Junhee Choi’s enthusiasm bubbles to the surface in conversation. The owner of “New Sprout,” a yoga and nutrition business, has a busy life full of challenges. “I have a passion to help people with nutrition, especially pregnant women,” says the mother of a seven-year-old daughter, Dhyana. As a registered holistic nutritionist she’s dedicated to guiding people through their stressful and demanding days, providing nutritional consultation.
Junhee’s voyage to this point in her life has had many twists and turns. She left her homeland of Korea to study English in Vancouver and traveled back and forth for several years. Although her family was enlightened in terms of women’s position in the world, she found the Korean culture stifling.
She studied Teaching English as a Foreign Language in the UK and also TESL in Canada. When her daughter was three months old, she left Korea with her husband for his hometown of River Bourgeois, Cape Breton, where he took over his father’s construction business. It was an opportunity for Dhyana to bond with her four-generation family.
After visiting family in Korea, Junhee decided to settle in Halifax instead of returning to Cape Breton. She stayed with a friend from India and taught yoga at Nubody’s as she had learned yoga in Korea based on Iyengar. Her husband moved his business to the city so they could all be together. She now works as a meditation and yoga instructor at Trena’s Studio and operates her own business as well.
I hadn’t imagined myself running a business, but I received wonderful support from ISANS.
Junhee needed help to register her business, so friends who had come to ISANS for assistance recommended she do the same. She enrolled in the ISANS pilot Immigrant Women’s Entrepreneurial Project which provides participants hands-on experience in starting and running a business. “I learned a lot of things there. I thought my brain was boiling!” Junhee appreciated the guest speakers and the opportunity for networking. “It helped me find what business I’m suited for,” she says. As a teacher, she enjoyed the opportunity to learn ways of mentoring. She also found the marketing expert particularly helpful, providing important information. “It’s easy to feel lost starting a business.”
For Junhee, the best part of the program was the friendship that grew amongst the women. “We were on the same journey and we formed our own community.”
Because of ISANS, Junhee learned business skills, including how to create and grow her spiritual practice. “I hadn’t imagined myself running a business, but I received wonderful support from ISANS.” She says she believes every step along the way is for a particular reason. And she has found a place where she can contentedly settle. “It’s really powerful. If they can change me, they can change anyone. When I think of ISANS I just wonder why I didn’t come to this place before!”