Julie Montagu’s positive outlook and upbeat personality is infectious (no Dr required!) – it’s no wonder she has taken the wellness world by storm. We catch up with her at the launch of her third book, Superfoods Superfast, to get her advice for like-minded entrepreneurs.
Can you give us an introduction of how you entered the world of wellness and what you have since gone on to do?
I started my path into the wellness world just after my husband became ill. With four young children, a sick husband and my mood and energy levels depleted, I knew I needed to do something, and that’s really where my journey into yoga and healthy eating began. I wanted to not only feed my husband healthy food (and perhaps even foods that cure!) but I wanted my children to be fed foods that would help their moods as well, because when you have an ailing family member you can feel quite low.
Fast forward nearly eight years and my husband is nearly 100% better, my kids are well, albeit eight years older (I even have an 18-year-old!) and all four kids have really taken to making sure they eat well most of the time. I’ve published three books: two cookbooks and one wellness book and am lucky enough to share my passion for wellness, yoga and healthy eating on an American reality TV show (Ladies of London) that I am a cast member of – we are in the midst of filming season 3.
You have created a hugely successful business with lots of different elements – from your yoga classes to your merchandise, your books, DVDs and blog to your partnerships – how do you decide which projects to take on? And do you have any advice for other like-minded entrepreneurs?
My business really just started with yoga (Julie now teaches at Grace, Belgravia and Triyoga in London, plus runs numerous yoga retreats) and I hadn’t really planned for it to expand into so many other passions of mine, but it just goes to show that when you’re super passionate about some thing(s), you can’t help but want to grow that business and that passion.
My advice for other like-minded entrepreneurs is this: At the start of building your business(es) – do everything. Take every chance, write blogs for other people, give free yoga classes and just never say NO. That’s what I did and it’s really paid off because now that my business is more established, as is my brand, I get asked to do and write and participate a lot more than I used to, which means that I can now choose what projects to take on. But again, it wasn’t always like that, which is a good thing! It is because of the fact that I just wanted to do anything and everything – and most of it for free – at the start of my career that my brand was really able to build and thrive.
At the start of building your business(es) – do everything. Take every chance, write blogs for other people, give free yoga classes and just never say NO.
One of your main decisions to join the ‘Ladies of London’ TV programme was to promote your business. How important is self-promoting your work and have you learnt any key strategies or top tips along the way?
I always think that promoting my business is just the same as promoting my passions, so the TV show has really helped me get the word out about the benefits of yoga, healthy eating, mindfulness and wellness. When I read comments from some of my followers who have found me through the show and they’re telling me that I’ve helped them seek a healthier lifestyle, it makes me feel so good and that it has all been worth it.
I think a key strategy is engaging with your followers on social media – that in itself can really make someone’s day so I try to sit down each evening and go through my posts and comment back, re-tweet and really engage and listen to my followers. It’s worth it as you can really touch people’s lives for the better.
I think a key strategy is engaging with your followers on social media – that in itself can really make someone’s day so I try to sit down each evening and go through my posts and comment back, re-tweet and really engage and listen to my followers.
If you could go back in time, is there anything you would do differently? Or are there any key lessons you have learnt from?
Bizarrely, I wouldn’t go back in time to change a thing because the things that I, at some point, wished I had done differently has, in the end, taught me valuable lessons. I look at life like this… when you’re in a dark place or having a very hard time, or things just aren’t great at that moment in your life, those ‘things’ pave way for an opportunity for you to work on yourself – to grow, to learn, to even teach others! And for me, it’s the lessons from my mistakes that have taught me the most about myself.
Your new book Superfoods Superfast is out this month. How does it differ from your previous two books, and what new challenges did you face in writing it? Did you approach it in a new or different way?
My new book, Superfoods Superfast, is the follow up to my first cookbook, Superfoods. In Superfoods, the cookbook was about cooking with every day whole foods and pointing out the fact that these whole foods – such as mushrooms, brown rice and even radishes – have super nutrients to feed one’s body and are, in my book, super foods. So this next cookbook is a follow up, but it’s different in that it’s… FAST!
Listen, I’m a crazy, on-the-go, mother of four and to be honest, I don’t have a lot of time to cook meals that take a long to prepare (one day, I hope!) and so this book stems from the fast meals that I not only cook for myself but for my four children. This book is all about the busy person, who thinks that cooking has to take forever to taste good and to feel good. I show them that you can cook delicious, nutrient-packed, super food recipes that are so good for your body, mind and spirit and they take 20 minutes or less.