It’s very rewarding to do what your heart tells you to do; that’s the biggest benefit of being self-employed.” That’s the message from Jill Little, who is in the throes of setting up her new yoga studio at Fermanagh Enterprise’s latest workspace facilities at the Killyhevlin Industrial Estate.
A working mother, she reflects that she would not have been able to take the leap into starting her own business when her children were little. They are aged eight and 10, therefore, Jill has taken the “now or never” decision.
Originally from Michigan, Jill was on an Equine Sciences ‘Study Abroad’ placement at Necarne, when she met Nigel Little on a night out at The Valley Hotel. The rest, as they say, is history.
“I moved to Fermanagh in 2003 and have been teaching yoga at various venues for the last 10 years,” explains Jill, who lives outside Newtownbutler. “For example, I take the girls at the Collegiate, I also take ante-natal and post-natal yoga classes at Newtownbutler, Irvinestown and, more recently Lisnaskea for Sure Start and Oak Healthy Living. I also did classes at the Killyhevlin. There is a growing demand so I decided to consolidate it. Because of the demand and being asked to take classes by so many outside sources, I thought: ‘It’s now or never.’” Jill explains that she was advised by a friend to ring the First Stop Shop in Enniskillen’s Clinton Centre for advice. “They directed me to Fermanagh Enterprise, where Fiona Martin was a great help; she gave me lots of advice.” Jill received help in setting up a business plan, where to look for new business and how to promote herself. “There were things I hadn’t thought of. John Treacy was great to work with,” Jill adds. She also found Invest NI’s Go For It programme beneficial.
“I’ve been fitness mad since I was 13, playing softball and volley ball, dancing and horse riding. It was during a six month personal training internship at Michigan Athletic Club that I fell in love with yoga,” Jill explains.
“I gained my yoga certificate through Yoga Fit America but I wouldn’t have gained my anatomical knowledge if it wasn’t for my personal training.” Jill was inspired by watching instructors help strengthen and heal people who were paralysed. “This one trainer worked on the paralysed man and got him functioning as a normal human being; that really inspired me,” comments Jill, who would love to see yoga become more accepted in the world of medicine. “It is starting to become more recognised in the UK.” At the moment ‘Mind Yoga Studio’ consists of Jill on her own. However, looking to the future, she says: “I am not opposed to bringing other staff in. If people were to approach me, we can all work together; many heads are better than one.” Her advice to working mums is: “Be prepared to work day and night.” She adds: “I am extremely lucky because I have help at home and my husband is a dairy farmer so he’s always around the house.” Her children – Luke (10) and Delenne (eight) – “are older, so I am now in a place where I can take this business venture on; if they were still very young, I would have to think about child care costs and I wouldn’t be able to do it”.
Jill notices that residents of Fermanagh “are becoming more health conscious and are seeing yoga as an option”. She says: “People are shy here but when they do tell you that they’ve had a deep emotion it makes me realise that I have affected someone in a positive way and that’s a passion of mine.” Jill, concludes: “I felt like I was just spinning my wheels, but since I’ve opened Mind Yoga Studio, it feels like I’ve come into my own passion.”