We had the good fortune of connecting with Vanya Francis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Vanya, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
Cherished Life Yoga + Wellness was birthed from my personal passions, and recognizing there was a void in the yoga and wellness industry I could fill. My passion for holistic wellness started with yoga and later expanded to include holistic health coaching, wellness products and doula services. They all work in tandem. In talking with yoga students about the importance of wellness for mind, body, and spirit, I also wanted to be able to educate them on nutrition and lifestyle factors. After supporting clients during pregnancy with yoga and health coaching for nearly a decade, I made the leap to also include doula services, allowing me to provide the same holistic care I offer throughout pregnancy during birth and beyond.
What should our readers know about your business?
Cherished Life is a boutique yoga and wellness company, offering compassionate care and holistic wellness for self-identified women and mother-to-be. My primary services include Pre and Postnatal Yoga, Holistic Birth Doula support and Holistic Health Coaching. My signature wellness product, Cherished Tea, is an herbal organic ready-made iced tea for periods, pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond. Originally designed to support a healthy pregnancy and improve recovery after birth, Cherished Tea offers a high dose of essential vitamins that boost health for every body, and is great for the whole family.
Cherished Life’s holistic services, which address the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of preparing for pregnancy and birth, set it apart from other businesses offering yoga, doula support or health coaching. Most companies typically offer one of these services. Cherished Life offers all three.
Additionally, there are only a handful of yoga instructors specializing in Prenatal Yoga, and even fewer BIPOC yoga instructors focused on servicing communities who otherwise might not have an interest in or exposure to the benefits of yoga for pregnancy and childbirth.
In addition to my work at Cherished Life, I’m really proud to serve as the Yoga and Meditation instructor at Spelman College (my alma mater) where I introduce students to yoga and meditation techniques with the goal of helping them understand the relationship between the mind and body, promote mindfulness and health, and reduce stress.
I’m most excited about my new online yoga and wellness community dedicated to nurturing and uplifting holistic well-being during preconception, pregnancy, postpartum and beyond. For a nominal monthly fee, you can join my membership-based platform and take advantage of online weekly classes, workshops and special events designed to help members live a Cherished Life. I’m also excited about growing awareness and expanding distribution nationwide for Cherished Teas, which is currently only local to Atlanta.
Above all else I am a mother. My children, ages 13 and 4 are my greatest teachers and serve as the inspiration for everything I do.
I worked in marketing and business development for Cartoon Network Enterprises at Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta for seven years before the company downsized and I was laid off. I always say that the lay off was a gift from the Universe because without it, I don’t know if I ever would have tested the waters of entrepreneurship. It took me a year and a half to determine my next move. I launched my first yoga and wellness company, Om Point Yoga, with a friend and business partner in 2013. Cherished Life emerged in 2016 when my business partner and I went separate ways and my vision evolved to focus on pregnancy and birth.
It has taken a lot of trial and error to get where I am today. While my grandfather and great-grandparents were entrepreneurs, no one in my immediate family is a business owner. I grew up believing having a successful career meant working for someone else. There were very few examples for me to model myself after. Entrepreneurship can be lonely and often uncertain. That’s why it has been important for me to seek out other entrepreneurs and communities that contribute positively to the new narrative I’m writing for myself. Staying connected to spaces that advocate for and actively provide multi-level support for both my personal and professional development like The Lola, a womxn’s club and community, and my spiritual community have been critical to my success. Also, knowing my strengths and weaknesses, asking for help when needed, and honoring my capacity to give are personal practices for self-preservation.
Having a professional background in marketing and business development means I can comfortably take on multiple roles within my business. However, I’ve learned that just because I can, doesn’t mean I should. Recently, I’ve invested in a business coach, hired affordable graphic design assistance and have mentors that provide compassionate accountability for where I am in the life cycle of my business. Support, support, support! That’s how I’ve learned to overcome challenges. I know that if left to my own devices, I’ll be paralyzed by perfection every time. So, I’ve made it a priority to put the necessary resources in place to ensure my success.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo is one of my favorite books. The story is “an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts”. One of my favorite quotes from that book is “The Universe is always conspiring in your favor”, and a personal mantra is “Thoughts become things. Choose good ones.” Both of these remind me that we were born to win and we all have the power to create our realities, if we believe it. I’ve suffered significant losses over the years as I’ve worked to build Cherished Life. Each of those challenges have been alchemized for my own healing and growth through focused intention, deliberate effort, and grace.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Pre-COVID, I would have been able to answer this question with no problem. Now, it’s a bit more challenging because my outings have been limited. With that in mind, we might grab a Rose Cardamom cappuccino and cupcake from Kupcakerie in East Point, or a Lavender Latte from just add honey tea co.’ before taking a stroll on the Beltline. For lunch, we would grab a kale wrap from Tassili’s Raw Reality, followed by an excursion for the kids at Kefi in the afternoon. For dinner, we would order my favorite Thai food from Spoon Eastside (delivery of course, because they no longer offer in-person dining. When they did, it was a lovely, quaint dining experience conveniently located in East Atlanta.) We would definitely work in a virtual yoga class with Octavia Raheem and a Segway Tour of Atlanta. On Sunday, we might grab brunch from Dulce Vegan before picking up a gift while perusing Happy Mango.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to Shoutout my doula mentor and founder of InnerLight Holistic Prenatal & Birth Doula Services, Shaconna Haley. Shaconna has over 24 years of experience working with women and girls’ transitions, reproductive empowerment and life coaching. Her community work with InnerLight began in the DC Metro Area as a strategic empowerment consultant and rights of passages specialist, addressing women’s issues and diversity-inclusion with emphasis on mentoring and holistic reproductive and maternal wellness. She is also responsible for training and guiding countless other doulas in the Atlanta area.
Chanda Williams, The Birth Story Collective Tafari Melisizwe, The Indigenous Lens Photographic Arts DV Photo Video