Here at LIVELY, we’re constantly surrounded by swoon-worthy women that are killin’ it in their businesses. We're launching #WomenCrushWednesday to celebrate the boss babes who provide us with a constant flow of inspiration, support, and endless girl-crushes.
Up next: Olivia Young, the founder of box + flow, an awesome, sweat-tastic workout experience in New York City that combines boxing and yoga.
Where are you from? What was it like growing up?
I’m from Miami Beach, Florida. It was fun. I didn’t know any different. Parents happily married, three brothers, after-school activities, beach weather and humidity. I was first exposed to different upbringings via summer-camp friends who lived in New York City and the Northeast. I was fascinated by growing up in a big city as opposed to suburbia, but also frightened at the pace my friends actually grew up. I was 5 years behind them in terms of exposure. But suburbia is my foundation. Carpool, school, backyard, beach...it was life. But ultimately my energy drove me to the backdrop of the Big Apple.
How did you get the idea to start box + flow, and how did you make it happen?
I started practicing yoga at age 15 at a Bikram studio near my house. It struck me; without knowing it, it became my first real commitment—to sweat, but also to self. It gave me a focus beyond the hierarchy of high-school drama. When I transferred back to UMiami from Boston University in my junior year, I would go to class, take a dip in the ocean, and walk to Bikram yoga in South Beach daily. On my way to the yoga studio, I discovered South Florida Boxing: a gritty, mostly men’s boxing gym in the heart of South Beach filled with sweat, testosterone, and too many muscle tees. I was hooked.
Fast forward: I moved to NYC after college for culinary school, worked at Food & Wine magazine, and then went in-house for Chef Michael White and the Altamarea Group as brand director for 7.5 years. Even though I was in the hospitality/food field, I started every day with my commitment to boxing and yoga. Boxing gave me strength and confidence, and yoga forced me to slow down and feel. I wanted to give the feeling I got every morning to the consumer: it’s balance, it’s workhard / livyoung, it’s the duality of self. box + flow is the vessel in which this feeling is born.
What is your process when approaching your creative work?
Everything to me is creating. When I cook, I create: whether it’s making a smoothie or manufacturing my coconut oil–sweet potato concoction or cooking a dinner party for 10, I’m creating. I create when I move my body while working out, even while surrounded by the structure of a class around me. I create when I write and when I speak. Life is meant to be experienced, and experience is born through creation. We are here to create, to write our own stories, to live our lives as opposed to just exist in them.
What’s the best advice you’ve received from a mentor?
To be honest, I sought so much advice that it clouded my own perception of my dreams. It was when I came back to myself that I recognized that I have everything I need to get where I want to go. I also came to realize that it is not often that advice is completely neutral. We seek advice, and advice is often given with an element of someone else’s perception of reality.
With that said: the best thing I read made mention of commitment. In my search for purpose, my commitment each day was to clarity. And clarity was through my physical practice, box + flow, that brought me back to myself.
What does the most intense part of your day look like?
That depends on the day. No day is the same. My days go in waves between intense and calm, resistance and ease, fight and flow. I am naturally intense, but I find inner calm by being more present and not worrying about what is out of my control. My workouts in the morning tend to be pretty intense though! And then I like to find ease thru the rest of the day—but that is rare considering, I’m an entrepreneur!
When do you feel most empowered?
I feel incredibly empowered boxing, dancing, running—moving freely at my own pace, with my own breath and heartbeat. Empowerment comes from within. I feel most empowered when I’m in my flow, connected to my center, grounded in my body.
What advice would you give on finding healthy work-life balance?
Take time to know yourself. Find freedom in saying no. You don’t have to be everything for everyone—you can’t be, especially if you want to be present for yourself. For me to do my best work, I have to feel my best. So self-care is big: adequate sleep, sweat, fuel. Do not fill your time, body, or space—fuel it.
What’s the biggest myth of starting your own business?
Myth? I mean, it’s certainly not easy but it doesn’t have to be that hard. It is much harder to show up for a job you hate everyday.
When was a time you failed and how did you overcome it?
I fail every day...but it’s not as much failure as a lesson. Through each lesson, I learn more about myself—what I’m good at and what I’m not. Rather than trying to conquer everything, recognizing what you excel in and focusing on that is way more efficient. Overcoming failure to me means delegating tasks that I am not necessarily great at.
What is your advice to women that want to start their own business, but have no idea how?
Starting your own business is like life—we have no idea HOW, you just make it happen. If you believe in yourself, anything is possible. Enter into a business (or life) with no expectations, no anticipation, and completely present in your intention—and take it from there. There is no power in fearing the unknown or fixating on the past—just move forward with what you do know and be willing to learn the rest along the way.
Describe your personal aesthetic.
Messy is sexy. I can be completely done up or completely undone. My business is about duality: embracing yourself as you are. What’s more sexy than confidence, authenticity, and humility? I believe in being self-defined—and sometimes that means sweaty and undone, and other times it means dressed to the nines. Whatever your wearing, no matter how you look, confidence will carry the room. It is about energy. I am my personal aesthetic, as I am. Its completely personal!
How would you describe a life well lived?
Forever seeking balance. Easy over resistance. Pace over race. No focus on future or fear of past. Present in everything: the good, bad and ugly. Being open to whatever comes your way and willing to get messy through it all—messy to me means vulnerable. I believe in living, not just existing, in making the most of what I have as opposed to worrying about what I don’t.
I #flowthruthefight: find ease in tough situations. And ultimately balance to me is defined as #workhard + #livyoung. Struggle and celebration.