Updated: October 14, 2020 10:51 PM
Created: October 14, 2020 10:39 PM
Katie Quade is a healer, especially during the pandemic.
"People are... craving this connection," she says. "They're just stuck at home, and they can't get out."
Quade is the owner of Minnesota-based Balanced Roots Retreats, a business that empowers women by arranging and coordinating immersive retreats.
Right now, she stays connected with her clients and business partners by going virtual, five hours a day.
"Even if it's online, just seeing faces, and being able to talk about things that are really hard, or things that are going on, it's just been so beneficial to so many women," Quade says.
Pivoting to an online business model wasn't always her plan. COVID-19 concerns, including government-mandated safety rules, changed everything.
"I started the business in February of 2020," she recalls. "As we know, [COVID-19] hit in March, when everything was shut down."
With a client list of 50, and an Instagram following of 500, Quade's business of creating lifestyle retreats no longer has large-scale group sessions.
Instead, safe-distancing, or virtual, is the way to go, she says.
"I think a lot of people are feeling empty, they're feeling stuck, they feeling anxious," Quade said. "I think going into winter in Minnesota, people are feeling especially anxious."
But how to keep her fledgling operation going?
Quade had to ask herself some hard questions during the shutdown.
"What do I have to do next, and how am I going to get there?" she remembers thinking. "What am I going to do with this business, how am I going to keep it running?"
She began a journal and meditation course that remains ongoing.
During the summer, she started in-person, half-day retreats, using only small groups, adhering to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) regulations.
It appears yoga, meditation and shared connections all seem to make more sense now than ever.
"A little bit of sanity maintenance maybe?" Sammie Holden, one of Quade's clients was asked.
"For sure, (laughs), talking to someone other than myself right now," she replied.
Holden agreed to speak with KSTP virtually, on Quade's laptop.
She says she loves the sessions that Quade helps to coordinate.
"Any sort of fitness routine, you expect to go out to a gym or see an instructor," Holden says. "But doing it over Zoom and online, and digitally has actually worked out pretty well."
Think about it: a pandemic, George Floyd, riots, the election... A lot going on.
"It's definitely a huge pivot because there are times like the challenges," says Ericka Jones, who's organized the Minnesota Yoga Coalition.
Jones says she's not a super fan of the virtual sessions; there are technical issues… but she agrees there are advantages.
"It has made it accessible for people, and people that may have not felt comfortable coming into a class," she notes.
Still, she'd like to see more people of color in the yoga world, digital or not, and she hopes to set up a fund to help do that.
"Providing educational resources to studio owners and teachers on how to make classrooms more inclusive, and create a sense of belonging," Jones says.
Making connections for everyone, despite all that social-distancing we're doing.
Quade is now partnered with 16 Minnesota-based, women-owned small businesses.
She says most of her digital retreats this winter will be small, between two and 10 people, using platforms like Zoom
But she adds if she can do it safely, she'd like to set up some small social-distanced events.
"Together, we can really get through this time in our world," Quade said.
Photos in story courtesy of Rachel Lea Photography.
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