Episode 231

Business as Creative Expression with Maia Toll of Herbiary

May 26, 2020

Author and business owner Maia Toll joins to talk about using your business as an outlet for your creative expression, how to use intuition in your business, and how you can stay motivated for the long haul. Maia also took some time to tell us the fascinating story of how she became an entrepreneur and what led her to write her book series.

This Episode Brought to You By:
"When you are a person that has your own ideas about everything, eventually you're either going to have your own business or you're going to burn out."
- Maia

Discussed in this Episode

  • Maia tells her fascinating journey to becoming a business owner
  • How Maia's journey led her to writing her books
  • How Maia feels about the relationship with her business
  • Finding structure in creativity
  • Using your business as an expression of your creativity
  • How to stay motivated throughout the life of your business


More from Maia Toll

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Braid Creative

More from Emily

Almanac Supply Co.


Emily Thompson 0:02
I'm Emily Thompson. And I'm Kathleen Shannon, and this is being boss. In this episode of being boss, I'm joined by my atoll to talk about her journey of building her business which includes two brick and mortar stores, multiple digital products, retreats and award winning books, which will lend to our conversation of using your business as an outlet for creative expression, and using your intuition in your business. As always, you can find all the tools, books and links we reference on the show notes at WWW dot being boss

Unknown Speaker 0:38
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Unknown Speaker 1:33
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Emily Thompson 1:43
Not everyone thinks of themselves as capital C creative. Though if you're here listening to me now I'd say that you are you may not be a painter or a ceramicist or even a graphic designer. But you are dedicated to doing business in a different way, in a way that's dare I say, creative. And it's through that lens that I introduce you to my friend Maya toll today. She's the founder of herb airy, a retail store with locations in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Asheville, North Carolina. She's also an educator with a background as a school teacher and as an educator of botanical medicine in universities and hospitals, and with her fingers currently in teaching natural philosophy and mysticism in her online courses and communities. And she's an author of the award winning book they illustrated Irby airy and the award winning the illustrated beastie airy, and the soon to be released a third member of the wild wisdom family, the illustrated crystal airy, which I imagine is also soon to be award winning. You're about to hear at Maya's journey as a business owner. And I think you'll agree that the business she's created for herself is just that a creation. And the being boss community, we've been talking a lot recently about the importance of creativity, and the role it plays in our well being, especially as creative business owners. And my his perspective on this is great for bringing home for those of you who don't see yourself as capital C creatives, the fact that by being in the kind of business that has even attracted you to this podcast, you are, in fact, creative. Welcome to being boss, Maya, I'm so excited. You're here.

Maia Toll 3:26
I'm so excited to be here. This is this is great, because we talk all the time. So this is like an extension of what we do anyway. What? Or a public conversation,

Emily Thompson 3:42
a public conversation for sure. So I would love to begin by just introducing you to all of the bosses. So can you share with us the journey that you've taken to get you to where you are now as your own boss of this, like, amazing Empire?

Maia Toll 4:00
I'm an accidental boss, aren't we all are? Well, it's true. I mean, I think really, my partner says to me all the time that I'm completely unemployable. And I think that's at the crux of it, you know, like you when you are a person who has your own ideas about everything. Eventually, you're either gonna have your own business or you're going to burn out. Yeah, so for me, I, I came home from studying with medicine woman in Ireland, and I wanted to teach other people what I had learned as well as the clients. So I was working at a very big supermarket that used to not be owned by Amazon. Yes. And I was working in their body care department and like helping people to choose all natural remedies and They refused to give me a regular schedule. So basically, like they said, We own you from eight in the morning until 10. At night, you know, you can ask for time off two weeks in advance, maybe we'll give it to you, maybe we won't. And go ahead and try to plan your life around that. And so I was in a situation where I was making 10 times what I was making an hour at the store to see a client. And so I'm, you know, I was in the position where I was trying to decide how to make my like how to make that client work, work, when my job wouldn't give me a regular schedule, and let me know when they needed me and when they didn't. And the client work made more money.

Emily Thompson 5:50
And just to clarify to you're talking about whenever you came back from Ireland, which I love to use, like jump to that and sort of glossed over that in a second. But you came back and started seeing clients as a clinical herbalist. So you were running your business on the side, and working at that large grocery store chain. Yes.

Maia Toll 6:15
So and it I mean, it just wasn't working, like the math didn't work, it didn't make any sense. So I decided that I was going to, like just jump in, you know, with kind of the solo practitioner model, and I was seeing people in my dining room. And I was teaching in my dining room, you know, just very, very small business. And my partner said to me, you know, what, I think having like a place outside the house, and having some street presence, so people can see you. And, you know, stop in and say, Hi, why don't you open a store. And I was like, Oh,

Unknown Speaker 6:59
I store.

Maia Toll 7:02
I've done that before. I really, I didn't want to be a retailer, that wasn't the goal. It was I can become a retailer to kind of bounce up some of some of the other things I'm doing to kind of give them a boost. And so I opened my first store, which was called the apothecary garden. It was in a space that was 14 feet long by about eight feet wide. And there was a bathroom in there.

Emily Thompson 7:31
That's tiny,

Maia Toll 7:32
but also it sounds kind of perfect. It was adorable. It was back it was back when FDA rules were different than they were today. So if you remember Lucy from peanuts, and she had her little booth where it was like, you know, five cents for for sessions, you could come in and you could just stand at the counter and talk to me and I would custom blend an herbal formula for you. And so it was a very, like highly experiential model, which I actually ended up loving. But the FDA rules around herbs and supplements changed. And it became literally illegal to do what I was doing

Emily Thompson 8:12
such a shame. So things shifted, though, because of that, What did it look like after those FDA regulations.

Maia Toll 8:18
So then we became much more of a typical retail store. And we'd grown really fast, we outgrew our little tiny space in nine months and moved to a bigger space. And this was in Oh, 607 in Oh, eight. Andrew, my partner lost his job. So that was the late recession. And he was doing the you know, depressed lay on the couch thing. And I kept saying, come work with me come work with me. And he kept saying, You don't even get paid? How can I come work with you and I was like you're laying on the couch, you don't get paid either come work with me. So we actually, like use the time that he was on unemployment to find a way for him to come into the business. And we decided to open another store. We used that kind of cushioned time to segue to secure a second lease and to begin to build out on that space and to do all the things you do before you actually open a store. And so he came off unemployment and we open the store. And all of a sudden, we were much bigger. Like we went from being just this kind of itty bitty one woman show to having two locations and all the economies of scale that you get with multiple locations and the cloud you get with multiple locations.

Emily Thompson 9:45
Right? So I want to go back though really quickly to Ireland and you sort of just leaving your life behind to go sort of chase this dream wasn't any dream it was so There share with us that story and how you really got on that path. And I'm going to position this so that a lot of the people who listen to this podcast are on at those very beginning stages, and many people often feel a little off put by how windy the entrepreneurial path is, and how we sort of taking so pitstops. And sometimes we don't see how important they are until years later. And I think we can all agree that this time for you was hugely important.

Maia Toll 10:29
Yeah, it was totally formative. And it was never meant to have anything to do with work. So, you know, I think I gloss over it in a conversation like this, because it for me at the time, did not feel like it was at all a part of not even my career journey, let alone my entrepreneurial journey. In my 20s, I got the kind of sick that the doctors didn't know what to do with. So I was living in New York City at the time. And I had a fabulous young medical doctor MD, who was studying Chinese medicine on the side. And after months and months and months of every kind of bloodwork imaginable on her kind of looking me up and down and saying, like, I can tell your sec, I can see it, I can see wacky stuff in your blood work. And but you know, Western medicine is not going to figure this out. She said, I'm studying Chinese medicine, but I don't know enough about it yet. But I think you need something like different than what I can provide. And she sent me loose in the wilds of New York City and said, you know, go, go Go find someone. And that was pretty much about as much direction as I had. Alternative Medicine was not a thing then it was like weird, like I was going to like these dingy dark rooms in people's basements and just like down into Chinatown like, now we're used to acupuncturists who have their office on Main Street and also speak English. You know, I was meeting with people, we didn't understand each other at all, I got stick out your tongue and give me your rest. And that was about it. And so slowly, but surely over the course of a year, I started getting better. And I also got really intrigued with alternative medicine, and started studying herbs, not because herbs healed me Everyone loves school, oh, herbs heal Jube. I actually think that like a really ridiculously strict elimination diet that identified some pretty hardcore food intolerances is what is what got me on the right path. But I became fascinated with herbs and with the connection that I got with the planet itself with the growing things, you know, if you're, if you're interested in plants, then you're also by default, learning about the cycles of the sun and the moon and the water tables, and the wind and all these things that come into play. Plants teach you about connection. And I was much more interested probably in that idea of connection that in the plants themselves, but the plants were a vehicle in a fabulous vehicle for me. So I began studying. In the meanwhile, I moved out of New York City and to a small town, Upstate and I, I bought a house, the town was like this little, you know, old mill town that had gone to hell in a handbasket. And I bought a house for $87,000 and it needed everything. And so I was teaching elementary school, I was studying herbalism and at that point, some shamanism as well. And fixing my house, like every day, I'm sanding floors and patching sheetrock and the whole the whole deal. And that went on for a couple of years. And then my life in that place just started to unwind. It was really interesting. It was one thing after another thing falling away. And I've been working with the plants long enough that I understood seasonality. I understood that, you know, things take see they take root, they grow and then they wane, you know and that things add up. And I could see that ebbing of my time in this particular place in my life. So I put my house up for sale, having no idea what I was doing or where I was going. It was this like incredible leap of faith birth birthed by my study of pattern and my understanding of the cyclicality of the seasons of life and just like okay, I believe in this wholeheartedly. And this life is dying and the best thing I could do is let it so I did have a dream. A sleeping dream not an I Have a Dream Dream and that's the difference. You know, I do think that a lot of entrepreneurs have an I Have a Dream Dream. Like like this burning passion for something. I Had a sleeping dream. And in my sleeping dream, a very androgynous woman with like knee length long, dark hair, flew me over the ocean to an island that was incredibly wooded, but I knew it was Ireland, Ireland is not now wooded. And she said, this is where you're going to go to be initiated.

And so I woke up the next morning, and I knew it was Ireland. And I'd had this idea in my in my head that like nature abhors a vacuum, you better figure out girlfriend, what the heck you're doing, selling your house, otherwise, you're gonna just end up in your parents basement going like, what the heck just happened to my life. So I had already started a list of everything I'd ever been interested in studying or learning or doing and hadn't had time for I'd been an elementary school teacher for years. And I just started putting into the computer, Ireland plus weaving Ireland plus ceramics. And this was this was before Google existed. So this was AltaVista search engine, for those of you who are pre Google. And I wasn't getting 100 pages of answers like this was early days of the internet. I was getting like three pages of answers or half a page of answers. And one name kept coming up over and over again. And that was this medicine woman in Ireland. So I went on her website, and she had a class starting, like, six months later, and I signed up, and I took myself to Ireland. And then I then I begged her to keep me, you know, after that class was over, I was like, Can I be your apprentice. And so that's how that happened.

Emily Thompson 16:44
I love that I love that it was a dream, like a sleeping dream is that the sort of like inkling that you had that caused your entire life to shift and was sort of a seed that was planted that grew into? We just found out as to stores. But it's also so much more than that as well. You also teach online programs you were an author, share with us a little bit about those things as well. Yeah, so

Maia Toll 17:14
I've been teaching in person for a decade. When I started hit burnout, I had been teaching the same class over and over again, it was like a year long intro class. And I started to get to the point where I was like, if I ever have to say these words, again, I'm going to rip my eyeballs out. So I decided that if I videoed everything like one last go round, that I can move it online. So I moved, the first thing I moved online was all my herbal teachings and for for those of you who are familiar with herbal ism at all, a woman named Rosemary gladstar, who's kind of like the grandmother of American herbalist. herbalism recently bought that whole course, because we had gotten it approved for nursing continuing ed credits. And so she took over that entire program, and she's going to be reading it for for nurses, which I'm super excited about like, because I hit burnout, burnout again, like first I hit burnout in person, then I recorded it all. And then I hit burnout online with that program. And I realized that I have kind of done my time with herbalism.

Emily Thompson 18:29
And when did you launch this online course? Because you were like, a first online course on the internet. Very early way before it got trendy.

Maia Toll 18:41
Yeah. So I think that that course was like 2012. Yeah, 2013, something like that. And the same year that I launched that course, I also launched something. And again, accidentally, it was the intent. The intent was I had put together these workbooks that were supposed to like kind of create one of those subscription boxes. And those before subscription boxes, nobody was doing subscription boxes, and I was like, like, I have this idea. Let's make this workbook and every month you'll be introduced to one ERP and some exercises, and you'll get the goods. And it'll all come in a box. And at the time, I had a very techie woman on my team. And she said, I really want to make a WordPress site to go with us. And so we we made this like crazy WordPress site. And the subscription box idea kind of just fell by the wayside. And we made this crazy WordPress site that was like find your own adventure. And the program, I had been calling it like your wise, wonderful and wacky herbal year or something like that. And internally, we were calling it which camp. It was always a joke that we were the witches and this was you know, and so this was camp. And finally, this, this very tacky woman said, I cannot, I can't work on this anymore, unless you are willing to change the name to which camp, she's like it's witch camp. That's just what it is. And so, so which camp was born very haphazardly and accidentally, and it's still, I still teach which camp every every autumn, for the first like four years a brand all year round. And now it's kind of moved to an autumn slot. And it's, you know, like, it's my big online launch every year. And then all year round, we have something called the net score, which is, like more of a smaller community, it's not constant classes, although I have so many fabulous teachers in there now that it's kind of becoming like, if you want it to be constant classes. It can be because it's like a school, and you can join a whole bunch of different clubs, and they all have fabulous teachers. I love this.

Emily Thompson 21:01
Because it what you're sort of illustrating here is the ability to sort of go after something that you're interested and layer on, sort of streams of revenue, not to like, I almost feel like that, that does a disservice to the passion that drives the thing. But what you're doing is building a business. And instead of the thing that I really want to point out here is instead of sort of reinventing yourself every year, every two years, which is what so many creative entrepreneurs are doing, you are creating something and you were running it year after year after year and iterating it year after year, until it becomes a sort of staple in the community or become sellable, like that one course did to Rosemary gladstar, you were greenies things and really committing yourself to them, to see what it is that they become.

Maia Toll 21:55
Yeah, and I think, you know, it's it is that, and it's also the constant creative process. And so I think of it a lot like gardening, you know, you have to plant a ton of seeds. And then when you have all your seed starts, you've got to go in, you've got to pinch the ones that are weak. If you don't pinch out the weak ones, then the roots tangle up with the strong ones, and you end up with nothing. So you've really got to keep pinching out the weak ones. And, you know, it's an ever evolving process, like my brand is not clean, it doesn't all hang together perfectly. You know it, there's been moments of diversions that we've been trying to fix for years at this point. But it's something that I'm in, I'm in it constantly I'm creating with it, and allowing it to grow and breathe and sometimes die.

Emily Thompson 22:51
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Maia Toll 24:43
so the but I mean the books are interesting the books are like everything else in my in my life. They were not direct it was not easy like I you know, I know a lot of people, including you, Emily, who you had a very clear message, somebody You know, Agent wise, saw your blog or read or heard the blog or heard the podcast and was like, okay, we want a book from that person on this topic. Or, you know, the other thing I've seen is entrepreneurs were like, Okay, I need one book, because it's going to become the like, the thing kind of the canon of what I teach. Didn't happen that way for me. So I hope that I'm giving tons of inspiration to all of you who take circuitous paths, because there's nothing in my life that has not been circuitous. I mean, I even think back to when I was a kid, and my whole family skied. And so every year, we would take these ski vacations. And I planted myself on the baby Hill, everyone else would go off, and we'd go skiing with other families. So like three families, go off skiing, by Maya, enjoy the baby Hill, see you at four o'clock. And for I think it was a good six or seven years, I skied the baby Hill, I skipped the baby Hill, I made up my own exercises, I created my own obstacle courses, I skied on one foot, I did like, you name it, I did it until I was so good. And so comfortable on that frickin baby Hill. That one day, I was like, Oh, I'm done with the baby Hill. And I took the chairlift to the top of the mountain and started skiing, the expert runs. And I didn't even tell him, like, I didn't tell anybody I didn't, you know, go off with my family. I just was like, oh, okay, now it's time to go to the top of the mountain. And that's pretty much the way I do everything. Like I, I dig into those baby steps. And I do them over and over and over again, until I get really comfortable. And then I take myself up a level or three, like a lot of times I go from like zero to 60. Because I've spent so much time at that slow, like really understanding place that I just skip over like a whole bunch of next steps. And that's pretty much like the book journey has been similar. The books that Emily, you were talking about? Those are my baby steps, like, Well, probably actually, the blog was my baby steps First, you know, I blogged for a dozen years, and then the books. And now we're shopping like a longer book that I think it's going to eclipse the others. I think it's really going to eclipse the others. So for me, I'm a writer, I'm a writer at heart, I've been writing my whole life. I blogging, if you are a writer, if you're a closet writer, or someone who feels like it's in you to write a book blog, blogging teaches you how to write, and the deadline that kind of like, Oh, I have to, you know, put this out into the world once a week or once a month, whatever your deadline is, it is super important for like honing your ability to write to a deadline to write to a word count, to take something that might just be a passion and turn it into a skill because there's a difference. So I've been blogging for a number of years, and one day, I got an email from Rosemary gladstar, the woman who ended up buying my course, I did not know her well, the email was out of the blue. I've never gotten an email from her before in my life. And it was a very short enologist said, Have you ever thought about writing a book? I think you should. Here's the name of my editor. And so I did what every logical person who has when they get the dream email, I buried it way down the bottom of my inbox.

Emily Thompson 29:00
Of course you did. Yes.

Maia Toll 29:03
I lost that thing for a good four months. And then I was I was actually in a writing group. And it was led by Danielle Laporte and Linda cybersyn. And at the time, like this is not the case anymore. And the group has, I think the group still exists. But this is not the case anymore. I don't even think Danielle is a part of it. But at the time, we did live calls. And so I got on a call with the group. And I was like, you guys, I got the name of an editor from this woman I really admire and I don't know what to do because like I can't even think of a book topic. I don't have a book at Danielle is like I've got this one. And she's like, sweetie, if you get the name of an editor, here's what you do. You pull over the car, and you dial. That's what you do. She's like Next question.

Emily Thompson 29:58
Geez. So did you pull over and dial. So I

Maia Toll 30:02
pulled over and dialed, I pulled over and dialed, and I was just my usual honest self. I was like, I got your name from rosemary. And I love writing, I've been writing forever, but I don't think I really have a book. And the woman, Deborah, who is now the head of this publishing house, that I that I write for currently got back to me right away. And she said, That's not a problem. She's like, we'll talk and we'll find your book. And I was like, okay, so it actually took about a year and a half, from that initial conversation, to get to the point where I, you know, and it was like, ups and downs, I can tell you a tremendously long story and eat up an hour. Getting to the place of having a solid idea. And that idea, you know, became the series. So, but even in the beginning, like, we didn't know that the series was gonna stick. I wrote the first book, I was contracted with them for a second book that was not part of the series had nothing to do with the series. And the like, the first book, The Illustrated herb era took off out of the gate. And then they were like, oh, wow, we need like the second book you've been talking about for the series. And so the book I've actually written just kept getting shelved and shelved and shelved. And I finally like, like, I pulled it about six months ago, because it just became apparent that it was always going to be second best to the serious, like at this publishing house.

Unknown Speaker 31:39
So yeah, and I love

Emily Thompson 31:41
it, that you're sharing here, the fact that you never know what's going to stick and what doesn't, never, or not, when it's going to stick, like maybe things will stick one day that you think are sticky. But you don't actually know when they're going to be sticky? Yeah. Yeah,

Maia Toll 31:59
it's interesting. It's reminded me actually of my teacher in Ireland, she used to say, you know, you can do a spell setting intention, put something in motion. She said, the one thing you can't control is the timing. She said, you can you know, you can line up all the other pieces, but you can't line up the timing. Right? Isn't that the truth?

Emily Thompson 32:20
For sure. Okay, so I want to dive a little bit more into a couple of things that you've said. And in particular, what's really coming to the forefront for me is the fact that your business which is grown into a large business, and has multiple revenue streams, you have physical locations, you have online products, you have multiple published books. It fills as rich and multifaceted as you are yourself. Is there a question there, darling? That was just a statement now? Well, thank question. Right. So you know, your business is an expression of yourself. It's, you know, it's been windy, there have been things that have stuck things that haven't. How do you feel about that? Or like, looking back on it? Has it happened the way you wanted it to happen? Are you where you want to be? And like, what is your relationship with that?

Unknown Speaker 33:19

Maia Toll 33:21
that's a great question. You know, I think when you say, Did it happen the way you wanted it to happen, that implies way more of a plan than there ever was, you know, like, even this concept of being an entrepreneur, I feel like, I feel like this concept of being an entrepreneur came into being during the time that I was creating this business. You know, I mean, when I started things, like you were just a business owner, I don't even I don't think we use the word entrepreneur, like that's kind of come up with this, like idea of women owned businesses, and elevating the role of the business owner, you know, to something like, more creative, I think, than simply like, running the day to day. There's been this elevation of the role of a business owner, but like when we started, and especially when enter came on board, I used to joke that we had a mom and pop shop. And we did, we were a mom and pop and we had a shop, you know, so like some of this, some of this language and some of this, like creating, creating a trajectory for yourself, I think has come into consciousness as I've been growing my business and so I didn't have some great big plan. I was like, looking not to be the employee of people I didn't like being employed by that was the big plan. So Yeah, thumbs up to me I did that. But in terms of, like, how comfortable is it now? It is it's getting, it's getting more comfortable, it's beginning to feel like more of a reflection of who I am and how my how I live my life it got it got a little like overgrown and messy for a while there. And we've been kind of reining things in tightening things back up, we're about to go into like a product rebrand, that I think is going to help a lot. There's been moments where I haven't understood the connection between the different parts of my own business. I could, I could feel that they were there, but I couldn't verbalize them. And I think some of that was my own blind spots. But I also think that some of that was, again, culture changing. Like when I first got into this, most people weren't using herbs in their daily life. And when I first started using the word, which when I put which camp out there, I got like nasty ass emails. I mean, it was a word that really triggered people. And now there's like, which week in Vogue magazine, I mean, the the culture has changed so much. And there's one woman on my team that like, I've said to her a couple times in various different ways, oh, my God, I totally missed the boat, on this whole movement. And she's like, What are you talking about? You were the boat. And I don't like I don't see myself that way. And I don't, I don't see that I have that big a place in the current culture. Like, I don't think I have a very no name. But I do think that I was one of the people writing the first waves, and figuring out you know, how to use these words and these feelings that I think we're coming back this like sense of wanting to be connected and wanting a life in sync with the earth, even though like that's not physically what you're doing. Right. So I think people were kind of struggling with like the back to the earth movement, and homesteading. And like searching for that place where they could be connected. And a lot of people like me, like, I'm not cut out for homesteading, my back would not put up with that shit. You know, like, I'm just hard labor with Lady up heart.

So as much as I romanticized and one of that lifestyle, I knew that I actually wasn't cut out for it. So how do you still find that sense of connection without actually being the person who's chopping the wood, and, you know, raising the chickens and, and doing, you know, a lot of heavy lifting with that kind of lifestyle is heavy lifting. So it's that place where you're combining a modern lifestyle with being aware of the patterns and the energies and the ways of working with the direct products of the earth, the herbs and things like that. And that was a concept that was like, had been swelling for many decades. But I think that at the point that I stepped in, it was kind of reaching a crescendo. And now, you know, which is an Instagram is one of the most popular hashtags out there. So the world has shifted. And that's allowing me to start to find either words or imagery sometimes to yank the threads and pull some things back together that I always felt were connected. But I think in public consciousness, we're still divergent, like other people couldn't see how they connected. And now because of shifts in culture, I think those connections are, are clearer to all of us. Right.

Emily Thompson 39:09
First, I see your humbleness. You are the boat in so many ways, Maya, for sure. And I feel like I feel like you've done such a good job of sort of bringing those threads together to make those connections. And I will say to one of the things that you talking about, you know, working What did you say? I said hard work would lay me apart? Yeah. Yeah, then that you recognize in yourself that you are an educator or you are a writer, like you are great with sharing these concepts. And I think there's something very powerful in just knowing what it is that you're good at and doing that thing. Like you've definitely made it your mission to find those opportunities for yourself or more correctly. create those opportunities for yourself.

Maia Toll 40:03
Yeah, I think that's I think that's true. And I, you know, one of the things that I try to do on my team and with everyone who works for us is, if they don't know what they're good at, help them find what they're good at. And always try to be aware of people's strengths. Like even our, you know, our retail employees. Everybody has their own special product project, like everyone is assigned to something that aligns with their strengths, and what they're good at. Because everyone's not good at the same thing, like a cookie cutter job made me miserable. And so I will not get people cookie cutter jobs. And also, everyone knows their schedule.

Emily Thompson 40:51
Good, good. I think that's important to creating the business that you always wanted to be a part of, is definitely what most of us are do. And I think that comes in many different forms for many people your schedule.

Maia Toll 41:03
Yeah, mine is scheduled. Because the thing is, when you don't have the structure around your own life, if somebody else is holding that and not sharing it with you, then you can't fill in the blanks, you know, and we're really lucky that people who want to work in a shop that sells herbs and you know, practical magic, like those people are usually pretty friggin cool, and they're pretty happy to be there. But that doesn't mean that they don't want to be able to

Unknown Speaker 41:36

Maia Toll 41:38
a doctor's appointment or client appointment if they have a side gig. Time to make lip balms or grow their garden or go to the movies or go visit their mom. Everybody wants to put that on the schedule, and know that it's just as safe and sacred as like the 10 o'clock start time for work.

Emily Thompson 41:59
One of the questions that we get asked most often is how do I find my business bestie which is sometimes even phrased as a How do I make friends as an adult. As a total introvert who doesn't have a ton of discretionary time on my hands, I understand how you may be struggling with finding the right connections and making time to nurture those relationships. But if there's one thing I will swear by, its how important doing just that is for not only you as a person, but you as a business owner and entrepreneur, which is why I've made it my mission to give you a place to gather events to join in and topics to kick off the conversation. I want to remove as many barriers as I can for you so that you can get the support you need to find fulfilment in the work you do by having a PAL or a dozen to share the journey with you. All of this happens in the being boss community, a place for you to meet like minded creative business owners. jump in on our weekly Monday meetup calls the plug in and join the conversation with monthly themes, weekly prompts, and more. We give you a place and reason to show up. And what happens next happens all the more easily because of it. We have bosses in the community who are connecting in the DMS to schedule zoom calls to connect, getting together groups for yoga challenges and book clubs, and even hiring each other to help each other take it to the next level. To learn more about what's happening in the being boss community, and to see if it's a good fit for you go to bean boss dot club slash community membership starts at as little as $11 a month with tears available for more engagement, more content and closer connections to next level bosses that's being boss dot club slash community. I hope to see you there. Okay, so I want to dive really quickly into something that we've talked about before. And I wanted to bring into this space because I think it's fascinating anything that you've been at this long enough, and you've done so many different things in your business, that you are uniquely positioned to have this conversation. And this is the idea of using your business as an expression of your personal creativity. So most of us are creatives. That's why we're here. That's who we're talking to specifically on this podcast. And you know, even people who are in not creative fields. So we have a lot of accountants and real estate agents and those kinds of people. But they're here usually because of this idea that they're going about business in a different way. And they're just they're creating their business for themselves, usually in new and different ways. And I think we've all sort of seen the picture you've painted of your life in terms of you sort of creating these things as you as you've gone based on what you're interested in or how things need to be delivered or in Some cases sort of combating your own burnout with previous iterations of these creations. So I'd love to hear you talk about using your business as an expression of your creativity, and how that's helped you make it to where you are now.

Maia Toll 45:16
Yeah, you know, I think it's really interesting to draw that distinction between being a creative, like, kind of selling their creativity to other people. And like, what I think I do, which is, like, my business is my creative expression. I think that's a great way, there are painters, and, you know, there are woodworkers and I built my business. And I think that it can also be incredibly frustrating to people. Because just like, you know, imagine me sculpting clay. And there are other people involved in this clay, but I'm just like, oops, don't like that

Unknown Speaker 45:59

Maia Toll 45:59
Or, you know, like lop that off. And that's, that's how I roll like to be on my team, you've got to be super Okay, with the moment like my calls at eight o'clock in the morning and says team meeting at nine. Hi, everyone, guess what, this whole program, it's over, figure out how to unravel it, because we're doing this. You know, like, that's, that's real. And that's not uncommon. So

Unknown Speaker 46:32

Maia Toll 46:33
it's interesting, because I think that oftentimes, a piece of art has, like a beginning, a middle and an end. You know, you have a concept, you start it, and you get to a point where it's done. You know, if you are someone who sells your art, you get to the point where it's like is good enough, and you put send it to the gallery, or however it is that you're, you're moving things out into the world. I mean, like for me, as an author, I get to a point where a book is done enough. I mean, I go into the aviary, I go into the beast era, I could rewrite those books until the cows come home. Like I'm constantly wanting to jigger with sentences and things like that. I've actually, there was a sentence that was making me crazy every time I read it out loud at book signings and stuff, and I called my editor and I was like, You have got to fix this on the next reprint. And she was like, You're, you're crazy. I'm like, No, you must, or I will never read that page out loud again. So if you have one of the first editions of the obituary, and you look at the rosemary page, and then you check a later edition, they're different. So yeah, I mean, like, every artist knows, it's, it's hard, you kind of never stopped. But when you're putting a product out into the world, there's there comes a point where it's done enough. But with a business, you're iterating on this living, breathing thing, like your you don't get to the point where it's done. I mean, I suppose, like when you sell it to Rosemary gladstar, you know what I mean? Like, when you sell a piece off to someone else, at that point, it's done, but then they're taking it and iterating on it. So it's, it's like a living artwork, and you are growing and changing as a person. And I think that the only way you're not going to burn out is if your business is also like living, breathing, shifting, changing. Not not from a place of like, you know, wildly going off in a million different directions, like kind of like you don't who you are yet, and you've put it slapped a business name on your confusion. And so, you know, everyone gets to witness like, Oh, I'm a Reiki Master today. And then I'm a dog walker. And and actually, you've seen the business cards for those people, right? You're like, wow, what are you an expert at? But instead, finding kind of the core of who you are, and then realizing there's lots of different ways to express that. And just iterating on those expressions, and also realizing that culture is changing. You know, like, culture is changing around you, I I've had some big Wake Up Calls with just watching culture shift around me in the past year. And so are you going to stay relevant? You know, or, or are you going to be counterculture in this new culture, maybe you never were before but as culture changes, you become counterculture. Just that kind of sense of like the dance of the business as a creative act that is ongoing and living and breathing, but it's also dancing with your customers with culture, with what's going on in the world.

Emily Thompson 50:00
I think what you've done here is given context is something that I've always struggled with in terms of like who we're serving here at being boss. Because creative entrepreneurs, I think it very much so easily implies artists, and photographers and designers and those kinds of people mean, those are the obvious creatives. But even I've always struggled with how is it that we really lump in everyone else who sees themselves as creative entrepreneurs, and by creative entrepreneur, entrepreneurs, I mean, not traditional entrepreneurs, like they're doing things in new and different ways. And I think you're spot on there where there's like there are, there's a type of entrepreneur who sees business as an art form. And that is the sort of ever changing, ever evolving street you have to keep up with things like culture and technology, those sorts of things. But you also can use it as an evolving expression of yourself with sort of focus and intention, right, so it's not Reiki Master a dog walker, but it's, you know, you were an educator and then an author. So it's sort of walking down the same road from one end to the other, not necessarily going off on every different path along the way. So I appreciate that you have put that into context and like a workable context and not contacts from someone who's you know, been doing business for two or three years in is calling themselves you know, a creative entrepreneur who's just you know, an accountant doing business in a different way. But you are an herbalist turned educator, I guess educator turned herbalist, yeah, turned herbalist educator, turned author, but also CEO all along the way, and how this business has really taken on sort of the characteristics and wind Enos of your own life path to bring you to a place that really does make a lot of sense. Like it doesn't it's not choppy, it's not weird. It's just a journey, and natural evolution of the thing that I don't know you've been created, creating based on what you need out of your professional career.

Maia Toll 52:19
The journey is the ultimate metaphor for learning in life. You know, if somebody wants to talk to you about how you need to kind of, like get yourself through the ups and downs and everything else, they always talk about the journey, right. And I think that the business journey is the penultimate teacher, I think everything you need to know about life and about yourself, and about how to relate to other people, even about spirituality, you can learn through business, if you let yourself. So yeah, I mean, I think the creative business journey, like that's it, you know, it's everything you learn, you learn all the things, you learn all the things and you go through the ups and the downs, and it's a co creative process, like your business takes on a life of its own. It's like, bringing a child into the world, you know, you bring something into the world. And then you're walking with it, and you're tending to it, and you're listening to it, and you're dancing with it, and trying to figure out what it needs to grow, and what you need to grow. And if they're the same thing, because like with that course, that I sold off, right, it got to the place where in order for that piece of my business, to fulfill its own destiny, to go out and educate nurses, which, you know, as a group of people who desperately need to be exposed to some different ways of thinking and to have the comfort and the connection that the plants bring into my life like nurses, they desire that when I talk to nurses, they're like, please give me give me a head of that. But for in order for that piece of the business to be able to fulfill that destiny. I had to let it go. And so that's part of it, too is when you feel into your business as a living, breathing being, you know what it needs?

Emily Thompson 54:34
You've been building your business for a decade and a half. So math, correct there. Yep. How have you stayed inspired and motivated for that

Maia Toll 54:46
long? You know, I think a lot of it is that idea that it's a creation. This is that this is not something that is the same every day. You know, I think that actually spoke to Andrew about this because Andrew runs the stores. And Andrews job is repetitive. And he loves that it's repetitive, he treats it like a meditation, you know, if he has to pack up 50 boxes, it's like, it's the meditation of packing up 50 boxes, if he has to enter all the sales into QuickBooks, that's a meditation for him. And so, for someone with his personality, the repetition, becomes what allows him to find the freedom within the job. You know, like his, his mind can kind of like slip free of the particular work, he's doing his hands know how to pack the box, his brain doesn't have to be 1,000,000% in that game. Whereas for me, it's the opposite, like the repetition would kill me. So being able to, you know, shift and dance and find the next Spark. That's what feeds me. And I think that there's this balance. And I find this like, we have little networks within the business, where you have someone who's a creator, paired with someone who actually can take their creation and make it a reality. You know, so Andrew does that. Shannon, my like, lead the lead person on my team does that I spit out ideas at a million miles an hour, the two of them sift through, choose ones that might actually work. Toss them back to me say focus on this for a little while I toss it back and say make this a reality. It's not, it's not one person trying to do everything, it's the different members of the team, finding the places that feed them. And then working like working that groove. I love

Emily Thompson 57:01
what you're saying here is basically you've systemized it. Right? You figured out like a what you need, and more or less, but humans in general need to stay motivated and inspired to do the thing to consistently be creating sometimes, apparently just very on the fly. And you've made it part of the structure of your business, which is I think easily how it is that you've been able to start, grow and sustain that growth over the past decade and

Unknown Speaker 57:38
a half.

Maia Toll 57:40
I agree. And it was, it was accidental, in some ways, like just like everything else, you know, Andrew came on board, not because he was totally into herbs, and mysticism and the types of things that I'm into, but because he was out of a job. I think that a lot of times we look for someone who's just like us, you know, like, I always looked for someone who was like a spark to my Spark, let's go combust together. And that doesn't really work in business, if you have two people who just sparking ideas, and then you look at each other stupidly and be like, I don't know how to make this happen. That's not a great pairing. So I think I think the challenge that all of us face and that we just need to kind of see clearly for ourselves so that we can handle it differently is Who are you attracted to? You know, are you attracted to someone whose skill set is exactly like yours? Are you hiring people, partners, people who have the same skill set as you because that doesn't, it doesn't work in the long haul.

Emily Thompson 58:50
Alright, I want to start wrapping this up a bit. But I do want to hit really quickly on something that I know you're very aligned with. We actually had you at the conference, you came and did an intuitive writing workshop for all the bosses who were there, it was some of the boss's favorite event. I was actually even thinking about my answers on my walk this morning. You say so it Stevens it's even still sticking around with me. So thank you very much for that. But I do want to ask you how it is that for you personally? How is it that you find your intuition and your creativity? And your playing? Because you are you always fascinate me with your ability just like tune into your intuition, just like without even thinking about you're like, you know what, I feel this. You just like very in tuned. How are you seeing your intuition and your creativity are playing together as you are navigating all of these decisions and movements?

Maia Toll 59:44
Yeah, that's a great question. Especially with the books, they are the same thing. You know, intuition is where I play creatively in the books. And I haven't thought about this before, but it does make me think like realizing that that that might be the case in the business as well. That like what sparks? What does does the intuition spark the next creative movement? Or does like just getting in and playing with the creativity allow the intuition to spark? I'm not sure. Which is the chicken in which is the egg or or even if it matters, but I think in me, they, if they weren't the same thing, originally, I think they might be the same thing. Now, you know, even if they used to be two separate facets of my personality, kind of creativity and intuition. I think they've gotten married.

Unknown Speaker 1:00:43

Maia Toll 1:00:45
yeah, like, I kind of feel like, I don't know whether they've gotten married or whether they've merged, they might just be one thing at this point.

Emily Thompson 1:00:56
And how but how did you get there?

Unknown Speaker 1:00:57
Like, what

Emily Thompson 1:00:58
did you do? What have you been doing to a place where you feel so calm, so comfortable with, or you even in a place where you think they're the same thing?

Maia Toll 1:01:09
I suspect that it goes back to when I got sick in my 20s. And I needed to tune into my body in this really granular way, I needed to understand, not just that I had a vague ache, you know, over on the left side, I needed to feel into it much more deeply. So that I could find language for these people who were trying to help me because their diagnostic tools weren't working. And so I had to be able to describe in itty bitty detail what I was feeling so that somebody else could go, Oh, that's your nerves doing this, that and the other. Right? So I turned inward in this way that wasn't murky, or airy, fairy or fuzzy. And I kind of learned the language of my body in this incredibly nuanced way. And then, and you know, at the time, I was using it for like this, like describing this, these very physical sensations of the illness. But having that level of tuning into my body, has then allowed me to see how my body responds to different information coming in, and feel it and understand it really instantly. So not only information coming in, like, you know, a phone call, Oh, do you want to have an interview with so and so and knowing whether that's a yes or no, but also all the information that's coming in, through your skin through your pores through, like wavelengths that you don't even realize your eyes are seeing. There's so much information out in the world that our brain doesn't consciously interpret. But we're still like, we're still taking it in. You know, and it's easy for this to sound woowoo. But science will tell you that there are zillions of spectrums, probably not a zillion science would be way more specific than that, of light that like of color, that you're not interpreting from the light that other kinds of eyes are interpreting, but it's all there. And so it's like, it's, it's there to be had. And I think that we're constantly getting information that our brain doesn't quite know what to do with. But it still registers. And I think that that's a lot of what intuition is, is all that information that's kind of, you know, it gets around the thinking centers of your brain because it's not being pulled in, in the ways that we know how to put words to or, or know how to interpret with our five senses. So it's kind of like radio signals that there's no channel that matches them. They're still out there. And your body's still reading them. And so I think that having developed that fine tuned, ability to read and understand my body, as all this information comes in, I'm just I'm just grabbing it, and I might not have words for it. I might not even consciously be kind of knowing like, Oh, you know, if my left knee aches, that's a hardcore No, don't do that. Like I might not be able to say that. But I do know when something comes at me and I'm like, Whoa, no way.

Emily Thompson 1:05:00
So basically, like all hard earned abilities you've practiced.

Maia Toll 1:05:06
Yeah, I practice I practiced for for many, many years. And I've also played, I've practiced and I've played, you know, I am, I am as multi passionate in my spirituality as I am in my business. And I have never been a person who's kind of been like, this is the right way. I've always been like, wow, the human race has come up with a gazillion different roads up the same mountain. Let's try this one. Let's try that one. Let's see what's what works. And, you know, I believe that you like, there's this thing that can happen, where you're just hopping around so much that you don't think deep into anything. But I also think this thing can happen where you can find different ways of enlivening the same spiritual path. And so you're practicing, but you're practicing like the same thing through different modalities, almost, if that makes any sense. It's kind of like, if you want to build the core muscles of your abdomen, you can do that by yoga, you can do it by Pilates, you can do it by weightlifting, and you're still working the core muscles. And I think that spirituality has a bit of that same thing where there are different ways to do the same thing and tune into the same thing. And so you're still practicing even though you're practicing through multiple modalities. So that's, that's an interesting one, because there is a sense with the word practice that you have to stick to one thing. But it's kind of like spiritual circuit training, or your, you know, try a little bit of this and trying a little bit of that to kind of build the overall strength.

Emily Thompson 1:06:59
Right. Oh, that is fascinating. Thank you so much for sharing that and all the things I'm so glad that I was finally able to get you here and introduce you to all of our people. I think that your perspectives and your experience always brings a wealth of just wisdom that I know I personally always find it very helpful as I'm navigating things. So I'm hoping that everyone listening to this has found that as well. It can you share with everyone listening where they can find more about you?

Maia Toll 1:07:37
Yeah, absolutely. So my website is Maya toll calm, which is Ma, I am ay t o LL. My atoll, calm and you know, the shopping website is herb era, which is h er B by a ry.com. And you can find my books there as well as all sorts of products for comfort, connection and practical magic.

Emily Thompson 1:08:03
Perfect. And I have one last question for you. What makes you feel most boss? Oh, man,

Maia Toll 1:08:09
I've been thinking about this one. Good. Because we you know, we have the heads up from listening to other episodes. This is a tough one. Because it's not one thing. You know, I think in different like there are different aspects of feeling boss. One of the things that just always touches me I'm like actually tearing up thinking about it, is when one of my students or employees starts their own business that makes me feel boss, getting the first copy of a book into my hands idea into form that makes me feel boss, having my publishing house, pay for my plane tickets and my hotel rooms. That makes me feel boss. I love

Emily Thompson 1:09:03
it. Thank you so much for coming to hang out with us today, Maya.

Maia Toll 1:09:07
I love it. I always love talking to you and I'm so thrilled to share with your whole tribe.

Emily Thompson 1:09:16
Thanks for listening. And hey, if you want more resources, we're talking worksheets, free trainings in person meetups and vacations and more. Go to our website at www dot beam boss dot club. Do the work the boss