A Day with Natalie Brown, Founder of Fi-Weh Yoga
Natalie Brown, Founder of Fi-Weh Yoga and alumnus of the Build Your App programme, shares her story and her experience at the Black Business Show.
Natalie Brown is an alumnus of the Build Your App programme and is the Founder of Fi-Weh Yoga - a yoga and meditation app which helps users build their own yoga sequences and watch expert yoga content from the comfort of their own home. Developed during the programme with Tectonic, Natalie's app aims to make the power of Yoga practices more accessible to those who don’t have the time or money for traditional classes. In this blog post, Natalie shares her story so far and her experience of attending the UK Black Business Show as a panelist with our Managing Director, Emma Obanye.
Let’s start by introducing yourself and the business you are working on
I’m a Fine Artist, Yoga teacher, mother of one, and Freelance Designer.
My Business is a yoga and meditation app called Fi- Weh Yoga which helps users build their own yoga sequences and watch expert yoga content from the comfort of their own home. My target audience is people who find yoga studio overpriced and have limited amount of time in the day due to their busy lives. I plan to make the app inclusive to all people and develop individual content for different target groups.
How did it all start for you?
Since becoming a mother, I began to feel a huge shift in my interest and my expectation of life. I honestly had an internal discussion with myself, which lead me to accept how much I had a distance for working with the dated financial systems without the opportunity of suggestions for improvement or the ability to implement or experiment with a better way of doing things. I guess I was thirsty for innovation. During a Christmas Dinner, My cousin shared with me her transition into the Tech industry and I found it amazing, She told me about a tech festival called AfroTech, so I was now excited to attend my first-ever tech festival.
As an extrovert, and taking a short break from mommy mode. I made good use of time and spoke with everyone and tried to attend as many workshops and talks as possible. A few people stood out to me, one particular talk, there were two brothers - Dan and Nana - who spoke about problem-solving and strategy. They had so much energy and were extremely driven. The workshop was packed with interest from many people and I say how engaged everyone was. Internally I was thinking I could learn something valuable from these people. So I decided to approach one of the organisers and ask for their contact details.
Shortly after the event, I sent them an intro email and asked if I could come to the workspace and learn more about their company and work processes. To my surprise, the founder was very willing and offered me a time and date to visit. Nana made himself very available and was extremely transparent and approachable. He introduced me to each member of staff and everyone took time to explain what they were working on at the current moment. Nana even showed me the workflow and how they approach client project and he explained to me how the were evolving through the processes to improve their time management. I couldn’t believe how easy and open he was to lend his time to me as a completely curious stranger. Much Gratitude to Nana, Dan and their team.
How did you discover the Build Your App programme?
During last summer, my long time childhood friend randomly send me a Build Your App in 12 Weeks flyer on Whatsapp with a short message that said “I know you’re interested in Tech so when I saw this I thought of you”. I applied but I couldn’t confirm an interview slot. I was defiantly eager and driven! So I decided to email Tariq, who explained that there was such a high demand, I would need to await for new slot to be made available. Soon after I confirmed a slot and was successfully onboarded to the programme. Because of my previous encounter with Nana from Tectonic, I knew I would be in good hands.
The application process asked you to submit an idea, so I choose to go with my Wellbeing and Yoga idea. I was planning to start my second training in September and wanted to create an app that was influenced by a passion of mine and something I could bring value to. I understood the subject matter of Yoga and the practices. I also knew I was an ongoing student and would be gain future knowledge that I was willing to integrate into my app.
Tell us about your experience at the Black Business Show
While on my yoga training course and mid-way through the Build Your App programme, I was offered the opportunity to attend and be on a live panel at the Black Business Show. It was an awesome surprise that I accepted without a second thought. The interesting thing is I often get nervous speaking to a large audience. My yoga training encourages us to project our voice to a large from of practitioners in a Heated environment. Without my training, I wouldn’t of had the confidence to sit on a panel and participate in the discussions. I’m truly grateful for all my blessings.
In the early morning ahead of the event, I ran into a bug on the backend of my app which meant I couldn’t get my call to action to work. This was an important function. I had hoped to offer a functioning call to action to collect interests and begin a relationship with people I would meet at the Black Business Show. Heavy disappointed and lightly freaking out. I called my friend Stephanie. She calmed me down, advised that there’s alternative method of capturing people’s contact details - good old-fashioned pen and papers - and told told me she’ll bring them.
Crisis averted. I hopped in the shower and got dressed. Then I got a phone call from my mother saying my daughter was sick, so I had to hop on my bike with medication and extra clothes for her. After this, I was finally on my way the venue in my yoga outfit (a vest and leggings on a cold day), all to avoid getting the white jeans I intended to wear for the panel dirty. As soon as I got to the Business Design Centre, I went straight to the toilet to change and reappeared at the front of the building, dressed to impress and with my ticket in-hand.
The venue was packed. It looked like it would be a promising day, full of great opportunities to network and learn more about active black business owners. I made an effort to walk through every aisle and used the brochure to highlight all the business that would like to visit that aligned with my personal interests. Then it was almost time for the panel. I was calm and prepared myself mentally. It was defiantly a help having a familiar face present in the crowd - my friend Stephanie - and it was nice to meet all of the other women on the panel beforehand. We had an open discussion and it was great hearing the different perspectives from each panelist.
What are some other highlights from the day?
When we finished speaking, a small crowd of women came to talk to me about physical and mental wellbeing. That was my favourite part of the day. I was very humbled that they related with my words during the panel discussion and felt comfortable enough speak and share their personal stories with me.
I extremely loved Trevor Nelson conversation. He spoke about the music industry, being your authentic self and acknowledging your wellbeing to be truly happy in life.
The event showed me how much of an audience there is for my product and the practices of mediation and regular yoga. I was highly inspired by how many businesses started during the pandemic that have brought product to market with strong connections to my own community. From shea butter and coconut candles to alternative natural hair care and Chakra candles. I made connections with multiple business owners, so I will explore the option of connecting business to business with my mailing list.
What were your main takeaways from the event?
The Black Business Show inspired me to continue to work on my project and to not be disheartened by public speaking events. There’s so much value in sharing. It honestly was a 2-way experience as the audience can interact with you during or after and help to bring you new insights.
What’s next for you and Fi-Weh Yoga?
I’m currently working on connecting with organisations in the wellbeing space and hoping to rent spaces to stage half-day retreats and relaxation workshops. I’m constantly working on my app and developing it further as I learn more each day.
How can people connect with you?
People can connect with me on social media at @nataliebrownyoga and @fi-wehyoga, or by visiting www.fi-wehyoga.com fand by signing up to receive free content and my newsletter.
The Build Your App in 12 Weeks programme, in partnership with JP Morgan and Tectonic, empowers entrepreneurs with the skills and confidence to transform their ideas into tangible web apps. Want to be a part of the next cohort? Join this waiting list to get notified when applications open.