People With Epilepsy Can Start A Business During A Pandemic

           I have barely any money. I have epilepsy. & soon I’ll have… a business?     

You read that right. On Jan 9th, 2020. I will be launching my business, Woofie Pie™ and I couldn’t be more… freakin’… nervous!

2020 has been a hard year for us all and I want to acknowledge that. I’ll write more about the year, it’s ups and downs and struggles and how people with epilepsy have survived it in a future post but I want to take this time to talk about something specific and positive that has sprouted from this year, which is that I finally took the necessary steps to launch my own business.

I have always been an entrepreneur at heart. When I was about five years old my brother and I set up our back yard as a “carnival” and charged the neighbors a fee to come ride our rides (aka our swing set), and play the games we had set up and talked our eldest brother into running. We even had prizes for the games, consisting of old toys we no longer played with, and freshly made lemonade and popcorn for sale. I think we made roughly $5 total in the day. It wasn’t much but it was enough to light the entrepreneur fire under my butt.

With the epilepsy diagnosis however I was unsure what that meant for the business builder within me. How could I start a company when I had no idea if I would live to see the next day? I was reading a lot about SUDEP when I was first diagnosed and it sent me down a dark path. Here I am though, ten years post diagnosis and I’m doing it. I’m starting a business!

The business is Woofie Pie™ and you can learn all about it here. It is a specialty dog treat company inspired by my dog Winnie and based off of the New England traditional confection the Whoopie Pie.

The beauty of this business, given my epilepsy is that I can run it completely from the comfort of my own home. Food regulations allow pet treats like mine to be prepared in home kitchens and although I would love to own a bakery/storefront one day, currently the most affective and efficient way for me to get my products to the pups who will love them is through online sales. I never need to be more than ten feet from my bed, which is the place I go when I feel a seizure coming on.

Woofie Pie™ is currently in the fundraising stage to help the cover costs that I will need to launch the business successfully but the recipes are good to go. They are dog tested and dog-parent approved.

Building this business has not only been good for my entrepreneurial self but it’s helped with my daily epilepsy battle as well. Crafting the recipes has been such a good brain exercise, helping to combat the brain atrophy I worry about from my medications. Plus, building the fundraising campaign and promotional assets has brought me so much joy. I haven’t had this much fun starting a project since when I started this blog. I have received so many cute videos from friends and family like these

You can help Hoss gets his heckin’ Woofie here.

and numerous people have contributed to my IndieGoGo campaign. Every time I receive one of these videos or a get a contribution it brings a bit of light to even some of 2020’s darker days. Having this project to work on has really given me something to look forward to, to keep my mind from sinking into the anxiety of this year paired with the sadness I feel whenever I think about how I still have breakthrough seizures even though I was diagnosed over ten years ago.

It can be easy, when the dark thoughts creep in, to fall into them and I 100% recommend allowing yourself to be with your feelings as long as you don’t get trapped inside them. Having a project (even something as seemingly silly as dog treats) is like having a rope to help pull you out from the dark depths of those thoughts and feelings when you begin to feel lost in them.

Occasionally, when I would sink this year, I would get an alert for a deadline I had set for myself, or a contribution from an IndieGoGo patron, or a mention of my brand @originalwoofiepie on Instagram by someone who had shared a photo or video of their adorable dog. Getting these reminders spotting a rope when you’re stuck in the bottom of a well. These moments were reminders to get out of bed or wherever I was moping at the time and get back to work on the business.

The act of baking these dog treats is also therapeutic for me. It reminds me that I am more than just my epilepsy and that even though I may not have full control of my seizures yet, I have control in the kitchen and that’s something.

You don’t have to necessarily start a business to develop these tools for building strength in your journey with epilepsy. Perhaps there is a hobby you have always wanted to take up. Something you can create, with measurable achievable goals. Knitting or learning a new language are great examples of this. To gain the same benefits as I have felt during my business building process, I recommend sharing your goal with others, and setting alarms or notifications to remind yourself to keep at it. For something like knitting, you can set an alarm in your phone to go off every couple of days to encourage you to pick the project up, and post your progress on social media. With language learning, there are apps like duoLingo, which will send reminders to your email and/or phone, as well as give you congratulatory notices for reaching different milestones in your learning.

If you do have a business idea you’ve been dreaming of pursuing but you are always finding reasons for why now isn’t the time to start (like I did for so long myself), just go for it! We have a lot of lessons to learn for 2020 but one major take away from the year is that we have no idea what tomorrow will look like. If you have a dream or activity that brings you joy and breaks you free from the weight of epilepsy when you do it there is no time like the present to start!

If you do have a business dream and you want to talk to someone who has decided to start a business with barely any money during what is statistically probably the worst time since the Great Depression, shoot me an email at epilepticexplorer@gmail.com or DM me on Instagram @epilepticexplorer. I would love to provide any help that I can on your own epilepsy business building adventure.