Where Are They Now? Follow Up with entrepreneur Ayelet Connell
A lot has changed for West Hartford entrepreneur Ayelet Connell since she shared her story with Innovation Destination Hartford in October 2016. (Read Connecticut Entrepreneur Launches Wellness Center Focused on Community.) At that time, Ayelet was President of Integrative Wellness & Physical Therapy, which she launched in 2014.
Since then, Ayelet has closed the office and shifted her focus to embrace her passion about healthy eating. She launched Healthy Eating Made Simple with Ayelet Connell PhD on June 1, 2018. IDH Website Curator Nan Price chatted with Ayelet to learn about her new venture.
NAN PRICE: You decided to close the Integrative Wellness & Physical Therapy office at the end of May 2018.
AYELET CONNELL: Yes, it was challenging, of course. Especially since the office was doing well. We were always full and had a robust wait list.
Two of the therapists moved away within the last two years and it had become more challenging to meet our clients’ needs. There was also more and more stress with owning a physical therapy practice in our current health care economy with insurance regulations.
NAN: How did you come up with your new business concept?
AYELET: Last year, I began reevaluating. I thought: Do I want to do something that doesn’t bring me ultimate joy?
I’ve been in the physical therapy industry my entire career—my mom started a family business in the early 1980s. I kind of felt like I didn’t have the right to do anything else.
I was on my own journey and I’ve always been passionate about natural foods. My favorite place to be is in the kitchen! I have a lot of knowledge, too. I’ve spent my whole life in the field of natural health and healing. So, it was a natural progression for me to become a healthy eating coach.
NAN: What types of services do you provide?
AYELET: I find out people’s needs and educate them to help develop healthy eating strategies. The goal is to help my clients have a less inflammatory life.
I also create meal plans and provide cooking classes. I’ve been collaborating with Dr. Sharon Hunter and Dr. Christine Louden. They own a beautiful naturopathic center called Bloom Natural Health in West Hartford. I enjoy sharing space with them because we are very like-minded when it comes to working with our clients and supporting their health.
NAN: You’ve gone solo. What does that mean to you as an entrepreneur?
AYELET: Closing the office gave me a huge sense of unburdening. I was feeling weighed down by a sense of responsibility for other people. I took my time and gave it a lot of thought. I also took the time to get organized. I told my team in January. I was nervous, but in the end, they were so happy for me.
Being on my own is so freeing. I’m not worried about maintaining other people. It’s very liberating.
NAN: Can you tell us a little about the closing process?
AYELET: There was so much to do! It was a really involved process. I had to sell everything, and I had to figure out what I needed to sell. I had the office space leased through October, so I had to find a subletter.
There were so many steps to ensure the seven therapists working with me were able to get set up in their own businesses. They’re all independent now.
What’s great is they’re still collaborating. So, I can refer clients to them for body work. I know there’s a whole team of qualified people. Personally, I had been doing body work and physical therapy for so many years, but it felt like the time to shift my focus.
NAN: How are you building a clientele for your new services?
AYELET: I have a huge social and email following. I made sure everyone knew where everyone was going to be—including me. I’m just now starting to put out what I’m doing differently. It’s been a slow shift with social media, which was a purposeful transition.
NAN: What’s next?
AYELET: I’ll continue to grow my clientele. I’m very involved with my food blog. I plan to do cooking videos and feature them on my website and social media. I’m also in the process of and writing a Paleo cookbook with Connecticut life coach Kristen Werblow. We’re hoping it will be on the shelves next year.
I’m also excited to announce that I’ve started offering paleo and gluten-free cooking classes at Cookshop Plus in West Hartford. The first class will take place Wednesday, September 26 at 6:30 p.m.