Image-empty-state.png

NAOKO PAGE AND LILY PENTLIN

Co-owners, Fluxelife LLC

Success:

Selected to be part of the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Enterprising Women of Color Business Center’s Small Business Marketing Bootcamp; marketing counseling client

Naoko Page and Lily Pentlin are former colleagues turned business partners. They met while working at ‘Ekahi Health’s Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program which helps to reverse heart disease and other chronic conditions. Naoko witnessed firsthand the benefits of yoga when she started practicing 16 years ago and later became a certified yoga instructor and started teaching stress management at the Ornish program where Lily was working as an exercise physiologist. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the program pivoted to a virtual setting and was eventually discontinued.

Realizing that the pandemic didn’t eliminate people’s need for wellness programs and may have actually created even more demand, Naoko and Lily took matters into their own hands and launched Fluxelife LLC in July 2020 as a way to collaborate with corporations and individuals to simplify and implement comprehensive wellness programs that help reduce stress, increase physical activity, and improve overall wellbeing.

“We still wanted to help people with managing their health and that’s what launched Fluxelife,” Lily explained.

“In Hawaii, there aren’t many corporate wellness companies,” Naoko added. “There are lots of national ones that are bigger, but you’re basically just a number. Lily and I are really personable, and we want to know your barriers and what you’re looking to achieve. There’s a lot more personal input and connection.”

Naoko and Lily’s approach involves giving presentations prior to rolling out programs with clients and offering continuous support to those currently enrolled. “Throughout the program, we continuously encourage people to talk about their barriers, struggles, and wins. We’re like cheerleaders. We just care,” Naoko said, noting that she and Lily also remove inactive subscribers so that they’re not charged for something they’re not using—a rarity amongst wellness companies.

“That’s a big thing for our program—access to us the entire time and we lead them through it. Other programs are self-led and you’re not communicating with someone. Our clients have access to a live person throughout the program,” Lily said. “Exercise and nutrition have been in the wellness world for so long, but we also offer a lot on mental health, especially post-2020.”

Fluxelife utilizes technology to offer its programs online, allowing Naoko and Lily to service anyone with internet connection which is helpful for companies that have remote colleagues on the neighbor islands and beyond or those that have several branches or offices. And although they started the company in Hawaii, where Naoko is still based, Lily has recently relocated to San Diego, and the use of technology has made this transition relatively seamless.

Starting and growing a business is no easy task and it can be even more challenging when working with partners. Thankfully, that hasn’t been an issue for the pair who have always had good communication and work ethics, and they continue to support each other and grow together. They have identified a path for the business and the steps they need to get there. One of their biggest accomplishments has been receiving word-of-mouth referrals from clients, which attests to success of the company and the strong relationships they’ve built.

Naoko and Lily were both new to business when they started Fluxelife, and naturally, they had many questions and had to look for places to assist them, including the MBDA Enterprising Women of Color Business Center.

“I saw they had the marketing bootcamp and I liked that it was a good chunk of time. It wasn’t like ‘learn about marketing in a day’; it was a longer and broken down, so I decided to join,” Naoko said. “Ryan (instructor) did such an awesome job of going from the beginning of what marketing is to providing a laundry list of what to do to get your name out there. I also love the connections we made in the group. I got close to a couple of the cohort members, and we get together to talk about different ways we can collaborate.”

Lily also met with Ryan through the Center’s one-on-one marketing counseling, receiving timely feedback and advice that she was able to immediately apply to revamping the company website as well as ideas for pitching to corporate clients.

Understanding that most corporate wellness initiatives can be overwhelming for employees to coordinate and implement, especially for those who take on these tasks in addition to their day-to-day work, Naoko and Lily will be launching an annual workplace wellness program. This online course will consist of the ins-and-outs of wellness in a quarterly format that makes the content fun and digestible for everyone, creating a community around what matters most. And best of all, the package will bring convenience and ease by giving companies a full year’s worth of wellness programming for their employees to take part in.

To their woman entrepreneurs and small business owners, Naoko and Lily offer the following advice:

“Look for resources and get as much help as you possibly can. Take the time to find those people and absorb like a sponge. Give yourself a lot of grace. It’s like a health journey—it’s not going to be a linear line. Don’t judge yourself necessarily by the money. You need it, but especially in the very beginning, it’s not going to be indicator of success; it’s the people we help. As long as you’re following your passion, that’s going to help you a lot.” —Naoko

“After two years, I’m surprised we keep finding free resources or things you can apply for that are free. For every part of business, there are people to help. You just have to seek them out and look for them. Once you find one resource, you start hearing about all of them.” —Lily