8 Things I Learned About Running an Ethical Business From Living My Dream in Bali

03/05/2015 12:55 pm ET | Updated May 05, 2015
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Watching my mother exhaling her last breath changed my life profoundly, and in more ways than I could have ever imagined. The effect made ripples on the lake of my soul, made the domino pieces of my life fall one after the other. The world around me stopped. I was only a teenager back then and I realized very early on in life, sitting by her bedside, that all we have is now. There is nothing else but the now. The past is gone -- and the future isn't here yet. It's a truth that at this very moment I internalized and never forgot.

If we have dreams it is now that we have to reach for them. If we love someone it is now that we have to tell them. If we want to make changes, now is the time. And I understood that the fear of losing security is never a reason not to reach for your dreams.

So my spiritual journey began -- even though at the time I probably wouldn't have called it that. My mother had introduced me to Louise Hay, whose teachings have deeply shaped my sense of being in and within this world. Deep inside, I knew I wanted to help children so I volunteered in a school for disabled children for a year. I wanted to travel so I booked a flight to Hawaii where I actually ended up living for five years.

The list of continents, countries, adventures and dreams goes on. I simply followed through on what I wanted, and I did it now (remember -- now is all you've got). All along, my core priorities were figuring out my purpose in life and expressing my creativity -- so I studied yoga, meditation, pranayama, quantum physics, graphic design, web design, fine arts and jewelry design. What seemed like a crazy jigsaw puzzle at the time finally all made sense when I moved to Bali six years ago to do a yoga teacher training. Then and there, the pieces of the puzzle finally started coming together. I combined purpose with creativity and foundedAnanda Soul Creations, a jewelry label that works directly with the mothers of street children. Looking back, this amazing journey has taught me eight powerful lessons.

8 Things I Learned From Living My Dream in Bali

1. To embrace many worldviews -- they are all valid!

Having lived in five different countries over the last 13 years taught me to fully embrace the truth that no worldview is the "right one". There were countless moments when my jaw dropped as I realized how differently other people perceive the very same world I live in. How their reality is both valid and real to them and so incredibly foreign to me. How my view on this world is strange to them. And how magical these moments are when you realize that you have adopted a part of a foreign worldview, and more, that you suddenly consider it yours. That we all stem from the same source. I feel flooded with gratitude for the different cultures that have blended into what is now my personality and I feel honored to be able to experience all those different ways of viewing the world.

2. Your actions matter

Traveling lets you truly experience the vastness of this planet and lets you celebrate the mind-boggling variety of humans that populate it. And oh, it's such a small world! Running into your American friend who you met in Bali while shopping in London is one of those moments. The world is a smaller place than we tend to think, and what we do in it matters. Every small choice makes a difference. It's in the mundane that we get to walk the talk.

Every day, we can make honoring the people in our life and empowering them to live to their highest potential a priority. It's a practice, and one that can permeate every aspect of life. Because this is where it starts, in those small moments. It starts in the feeling of being connected that we experience during our weekly staff yoga session. When I sit with our Balinese silversmith talking about his family. When our team sits together with the mothers in the center for street kids, weaving bracelets. Never, ever buy into the idea that the world is too big to make a difference. The core of peoples' hearts is incredibly sweet and loving. And when you speak to that core, every day, every moment, the changes you can bring about in the world are truly mind-blowing! 

3. The joy and blessings of giving back

There was never a question in my mind that if I were to start a business (something so far from my vision of being a designer and yoga teacher) this business would be one of 100 percent integrity and would make a difference in the world. Words cannot describe how grateful I am for the opportunity to give back to the street children here in Bali and to be able to support and employ their mothers. Realizing that we are able to make truly make a difference is humbling and makes everything so much more worth it.

4. You can make dreams come true if your heart knows them

I have known for a long time that Ananda Soul Creations was my soul's purpose. But I had never run a business, let alone imagined being a 'boss' to anyone. I self-taught everything that comes with running a business while family and friends curiously observed how I stayed absolutely determined. My heart simply knew that designing and empowering women is my purpose in life and it was this deep knowledge that kept me going, step-by-step, moment-by-moment. If your soul knows your dreams it does not matter the least what others think.

5. Be patient -- things will unfold

If there was one place to master the practice of patience, it must be Bali. The term "jam karet", "rubber time", is used on a daily basis. It gets particularly interesting when the term is applied to your production chain, with U.S. customers who are used to overnight express delivery on the other end. I now know better than rushing the process here; it has never served me. I had to learn how to work with and around the countless ceremonies in this peaceful and relaxed culture. I now calculate everything with a good dose of "jam karet" and I've received countless blessings from learning to simply trust divine timing and letting things unfold at its own pace -- not my pace. 

6. Enjoy the journey

Everything will shift once you learn to be happy with what you're currently at. There is ever so much on my to-do list: Managing the stores; maintaining the website; creating new designs; drawings; being an inspiring leader for my employees; running production, dealing with customers; coming to grips with e-commerce and social media; setting up wholesale accounts; designing a new catalog; creating line-sheets; organizing a new photo shoot.... You have to realize that you won't ever "get there". And once you've made that step, you can start celebrating the wonders that have already appeared in your life. What an incredibly journey! Every day, I am grateful for being able to live my dream and to do what fulfills me.

7. Everything around you is a reflection of your own vibration

Relationships are the ultimate mirror. And of course the same holds true for any work or business relationship. It simply blows my mind how much my own attitude, practice and vibration is reflected immediately in the team and the business in general. It is such an amazing reminder that we have to continuously practice love, positivity and joy.

8. Stay open to even more magical things unfolding

I was convinced that I was going to share the blessings I had received through my studies in my role as a yoga teacher -- how could I know that my soul's yearning to share the vibration of mantra, affirmations, positive thinking and living in gratitude would be shared through my jewelry creations? Sometimes we make plans but fail to realize that the universe has other plans. Or further more, that the universe has something even more beautiful in store for us. It's so important to have clarity about the experience you would like to have (and, just to be sure, always add the disclaimer "or something better"!).

I made a promise to myself to live my purpose and in that light, becoming a yoga teacher just made so much sense. Well, until Ananda Soul Creations made even more sense! Learn to be grateful and be in awe of and connect with what the universe has in store for you: I am convinced that there is more beauty, light, community and love than you could have ever dreamed of!