What a difference a year makes.
When Sammi Blaque won the Colorado Springs Business Journal and the Southeast Express’ 2019 Southeast Business Plan Competition, she did so on a vision of bringing a holistic health and wellness facility to Southeast Colorado Springs. Her healthful vision included yoga, hypnotherapy, meditation and mindfulness, and she intended to share a physical space with other neighborhood health care and wellness practitioners.
The arrival of the novel coronavirus, which causes the severe respiratory illness COVID-19, temporarily put her physical space on hold, but the vivacious Blaque isn’t letting that stop her.
“It’s really interesting,” she said. “I’ve been trying to rally my corporate [clients] to do Zooms. We can still meditate and do yoga on Zoom, or I can record a class and put it on YouTube. I’ve been creative.”
Blaque sat down for an interview in mid-March via Zoom. The increasingly popular video conferencing system allows users to attend meetings, classes or, yes, meditation sessions remotely while self-isolating or when under quarantine.
Blaque is the founder of The Venus Collective, a holistic health and wellness concept that incorporates, in addition to yoga and meditation, essential oils instruction and life-skills coaching. Many of her clients over the past year have been businesses that hired her to help with employee-wellness programming.
She has also been in talks with Colorado Springs School District 11 about the possibility of teaching yoga and mindfulness to kids at Mitchell High School, and said she is working with Peak Vista to bring yoga classes to its Pain & Wellness Center.
“It’s becoming so much more centered in people’s awareness that they have options,” she said. “Until recently, they didn’t even realize they had options.
“[They] can do these things in addition to or with [their] doctor’s permission or help … and these interventions are actually effective.”
But overall, her end game hasn’t changed. Blaque is still keeping her eye firmly on the prize-winning plan of opening the doors on her Southeast wellness center. The corporate work, she said, is helping to finance that goal.
No newcomer to the business world, Blaque is a graduate of the Thrive Network, which teaches would-be entrepreneurs the ins and outs of launching their own companies, often with a social-enterprise component. When she enrolled in the Southeast-based program in 2018, she operated The Venus Collective as a mostly digital company and taught one-off classes by appointment.
When a pandemic put the temporary kibosh on her face-to-face sessions, it wasn’t hard for Blaque to pivot and respond. And with all of the uncertainty in our current climate, the instruction she provides is perhaps more salient than ever.
“Even though I’m quarantined, even though there’s no vaccine, even though I could get it, even though I’m afraid, I can still breathe and manage my emotions,” she said. “I’m really, really trained in the art of leading visualization and helping people communicate with their unconscious. A lot of the yoga studios focus so much on the asana, the poses — move your body into this shape. To me, that’s not holistic compared to work your mind, work your body, work your energy.”
The reward, she said, is aiding a client’s awakening.
“Without fail, everyone is always like, ‘Oh! Oh my god! Wow, that’s different,’” she said with a grin. “That’s what I live for, that transformation.”