The art of the career pivot: How an entrepreneur found her calling on a yoga mat
After a successful career in PR, spending time in a yoga studio led entrepreneur Christina Rice to build a powerhouse global wellness brand .
When I look back at all my career pivots, they make total sense now, but at the time? No sense. No sense at all. I remember wanting to live a purposeful life in my 20s, praying that I would one day have an impact. Little did I know I was right where I belonged, being molded into a woman who could withstand the pressure and success I have today. If I go back to my college self, I’d tell her, “Just go with it. Take the next right step. It’s leading you somewhere.”
There are some people, though, who are especially attuned to that still, small voice when it speaks. Even if life muffles the sound for a bit, it returns. Christina Rice, founder of OMNoire, a global wellness brand for Black women and women of color, is one of those people.
I featured her last week to talk about how she’s scaling the big business of retreats with Black women leading the charge, but that’s just one part of Rice’s story. So I brought her back to dive into her pivot into the wellness industry. Notably, her entrepreneurship journey didn’t start with planning retreats and then building on that success; rather, it started at 21, owning a clothing boutique right out of college.
“I was the first black woman in Nashville to own a boutique. I had it open for five years, and then I got burnt out,” Rice explained. “I was ready to leave Nashville, so I sold everything in the store, and I packed up, and I moved to New Jersey. I was freelancing with some friends in the music industry, and they were managing artists, and I was helping them with marketing. One of them just randomly out of the blue said, ‘You would make an amazing publicist.’ I had no idea what a publicist did, so I Googled it.”
That Google search began a new chapter that would include a top PR position for a premiere French-owned boutique in New York overseeing all of its business in the States. After about eight months, Rice moved on to another agency that included Nick Cannon and Lil Kim as clients. Her last PR job ended in 2010 with a layoff, and her entrepreneurial spirit guided her to launch her own PR agency where rising Black tech stars joined her roster, and she began producing large-scale events that included the Grammys and the Superbowl.
Rice went from Googling the word “publicist” to building her own PR business. But, as life would have it, another chapter was about to begin.
“In 2015, I hit a wall. I was burnt out. I was also going through a bad breakup, and I needed something to help me get out of this space. I just felt like I was suffocating,” Rice recalled. “One night, I was having dinner with a former assistant, and she had lost a ton of weight. She was a glowing young Black woman. And I was like, ‘What are you doing? And she was like, I’m taking Yoga!” She happened to be going to a yoga studio two blocks from my office in Manhattan. So I just started going there almost every day. To this day, eight years later, that tiny yoga studio saved my life. It opened a new way for me, without me even knowing.”
As Rice opened up to a new experience, the next part of her chapter began to unfold and her next assignment was revealed. She heard that voice again, this time telling her to host retreats and bring women who look like her along for the adventure. From her first retreat, it was a hit. From that early success, one retreat at a time, Rice began to paint the wellness industry Black.
I’m willing to bet when she showed up at that yoga studio, she didn’t have all the answers, but she was seeking them. Sometimes we hear the call clearly, and we know the right next steps — and sometimes, we don’t. Rice’s life exemplifies what can happen when you put one foot before the other and patiently allow the vision to download.
If you keep going, you’ll find it always does.
Watch the full conversation to see how a yoga class turned into a successful retreat and wellness business here on this week’s episode of “The Reset,” above.
Letisha Bereola is a life coach who helps ambitious women overcome burnout and reach their career goals, so they feel great at work and happy at home. She’s a former Emmy-nominated TV news anchor, Podcast host of AUDACITY, and a speaker. Learn more at www.coachtish.co.
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