Amy Saba Of SoHum: “Entrepreneurship is lonely”

Entrepreneurship is lonely. Going from being employed to self-employed is so wildly different. In the corporate world, there is a team and a set of goals you all work to meet, together. In entrepreneurship, there’s just you and you alone. Every decision and responsibility falls on you — and it’s a lonesome burden to carry. As a […]

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Entrepreneurship is lonely. Going from being employed to self-employed is so wildly different. In the corporate world, there is a team and a set of goals you all work to meet, together. In entrepreneurship, there’s just you and you alone. Every decision and responsibility falls on you — and it’s a lonesome burden to carry.

As a part of our series about women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amy Saba.

Amy Saba began her entrepreneurial journey nine years ago when she found herself in her very first meditation session at a local studio. Suddenly, the hustle and bustle of Toronto and feelings of unhappiness tied to her career seemed to disappear. For the first time, she felt at peace with the uncertainty of life and the confidence to take the plunge into a new journey.

That is why Amy founded SoHum, a line of non-toxic, eco-friendly scented candles made with 100% soy and hand-poured in Lakeshore, Ontario. Inspired by the “sooo” sound of inhalation and the “hummm” sound of exhalation, SoHum began as a means to connect to one’s intentions. When the candle is lit, SoHum illuminates your intentions — be it a room to smell good, or a more enriched life. SoHum aims to brighten the awareness that you are safe, you are supported, and you are loved.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

Since I was a little girl, I struggled with being a first-generation Canadian of a traditional Middle Eastern family. The expectation was that I would get married soon after graduating high school and raise a family. I had an unusual self-awareness at a young age and was determined to move out after high school, get educated, and enter into a career in advertising–so determined that I submitted it as a journal assignment in elementary school.

Fast forward to the age of 24 years old, I had accomplished all that I set out to do. I was the first in my family to graduate from University and I had my first job in advertising. My job brought me to the coolest parties, the hottest restaurants, and the best seats at the game. My friends and family thought I had the coolest job and while I wasn’t out to seek approval, a part of me felt I had to hold on, even though I started to feel a sort of emptiness directly correlated to the materialistic nature of my job. This emptiness leads to severe anxiety and even panic attacks.

When the advertising agency I was working for lost a big client, layoffs began and as they called in my colleagues one by one to break the news, I sat there anxiously hoping I would be one of them. This was a pivotal moment in my career. This moment sparked a need to change — to escape what I thought I wanted in life in search of what I was truly meant to do: my dharma. I quit my job and committed myself to healing full-time. My healing practice included therapy, yoga, and meditation. During my first meditation practice, the instructor lit candles and led us into practice using the SoHum mantra. I was hooked.

For two years, I went to the yoga studio twice a day, five times a week for meditation practice. I forced myself inwards to learn to accept and live in uncertainty, to be compassionate with myself, to be vulnerable, and to trust that the universe will take care of me. Living through severe anxiety and panic disorder and making it through the other end is what compelled me to find a way to spread compassion, love, and understanding to others.

I knew that candles would be the best way for me to share my journey, compassion, and love with others because fragrance and light were such an integral part of my mental, spiritual and physical healing. We can bring ourselves to the present moment when lighting a candle with a prayer or intention and each time we catch the light or scent; we’re immediately brought back to our intention and the present moment.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

I had a freelance contract when I was working at the advertising agency. I had been freelancing for about a year and hours were beginning to slow down. The meditation center that I went to was a Chopra center where we would meditate on the seven spiritual laws of success. I was going twice a day.

One week, the focus was meditating on what your hopes and desires are. At that time, I was meditating on hoping for more hours and desiring to build my income more. The following week, the focus was about letting go of the path that you think you’re supposed to follow to get the aforementioned hopes and desires.

That was when I had a moment of realization and I began to open myself up to all possibilities. During this meditation, I got this strange acceptance of, “maybe I won’t get more hours, and that is okay, I will move on to the next thing.” And, as I was walking out of that meditation, I checked my emails to see that my contract with the ad agency would not be renewed.

This kickstarted my journey to entrepreneurship and brought me peace when I was closing that chapter of my life.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The biggest mistake I made when I first started out was falling into the comparison trap. I fixated on the success of other brands and felt like I was a failure because I didn’t have the same number of social media followers, wholesale accounts, or media mentions.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from this is that it typically ends up doing more harm than good. When I fall into this trap, I start losing confidence in what I know and I start to think that I have to do all of these other things to be on the same path as others. It’s helped me understand that everyone’s journey is their own and we will get there if we trust our own skillset. When I’m in the right headspace and out of the comparison trap, I have tunnel vision for my own brand and projects. I leave notes on my desk to remind myself to stay in that space.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have been lucky enough to have an army of remarkable people who have helped get me to where I am today. When I was at a breaking point with my career, down in the depths of despair and learning to be vulnerable, I had family, friends, colleagues, and healers there when I needed support. I even had friends that would drive over 60 miles in the middle of the night when I felt a panic attack coming, just so that I would not feel alone. My army raised me up during the darkest times of my life and they continue to be my cheerleaders on my journey through entrepreneurship. When you lack compassion for yourself, it’s imperative to surround yourself with compassionate people to help see you through the dark times.

Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

When I created SoHum, I had the idea that I could use the light of candles to help heal others. SoHum is a Hindu mantra that can be translated as “I am That.” When meditating on this, we realize we are all connected. The world can be a very dark place and my hope is that through the light of SoHum candles, I can help people feel connected, loved, and understood. When we share compassion and love, we are no longer individuals in this world, but we are empaths creating a better world.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

  1. One act of mindfulness a day. Mindfulness is not complicated and can be incorporated into anything we do. We can mindfully brush our teeth, light a candle, eat our breakfast or tie our shoes. Adding one act a day gives us an opportunity to be present, and when we are present we are free from the internal dialogue that can be the cause of our stress and anxiety.
  2. Take a nap. Taking a mid-afternoon nap is essential to my mood, easing stress, and makes for a more productive evening. There are tons of studies out there showing numerous health benefits to a mid-day snooze, so don’t feel lazy or guilty — try and see it as an activity that will only better your day.
  3. Social Media detox. On average, we spend over 2 hours a day on social media and the result is a serious impact on our self-esteem. Why? Social media makes it so easy for us to compare ourselves without factoring in that what’s displayed on a screen is not real life. Temporarily deactivating social media accounts is a break away from this unhealthy cycle so that we can be present and reconnect with all the amazing things in our own lives.
  4. Go for a walk. — Going for a walk doesn’t take a whole lot of effort, but it clears your mind. We really underestimate the power of being in nature.
  5. Light a candle. For centuries, candles have been used during rituals. Make it a part of your daily self-care ritual and reap all the benefits that this practice has to offer. There are plenty of studies that show that candles can increase focus, trigger positive memories, improve your mood and alleviate stress. I start my morning by lighting a SoHum candle with my intention for the day — it helps set the mood for how I want the day to unravel. I usually work with that same candle at my desk and each time I catch the scent, I’m reminded of that intention which keeps me very present at the moment.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Having gone through this myself, I would want people to remember that things aren’t always as they appear to be — the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. It’s all too common that we compare ourselves to others and this can lead to a toxic way of life. Trying to outdo others or criticizing them for being different is a direct depiction of what we feel most insecure about in our own lives. We project these insecurities on others and bring them down. Instead, let’s celebrate each other’s achievements, differences, businesses, etc. We’re all human, let’s remember to be kind to others and ourselves. You’re amazing the way you are.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. Choose You. For several years, I unknowingly suffered from endometriosis. I let pain become a part of my routine and it made me miserable. I had many sleepless nights, some in the emergency room, until one day my doctor looked me straight in the face and said “your endometrioma is growing and you need to take it out right away”. For years, I knew something was wrong but kept pushing through as to not disappoint anyone or seem incapable. All that did was let the disease spread and make for a more complicated surgery and longer recovery. By putting myself last, I put out into the universe that my life did not matter, and in ways, I was treated as if I was dispensable. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or not, you should always choose YOU. By choosing yourself, you are validating your existence. Unapologetically.
  2. Set boundaries that align with the life you want for yourself. Before becoming an entrepreneur, I imagined a schedule that wasn’t dictated by others so that I could do whatever, whenever I wanted to. I wanted to free myself from the chains of the corporate world and live each day with intention. That is not how I started my entrepreneurship journey. It started with me making time for all things work — pulling all-nighters, working weekends, answering calls at all times of the day, and even working while I was on vacation. I chased the dollar for fear that if I didn’t work at all hours, I would not make money. It took two surgeries for me to step back and realize this life I was living was not sustainable. I learned to make small adjustments every day that contributed to a more purposeful life and that positively influenced my mood and my business. It doesn’t mean that every day will be sunshine and rainbows, but it does mean that you will be better equipped to handle those crazy days when they come. Lastly, by setting boundaries from the start, you’re building relationships with people who respect that, enabling you to do more of what you want with your time, without worrying about the outcome.
  3. Rejection is inevitable. As an entrepreneur, there’s no way to avoid rejection — you will hear “No” many times before you hear “Yes” and it totally sucks! At first, hearing the “No’s” made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. It would really send my head into a spin, making me feel insecure and wondering what I needed to change to hear what I wanted to hear. I had to learn quickly that it’s all just part of the process. Trust yourself, trust your products, trust your service and keep moving forward. Yes and No is never about you, but what’s right for the other party involved. Sometimes, you will align, and sometimes you won’t and that is okay!
  4. You’ll probably want to quit once a month. Each step towards growing the business feels like a leap into the unknown. The uncertainty can feel heavy at times, especially when large investments are at risk. There have been many evening walks with my husband and dog where he is talking me off the ledge of quitting. Reconnecting to my “Why” and acknowledging my fear of poverty helps to keep me moving forward. Yes, making money in order to thrive as a business is important, but we have to remember the passion that created the business and that is what continually drives it forward.
  5. Entrepreneurship is lonely. Going from being employed to self-employed is so wildly different. In the corporate world, there is a team and a set of goals you all work to meet, together. In entrepreneurship, there’s just you and you alone. Every decision and responsibility falls on you — and it’s a lonesome burden to carry.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Mental health and specifically mental health in children. Childhood trauma has largely affected those closest to me. As adults, a lot of us haven’t healed our own trauma. We tend to put that on our children, and they become affected on top of the other things that they are exposed to at such a young age. It makes their lives so much harder and it is a perpetual cycle if we don’t deal with it now. My hope is that in the future SoHum can help build strong foundations for children that will lead to a healthy, happy, and productive future.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Website — https://www.so-hum.ca/

Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/sohum_candles/

Thank you for these fantastic insights!

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