Like many of the amazing entrepreneurs and their equally amazing businesses featured here, I came across Embiria through Instagram. Embiria provides unique and curated workshops, experiences and retreats for people looking to re-connect with themselves and other like-minded individuals.
Check out the interview with the founder, Palak Loizides to learn more about her journey and some of her favourite workshops to attend (she’s attended every single one to date!).
1. Growing up, did you ever dream of becoming an entrepreneur?
Actually no, which I think is funny because a lot of entrepreneurs have stories about how they’ve always known they wanted to work for themselves. I had a very fulfilling and successful corporate career for 10+ years, but what I did know I eventually wanted was change, and to do work that was more personally aligned with my interests and lifestyle. And I ended up starting my own business to get that!
2. How did you come up with the idea of Embiria? How did you come up with the name?
I’ve always valued experiences over material things, and that’s where I would spend most of my disposable income and free time (looking for fun events and experiences that I could enjoy on my own, with my partner or friends). I originally came up with the idea of yoga x brunch experiences, and it quickly evolved to more – I wanted to create one place where people could browse for fun activities to do in the city while connecting with others that shared the same interests. It was a way to build a creative community that I was personally looking for at the time, so I figured I’d build my own.
Embiria means experience in Greek (pronounced “Em – beer- e -a”), which my husband actually came up with while I was brainstorming words to reflect “experience”. I thought it sounded unique, whimsical and intriguing and knew that it was perfect for the business.
3. How do you come up with ideas for the workshops or who to partner with?
Originally I had a few awesome instructors in mind to teach Workshops – either from a great yoga class I attended or someone’s work that I would see on Instagram. I was bursting with all sorts of ideas on Workshops because the options are really endless. I would also solicit feedback from my audience, ask what we were missing, and try to gauge where there were gaps in what’s being offered in the city.
Soon enough, we started getting a lot of Facilitators/Instructors reaching out to us. They had a skill to offer, and we were the platform that would allow them to do what they do best by taking care of all the other details that go into curating and producing a Workshop or Experience.
4. Did you encounter any struggles when you first started the business?
I think running a business means you’ll always encounter new challenges – when you think you’ve solved one, something else might come up that you hadn’t even thought of.
Initially, it was awareness – how do we get everyone in the city to know that we offer these Workshops, without a big budget? But I knew that once people attended, they really loved what they experienced. So a lot of it became word of mouth and social sharing. I also found it challenging going from having a 9 to 6 (ish) routine, to having complete freedom and flexibility, which was new to me. But it’s not a bad challenge to have! It’s been a learning curve since the beginning, and I think it will continue to be as we grow and evolve.
5. Embiria also offers fully customized experiences. Could you describe this more in detail? What is the most unique customized experience Embiria has done thus far?
Yes, we have a Concierge arm of the business, which is essentially curated private experiences.Essentially if you’re looking for a unique team building event, want to do something fun with a group of friends, or celebrate an occasion, we offer any of our public Workshops privately as well. In addition, we can curate something based on your requests.One of the most unique ones we have done was actually for Google, which was one of our first corporate clients. They requested an afternoon of mind + body wellness, so we planned a fitness boot camp class for the body wellness aspect, followed by a bullet journaling session to get organized in a unique way. Both of these sessions were complete with healthy snacks, drinks and gifts to take home. It made for an awesome afternoon!
6. What is a typical day like for you?
I actually don’t have a typical day. Some days I work from my home office, and then usually on days I have Workshops, I’ll work from a cafe or co-working space in the city. My day is filled with a combination responding to emails, managing social media, meetings with partners/facilitators/venues and planning for upcoming experiences. I love booking a workout class in the morning or over lunch as it also acts as a social activity for me. If I can’t take time out for a class, I’ll ensure I get even 20 mins of yoga in at home. I also take time to meditate, read and get some device-free time. I also love the end of the day when my husband gets home from work and we both try to disconnect and just be as present as possible with one another.
7. What do you like the most about your job?
The freedom, the flexibility, the creativity, and the ability do work that feels meaningful. It’s pretty amazing to be at one of my Workshops, interacting with participants, seeing them immerse themselves in something new and realizing that I created this space for them to do so.
8. What do you like the least about your job?
There’s nothing that I really don’t “like” about the work itself. I’d say it’s been tough having to play every role in the company myself, when in the corporate world I had experts I could rely on, or a team of people that could help me out…but I know that will change over time. I’d also say time management has been tough (given the above), but you just have to try and stay as organized as possible and power through!
9. What are some of your favourite workshops to date that you have personally attended?
I’ve actually attended every single Workshop that I’ve held to date, and all of them have been great for different reasons. I love calligraphy because the participants are so excited and you really see them progress after just two hours. My favourite ones involve yoga or mindfulness because I think they provide people with time to disconnect and get grounded. You really see how much people need it! After the session, it’s always amazing connecting with others and having great conversations because everyone is just so much more relaxed and open.
10. What advice would you give to aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
Just go for it! Honestly, I’ve heard so many people talk for years about how they want to start their own business, or quit their jobs and work for themselves, but they end up spending so much time thinking about it versus doing something about it. There’s always going to be time to come up with reasons to doubt yourself or to try and plan everything out perfectly before taking the leap, but I believe you just have to go for it, and things will fall into place. I think that’s why I was able to launch my business so quickly. I didn’t really think about it, I just started testing things out, and all of sudden I was like “oh wait, this is an actual business”.
You’ll never have everything figured out before you launch – and you WILL evolve, and grow. So I’d say just get out there, try it, and watch the magic unfold.
Ready to try something new? Check out these upcoming workshops:
Looking for that weekend escape? Register for the City Escape Overnight Retreat happening next month here.