Karen Podesta - Mountbatten Program

Karen Podesta

Karen Podesta

Entrepreneurial Alumni

Program:  New York

Intake:  January 1999

Current Role: Founder, More Love Yoga


I’d love to offer Mountbatten Alumni a 15% discount on any of my online programs. Visit www.moreloveyoga.com for more details. I also offer a free 30 minute consultation call to anyone interested in starting holistic life-coaching with me.

Describe your business and your role within it

More Love Yoga offers holistic classes, workshops and retreats to support your mind, body and spirit. I founded More Love Yoga in 2016 after receiving my 200hr Yoga Alliance certification. Over the years, More Love’s offer has expanded from local yoga classes to online sessions in meditation and energy work, exciting collaborations with other wellbeing providers, and more recently, I qualified as a Holistic Life Coach and Mind-Body Practitioner, empowering my clients to create lasting change, fulfil their potential and live lives that they love.

How did you get into this line of business?

It’s been a very long road! I’ve always been someone who follows my gut instinct – from reading a magazine article about Mountbatten and applying within 24 hours, to leaving well paid corporate jobs to set up on my own. My background is actually in events – I started as Events & Membership Coordinator for AESC during my time in New York, and upon leaving moved to London.

My time at Mountbatten really boosted my ‘can-do’ attitude and became such a talking point at interviews. I temped and project managed for a while, before landing my dream job on the London Film Festival team, where I worked on and off for the next 8 years. During this time, I also produced the British Animation Awards, managed and curated events at the British Library and Wellcome Collection, managed press-junkets in Iceland and Spain for Twentieth Century Fox, and produced conferences for EMAP.

As I turned 30, I took a year out to travel, following which I listened to my instinct and moved back to Liverpool. My entire career to date had existed away from home, so I really felt like I was starting from scratch! After a bit of soul-searching, I co-founded my own events company Little Atom Productions whilst working full time in a marketing job, and after a couple of years both my co-founder and I were able to make the leap and focus on the business full time. We worked mostly with charities to produce launches, conferences and fundraising events, but our most well-known work was our own production The In Conversation Series, where we welcomed guests such as Stephen Graham, David Morrissey, Paul McGann and Lynda La Plante to be interviewed and see their favourite music played live on stage. They were completely magical events that ran for over six years, but were financially very difficult to sustain.

On the corporate side, the economic climate was starting to make events a luxury rather than a necessity for local businesses, and we lost a lot of clients in a short space of time due to them having to reconsider their budgets. With heavy hearts, we eventually wound down the business, and feeling like I’d hit a bit of a rock-bottom, I used yoga as my recovery. I was completely fascinated with how the mind-body connection was so healing, and my journey into all things holistic and spiritual took over from there. I found myself working in a corporate fashion job to make ends meet, but at the same time I co-founded Make Space CIC which allowed me to combine my love of events and wellbeing to work with inspirational guest speakers and lead workshops and retreats.

After having spent a very long time as a freelancer, it was great to suddenly have a steady income and have the resources to fund my yoga teacher training, life-coach training, hire a coach of my own and work on projects such as Make Space – but at the same time being in a role that didn’t feel true to my authentic self was slowly breaking my spirit. I finally handed in my notice in February 2019, left at the end of May, and have been working a couple of days a week on freelance cultural projects to top-up my income.

How did you go about setting it up and getting established?

More Love Yoga was born and existed alongside my other roles for at least three years. Initially, I really only formalized it in order to secure the business name! Things like branding, strategy, my website and marketing all seemed to develop organically over time, and when I had the time. As soon as I handed in my notice, I knew I had to pull together a more formalized strategy and 12-month plan. My life-coaching training included a business module which ensured that I completed a business plan and developed ideas for upcoming courses. This was incredibly helpful and really helped me focus on the year ahead.

At the moment, my life-coaching services are operating separately under Karen Podesta Holistic Coaching, but I’m also running workshops that combine coaching, yoga and meditation. I’ll be working with a branding expert this summer to cohesively combine, brand and market everything I’m doing, as well as building my strategy for 2021 and beyond.

From a marketing perspective, until recently I relied on local networks and word of mouth. More recently, Instagram, Facebook, partnerships and my growing list of class and workshop attendees have been such a catalyst for getting my name out there.

What else is in the pipeline?

I’ve just launched my new online 12-week group-coaching program RESET which starts in early March. This will be a journey of powerful change for participants to get clear on their vision, bust through limiting beliefs, explore the science behind stress and the magic of the mind-body connection. Group coaching is such a great way to dip your toes into working with a coach and is particularly powerful as you have a whole community of support around you.

I’ll also be delivering my stress management course, BREATHE in businesses across the UK – this focuses on mindset, meditation and movement tools for the workplace. If you’d like me to deliver BREATHE at your business, get in touch!

Locally I have upcoming wellbeing workshops with Hedge Arts, Mindless Mag and The Reader. If you’re in Liverpool do come along!

What has been the proudest moment in your working life thus far?

Three particular moments come to mind.

1) Walking up 5th Avenue to my first day as a Mounbatten intern (until torrential rain hit and most of my carefully-planned outfit ended up on AESC’s radiator!)
2) Standing on stage in front of 500-strong audiences to introduce the In Conversation Series and hearing audiences, interviewees and musicians say they’d had one of the best nights of their lives.
3) Every time one of my wellbeing or coaching clients tells me that my work has had a powerful and healing effect on them.

What has been your biggest mistake/learning experience?

My biggest learning experience was Little Atom Productions. We worked incredibly hard and had some amazing successes but the incredible momentum of everything took our focus away from business strategy and financial forecasts. I feel like we may have lasted a little longer, or been a bit more prepared for the end had we done so, but at the same time, don’t regret a minute of it!

Who are your role models?

Women whose passion, work ethic, authenticity, care for humanity and genuine mission of wellness are apparent in everything they do. Brene Brown, Cleo Wade, Ailsa Vitti, Adriene Mishler, Dr Tererai Trent, Donna Eden, Reese Witherspoon, Gabby Bernstein…my list is endless and I’m so grateful that these and other women are out there following their calling. I’m so inspired by them, and also by so many of my friends who are out there following their passions, despite what a complete rollercoaster it can be!

Any words of advice/wisdom would you impart to others thinking of setting up their own business?

Self-care is absolutely essential. Starting your own business has so many ups and downs, not to mention a succession of long working days when you’re getting things up and running. It’s very easy to let looking after ourselves fall to the bottom of our to-do lists. Scheduling in a run, swim or gym session a couple of times a week should become a priority, and yoga and meditation a non-negotiable daily practice. I advise my clients to ‘stop and drop’ onto a yoga mat whenever they need it – even if it’s just for 10 minutes stillness and silence. Your improved clarity and focus, memory, confidence and positive attitude will thank you for it!