Name: Emilie Vrain
Course: Environmental Sciences
Tell us more about Fasting Friends
Fasting Friends is a business developed to offer week-long fasting retreats for small groups of up to twelve people in the beautiful South West countryside of England. Our retreats provide clients with luxury accommodation in the stunning Cotswold, guided hikes, stretching exercise sessions, meditation, evening nutrition workshops and a supervised fasting detox diet. The supported fasting experience provided is based upon the ideas of German Dr. Otto Buchinger (https://www.buchinger-wilhelmi.com/). The small group environment provides additional support and builds friendships, whilst the unique addition of hiking in the scenic countryside enables participants to enjoy the fresh air, increase endorphins, train their legs and lungs and connect with nature.
Internationally, fasting has become increasingly popular, with numerous clubs, clinics and retreats used for fasting experiences under supervision. The combination of fasting and hiking, introduced by Christof Michel, is especially in vogue on the continent but does not currently exist in the UK. The purpose of Fasting Friends is to offer clients this unique experience in the UK, assist them through the journey of physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing and provide a truly priceless experience and health advantage.
How did UEA Student Enterprise help you?
UEA Enterprise has been priceless in providing business advice right from the start. The team has helped bounce ideas around for designing the business strategy and enhanced progress with marketing and business promotion.
What worries did you have while setting up your business, and how did you overcome them?
The biggest concern was whether it would be successful. I would question myself ‘is there appetite in the UK for such retreats? And will it be as popular as it is in the rest of Europe?’ There was only one way to find out, and that was by taking a leap of faith and giving it a go. With a good marketing strategy in place these worries will disappear and we can successfully fill our first retreat in May, 2017.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business rather than look for work elsewhere?
I wanted to be able to provide people in the UK with something that I personally found so beneficial to health. As no other providers exist in the UK that I could go and work for the only way to offer fasting/hiking retreats would be to start a new business, gain the right qualifications and offer the services.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to become a successful entrepreneur?
Determination, willingness to ride an emotional rollercoaster, optimism.
What motivates you?
That’s a tough one. Seeing happy people motivates me to try and make people happy.
How do you define success?
Achieving what you set out to do no matter what that goal was.
Where did your funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? Was UEA part of this?
Personal investment from savings I accumulated during my years as a student. I have always had a part time job whilst studying, even whilst doing my PhD and not being a big spender myself wanted to use my savings to try something I’m passionate about. I am currently looking to try and raise further funds to help with the start-up costs.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
When we received our first booking on our first retreat earlier this month.
What piece of advice would you give to university students who want to become entrepreneurs?
Just do it or you’ll always be wondering ‘what if?’.