Nicole’s Instagram account is free, although private. However, people can donate to her if they wish.

  • Every morning, she holds lives for meditation and journaling prompts. She has since added a segment she likes to call Bedtime Stories.

[24:48] How the Pandemic Slowed Us Down

  • Nicole shares that before the pandemic, she taught 20 yoga classes per week at around six different studios on top of doing photography.

  • Despite her hustle, she knew that this was not her end goal. However, she was hesitant about quitting.

  • The pandemic forced her to pause and assess what she wanted to do and what she had time for.

[27:15] Setting Boundaries

  • Nicole's boundaries are primarily emotional. She doesn't want to be in spaces where she does not feel wanted and welcomed.

  • She’s also honoring her schedule by separating work and life. She goes to bed at 8 pm.

  • She also does not answer others immediately because she sets the time for herself.

  • Your life will have different seasons. You may prioritize one thing over others, but it’s essential to have time to assess what you want besides your work.

[34:09] Nicole’s Stepping Stone Process

  • Kula was started through a stepping-stone process. One significant stone was Nicole's meditation group.

  • When the meditation group finished their sessions, people asked Nicole what was next. That's when she launched Kula.

  • Nicole attributes her success on Instagram to a course about online media marketing. She spends 10% of her earnings every year on education and workshops.

[39:10] Nicole’s Challenges and Learnings

  • Nicole shares that the most difficult challenge of launching the membership platform was pricing it. Some people tell her it's too expensive, while others say it's not enough.

  • She shares the value of planning. She usually records months in advance so unexpected injuries won't harm her posting schedule.

  • When deciding on a price point, go with your gut.

  • Not everything needs to have a cost. You can have free content to cater to those who think your services are too expensive and make your content accessible to a broader audience.

  • Among all the social media platforms, YouTube was the biggest driver for Nicole's success because it showed people a taste of who she is.

Nicole Wild: “In form of pricing, the person that is signing up for a $6 a month membership is a lot less likely to sign up for a retreat or a teacher training than someone who's paying the $40 that it costs. The…bigger question than just how do I price this one offering, it's how do I price this offering in the context of my long-term goals and in the context of the other things I'm putting out there?” - Click Here To Tweet This

[46:44] What’s Next for Nicole?

  • Nicole wants to pursue education for her yoga business. She’ll be doing her first teacher training in Montenegro through the Yoga Alliance soon.

  • Moving forward, she wants to assess what to refine and how to improve her customer experience.

  • She hopes Kula can be an exploration of our inner and outer worlds. Kula is the Sanskrit word for tribe or family.

  • Nicole also wanted her brand to have a memorable scent. Since researching candle-making, she has put out two candles for the brand.

  • In the episode, Nicole shares going to a cadaver lab open to all industries, not just medical. She hopes to collaborate with the lab for a training module in the future.

[56:52] Rapid Fire Questions with Nicole

  • Nicole is a Gemini Sun, Cancer Rising, and Pisces Moon.

  • For Nicole, humans are meant to create; being human is being creative.

  • She feels aligned with what she's doing now. Her misalignments are typically about how much she's doing at once.

About Nicole

Nicole Wild is the founder and Creator of the Collective Kula, a space for yogis to deepen their practice physically and mentally. Nicole's approach is bringing lightheartedness and creativity to challenging sequences. Kula's membership includes yoga classes and first access to events and retreats. She also gives yoga flows through her Instagram and YouTube channels.


Want to learn more about Nicole’s work? Check out The Collective Kula


You can also connect with her on her website, Instagram, YouTube, and by email (hello@nicolewildcollective.com).


Enjoyed this Podcast on Living Your Unique Winding Life?

It's hard to let go of narratives and labels we've long associated with or worked so hard for — but what happens when we realize our dreams have changed? Can we let go of past loves and move on, or do we cling to past dreams? Embrace your winding path. You don't need to stick to one thing for your whole life. Be free to live and grow.


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Connect with me on Linkedin: Diana Davis Creative.


Thanks for listening! Stay tuned to my website for more episode updates and other exciting programs and resources!


Transcript

Nicole Wild: I always say that you are unprecedented and unrepeatable, so you've never been before no one has ever been you before, and you will never be again exactly who you are and how you are. Because of that, you are incredibly unique, and then simultaneously weaved with the same fabric as everyone else is. So, there's on both sides of the coin like you should own your uniqueness. Also, you should care for others because we're all in some ways the same too.


Diana Davis: Welcome to Pollen, the podcast for creative entrepreneurs. I'm your host, Diana Davis, multi passionate creative, business coach, Gemini, manifesting generator, macho drinker and travel junkie. I'm also the founder of Diana Davis Creative where I went from a six figure photography business to coaching creative entrepreneurs like you. If you want to have a career and a life you love, you're in the right place.


On this show, I'll be coaching on all things creative entrepreneurship, and you'll hear stories from fellow creative entrepreneurs that will show you it is possible to do life the way you want to. They'll share the nitty gritty of their journeys, like the real shit, and how they are doing it differently. I'm stoked to have you along on this journey. Let's go. Hello, Pollen. We are having a guest episode which we haven't had in a while because I've been all over the place.


It's been a lot easier, to be totally honest with timezones, to schedule my own solo episodes. I've been anticipating this guest for a while. So, I give you one of my very good friends, very talented, very creative entrepreneur, Nicole Wild. Hello, how are you? Welcome.


Nicole: Hello, thank you so much for having me. I'm good. How are you?


Diana: I'm so good, just chillin in Paris, so that's where we are in the world. Where are you in the world? Where have you been lately? Then, we'll get into your story.


Nicole: Yeah, I'm currently in Bozeman, which is where I'm from, Bozeman, Montana. For anyone who doesn't know, I think Bozeman's like mentioned lots of times in your podcast.


Diana: Pretty popular right now. Yeah.


NIcole: Yeah, for sure. Here just kind of for a moment. I've been traveling a ton and just got home from leading a retreat in Chamonix, which I got to see you at, which is such a good time. Yeah, it was so fun to have you there. Getting ready to take off on a whole series of retreats and trainings, and both trainings that I'm leading and attending and just going to be globetrotting a little bit for the rest of the year.


Diana: Amazing. So if we were to title you, in this moment in time in your career, what would you say your title is? What do you do?


Nicole: Oh, I haven't thought about a title for myself in a hot minute. This is good. Okay. Yeah, right, coach me. I am an international retreat and teacher training leader, but that's just kind of one part of my business. I also have an online membership program where I upload three yoga classes per week. It's called The Kula. So, my business has these two components to it: an online component and an in-person component.


The online is like, regular classes for anyone who's interested in practicing yoga from home. Then, in-person is a lot of people from the membership site that then end up signing up for the retreats, but also not, too. There's lots of people who either just follow me on Instagram or see it online or come with a friend or with a partner or whatever, and then, they sign up for retreats, too, and the teacher trainings as well.


So yeah, there's like, kind of these two different components, so I don't know what one title would be for that whole picture.


Diana: CEO of Nicole Wild Collective, I guess, something, but yes. I love how long I've known you. I've seen such an evolution and we're going to talk about that, but it's so cool to see you in this stage and also to be able to attend the retreat in Chamonix and just how much of an international crowd you attract and we had that moment where you, Brooke, we’ll give these people a shout out, Brooke, the retreat planner, Devin, the boudoir photographer, who's also a really good friend from Bozeman, us four were there early.


Like, we went to the spa, you took us to this amazing spa with the crazy fucking Alps in the background, and I had that moment of like, you're not quite in your 30s but like we're all around there, and it feels like we're adults. We're like doing this stuff. Like all of a sudden, we have like not just jobs but businesses, very successful ones and we're traveling to Chamonix, France for like your job. That's cool. So, a lot of pinch me moments. I love where you're at. I'm so excited to tell how you got there because it is a very winding road.

Nicole: I already almost just said my sign.


Diana: Don’t say, yeah. Okay, so for those of you who are listening to just this episode alone that maybe haven't tuned in before, welcome. Welcome to Pollen, but also, I try to make my guests shut their traps about their signs because I think it's really fun to listen to the person and kind of guess and then, we'll say her astrology at the at the end to see if you know. This is going to be a hard one to keep quiet about.


But, what I want to ask you first is Nicole as a kid, like a little girl, who was she like in a quick nutshell? Who was she? What did she enjoy? What'd she do?


Nicole: She was such a feeler like everything hit me in a big way, whether it was like, I accidentally stepped on a bug and cried about it for days or like, I remember my dad took me to a BMX like motorbike race of some kind. We watched someone have an accident and get hurt and get taken away in an ambulance. I could not give it up to the point that my dad took me to the hospital to find him and lay my eyes on him and make sure he was okay, like days later and give him like a little like a coloring thing that I had made for him.


Yeah, so the first thing that comes to mind is that and then, as I got a little older, that evolved into my parents always told me, I was very dramatic, and over the top. They were like, we're gonna send you to theater camp, because you just have like, all these emotions. It was said with love, but I don't think they knew fully how to handle it, because they are not like that as much, my dad maybe.


But anyways, so definitely a feeler, I was loud, but then also quiet in other settings. I had a lot of friends, but also like needed my own solo time from them from a really young age as well. Yeah, I don't know, I haven't thought about that.


Diana: Cause I'm gonna like pursue this a little bit. What about like, the Nashville stuff and the singing stuff? There's a whole photography component that we'll talk about, too, but really like, once you start unlayering your life, it's like, whoa, how did you get here?


Nicole: Yeah.


Diana: Even like, I think your first marathon, like that kind of stuff, like tell us a little bit about that?


Nicole: Well, a lot of layers, but I feel like they actually make a lot of sense in the way that they've progressed. So when I was young and given my whole empathetic and just very emotional self, I started writing poetry from a really young age. Like as soon as I could hold a pen and write, I was writing poetry, and I remember reading them to my mom in the car and having my little, I still remember this, a pink spiral bound notebook.


It's probably still at my parents house. I would sit on the grass at recess during elementary school and just like write poetry. Eventually, turned into me wanting to write music, and it was always the lyrics that I was most interested in. Like even when I started pursuing music, I was never a great musician. I was never a great singer. I enjoyed doing it, and I took piano lessons and I took guitar lessons, but it was all just for the means of being able to write music rather than perform it.


So my dream at that time, like throughout really elementary, middle and high school, was that I would write music and then someone else would pick up the songs and perform them, take them wherever. I wanted to be like the silent person in the background that no one really knew who I was, but I was creating this meaningful thing. Then, around that time in high school, I started nannying for a family with four kids and the mom was an insane athlete like Iron Man runner, still is.


She's amazing. With them, I mean, I would watch the kids so she could go on her like daily five to seven mile runs. It was nuts and I was like, I'd never seen that before. I didn't grow up in that. So, she started just watching her encouraged me to kind of get into my own, like, I guess, fitness journey. At that same time, I was feeling uncomfortable in my body, and I was getting to the age of being able to make more decisions for myself.


I kind of started changing my diet in a way that was different than my family and was interested in taking care of my health in a way that I didn't really know growing up and kind of pursued a journey of, I don't know, wellness in general. I never wanted it to be an aesthetic thing, but just like, how can I make myself more healthy. I was struggling with depression and anxiety at the time.


Then, I don't know, I was looking for more like whole, well-rounded ways to approach my health, and so in that, I, then, found yoga, which is kind of my whole world right now, from the whole thing. At that time, I was in school for photography. So, I had applied to Belmont University in Nashville for songwriting, and then, at the very last moment decided not to go. I kind of had this revelation that songwriting was probably more of a hobby than a career path for me, and I just didn't.


I wasn't ready to move across the country away from everything and everyone that I knew. So, I started taking classes at my local college, Montana State University, and just was really taking classes that I was interested in. It wasn't that I thought I was going to get a degree in photography, but I was picking up those electives and really fell in love with the classes and the darkroom, and ended up getting my degree in photography. While I was in school, I feel like I'm totally on a rambling session right now.


Diana: This is what it's for. This is the winding road. Yes.


Nicole: I feel like we're getting through the winding road. So then, while I was in photography school, got certified to teach yoga. During a summer, I had been practicing a little bit, and then during a summer between semesters, I went to Greece and got certified to teach, came back, started teaching right away, taught for the rest of my time in college, and at the same time was building a wedding photography business, and that was going really well.


But, I always knew that it wasn't like the end goal. I enjoyed wedding photography. I love couples. I love working with couples, but it just wasn't necessarily like the big picture goal and you know what the transition out of photography would look like. But, I knew that someday that was something I was ready for when it was ready for me. Then when the pandemic hit and everything went online, I started uploading classes to YouTube, really only so I could have a link to share with my friends and family, not so that I could like have this online presence.


I didn't really know that was a thing on YouTube, but some of the videos picked up traction and some sort of algorithm, and then, there was all of a sudden this community of people online who wanted more classes for me. So, that kind of launched into the yoga online journey of everything I'm doing now.


Diana: Yeah, I love that story so much, and I tell it's often told it to someone the other day, because it's such, first of all, I think a big theme in your story is not holding on too tightly to a thing. Like, okay, I put all this time and effort into guitar lessons and piano lessons and even applied or got accepted to the school, and I can't throw it away. You, moreso, were in this mindset of like, okay, following your intuition, really just going for it and following the breadcrumbs, right?


So, was there any time where you felt like a failure because you quit? I think this has to do usually with our parents because, I don't know, my parents are so supportive with anything I decide. So many people I talked to have parents that are like, you climb the ladder, and you stick with the job, and we put him through finance school. Was there ever any feeling other than, Okay, on to the next thing or anything like?


Nicole: No, that's a really good point, and my parents are also incredibly supportive. I have never, once that I can recall, felt that feeling of like, oh, I failed at this thing. Maybe, a little bit with songwriting at the time, just because I was so young, but even then, I don't really remember feeling that way. I had all the support in the world for my family, and they loved that I wasn't moving across the country when I was freshly 18.


They were very happy to have me closer to home. Another thing on that that I really noticed is none of it goes to waste like even my love of writing poetry at six years old. I'm still utilizing my writing skills every single day. When I first started uploading stuff online even before any of the like online classes or anything, I was just solely on Instagram at that time. People started following me because they liked my very poetic written captions.


That was always the thing that people reached out and said, like I love what you write on your posts on Instagram. So, it was like even that seven year old me is still being honored in my work today, even though it was in the form of songwriting.


Diana: Yeah, I hear that. I feel the same way with quote unquote, quitting photography. It was just a stepping stone because even I met up with a New York photographer today in Paris and everyone always asked. It's kind of like the typical questions people ask of like, when are you getting married? How are you having kids or whatever? Everyone asks me, Are you ever going to pick up photography again? I'm like, oh, no, like no, I don't think so.


It's like a dead thing to me, but it led me to where I am, and I think that's really important. Like, you don't just shed things. Like, it adds to your current being to your current skill set and all of that. So, we'll get more into like the logistics and all of this of the Kula, which I want to remember to kind of define a little bit more. But first of all, you weren't just going from like wedding photographer to literal successful membership yogi, teacher, leader, trainer.


Nicole: Yeah.


Diana: You built a following on Instagram. What did that look like for you? What was that about? Why did it start? You had a separate, which is a whole other conversation, but had a separate Instagram account for your photography, but your yoga, which is Nikolaou collective, really kind of blew up, a lot of really cool poses and photographs, like what did that look like? What did it start as? Where did it evolve?


Nicole: Yeah, actually, it started when I was in photography school, and I was doing all of these projects that needed to happen in certain ways, like series that had a certain theme to them, or our assignments in photo school were very specific. So, a lot of my projects, I like built around yoga, and so I would do these different yoga photography sessions with other people or self portraits of myself.


It was something that I really enjoyed photographing, because I think it's really beautiful, how you can create shapes that mimic nature. That was my thing for a long time was like looking at a scene out on a hike that I was at, or wherever I was, and saying like, How can I fit a really beautiful human shape into this setting and make it look like it's meant to be there kind of thing.


So, I started uploading those on Instagram and writing my captions to go along with them. Eventually, turned into me recording flows, because now, I think a lot of what people are drawn to my classes for is that the sequencing is really creative. It's outside the box of your standard like warrior series, and so posting flows online as well, just in the form of Instagram posts, and, now, reels.


Diana: Yeah. So first of all, I will vouch literally, you've heard me say this, I'm not blowing smoke, Nicole's classes are the most creative things I've ever been to. They're my favorite because of that, because I get really bored in my mind redoing a sequence 50 times or whatever, the same one I've done 50 times in other classes, so definitely check her out. She has her free YouTube situation, and then you can join the Kula if you'd like. But that aside, was there a time when you started to see more traction?


Nicole: I think that it's been, well, the biggest traction I've seen on my Instagram has been from YouTube. They started uploading classes there and just like having my instagram handle in the bio and in the like descriptions of the videos. But even before that, it was starting to grow. I mean, I still don't consider my account to be massive by any means, but the people that are there are really engaged.


It's really cool to see a community grow in a way that's like, I'm actually connecting with the people who are DMing and commenting and all of that. Before YouTube, I think it was a slow but steady journey of growing an online presence, but yeah, just consistency and showing up, I think.


Diana: Yeah, totally. I think that's so important. It's can be a slow, slow burn. Like I just had a client put in a lot of time and effort to Instagram kind of like reluctantly, a little bit resentful of it, not loving the relationship of Instagram. I reframe that a lot in coaching like showing up and just serving your people and making it fun for you, etc. Then, she blew up and one of her reels has 32 million views right now.


Nicole: No way!


Diana: It just literally overnight viral so you just never know and not that that's like the goal or the answer. What do you do with those people once they're there? But, consistency is where it's at. This is part of why I have this podcast, right? People see the version of you, now, that time stamped CEO of the Kula, really successful. People saw you at the retreat as and they think that's just how it's always been and you are just a success story. It's like no.


Like, you started these building blocks when you were like five from therapy and empathetic nature and the poetry and you're just like you realize is all of this stuff contributes to your story. I think the big lesson in all of it is like, be inspired. Let Nicole or me or whoever be an expander for you that things are possible, but live your own story because your specific blueprint is so niche to you.


I love you probably like riff off of this, what do you say in meditations about like living this day and as yourself and all of that.


Nicole: I always say that you are unprecedented and unrepeatable. So you've never been before, no one has ever been you before. And you will never be again exactly who you are and how you are. And so because of that you are incredibly unique. And then simultaneously weave the same fabric as everyone else's. So there's on both sides of the coin, like you should own your uniqueness. And also, you should care for others, because we're all in some ways the same too.


Diana: Yeah, can you while we're on the meditation thing? Yeah, I want to talk more about how that contributed as well. But can you — and I use this a lot, and I credit you every time — Can you talk about the shedding of the leaves?


Nicole: Ah, yeah, I think about you whenever I talk about it now, because I know how much I just ran with it. Yeah, I don't even know where it came from. When I saw I lead a meditation group every January now, where there's daily live meditations. I was just kind of like creating my own imagery. I remember that morning preparing that meditation. I was picturing at the end of the fall when the leaves all dropped from the trees.


Then next spring, they regrow again. And it was the imagery of like, can you imagine if the trees never shed their leaves, if they just had years and years and seasons and seasons of dead leaves that they're ready to let go, but they didn't. And so we as humans need to do that, too. We need to shed the old layers and the old leaves and let them go so that we can make space for new things to grow.


Diana: Yeah, and for us, that could be considered our photography, and the songwriting, or partners and places and all of that. So I think that's such a good lesson. Can you tell us more about the meditation group and how that started? And how even like, logistically, you did this on Instagram with like a private group and that kind of stuff? Because it's really creative. It's a creative solve.


Nicole: Yeah, totally. I was inspired by a woman on Instagram named Jade Alectra. And she also has had so many different iterations of herself over time, I followed her for many years, and she's done so many different things. But at the time, she was leading a group online in a similar way.


I'm going to shout her out because I got the inspo for the setup of the group from her. It was a private Instagram group, so you had to request the page to be able to follow. And then on my website, I set up just a donation form. I wanted it to be donation based rather than a set price, because it was important to me that it's available to anyone and everyone no matter what, and even if you don't have anything to donate, just send me a message and I'll let you in the group type of thing.


So you would go through the form on my website to fill out the signup page, make your donation and in that was a thing that just asked what's your Instagram handle. And then once they requested the page, I would let them in. So private Instagram group, and then every morning, I'd go live in there and be able to interact with everyone who's in the chat. After the lives of the meditations, journaling prompts, and then just whatever chat time we had, those would be posted to the page in the feed. And so now that I've done it for a couple of years, I'm using the same page.


All of the past two years of meditations are still in there. So each January, we're just adding on and building it. So anyone who gets access to the page has access to kind of the past two years of content. And then on top of the meditations, we did some, I called them bedtime stories, which is so cheesy, but it just happened that way. And they're so fun. But a lot of my meditation inspo comes from books that I've read. And so I was hosting these lives where I was reading directly from the books around bedtime.


Diana: Yeah, I love that. And you did this specifically for COVID. Right? Like, when I felt like you did it almost like as a service while we were in lockdown. Was that true?


Yeah, that is true. I'm trying to remember like the initial moments of being like I should do this. I don't really remember what that was like, but it was at the beginning of I remember the first year everyone was in lockdown. So people were really thankful for that morning like touchstone and group situation. Yeah,


Diana: Because that was the first time I started meditating. And that was, I mean, locked down, slowed everyone's lives, right. Like we were, you and I were both hustling. I remember seeing you end of February when I came to Montana when It was like 30 below or whatever. Yeah.


And pandemic was like just talks, you know, at the time. And I remember, I was staying at your house, and I was talking about your schedule, and how — I mean, mine, too — but how, like, you are hustling your ass off doing yoga classes at different studios? Like, what was that like?


Then we went into lockdown and like screeching halt, both of our lives and giving us time and space and pause to like, make space shed the leaves. Yeah, like have a winter almost right to have a spring. So yeah. Can you talk more about like the hustle of the yoga classes? And yeah, studios, stuff like that.


Yeah, so at some point in time, I don't think that I think a little before that point in time. But I was teaching 20 classes a week at like five or six different studios at one time. Bozeman has a ton of yoga studios for how small it is. And I've taught it pretty much every studio in town. And at that time, it was just like hopping from studio to studio and class to class.


And, again, I knew that that wasn't the end goal. But it was a way for gaining experience. It was a way for connecting with my local yoga community and just growing a base of people who were able to attend my classes. But I am so thankful that the universe just fully was like, You need to stop doing that now.


Diana: No more.


Nicole: I don't think I would have done it for myself on my own. I really don't, I was too afraid of either, I don't know hurting the feelings of the studio owners in town? Or what if it doesn't work out if I go out on my own? Or all of the things and but I also was burning myself out for sure. And so I'm really thankful that things happen the way that they did. And it really required me to pause and assess like, Okay, what do I have time and space for? Because at the same time, I was photographing 20 weddings a summer? Yeah. It was, yeah, it was I look back on that. And I'm like, How did I get all of it done? I don't know, but I did.


Diana: Brand photoshoots and stuff like that. So now that you are CEO of the Kula. And we've created this thing, which we'll talk about, yeah. Is there any are there any boundaries, that from then the hustle to now that you are like non negotiables? Like, you will not go back to that way of life? Is there anything you've kind of put in place of like, I'm never not letting myself do it? Again, whether it's traveling and being around or being locked to something or, like having too much going on? To me time? What does that look like?


Nicole: That's a really good question. I think a lot of my like, current boundaries are more of from an emotional space, like I won't be in spaces where I don't feel wholeheartedly wanted and welcomed, and encouraged to be there. Also, spaces that have integrity and hold value in who their teachers are, and in how they show up in the community.


That was a big learning lesson for me for sure. As far as time management, I think I'm going through this in a second phase right now where I'm coming up on the end of year one of retreats. And I'm now looking at next year, and I'm like, Okay, how can I?


How can I space these throughout the year in a way that's going to honor my schedule, not just my business’s schedule? Because those are sometimes two different things I'm learning. So it's a continued evolution of learning those boundaries. But sleep was a huge one. For me. I'll say like, I'm not afraid to go to bed at 8pm if I feel like I need to turn off all things and just commit to that. Yeah,


Diana: I love that. I think you're also a really big expander. And this isn't a diss I promise. You are a friend that I know. Like you might not answer right away, huh? And that's really expansive to just be like, Oh, that's possible. Okay. I don't need to people-please and answer people right away or be available all the time. Like, yeah, just you take your time, you put your phone away, you do your work.


I said this to you last week, two weeks ago, last week, that you're one of the hardest working people I know, like you work really hard. That can be a double edged sword, of course, but also I think what you've built, it's not just like, Oops, I sneezed and I created this membership. It's like, you work really hard and you put the boundaries in so that you're focused when you work.


So, let's talk about the Khula. So we're in the pandemic, in the throes of lockdown. everyone's freaking out. You're a social human being. Hint. You are trying to figure out what to do with your time because you can't do yoga classes and you can't do weddings. Also, it's March. So like, not a lot of weddings are happening anyway. So you're literally like a sitting duck.


So how did this idea come about? I know you said you wanted to maybe share with your friends and family maybe like helping them do workouts at home. But what did this look like for you, this process?


Nicole: Yeah. Okay, so Well, for one. I'm backtracking a little bit, because I just want to comment on the I am horrible at responding to text messages. My brain is like stuck here right now. Like almost didn't even hear anything. You said since then? No, I did, we'll get to the Kula. But I am notoriously bad about it. Everyone in my life knows it. It's something that I struggle with. I flux between, just like you said, it's okay to not respond right away, the people in my life know that.


I also feel like I'm good at, if it is a slow response, then being like, I love you so much. I'm not responding I’m not wanting to, it's just that this is whatever it is, I've been busy, etc. But I am definitely all of this to say I'm bumping up in a moment bumping up against a moment in time right now, where I'm really trying to assess how to have the personal life that I want, along with the business that I've built.


That's been like a huge spotlight for me this past probably six months of like, I've worked so hard, and I'm so proud of it. I'm so proud of what I've built. And I still have so many things ahead of me that I know I want to build. And that hasn't faltered, but I feel like I haven't made space for my personal life. I feel like there are people in my life who wish I could show up for them more, and I just haven't had the time to or the space to.


I think that that's a really important conversation for any business owner to just have with themselves. And to know that there are going to be seasons of doing the work and putting other things on hold. But there also has to be seasons where you're like, What do I want for me aside from my business?


Diana: Yeah, yeah. Again, like, what I heard you say just now is, there are people who want me to show up more for them. And it's like, even assessing, do I want that? Like, right? Versus the people pleasing of feeling like you have to because they want that? You know, I think thank you for sharing, because this is such an important conversation.


Business owners, because it is like we, you know, Jess Glazer, you and I have been in her container. She always said like building your business around your life, not your life around your business, right? How do we do that? And it's like, putting, you know, for me, and Camp Clarity and stuff we teach, putting the personal stuff in first. Yeah, literally in the calendar, so that everything else can filter around it. That's like, you know, the stone that's set.


But also figuring out what you want your personal life to look like, you know, and how your business can can, like, feed that. And is that so? Yeah, I think that's a super important conversation.


Nicole: Yeah, yeah, for sure. It's been a huge thing for me these past several months, and I'm navigating it. I don't have all the answers, I don't have any of the answers and figuring it out right now. But definitely realizing that there are areas of my life that I've put on hold, and it's not a bad thing. I don't regret it. But like dating and relationships, and I know I want kids someday, and these are things that I'm like, Okay, if I want those things, I have to make space for them. And I haven't


Diana: Shed some leaves maybe.


Nicole: Leaves gotta go, bigger tree. I don't know. Yeah, yeah.


Diana: I love it. Yeah, thanks for sharing. You're not alone out there. If you're listening. You're not alone. Okay, so the Kula?


Nicole: Yes. So the Kula, back to your question. So really the Kula. Again, it was a stepping stone process. And one of the big stones was the meditation group. I had led that that January. And then at the end of the group, the group was coming to a close. And I remember there were a couple 100 people in there, I think, the first year and the people in the group were like, what's next? How do we continue practicing with you? How do we continue? How do we stay in touch? And I was like, Well, I don't really know. I didn't think about that.


So I launched the Kula as kind of the next thing from that. And when I originally launched the cool I thought it was gonna be a lot of meditation and some yoga classes. And it's kind of become a lot of yoga classes and a little meditation, which is all good. It's been fun to let that be its own journey. And so now the Kula feels so different from what the meditation group is. But it was a stepping stone for sure.


Diana: Yeah. So you had this meditation group on Instagram, and we're in lockdown. And you're like, you're not like, I don't know, there are a lot of things you could have done. But you were like, I'm gonna go film a yoga class and upload it to YouTube for the very first time.


Nicole: Yes. So okay, so simultaneously, oh, my gosh, when I tell my story, I'm like, I know, it's a lot of dots to connect. But the same time as all this was happening. Yeah, I was taking a course through Yale University that was online, digital media and marketing. And I don't even I couldn't tell you why I signed up for that.


Other than that, I at the time, and still really, I was on this whole thing of every year 10% of what I make goes right back into education. So I was always looking for workshops — this is also in my sign, by the way — I was always looking for workshops to attend. Like random things, it didn't have to be directly related to yoga or to photography, a lot of times it was but I found this course for digital media and marketing.


So it was kind of like all the pieces just happened to fit together. I had the professional gear from photography to record high quality classes, and edit them and upload them. And then I was processing all this information about how to market yourself online. So even though it was kind of a happy accident, the pieces were definitely in place, I recorded a couple of classes because I wanted to be able to send them to friends and family.


I uploaded them on YouTube, because that was a place that I could have the link to be able to send. But I also wanted to make them pretty, because that's just kind of how I am. So I did them all professional grade. And then that was when they kind of took off on YouTube.


Diana: I love that. So we built a following on YouTube. And you hit 10k followers pretty early. Was that the number?


Nicole: On YouTube? Yeah, I don't remember like the, I guess, timeline or milestone. Yeah. And right now, I'm putting a lot less effort into YouTube than I was originally. But I'd like to get back into more regular content there again, but yeah, it happened pretty quickly. Yeah.


Diana: People are looking literally googling. Like, yeah, the at home workouts at home. Yeah. And yeah, you popped up. And yeah, I think, you know, even we heard from so many different people in Chamonix at your retreat, like how they found you. And it's always That's an expensive thing, too, is everyone's gonna find you differently. so and so said this mentioned your name, or I just happened to Google you or whatever, right? You shot my wedding. So I follow you know,


Nicole: Right. Yeah,


Diana: So we're doing YouTube, it's working really well. How did we decide to in your monetizing it because you're doing ads? Right? I remember you like us talking about that, which is a whole other. So your you have your Instagram account that's more just like beautiful yoga philosophy kind of this thing, this private Instagram account. Now we have YouTube, which is actually being able to be monetized because of the ads. How did you decide to make it an online platform and membership?


Nicole: Yeah, I mean, it was definitely the mix of the meditation container coming to an end. And then the YouTube growing and the question of like, what's next? I'm not really sure where the membership idea came in. Other than that, that was like, the start of people kind of launching things like that. And so I saw, it didn't feel like everyone was doing it at that point. But I saw a few other people who had bought followed online kind of following this. I don't know, platform, I guess.


I started doing research on how to launch a membership site, what software programs to use what I don't know, just all but I didn't know anything about it. It was all new territory for me. And it was a big, like chunk of time that I put into research and just like brainstorming before it came together as what it is now.


Diana: Yeah. What are the most surprising things that you've learned? Watching this like, anything from you know, I was just thinking, learning from you that you can't play music during a class on YouTube because you know, music rights, yeah, on your Spotify playlist and stuff, but like, even just lessons and stuff like that, like, yeah, membership is no joke. There's a lot of you always have to have people coming in.


You have to retain people. You know, you have to upload how many classes a week do we do? Three classes a week, three classes a week. So you committed to three classes a week now people are paying annually. You have to do it like there's no option to not so what were what are like your takeaways or maybe crazy like nuanced things that you learned?


Nicole: From the beginning, the hardest time I had was with pricing, because there's always going to be people that are telling you, it's too expensive. And there's always gonna be people telling you, it's not enough. And so that was the most difficult part of launching or as far as like, you know, strategizing for this whole thing. And I'm happy with the price points that I set. And some people still say they're too expensive.


Some people still say I could charge more. But I'm confident that I'm delivering something that feels in tune with the pricing that I've set. And then along the journey, I think the lessons I've learned are just about planning ahead. And this is something that I'm I feel like I'm really starting to get a hold of, of, I don't want to be recording classes for next week, or even sometimes next month, I want to be recorded out for months in advance so that if I hurt my foot, like I did this summer, or if I have a kidney infection, like I did last year and ended up in the hospital with you by my side.


Diana: You’ve been through a lot.


Nicole: Yeah, right, that the business goes on, and it's smooth, and no one even knows that I'm in, you know, bad with an injury, while they're taking yoga classes, or traveling for that matter. Like just in that same conversation of making space for myself personally, like being planned out ahead enough that I can go live my life and the business will continue to run.


Diana: Yeah, I think that pricing conversation is so important. I literally am talking to Camp Clarity right now about money, you're like, into the money phase and the money mindset stuff. And someone asked yesterday, on a call, you know, what about the market and like your competition, and what they're charging all of this stuff, and I loved how you just said, someone's gonna think you're too expensive, someone's gonna think you're just right, you're gonna be lower for some people like it just, you have to go with your gut.


So what I told that person is put your fucking blinders on, and price according to your gut. Because who says, you know, we have purses being sold for like thousands of dollars, right, you can go to Walmart. And I think the other thing is, it's an energy exchange. So if you have a membership for $6, no one's going to show up, because they're not really invested. So you don't want to price yourself too low either. You want people to have a little bit of skin in the game.


So you actually have results. And I guarantee you the people signed up are actually taking your classes versus just like, Yeah, okay, not, it's not that much, I'm gonna sign up, but forget about it.


Nicole: It's also like on that note, it's super relative. And this is a conversation I've had with other yoga teachers who have come to me and asked some of these same questions is my goal for the online program or online, whatever you want to call it, membership, all the things that are happening online, my goal is that I get to meet as many of those people as possible in real life. And so whether that's through retreats, or trainings, or workshops, while I'm traveling, or whatever it is, I don't want to just be an online face, I want to actually connect with people. And that was my big fear.


Teaching online in the first place was making sure that I was able to, like have true connection with the people who are practicing with me. So if I think about that, in form of pricing, the person that signing up for a $6 a month membership is a lot less likely to sign up for a retreat, or a teacher training than someone who's paying the $40 that it costs. And so like the big I think it's a bigger question than just how do I price this one offering? It's how do I price this offering in the context of my long term goals? And in the context of the other things I'm putting out there?


Diana: Yeah. Yeah. So so good. I think another thing to note that people don't always think about is when accessibility is it's that's also nuanced, right? Where it's like, oh, well, it's too expensive for me. Well, there's YouTube classes, you're welcome to plug into. So realizing as a creative entrepreneur, a personal brand, usually even your Instagram is a free place for people to plug into if they really want. That's the case for everybody.


Having those free offerings is so important so that you can direct those people there. And then eventually, they maybe can build up to a point where they're ready to invest in the higher thing, but to not feel guilty that you're not accessible enough, because we have free offerings all day, like they can go plug in there if they want. They don't have to pay you if they don't want to.


Nicole: Yeah, no, it's so true. And I'll always do my best to continue offerings and things on YouTube. My goal is to do once a week on YouTube, but right now that's, that's a lot. Taking the front seat of my priority list. But yeah.


Diana: YouTube lives forever. You can rewatch class, like, yeah, you have a whole library on there. So go check it out. Okay, so kind of starting to wrap up the story and we can go into the rapid fire questions and Yeah, we're like, chomping at the bit know what your sign is. But where are we going from here? So we have, like, we've made it to this beautiful point, very successful membership. It's not always the case memberships are like notoriously not easy to facilitate.


And like I said, keep people in and, you know, all the above very successful membership where people can also plug into retreats. And they also get a deal, right? If they pay like an annual, is that still the case?


Nicole: Yeah, so Kula members always get first access to sign up for retreats, which in itself, I think is a reason to be in the Kula because I've had retreats sell out to the Kula before they open up to the public. Or, for example, there might be two single occupancy rooms on retreat, and the rest of them are double occupancy. So if you want a single occupancy room, you're probably going to need first access to snag one of those. And then annual members get a discount on retreats, and you get that discount, you could come on every retreat and use the discount every time if you wanted.


Diana: Amazing. I love that. So is there a place where you are marketing? That is the most potent? Email Instagram? Where is the place that you find the most success for your business?


Nicole: I mean, honestly, YouTube, YouTube has been a huge driver of I think the difference is, Instagram is like you said, it's beautifully curated images and flows and some nice writing that I've written up, but it's not an actual taste of the product exactly. It's the taste of me, but it's not a taste of my classes. And so YouTube is a direct experience of what you're gonna get if you're in the Kula, just on a smaller scale.


Diana: Totally. Okay, so where are we going next. And I want to obviously talk about the elephant in the room about your yoga teacher training and what that's like and all of that,


Nicole: Totally, I think education is going to be a huge part of my next push of my business. And also refining. I think I'm the person who always wants to be creating the next thing, sometimes to a fault. And I'm realizing right now that I am not ready to add anything onto my plate yet — a really powerful thing for me to admit, because I have so many ideas of other things that I could do.


I had to tell myself, like, if I want to make space for other things, I have to make space for other things. And so I have to kind of pick and choose and it's a blessing to have so many things that I want to say yes to, it really is. So I think taking this year's offerings, both retreat wise and online, Kula wise, and just really assessing like, Where can I refine? Where can I make it more tight and better for the experience of the customer? And what does that process look like?


There are some little things that I have in mind as far as introducing more of a travel component to the just like the online way that I show up sharing recommendations from like places that I've traveled itineraries or places that I've traveled that kind of thing. I'm kind of keeping a little spreadsheet of places that I've been this year and how I can read that content because people always want to know people always ask for Airbnb links of where I stayed and really, are my restaurants here. I know you can vouch to this more than anyone like

Diana: My Sagittarius Moon is like, yes.


Nicole: Well, I mean, you are the queen of all things like your your folders on your phone of the places that you've been. You're I don't even know I need to need to hire you for a console.


Diana: Yeah, you can just have a glass of wine. How about?


Nicole: Yeah, right? But yeah, so I have some fun ideas that are not huge undertakings, but ways that the brand could continue to expand from just yoga into this like yoga travel. I really like the idea of the Kula being an exploration of both our inner landscapes and our outer landscapes, our inner world and then the world that we live in.


Diana: Tell us what the Kula means.


Nicole: Kula is a Sanskrit word that means tribe or family or community. And it came from when I was attending teacher trainings as a student with Embodied Flow, who I love so much always want to shout out Embodied Flow, they always reference their groups as, as the Kula it's a pretty common word in yoga circles and spaces. I've heard it used in a lot of different settings. But I was using that word during the meditation group, not even really hearing myself say it and the group really caught on to it and was like we're the Kula and I was like, Okay, I guess we're the Kula Yeah,


Diana: I love that back to you really quick. Yeah, the making your brand a lifestyle brand, which it absolutely is. Can we touch on the candles for two seconds?


Nicole: Ah, the candles. Oh my gosh.


Diana: Whether they're like a thing or not.


Nicole: No, they’re a thing, yeah,


Diana: Yeah, it’s so interesting and how you are absolutely a person that I'm at the point where I'm like, yo, if I'm going to do something new, I'm hiring that shit out, right? You are like, I'm doing it. I'm researching it. I'm, oh, we have one more thing to talk about too. But like, okay, the candles,


Nicole: Yeah, candles, okay, so several different things I want in my brand to have a signature scent, because I think there's something really powerful and beautiful about that. I love candles personally, I also wanted my brand to have some sort of product that felt really personal and not just like a pen with my logo on it type of thing. And it turned I mean, I have this tendency to like to get an idea for something and then get a little bit almost obsessive about it and go down a rabbit hole. And then by the time I'm in it, I'm like, well, it's too late to turn back now.


I ordered so many different waxes and fragrances and I was spending hours on YouTube learning about the temperatures that your wax needs to be in the temperatures that it needs to be when you add the fragrance oil in and how many minutes you stir it for and what is the actual like stir technique behind stirring the fragrance oil into like I just went down the rabbit hole and then ended up with these two fragrances.


One of them, they're meant to be summer, winter, Yin, Yang, masculine, feminine, one of them is like sea salt. So water and air and then the other one is fire and earth. And that's like more wintry scent. So they're they're really meant to encompass the brand in that way too. Like even with retreats, I'm trying to do a beach retreat, a mountain retreat, and either desert or jungle retreat each year. So bringing in these components of nature into the brand. Did I kind of answer your question?


Diana: Yeah, I just love how I show up to your house. And there's 50 boxes of like candle wax. Yeah, Nicole’s on another endeavor. I love it. I have one of your candles right here.


Nicole: My gosh! The little mini, Yeah. So people who enter in retreats get little sample size candles. I think next year, I might nobody hold me to this. I might try to give everyone an actual full size candle. The problem isn't the candle itself. It's bringing a suitcase of 20 candles abroad.


Diana: Maybe just give them like a discount code to order it or something.


Nicole: The main issue with candles, those they don't live on my website, because I'm not home to ship them out all the time. But I'm there need to start creating drops for them. Or I have sold them at events or brought them for retreats. But they're kind of just a little bit of a mysterious part of the brand right now, which I like having that element of people being like, Oh, you have candles. But how do I get my hands on one?


Diana: Yeah, we have the same we decided to do a candle which is made by shout out to Essentially Charlie, this amazing couple in Brooklyn. And it's called Kindling because we wanted it to be like community based but like, yeah, I was originally going to sell these things. And it's like, Nah, I don't want to ship these out. I don't want to, so we just put them in our gift boxes, and we bring them to our retreats and stuff like that, too. So it is fun.


Okay, the last last thing, I promise, and then we're gonna go rapid fire. So you're doing this teacher training, which you're really invested in, you have like 200 written pages or more that you like, and you're getting it approved through the yoga Alliance right now and you're doing your first teacher training in Montenegro in like, not very long. A whole other layer to that is you went to a cadaver lab. We can't not touch on like can you tell us about this?


Nicole: Yeah, I will talk about the cadaver lab all day long. Like I think there are some people in my life that are so sick of hearing about it, because I'm like, Oh, that one time at the cadaver lab, like the person who just went like traveled internationally for my first time. I'm like, when I was in Bali and every other sentence.


Diana: Totally, yeah, in a nutshell. What what even the the want to?


Nicole: Yep. I have wanted to attend a cadaver lab since my first teacher training ever since I attended my first teacher training, and I had heard this man's name. His name's Gil Headley. He's like the guy to go to in the yoga slash any sort of spiritual world because most cadaver labs that are available to us in the states are very much aimed towards medical students. Or people in medical industries. His labs are towards all movement professionals. He calls his students somanauts, soma means body.


We had other yoga instructors. We had dancers, Pilates instructors, chiropractors, we had a couple of neuroscientists in there that were studying the brain in our cadaver group. So it's you do have to apply like you can't just show up and be like, I want to dissect a human today.


So there is an application process but it's open to people from all different industries, which was actually one of the most powerful things about this group, or this, this cadaver lab was that we all were there with different bodies of knowledge. I was speaking from the terminology of what I know from the yoga world. There were people speaking from the terminology of chiropractic school, and there are. So there's all these different knowledge bases in the room. We're just sharing this experience together and giving each other different new language, I guess, it was so crazy, it was so intense, I loved it so much.


I also hated it in the moment in in certain moments, not the whole time, it was very uncomfortable, especially at first and it like I talked about it so highly, but I also don't want to make it sound like a super rosy experience, because I definitely did have a hard time like emotionally, especially at first, I did get sick one day and like, literally projectile vomited in a restaurant with the whole group at the end of the day after class.


I didn't even know it was gonna happen. So it wasn't sunshine and rainbows. But I will absolutely do it again. And I am going to be collaborating with this lab at some point to host like a continuing education and dance teacher training module. Are people interested in doing that with me?


Diana: You're so casual, Nicole. When you do things you like really do them. And I love that about you. So thank you for telling your story. Thank you for giving us like an insider true peek behind the curtain. I think me really inspiring and there's so many gems. Okay, so,


Nicole: By the way, been such an inspiration for me and my process. And we've I feel like been through our own entrepreneurship journeys together. And I've learned so much from you. So thank you for everything.


Diana: Fun fact, Nicole and I went to the same photography school and we were like, that's kind of when we met when we were just like, I was just out of it. You were sort of still in it. And we've been through a lot which is through the phases of life in a very short time. Yeah. Okay. So drumroll. Your astrology.


Nicole: I am a Gemini. Learner, interested in education and very social and I have all these different parts of me. It's making sense but for a long time, I didn't feel like I was a Gemini but I resonated with it now. My emotional feely parts are my moon which is Pisces and my rising which is Cancer.


Diana: Yeah, all that water


Nicole: My whole sign is water minus my sun, which is air.


Diana: Yeah, so interesting. I love it. Yeah, the Cancer absolutely makes sense. Pisces, the whole thing makes so much sense. I was like almost I had to zip my lips earlier. But you and I have talked about how we think people-pleasing is a big thing with Geminis because we want people to like us like or even like you said the whole invited thing. We have to been invited, do not just tell us like you can come if you want. Like you have to say I want you there.


Nicole: Yeah, yes.


Diana: And mean it.


Nicole: Yeah, if you tell me you can come if you want, for one, I'm not coming. And for two, I'm sitting in the bathroom crying.


Diana: With your Cancer, Gemini and Cancer side. You're crying in the bathroom? Oh my god. Okay. What does creativity mean to you?


Nicole: Ooh, well, I think humans are meant to create. And I think that creating can look so many different ways. And I think that actually, to be a human is to be creative. Like, there's no one on this planet that's not creating something you make food or you like make a family you create and curate the space of your home. Like we're all creating in different ways. It's just a matter of how you express it.


Even the way you dress as a way of creating or the way you I really love to organize my fridge, I have a huge thing with the labels being out in the fridge. It's such an it's like such a therapeutic part of my week is going to the grocery store and organizing my fridge like that is creating in some way. So I don't know if that's necessarily a definition, but I think that it's so much more broad than we sometimes give it credit for.