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When you walk into Lotus, you are greeted by warmth; a warm smile, a warm embrace, and a warm energy.
It started as a dream for Mary Clare (MC) Sweet, almost ten years ago, of opening up a place where all of her “friends and future friends would come together, hangout, feel love, and feel that hippie vibration of freedom, flow and love” and it has happened alongside her business partner and best friend Chaeli Buda.
Together, these two girl bosses have built not only a business, but a community for people to express their truest self.
I was fortunate enough and overly ecstatic to sit down with MC and Chaeli, and get to learn how Lotus came to be.
“Lotus is based on acceptance for exactly who you are. The weirder you are, the better. We want you to fly your freak flag. We want your truest colors to shine. When you are your truest self, you are your strongest self.” - MC
the name, comes from two places:
The first part.
“The seed of a Lotus plants itself deep within the mud of the river banks and it has to push up out of the mud, and it takes tremendous force and determination. When it bursts up to the surface it looks for the light streaming into the river, once it breaks past the surface of the water it blooms into a Lotus. That whole journey is very emblematic of our journey as women, business owners, yoga teachers, and humans in the world.” - MC
The second part comes from a dance club in New York called Lotus that MC went to that had an amazing atmosphere and vibes.
“The first part is a little more relevant, but in a way, Puff Daddy has a little bit to do with it.” – MC
Fruition – the point at which a plan or project is realized
For Chaeli, her dream of opening up a shop that incorporated all the things she loved like plants, flowers, and yoga came into fruition when MC approached her with the idea of opening up a yoga studio.
“The visions that you have that excite you in your life, hold true to those, remember what they are, know what they are. Where you see yourself, how magical or far away they seem, don’t let that concern you because if you have that vision, it will come into fruition. How the universe works is, the path that you take to get there is going to look way different than you thought it would be. The universe works in such mysterious ways, but as long as you have that vision, it will come into fruition…let go of the path to get there and enjoy the journey.” – MC
With this in mind, for all you budding entrepreneurs, dreamers, and people constantly hustling (working hard); let your strengths help you accomplish your vision. Realize your strengths, embrace them, and nurture them.
When it comes to your visions, of the future, career, life, or whatever brings you happiness, make sure to take time to realize exactly what they are.
For MC and Chaeli, they do so through vision boards. At the start of the year, they make vision boards with their best friend Erin, put them aside, and at the end of the year they reflect on all of the things that came into fruition.
When I asked if they kept their vision boards Chaeli responded by saying: “You can’t attach to the past… The more that you can allow yourself or open yourself up, the more you can receive as well.” Which is a very good point. If you are stuck in the past, you can never fully move forward or open yourself up to new ideas, ventures, or experiences.
Letting go to let other plans come into fruition has always been an important aspect of how MC and Chaeli run Lotus. When it comes to relationships MC notes: “When you feel like relationships are moving apart, don’t be afraid to let those go, but make sure to wish them all the best and more success than they can imagine. Keep sending vibrations of success to them.”
Wish them all the best. No matter what kind of relationship it is, personal or professional, whether you are working together directly or indirectly, it is so important to keep rooting for one another. At the end of the day, we are all people striving for success and happiness. We must always remember, that just because something didn’t work out, there is something better out there for you.
Chaeli related this all to yoga where this experience happens when you become aware and are able to “sit in the seat of our own self” and recognize and process an event in your life and be able to let it go. “We are letting go to open ourselves back up to receive whatever else is coming our way.”
To bring it full circle. Chaeli relates the power of letting things go to how Lotus was able to open itself up to a partnership with beyourself. She looks back on talking about an idea with MC of having someone use their space, Lotus, for clothing after shifting away from it. Three months later, beyourself came along. In a sense, it was kismet that two companies, focused on empowering individuals and connecting with our truest self through our minds and bodies, were able to come together to form this powerful force. This goes to show how crazy the universe works and we must open ourselves up to new ideas and business ventures; let go of the past and past opportunities that didn’t work out the best.
When it comes to new business ventures, Lotus has never been afraid of innovation. These two women take on new opportunities openly and with excitement. What started as a yoga studio blossomed into a community that has been fostering growth, acceptance, and empowerment through their offerings of spin, barre, pilates, workshops, and cafés.
“In reality, yoga is so much more than poses…For us, yoga is our lifestyle. Yoga influences how we do our business, it influences how we interact with our staff and faculty, and it is completely the model for how we teach spin. It is the yoga mentality, philosophy, spirituality in a dance club with stationary spin bikes. It is the same for our barre and pilates classes and we have cafes that are all based on healing and sharing high vibrational super foods that are meant to make you feel more like yourself. So, yoga influences everything we do. We are not afraid to try new things...It will not only lead to their growth (the Lotus staff and faculty), our student’s growth, but the growth of our studio.” – MC
Even with all of these new business ventures and projects in the works, MC and Chaeli make note of having time for themselves, their friends and family, but they look at finding that balance in a different manner.
“Balance is a function of being a human. If you are perfectly balanced between all of the elements of your life, you wouldn’t really be existing anymore because in every moment there is going to be a priority. That is why it’s so important to have a vision for your life and for your year because when you know what your priorities are, you know where you need to be taking time and space.” – MC
“We all have an infinite amount of energy inside us always, but when we start to feel a certain way, like we are out of balance or out of control then little by little that energy starts to decrease and we forget how to access it again….It’s about losing the attachment to what we think things should look like in your life and just know what works for you. That’s what’s gotten me to the place of balance.”
“When you are wishing to be somewhere else, that’s when you feel out of balance, but when you can concentrate on what you are doing, when you are doing it, you are actually going to feel more balanced than if your schedule was perfectly proportion in every area of your life.”
What qualities do you want people to associate with your brand? When people think of Lotus, what do you want them to think of?
“ When people think of Lotus, I want them to think of joy, kindness, empowerment, and acceptance. Because I believe that we were sent here to feel joy, I believe that when we feel joy internally we are able to serve our communities and the people around us. When you feel joy, you are able to share that joy with everyone around you....I want people to feel accepted exactly as they are, no matter what body they are in, no matter what they identify with or where they came from. You are going to be seen with eyes of love and eyes of acceptance and complete excitement that you are here. I want people to feel empowered by that acceptance and that they have a community that loves and accepts and empowers them.” – MC
Do you have one piece of advice for women who are trying to get into the business world/climb higher in the corporate ladder or start their own business?
“The mentor part is huge…The better relationships that I can have, the more that I can spark up conversations with whoever it may be, the networking side of things…it’s not being afraid of going up to people and it’s not necessarily for wanting to get something out of it, but you start to learn that connecting with people is another great opportunity for you to grow as a leader in the community and to get to a different place when it comes to sharing what you are trying to bring.” – Chaeli
“Surround yourself and fill your Instagram feed (or any other social media platform) with women you aspire to be like. However, stay on your own grind and stay on your own hustle. At the end of the day, when those struggles happen, when those challenges come up, you and you alone are going to be the one turning on Madonna and getting yourself psyched to attack and overcome and be successful… You’ve got to build that empowerment inside of you.” –MC
With the Winter Olympics in full swing, MC relates this to Mirai Nagasu, the first American woman who landed a triple axel at the Olympics, who said that during her Olympic performance she stumbled in the beginning, but then totally committed and just went for it. This being a perfect analogy for everything we go through in life.
“You might be stumbling a little bit, you might be making a few little bobbles and mistakes here and there, but you’ve just got to throw your whole body into it and go for it.” – MC
When it comes to quality versus quantity for any business venture, relationship or in life, MC and Chaeli have a different way of looking at it.
“When you are present the quality is there. And you don’t have to small talk.” – MC
“When you have the chance to connect with somebody and really get to know them or what they have to offer, its completely different from just asking them ‘hey, how was your day?’" - Chaeli
What does being yourself mean to you?
“Being yourself truly means that you are not going to do something that doesn’t feel right, or good, or in alignment with how you want to feel. We all deserve to feel how we want to feel.” – Chaeli
She related that to a saying by their friend, Jason Bowman which is “Whatever you do, do it with purpose.”
“To be yourself, means to know yourself and you have to prioritize your relationship with yourself to know yourself. I have respected beyourself as long as it’s been in business. I have always been a fangirl of the idea and the brand and for me it was one of the first brands or companies that had a mission and purpose behind it. To beyourself is to know yourself and develop that relationship. Yoga is the best way to do that. When you are on your mat you are in a room of high vibrational people, but it is all about connecting with yourself. The more you know yourself, the more you are going to beyourself in this world and the less fear you will have around fitting in, because this world, this life is about developing your unique sense of self and then celebrating the uniqueness and differences amongst everyone else.” –MC
While we were having this conversation, I mentioned that it really came down to respect. Respect for yourself and respect for other people. It is about keeping an open mind about other people’s beliefs and about keeping an open mind about who we are. We should never doubt ourselves or try to change who we are to please other people.
“That is what Namaste means, I honor the light in me that honors the light in you.” – Chaeli
Chaeli and MC, thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for creating a space that welcomes everyone and being true to yourselves.
With so much love, gratitude, and excitement for the journey ahead, I hope all of you beautiful souls have an amazing day. Thank you for reading and always being yourselves.
Almost Music and Coneflower Creamery; two locally owned shops that bring character to the Blackstone District.
Almost Music has been around Omaha since 2013 when they first opened their doors in Benson. In 2016, they made the move to the Blackstone District, offering the area a great selection of vinyl’s and an array of books. Owner, Brad Smith, said that he started collecting vinyl when he was younger. His early love for vinyl mixed with being a partner at a different record/book store was the reasoning behind why he wanted to open Almost Music.
What is so great about the store is the authenticity of it. Right when you walk in, you see all of these amazing records that you cannot help, but look at. Whether you are an avid music lover or you just want to look at some really awesome cover art, Almost Music is definitely a cool place to check out.
After you’ve made a trip to Almost Music, it would be a crime not to go to Coneflower Creamery (which is right next door). It could be freezing outside and I would still be in the mood to get ice cream at Coneflower. I am not the only one that would attest to that because there is usually a line out the door every single night since the shop’s opening in.
All ice cream is made from scratch in-store and the flavors change regularly with the exception of their signatures. Every time I go, which is at least once a week, I try a new flavor and I will admit, there has not been a time that I do not like what I get. When you have to choose between Toasted Pistachio, Archetype Coffee, Saffron & Roasted White Chocolate, Vegan Golden Milk, Cranberry & Toasted Irish Brown Bread, and Pumpkin Cheesecake with Espresso Caramel sauce to name a few options, it makes it tough to pick just one! One of the best parts about Coneflower is, they like to partner with local businesses to make some of their ice cream flavors; the Archetype Coffee ice cream is made out of the espresso from the Archetype Coffee Shop and there has also been an ice cream made out of the baklava from a local Greek restaurant, Feta’s.