As part of The Startup Magazine’s Female Founder Interview series, we interviewed Nicole Price of the Chicago-based International Center for Breathwork.
Nicole and her team are preparing the second annual presentation of The Breathing Festival, a virtual event, scheduled for February 2021.
Nicole is the CEO and co-founder of the festival which began in February 2020 from a desire to show people simple ways to shift their lives into better places by changing the way they breathe. The festival will present the best of breathwork experts who have empowering discussions, offer tools for everyday living, breathing experiences and cutting-edge breathing technology.
Like many entrepreneurs, Nicole’s career evolved from holding corporate event planning positions to building her own event management company focused on her passion for holistic wellness, specifically breathwork. The innovative techniques her group presents have tremendous health and wellness impacts, but also improve work performance and employee engagement.
Her group’s festival brings together her network of over 50 of the world’s leading breathwork practitioners. The event boasts 12 days filled with lectures, experiential breathing sessions; breathing tools, tips, tricks and hacks for daily life; conscious music and cutting-edge breathing technology. The breathwork community explores a variety of wellness teaching methods include Rebirthing, Holotropic, Transformational, Neurodynamic, Breath Holding, Buteyko, Ecstatic, Shamanic, Biodynamic, Vivation and Breath of Love, to name a few.
We interviewed Nicole to get more insights into her passions for health and wellness and her entrepreneurial journey…
TSM: Describe your service/company/event in 10 words or less:
Breathe differently to improve your body, mind and soul.
TSM: With a bit more detail, tell us more about The Breathing Festival? (Share with us your primary mission)
Our mission is to bring the benefits of breath awareness and conscious breathing to every human on the planet. In a nutshell, we know that all people can learn breathing techniques to make every aspect of their life better. This knowledge inspired our festival theme: “Change Your Breath. Change Your World.”
TSM: Going back to the event’s roots, what inspired you to start The Breathing Festival?
My biggest yearning in life is to connect, which is why I’ve been an event planner for my entire life and career. My teacher, one of the greatest breathwork masters in the world, Dan Brulé, Founder of Breath Mastery and author of “Just Breathe”, called me up in July 2019 and asked me if I’d be interested in helping him plan a festival. And the rest is history!
TSM: So how does breathwork impact work performance and the workplace? –
Breathwork and simple breathing exercises can be used to help people reduce stress, slow down, focus their concentration and shift patterns in life. Breath awareness is a powerful tool for improving emotional regulation and emotional intelligence which is the hallmark of leadership in business. Being aware of your breathing allows you to make tactical changes in how you breathe so you can lower stress hormones, combat anxiety and depression, reduce burnout, reduce sick days and lower employee turnover. The ways that these things can impact and enhance work performance and the workplace are endless!
TSM: Is there a “typical” Breathing event participant? Who is your optimal target participant?
There isn’t a “typical” breathing event participant other than people who are ready to make big improvements in some part of their lives. Breathwork appeals to scientists, biohackers, spiritual seekers, physicians, energy healers, endurance athletes and high performers of all kinds. Everyone breathes and so everyone can learn breathwork. There are different exercises and practices that will appeal to everyone. In The Breathing Festival, we feature a wide range of presenters who discuss everything from the science behind the breath to the spiritual manifestations and everything in-between.
TSM: I understand that the breathwork health trend is becoming more mainstream, and you intend to build the International Center for Breathwork into a membership organization. Tell us about the vision for the ICFB?
The International Center for Breathwork is the sister organization to The Breathing Festival. The festival brings people together for a specific event, and the ICFB membership program continues the engagement year-round with a monthly membership that costs only $11/month. We are building a community. In addition to housing the on-demand videos from the festival, the ICFB membership program will feature many, many additional video teachings in its global library; regular LIVE events led by Dan Brulé and other top breathworkers; a global provider directory; events listings and, my favorite part, access to WBWR Breathwork Radio featuring conscious artists who play music we can all breathe to.
TSM: In this current environment, what have been the additional business challenges for you and how have you adjusted your operation and business model?
Our Festival started as an in-person event in Cabo last February 2020. We expected it to grow as a LIVE event and, when COVID hit, we decided to go fully virtual. We were sad for about a minute and then quickly realized the extended reach opportunities of a virtual event. We are thrilled to be able to reach so many people on a global level for the 2021 festival – this scope would have taken us several years as an in-person event.
TSM: For your events, do you see the current changes to be permanent? Describe what you think the “New Normal” will be like.
We expect The Breathing Festival to be primarily virtual again in 2022, with a small gathering in Cabo, and – fingers crossed! – we will be full force live and in-person by 2023. We will always continue the virtual component but it will, of course, evolve as technology changes.
TSM: Going back to your early career decisions, tell us what factors influenced your decision to be an entrepreneur?
The Breathing Festival and the ICFB are my first global partnerships but I’ve been an entrepreneur since 2010 when I started my Around Chicago LIVE! networking and events organization. Throughout much of my career, I’ve worked full-time as an in-house planner while keeping my entrepreneurial work on the side. I went full-time as an entrepreneur in 2015 after I was laid off from a job and then decided I wanted to work on my own terms.
TSM: And what characteristics do you have that particularly contributed to your ability to build from a startup success?
I’ve worked in and for a variety of different companies and roles so my experience is diverse. I’m a bit of a jack-of-all-trades and that’s absolutely necessary for success as an entrepreneur because, especially in the beginning, we need to do a bit of everything.
TSM: What is the most important thing you tell other startup founders? What are your lessons learned?
Running a startup is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and hopefully will also become the most rewarding. When we started this, I was creating an in-person festival, something that I knew exactly how to do. Then when the pandemic changed everything, my fun festival turned into a virtual event and two international companies with other partners!!! I couldn’t have imagined the work and dedication required. My husband, also a co-founder – and I have taken only three full days off since these ideas took off about eight months ago as there is so much which needs to be done in setting a foundation of success for these companies. So, my best advice … learn to take a breath! When things get too stressful, pause, take a breath and know that we have everything we need to succeed already inside of us.
TSM: That’s excellent advice. So, finally, tell us, does breathwork really work?
Yes! Learning to pay attention to your breath, listen to your breath, feel your breath and CHANGE your breath will lead you on journeys ranging from relaxing and calming to exciting, healing, creative and even visionary. Join us at The Breathing Festival to learn more about how and why it works plus take part in full breathing experiences with top masters from around the globe.
TSM: You’ve made us believers. We are excited to watch your event and thank you for your insights today!