It's Black History Month, and we couldn't think of a better way to spend it than introducing you to entrepreneurs who are grinding today to make history tomorrow.
Today we're honored to expose you to the excellence that is Tobi Ewing, of Beyond The Clouds.
Share your journey! How did you become the entrepreneur you are today?
I've always been ambitious, a leader and had an entrepreneurial spirit, but it was my life experiences that brought me to build a business around wellness. Storytime! Winter 2016 it seemed all the pains of my traumas hit me at once - sexual assault, domestic abusive relationship, and a strained mother-daughter relationship. On top of that, it was my 1st year out of college, I was living in a new city alone battling housing instability and a corporate job that was mentally exhausting. I was dealing with a lot and realized I was dealing with depression and anxiety and I needed guidance. That's when I really got serious about my mental health, spirituality and self-care practices to help myself heal and thrive. I randomly decided I was going to start meditating. I don't even know where that came from, I was just like I need to do something. My anxiety got really bad especially when I had to go to work. I started with just 10 minutes a day or 5 minutes at night before bed and 5min in the morning before work. I would also pray after meditating as a way to "seal" it. *Info-commercial music* It worked! No, my real life problems didn't go away, but I regained my stability and confidence to handle it. I trusted God, the universe and my ancestors were protecting and guiding me. I started removing the ego and holding myself accountable. I learned to forgive, which was HUGE for my journey.
Fast forward, June 2017, I started Beyond The Clouds as a blog. Similar to this series I would interview creatives, entrepreneurs, and changemakers of color. I wanted to highlight the amazing women, queer, people of color I knew doing dope sh*t. Interestingly enough, one of the questions I would ask was about self-care. As I continued growing, the vision I saw for Beyond The Clouds grew as well. In Feb/March of 2018, we pivoted and rebranded as a wellness brand and have continued spreading the message that healing, community, love, abundance are all Beyond The Clouds.
Beyond The Clouds creates services and products rooted in diverse, relevant and mindful wellness with an emphasis on women and people of color. We take a holistic approach to wellness and well being supporting you on your journey to Be Well. Communion, our monthly self-care practice for women of color, is our most popular class series. The Release is our annual signature wellness activation. We also make and sell meditation and self-care tools such as meditation weights, glow oils and plant-powered shower steam bundles.
What do you do? Are you a full-time entrepreneur, or are you balancing a job and a business? How do you feel about that?
So I work two jobs - 9-5pm I work as a Production Planner for a global apparel brand. 5-9pm I run and operate Beyond the Clouds. It is challenging some days balancing both because during the day I want to be working on Beyond The Clouds, I don't want to wait until 5/6pm. Beyond The Clouds is my dream job intersecting services and products all centered around wellness relevant to people of color. I am working to set up an infrastructure that allows me to profit enough to be able to leave my day job, but in the meantime, I'm working on using the time I do have effectively.
The first year of business can be the hardest, but the most fun and educational. How was your first year of business?
Oh my! The first year of business was a lot of change, mainly because I didn't know I was starting a business. Beyond The Clouds started as just a passion project, a blog highlighting my friends in NYC, Ohio and globally doing amazing work. I was a fan and wanted to honor them. Then I added some apparel, changed our color scheme a billion times, worked on the mission a billion times trying to get the language just right. I started thinking bigger and seeing the potential of this platform I was building, then I paused, took a break to think, pivot and plan without any output. Because I didn't start with the goal of starting a business, I had to sit down, really think things out and kind of start over mentally. I really began to hone in on what problem was I solving one of the most important questions you should ask yourself when starting a business. Why is this value? What am I solving? Your why can change, ours did, but you should always be clear of it.
As the old saying goes, "Never forget where you come from." Where are you from? Has your hometown had an impact on your entrepreneurship journey? Be sure to give a shout out to anyone who has helped/supported you during your entrepreneurship journey. (106&Park style shout-outs are acceptable as well. This is a safe space!)
I am a proud gem of Dayton, Ohio! 937 stand up! (haha) Born and raised. I went to Valerie Elementary and Stivers School for the Arts for middle and high school. I loved my years at Stivers, some of my best memories. As a child/teen, I knew early I was different - I was complex and interested in many opposites. I loved JJs and sushi, twerking and ballet, reality tv, and documentaries. This is many of us, we are so layered. Stivers was a safe haven for me, I could be all of me there. I thrived academically, studied dance (my 1st love) and theater, cheered and ran track. It was important for me to be around diversity and people of color. I remember vividly in 6th, not wanting to go to a private school - I didn't want to be tokenized I didn't want to be separated by my neighborhood friends but I knew I wanted to go to college and I wanted to excel academically and artistically. Stivers gave me that balance and access, so shout out to Stivers!
I come from a very artistic and creative family, many are artists, singers or musicians. Thankful for my parents, Toby and Billi Ewing who have always supported my dreams and creative aspirations even when they didn't understand what I was doing. They stayed on me with grades, but let me wonder creatively which worked great for me! My mom is a creative, a singer, herself and also attended Stivers so it was great to be in a home that recognized the arts. Everybody in my family has been so supportive. I am thankful. Shoutout to my friends, my family, from college and high school who also honored the arts and their dreams! My best friends are dancers, theater directors, fine artists, architects, thespians, academics, social workers, lawyers, mothers, writers, and many other professions. Despite our day jobs, I love that we all attack our dreams and we all encourage each other to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am big on the community, it is everything to me. I am forever thankful to those who have poured into me. I cry all the time thinking about it. Love and support saved me. And as always God, the universe and my ancestors for guiding me on this amazing, honorable, overwhelming, scarily exciting journey called life.
Making history requires making change. How will your business benefit future generations in your family?
2 words: Generational Trauma. I like to say I am living to heal. Heal me, support my family on their healing and breaking chains for future generations. We don't spend enough time analyzing our trauma and trigger points and it grows into a dangerous cycle that doesn't end until we do the work. I know this for a fact. Our overall goal as a company is to support you on your journey to Be Well. This looks different for all, but we are intentional about our holistic approach - be well mentally, physically, creatively, financially, etc.
Black culture is often idolized for portraying an image of trend-setting fearlessness. How has being Black impacted your entrepreneurship journey?
Being Black is everything chile! I love it, I embrace, I honor it. My company is intentionally focused on people of color and we are unapologetic about it. Wellness for all and I think it is bogus that we've been left out of the conversation and infrastructure for access to wellness. We have so many culturally relevant practices of wellness - getting my hair braided is self-care, watching Waiting to Exhale is self-care, drinking Noni juice from my grandmother is self-care. I can't remove my Blackness from my business or my self-care because it's offered me so much value and richness.
What advice do you have for Black entrepreneurs who are thinking of starting a business?
Recognize your "why".
Test before you invest.
Don't flex for the 'gram before you do the work.
People do not owe you their money, create VALUE first.
Keep hard working, well-intentioned, balanced folks around you - building a business is hard work you don't have time to waste on mixed signals and petty drama. Find a support network, formally or informal - SCORE is a great resource, free business counseling. Have an accountability partner to keep you on task. Do the work. When you can support others even if you don't know them, and don't worry about what they can offer you.
The year is still new! What can we expect to see from your business this year?
This June we will be turning 2 years old! Communion, our monthly self-care practice and 1st class series, will be celebrating 1 year! The Release, our annual signature wellness activation, is happening for the 2nd time. And we're officially launching our wellness line of meditation weights, glow oils and shower steam bundles.
If you're in Columbus join us for class! We are partnering with Blockfort Studios to offer Be Well Studios - A Pop-up Wellness Studio. These are not your average yoga classes - our classes are discussion based incorporating yoga and meditation. We offer flexible rates for all classes, open to all accessibilities and queer-friendly. Check out our classes on our website and Instagram. Subscribe to our site for the exclusive newsletter, deals and early registration and pre-order for new products.
Keep Up with Beyond the Clouds:
@beyondtheclouds__ (2 underscores)