Chapter written by Stacy Sullivan, Founder + CEO of Sol Sweat. Full book available for purchase at Sol Sweat.
Seeking a SOLution
Wake up! It’s the last day of the month and I have a job to do! When I sold liquor for a living, the last day of the month stressed me out. Would my team make goal? What if we didn't? At the same time, I was excited about finishing strong. An adrenaline rush kicked in, humor got us through the day, and teamwork kept us motivated. We made it happen! Then, exhaustion set in. I thought, "I need a detox—somewhere to go to calm down, rejuvenate, and breathe. Sauna take me away!"
An exciting career in big business had been a dream since I was little, wanting to follow in my dad’s footsteps. His long career with Procter & Gamble inspired me to create campaigns and promote brands I loved. I passionately absorbed the world of business—the good and the bad. I took pride in learning as many functions as possible, with a goal to be well-rounded and add value to people and corporations. As a result, I landed a series of dream jobs: an internship for a major sports team, sales promotion for prestigious publishing houses, account services and supply chain management for the biggest franchise in the world, and sales and marketing for a global luxury wine & spirits company. I valued and appreciated the freedom to choose and move forward when a new calling came.
Chicago was an amazing place to live for eighteen years—I was able to seek and find fun times, amazing business opportunities, connections, friendships, and the diverse culture of a big city I had craved my whole life. Moving to St. Louis in 2013 offered progressive career potential and, finally, the gift of living in the same city as my parents and close family. A new job and a new city were a welcome challenge. I say challenge, because it was a time in my life when my faith was being tested. Yet, I had great ambition and hope for a bright future.
The world of wine and spirits was dynamic, and I savored this demanding lifestyle choice. My priceless experiences, working with a different cast of characters every day, riding the waves of trends kept me invigorated for years. The sales director position I accepted in St. Louis promised the opportunity to be part of a newly formed division tasked with changing the male-dominated corporate culture that was swirling around liquor distribution in Missouri. I love change, and I was up for the job of leading a team to glory in unchartered territory!
While I enjoyed the friendships and fun of working with a new team, the cutthroat nature and pressure to perform at all costs took a toll on my mind and body. Within one year, I was diagnosed with cancer and was suffering from extreme burnout. The once glamourous industry started to become a blackhole for me. I used to sell beverages I loved, now shots were a priority. Fireball was a phenomenon. How could I push something I didn’t use myself? Our vice president commented it was a deal with the devil. Needing out, I promised myself I would have a new position within a year. Continuing to work hard, I believed the right opportunity would present itself in due time. Leaving gracefully and with a plan was essential. Understanding my why was crucial.
What was my true calling? Feeling brave and proud of myself for conquering many fears and learning valuable lessons along the way, I was open and determined to find my purpose. I was scared to leave a good-paying job in an industry I thrived in, but I prayed and surrendered to what was next for me. My soul was craving something fresh, as well as a healing environment. In November 2014 my stress was at an all-time high with year-end goals, the holidays being non-stop in my industry and the Ferguson verdict impacting the city. One Friday night while relaxing in the gym sauna, wishing there was a social alternative to drinking (well maybe high-end tequila and green juice could be included), as well as a healthy place to connect, I had a clear vision. Sometimes my greatest clarity comes while in my darkest hours. It was an “aha” moment.
I could not get the dream of opening a sauna business out of my mind.
Come January 2015, I was ready to make this my best year yet! The first chance I got, I took a trip to California to visit my friend, Jayme. We originally met at a temazcal ceremony during a yoga retreat in Tulum, Mexico in 2008 and became fast friends. Jayme has a nourishing spirit, and she gets me. When I confided in her about my idea, the look on her face was joyful confusion. Julie, Jayme’s friend, had just opened The Sauna Studio, and she had never heard of anyone doing that before. Me either. I only knew of Russian bathhouses, Korean spas, and a few high-end wellness resorts focused on quality sauna therapy.
After speaking to Julie and scheduling a trip to visit her in April, I was inspired to take the leap of faith and execute my idea. I created a mini-plan and strategically figured out my departure from the fascinating world of wine and spirits. I made a promise to myself that I intended to keep.
Mentally, I only had two more end-of-the months in me, so June would be my goodbye to the life that no longer served me. Still struggling to sleep due to adrenal fatigue, a stressful workplace, and fears of the financial future ahead of me, I happily counted down the days. Before I could fully enjoy a summer of self-exploration and inner-work, finishing strong in my current position was the task at hand. Float STL, Women’s Weekend with Dianna Lucas, and working with Johana Probst, a natural-born healer and shaman with a multi-dimensional energetic approach to processing life on a soul level, helped me during this transition.
Taking all my heart and grit with me, I was ready to recalibrate and live life on my own terms. Utilizing my previously acquired skills and trusting my intuition, I delighted in creating my own brand and becoming a true entrepreneur. The whole process was my own healing, my own soul sweat. Both literally and figuratively, I let go while absorbing the goodness of the Sun (Sol).
Sol Sweat, an infrared sauna studio, was open for business in November 2015. Exactly one year after that moment of pure inspiration in the gym sauna, my vision had become a reality.
Living the dream for me continued in the form of sharing my wellness journey and wisdom with others. My mission was to bridge the gap between working in survival mode with finding peace in the moments and answering to yourself.
My Facebook post was the first time I shared my story with others. It went like this…
ARE YOU READY TO RELAX? SOL SWEAT NOW OPEN!
Dear Friends and Family,
I take great pleasure in announcing that my new business, Sol Sweat, is officially open.
For years, after working in fast-paced environments, I would seek heat to relax every chance I had. From hot yoga, to vacations in the sun, to steam rooms or saunas at expensive gyms or spas---I was willing to pay anything for that feeling. My vision was to find a passive, easy-access option for myself and others to reap those same benefits at an affordable price.
This is how Sol Sweat was created---a comfortable space that was private yet accessible to sit in your own state-of-the-art infrared sauna to relax, rejuvenate, and feel radiant.
Infrared saunas are an effective tool for natural healing and prevention. Infrared light has the ability to penetrate human tissue, which in turn produces a host of anti-aging benefits for overall healthier living. The heat stimulates your cardiovascular, lymphatic, and immune systems. This produces a deep, therapeutic, perspiration, releasing toxins, burning calories, and relaxing your muscles.
If you are looking to feel better, mind, body, and spirit, Sol Sweat is for you.
From that day forward, I was dedicated to finding solutions and options for better health for myself and others. Even though I had always been curious about new ways to prevent aging and sustain my energy, healing was now my job and I was passionate about it!
Life as an entrepreneur continues to be exciting. Awareness of who I am and what my why is have never been more apparent. Every day I wake up, so thankful for all my life experiences and appreciate how it got me where I am today. What I do now will get me to tomorrow. Spreading love and good energy is my mission.
One Life, One Sol
Stacy Sullivan is an entrepreneur, zen marketer, closet comedian, and an advocate for living life as an adventure. She has swum with sharks in Belize, lived down the street from Barack Obama in Chicago, and aspired to be Wonder Woman growing up.
Experience working with innovative brands incorporating her own lifestyle was the stepping stone to founding Sol Sweat, infrared sauna studio, in 2015. Additional career highlights include launching Oprah’s Book Club as a Sales Promotions Coordinator, living in Toronto to source product for Canada's first McCafe, and sharing the fascinating story of Veuve Clicquot LaGrande Dame at Donna Karan’s Women Who Inspire dinner.
Currently, she is an avid networker and active member of the St. Louis Startup Ecosystem. A graduate of the CET Fueling Innovation Accelerator program, she continues to participate in ventures dedicated to economic growth and leadership.
Excited to share efficient ways to increase one’s energy and vitality, she is eager to learn and educate. Check out Sol Sweat and follow her as she launches Sol Seeks, a marketing platform and data dissemination utility for everything wellness.