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Meet Heather Shannon of Lotus Center in Noble Square

Today we’d like to introduce you to Heather Shannon.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
As a teenager, I struggled with binge eating disorder and my recovery was a very holistic one. It wasn’t just talk therapy, although that was a helpful component. I learned about nutrition and how food could do great things for my body. I started to mediate and felt drawn to a Buddhist path that helped me to “just be” and let go of that inner task master. I learned about genetics and how I was predisposed to certain health conditions (mental and physical) and how that could be addressed through nutritional supplements and healthier lifestyle choices. This lead me to pursue professional development in this area and has become something I’m passionate about because genetics account for an estimated 50% of our happiness, but it is not something commonly addressed in a therapist’s office.

Ultimately, because of these holistic experiences, I wanted to create a business where clients could put together multiple pieces of the puzzle for themselves just like I did.

After 5 years of being a high school counselor, I got my clinical license to practice independently as a psychotherapist. I finished up a health coaching certification around the same time and started seeing private clients who found me through their insurance network.

Lotus Center started out as “HWCA of Chicago”. No one remembered the order of the initials let alone what they stood for–renaming was one of the best things I did! I initially formed the company with a friend from graduate school back in 2011 and was working full time at a high school for a year while we developed the practice and built up our clientele on the side–it was intense! My partner quickly decided she did not want to be an entrepreneur and I realized there was no going back for me. So, I carried on as the sole owner. I hired staff almost immediately, went through a learning process about hiring and managing other people, offered health coaching services, wrote a textbook chapter on nutrition for mental health and eventually created an online mindfulness course called Mindfulness on Demand. Being an entrepreneur is a constant lesson in humility, personal growth, and stress management. There are also very rewarding moments when I realize I’m making an impact on clients and providing a happy workplace for staff.

Today, we have our own office suite in a storefront on Chicago Avenue and specializing in helping a variety of clientele including “Type A” professionals, entrepreneurs, creatives and empaths. We have a staff passionate about exercise, self-care, mindfulness, nutrition, energy healing and more.

We continue to move in a more holistic direction by offering group classes for Intuitive Development and Yoga Therapy and plan to launch a few more this year, including a Self-Care group, DIY Essential Oil workshop, a Mindful Running group, and a New Mom’s group. I’m very proud of the group of team players we have on staff and the passion they have for helping clients and continuing to grow as professionals.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
NO!!! Haha, don’t be an entrepreneur if you need to keep things calm and stable. The hardest part for me has been managing money, dealing with stressful situations as the only owner/boss and dealing with employee turnover.

It’s been very helpful to stay connected to a network of other practice owners and to a group of other types of entrepreneurs as well. I also have a “mastermind” buddy who owns a wellness business in London who I speak with every other week. We support each other in staying on track and dealing with internal and external obstacles.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Lotus Center story. Tell us more about the business.
Lotus Center Ltd offers: psychotherapy, nutrition consultation, genetic analysis, intuition groups, yoga therapy, organizational wellness programs, meditation instruction, craniosacral therapy, reiki and health coaching. We also have a couple sub-lessors who offer acupuncture and EMDR services.

We specialize in taking a holistic approach to mental health as evidenced by our offerings. Some of my client sessions are more about educating people about genetics and what testing they should have done than exploring their emotions. Other sessions are highly emotional and once I nearly burned our office building down doing a healing ritual with a client during which we burned pieces of paper she’d written on. We are also known for working with “Type A” clients.

I’m most proud of our team right now. Everyone pitches in. Everyone cares deeply about clients.

Everyone is super dedicated to learning more.

What sets us apart is that we go beyond the mainstream insurance model of healthcare.

We educate clients and offer them healthy options they may not have considered before.

I’m especially interested in promoting our genetic analysis services more as I think it’s cutting edge and the wave of the future for all types of healthcare.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Good and bad. I have certainly had good luck at times and was able to get a free office for 6 months when I first started the company, which is pretty unique and amazing. I’ve also been lucky enough to attract the incredible employees who are on our current team.

Bad luck has come more in the form of problems dealing with BlueCrossBlueShield.

They have accidentally removed me from my own company’s contract for 3.5 months due to an administrative error on their end when I changed my Tax ID # and formed and S-Corp . . . and I wasn’t paid from them during this time (until the error was fixed).

They have also removed my whole company from the Blue Choice network on accident, which took about 8 months to fix. And now they have taken 5+ months to add me back to the group contract when they quoted 30-45 days and once again I’m not being paid during this time. I also have 2 new employees who have been waiting 4+ months to be added to the network.

I’ve also had some bad luck when an employee quit and solicited another employee with her.

What I had to realize is that this is what I signed up for as an entrepreneur. There is no smooth path as an entrepreneur. Your thresholds for stress have to change if you’re going to make it, but it’s kind of cool when you find yourself not being phased by things that would freak other people out.

Pricing:

  • Genetic Analysis $450 for interpretation report and 1.5 hour review session (phone/skype or in-person)
  • Psychotherapy $165/hr for clinically licensed therapists, $130 for initial licensed therapists, $35 for master’s level intern.
  • Yoga Therapy, Intuitive Development, New Moms, Self-Care: $35 for single. $150 for 5-pack (can mix and match different groups)
  • Health Coaching $165/hr
  • Corporate Wellness = custom quotes
  • Running Group or Meditation Group: $20 for single or $75 for 5-pack (can mix and match)

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Heather Shannon

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