Updated: Mar 15
In this new blog series we aim to highlight fantastic creative people who we either work with or admire every week! This week we interview Kelly Harris owner of Sissiboo Nutrition
1. What led you to start up your business?
I have always had a passion for good food, healthy living and helping others. In my previous careers I was a fine dining pastry chef in Eastern Canada, the owner of an eco-tourism company in Mexico where I taught rock climbing and then spent 11 years working for a large medical organisation here in the UK. But when I struggled to become pregnant in my late 30’s it was like hitting a brick wall. I thought I’d start to address the situation by making some lifestyle changes and healthy eating choices, but there were so many conflicting messages from diet gurus out there with their various food ideologies to flog and I felt like I had to gain some control over the situation, so I began to study the science of nutrition.
I became pregnant with my daughter mid-way through my training at the College of Naturopathic Medicine where I spent 4 years retraining as a nutritional therapist. I practised in my College’s student clinic for over a year before finally qualifying and launching out on my own with Sissiboo Nutrition at the start of 2019.
I called my business Sissiboo Nutrition because I wanted a name which would feel comforting to me. The Sissiboo is a river I grew up alongside in Canada, seeing its edges freeze beautiful patterns in winter, its banks swell in the spring, walking along its edges on pine-needle covered paths, occasionally dipping in my toes and paddling my canoe through its cool, dark water. My own family has Mi'kmaq heritage and for me, the image of the Sissiboo means health and wellness and a vital, active life - the kind of life I want to help all my clients to achieve.
2. What were the biggest obstacles to starting up?
For me the biggest obstacle in starting Sissiboo Nutrition has been finding ways to connect with the local community about the wellness service I have to offer.
I love working in my clinic and I’m passionate about helping my clients to get healthier, to reduce their painful symptoms and to develop better relationships with food. But I’m not a great self-promoter, natural networker or public speaker, and this has been a big obstacle in my industry where there are countless “nutrition experts” and a plethora of diet ideologies out there creating a lot of “noise” on the internet.
Sometimes it feels like there isn’t much room left for non-sensational, evidence-based nutrition therapy. So I am grateful for each and every client who has made a conscientious decision to take their health seriously and choose a bespoke approach.
Thankfully, through the magic of Skype, I have been able to build an international clientele helping people around the world with their health issues. But there is something really nice about knowing that you can have a positive impact within your local community and that is where I continue to put my energy going forward. (I would absolutely love to collaborate with some other small businesses or charities in South East London!)
3. What do you love about your business?
I really enjoy the one-to-one relationships that my business allows me to build. And my absolute favourite thing is when I see a client come back to me on their second visit and they suddenly have their spark back, with glowing skin, sparkly eyes and a passion for how a few diet and supplement changes can have had such a huge outcome on their health. This really energises me.
I also love how nutritional therapy requires constant learning and CPD. I really am a big geek – but I think that’s a good thing when your business requires knowledge of all the new research out there.
I belong to a few health-related membership bodies in the UK and the United States which offer amazing learning opportunities for me throughout the year. This keeps me at the top of my game and able to offer the best possible protocols to my clients.
4. Who would be your dream client?
Because often the clients who come to me with their health concerns are usually quite sick and usually have “tried everything” in terms of conventional healthcare options and health food store remedies, it seems a little odd in my industry to have a “dream client”.
But, if I had to choose, I think that given my own difficulty in getting pregnant, it would be amazing to help more couples who struggle with fertility. This is often something which both men and women view as embarrassing or shameful (when in reality, it is just emotionally painful) and it doesn’t get talked about enough.
So much can be done through nutritional therapy in this area, and it can work very well in collaboration with conventional medical assisted fertility treatment. (Why do you think the Harley Street fertility specialists like Zita West have such high success rates? They integrate personalised nutrition plans, supplements and treatments like acupuncture and reflexology into their treatment plans.) And, of course, working with a nutritional therapist is a great way to help same sex couples get in tip top nutritional shape before undergoing the particularly costly fertility treatments needed to grow their families.
5. Where would you like to take your business ultimately?
At the moment I rent a space at Healthwise Natural Therapy Centre here in London, but I would absolutely love to have my own clinic someday.
I also plan to run some wellness retreats abroad, offering healthy delicious foods and allowing people to unplug from their devices while spending some time reconnecting with nature. With a little bit of sunset dockside yoga thrown in and a good massage therapist on call, I can’t imagine anything better!
6. Where have you received the most support along your journey?
My friends and family have been absolutely amazing in supporting me as I’ve started Sissiboo Nutrition. My best friend (a former PR guru, now mom to 4 boys) wrote me a massive social media strategy (which I’m afraid I have yet to really implement in full) and my amazing parents have been out there telling everyone about what nutritional therapy can do for them!
Also, I live in Nunhead which is a beautiful small urban village flourishing in South East London and we have such an amazing sense of community here. I mean real, genuine community where we know our neighbours, have summer street parties, and the same butchers, bakers and greengrocers on our high street have been around for decades.
The small business community in the area has been so supportive of me so far and I mean only to continue making more meaningful connections in the area because I want to support the other businesses too!
7. Would you consider going back to employment for someone else now?
After I had my daughter, I decided that I never wanted to be a company employee ever again. The taste of freedom I experienced during maternity leave felt pretty good, I guess! But in reality, you do what you have to do. So, while I would prefer not to work for someone else’s company (outside of freelance and contract work) again, I would absolutely do so if necessity required it.
8. What do you consider the key skills a small business person must have?
To sum up my answer to this question in one word: Adaptability.
I think as a small business person you have to be willing to do a lot of learning and getting outside of your comfort zone skill set or be willing to spend a good chunk of your financial resources on outsourcing a lot of tasks. I’ve opted (so far) for the first option and am learning so much on the go – from taxes to marketing to SEO and website design.
9. Have you been influenced by any business books or blogs recently?
Because I spend a lot of my reading efforts catching up on whatever’s new in nutrition science, researching health issues and protocols for clients and my own CPD, I don’t put as much time into reading business books as I should.
And sometimes I find business books a bit boring, to be entirely honest with you.
It isn’t a new book, but I did read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In earlier this year and I have to admit that it did absolutely inspire me as a woman who was about to found my own company. I found it quite painful too, remembering so much of the unconscious gender bias which I encountered during my time as an employee in a large company and I simply didn’t have the know-how to challenge at the time. It certainly helped prepare me for the emotional fortitude I would need in starting my own business.
I find podcasts quite good as I can listen to them on the school run or while I’m cooking dinner. My favourites are Marie Forleo and also Jenna Kutcher’s The Goal Digger Podcast.
10. What would your top tips be to anyone considering starting their own business?
Based on my experience as the owner of two small businesses during my lifetime, if you have a product or service that you are passionate about and you don’t have to blow your kid’s college fund to start it, I say go for it. You absolutely don’t need to give up your day job like I did – many successful businesses started out as small business ‘side lines’ which then flourished and grew.
Also don’t be a cookie cutter business – be brave and tell your story. It is what makes your business special – and what makes you, as the leader of your business visible. It allows people to relate to you, identify with you and want to support you.
Your story is the best USP you can possibly have, in my opinion. It is what attracts me to other businesses. I, on the other hand, have a completely Type A tendency to want to make everything I project to the world look immaculate and perfect, so I'm always having to remind myself to be a bit vulnerable – to share a bit of Kelly with the world and not just hide behind my logo.
I always find my media reach and business growth increases each time that I let go of control a bit and do this. So really…why am I not doing it more?
Thanks so much for the interview Kelly!
You can sign up to Kelly’s newsletter with lots of free nutrition and wellness tips on her website
You can also find Sissiboo Nutrition on social media
Don't miss reading more in the 'Have you Met?' series
Interview 18- Maddy Carrick
Interview 17 Anja David
Interview 16 -Bridget Daley
Interview 15 -Karen Arthur
Interview 14 -Rebecca Trowbridge
Interview 13 -Angélina Jandolo
Interview 12 -Kelly Harris
Interview 11 -Sara Dalrymple
Interview 10 -Ciarán O'Fathaigh
Interview 9 -Elizabeth Knights Trench
Interview 8 -Aba Edwards-Idun
Interview 7 -Roxsanne Slatford
Interview 6 -Lara Pearce
Interview 5 -Ashanti Jason
Interview 4- Shannon Reed
Interview 3 -Claire Connor
Interview 2 -Becca Teers
Interview 1 -Cat Bateman
Singing for my Supper
If you enjoyed reading this article and maybe others I've written, found a tip that worked for you or learned something new, it would be great if you'd consider sending me the price of a cup of coffee :) https://www.paypal.me/thanksforreading/2.50
Space at 61 is a venue for hire in Nunhead near Peckham. Often used for childrens parties, workshops, classes, talks, filming and popups you can hire us from £20per hour. The 'Have you Met?' Blog interview concept was created by by Shona Chambers owner of Space at 61 and Shona Chambers Marketing. To read more like this visit www.shonachambersmarketing.co.uk