India Reinartz started her journey of entrepreneurship because she wanted balance. Spending years managing and working for the dreams of others, India’s desire to be her own boss and, more importantly, be true to her own beliefs, were the seeds that became Papaya Wellness. Shortly after striking out on her own Carly Chivers came on board and they started changing the lives of others with force.
What is Papaya Wellness? India says it’s an opportunity to create balance in your life. Offering yoga, surf and mindfulness retreats in tropical destinations from Nicaragua (a place these Leading Ladies are lucky to call home) to Bali. It’s all about helping people step away, slow down and actually relax. This is anything but a standard all-inclusive tropical vacay.
“The shifts and transformations that come out of a week [at Papaya] are completely inspiring,” admits Carly. “It’s an honor to be a part of this process with people.”
Almost as inspiring as the transformation they help guest achieve is the personal growth that’s come from growing a company built on true passion from the ground up. We’re loving the advice that sometimes you just need a little “boldness and willingness to truly listen to your inner voice” to buck the norm and follow a path that’s as fulfilling personally as it is professionally.
Maybe a trip to Nicaragua is worth jotting in our planner.
People say they wish they could do something like what we’re doing. I wish everyone knew that all it took was a leap.
What inspired you to launch Papaya Wellness?
India Reinartz: It was the desire for professional independence. After years of managing and running other people’s businesses, I was ready to be my own boss. Papaya Wellness is a lifestyle business and a fusion of our passions and interests (health and wellness, ocean time, strength and empowerment, mindfulness). We both had a strong desire to work toward something that we believe in, share our passions and promote a healthy and empowered lifestyle with others, and specifically, with women.
What responsibilities fall under you both on a day-to-day basis?
Carly Chivers: Our responsibilities vary depending on if we are hosting a retreat, or have an off-week.
During retreats, we are on the ground making the magic happen in full force. We arrive on site first thing in the morning, brew some coffee and get prepped for morning practice. We’re there to make sure our guests experience is as comfortable as possible and all the details are executed seamlessly. Our work on retreats is to ensure everything runs smoothly and that no one can tell we are working! This takes a lot of behind the scenes prep work. We are organizing our local staff, planning meals, clearing plates, teaching yoga practices and surf lessons, and making all of the activities and adventures happen. We do all of this while still keeping up with the regular tasks we do all the time to keep the business running, like answering emails inquiries, social media interaction, accounting, etc.
India: On off weeks, we spend a lot more time on strategy and marketing advances. We are active on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and post daily. We try to publish at least one blog per week on our own website, and are always networking and creating relationships with like-minded companies to spread the word and expand our reach. This includes writing for other blogs, making videos, etc. We also have a few on-the-ground projects going, including a small apparel line and a nonprofit reusable bag project with women in the village where we live, here in Nicaragua. During off weeks we take time to make sure that everything else is running smoothly, and things are getting done! It feels like we’re always answering emails.
What was the biggest surprise when starting your own business?
India: I’d say the biggest surprise is how much work you’ll actually do. It’s not a 9 to 5 p.m. job, but more like a morning to night, every day kind of job. The best part of this is the reward of doing it yourself, being your own boss and living your dream.
Carly: My biggest surprise is that self-created pressure that goes along with starting and running your own business. I am probably the most challenging “boss” I’ve ever had. When you are working for yourself, the stakes are high and the net to fall back on is small. It’s on us, as a team, to get things done and make sure that we have a product to offer, are booking trips and that the quality of what we offer is on point. There is a fear of failure that seems inherent in stepping out onto your own feet, and that is a powerful force. Overcoming the fear and celebrating success is amazing, and those failures we experience are great opportunities for self-reflection and perspective shift.
What is your favorite aspect of your job? Why do you feel compelled to do the work you do?
India: It’s how close I am to the ocean. A quick dip every day makes all the work worth it. I love where I live, and sharing that love with our guests is incredible. I think it’s an apparent and genuine love, and I think people really feel and appreciate that.
Carly: I love all the amazing people we meet on retreats. Each person is compelled to come on retreat for a different reason, and it’s a true gift and blessing to be able to learn and share with our guests from this raw and authentic platform. When they’re here they’re on vacation away from the grind of daily life, and I feel like people are more open and authentic in this environment. The shifts and transformations that come out of a week of vacation like that are completely inspiring! It’s an honor to be a part of this process with people.
What are some of the rules you live by?
India: Play in the ocean every day, be true to what I believe in, trust my instincts, laugh out loud – often – and be silly.
Carly: My first rule is to always have love and gratitude. It’s the foundation. I believe in expressing love and compassion often and freely, being grateful for moments every day, acknowledging the small things and letting their awe wash over me. I also believe in speaking my truth, taking the time to notice my breath, laugh a lot, be present and immerse myself in surfing and swimming in the ocean every day.
What qualities does it take for someone to be a successful as an entrepreneur in this space?
India: I think the only quality it takes to run your own business is confidence in yourself. You need the ability to face your fears head on and just go for it. It might take a minute to start your business, and when times get tough, just remember to work harder and it will come around. You have to have faith, believe in yourself and stick with it.
Carly: Agreed! Possessing confidence and being bold enough to follow through is huge. Discipline and self-awareness also helps. Knowing your strengths is huge, too, because this way you can devote your time to your strengths and find a team to support you in areas that are not your own expertise!
What is one thing you wish everyone knew about your job?
India: I started with a vision and had no capital. I worked hard to make it happen and still, now, after 4 years I am still working hard to build it up. Our future is prosperous. I believe in it.
Carly: I wish people knew that they could do this, too! We often hear how awesome our job is, or how cool it is that we live in Nicaragua. People say they wish they could do something like what we’re doing. I wish everyone knew that all it took was a leap. There was nothing special in my life that made it okay for me to leave the life I knew behind and move to a foreign country to build new dreams. It just took boldness and the willingness to truly listen to that inner voice. We are living a dream and working toward what we love to do, and it is awesome and also challenging. It’s also totally possible for anyone that has a vision. Having the confidence to listen to that voice, and step out onto an unchartered path is huge.
What advice do you have for those wishing to launch their own businesses?
India: The best advice I could give someone who is looking to start their own business is a little bit of a repeat, but honestly, just do it. Take the risk if you really believe in yourself. Do something different and take a chance; we only have one life make it count.
Carly: Have a dream, write it down (your big vision) and trust in the process. You can’t plan everything, and all of the little steps in-between will be unpredictable, so there has to be a level of trust and willingness to stay open and let go. Holding the big vision in front of you and actively working toward it, while being malleable enough to roll with the unexpected waves that come your way, is important. And yes, that was my mandatory surf metaphor!
Who is your greatest female inspiration?
Carly: My mom. I hope to one day be as accomplished and radical as her! She is the most supportive, loving and caring person on the planet and is so patient, open and generous with everyone she meets. I love watching my mom interact with other people, and it brings a tear to my eye to think about it. Earlier I mentioned a rule I live by is being present, and my mom is amazing at this. She gives whoever is in front of her the respect of fully listening and being present with them. She has always been super healthy and physically active, and she nourishes her body well because she feels better when she does that! She has instilled a lot of those values in me.
Any other words of wisdom you’d like to share?
India: Don't allow other people to dictate your life. Everyone feels a little pressure from friends, family and society to create their life in a certain way, make money, save money look out for their future and have security. Do what makes you happy. Be original, be bold, listen to yourself, make mistakes and embrace them, because that is how we learn, grow and progress to new levels.