Carly Rowena is the definition of a multi-faceted entrepreneur. She is the founder of LetsSweat workouts, an online community of incredible people from all over the world. She also hosts retreats to conquer Kilimanjaro, the Inca trail and more.
Carly has worked with fantastic brands from Nike and Sweaty Betty to Lonely Planet and Virgin Holidays. Carly recently launched her own activewear line and released her first-ever children’s book ‘My Beautiful Body’.
“I started my social media accounts because there was no one around who felt like my kind of person. The retreats, and coaching and everything all came about because I couldn’t find my group of people that were the ones I wanted to intertwine with and connect with.”
The beginning of this journey has been about Carly Rowena finding her group of people and making them aware that there are others like them. Carly encourages her online followers to find a movement practice they enjoy, not what they think they ‘should be doing, based on the changes she’d like to see in the online space.
“I feel like I’ve got a community of people that just support each other. Making an impact, for me, was really all about finding that connection with other people, which is what I hope to do across my channels.”
The evolution of an online business
When she first started social media, she turned to YouTube because she was working in marketing for BMW. She began to film videos to figure out her calling.
“It had nothing to do with anyone else. Yet, my followers made me realise that I was really good at fitness. I love fitness.”
Then as life progressed, she became a coach, and by doing so, she realised that fitness can be quite draining when everybody wants instant results. Everyone just wanted weight loss. That’s not fun. “As a coach, that becomes an unfortunate place to be when everyone just wants to shrink themselves.”
Fitness was essential to her, but what really mattered was the mental benefits and transformation fitness could bring to her community, so she started running retreats.
“Now you got Carly, who runs retreats around the world where you come away with me, and we go and climb Kilimanjaro. People break up with their partners, quit their jobs. I love seeing that.”
A few years later, she had Jax, her daughter. She was so adamant that she was not going to become a mommy blogger.
“I was not going to become a mum online. How foolish of me! I share myself completely, so mommy Carly was going to be online. That was what happened”.
We’re moving back on to life after the pandemic, and we are all trying to keep happy during this transition while also being kind to ourselves, which means you just get so many different hats, especially as a creator.
None of these were planned. It all accidentally happened, “I somehow fell, and face planted into becoming me and discovered new aspects of where this business goes. In realistic terms, all I do is listen to the engagement and see whether people are enjoying this or not. I then make sure it feels organic and real to me. And if it doesn’t, then I don’t do it.”
Rediscovering Carly Rowena
It’s crucial to know what your audience wants from you, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it. “One of my biggest downfalls was shaping myself by what everybody else wanted.”
Especially when you are trying to fit into a very narrow box, Carly explains. You can’t hide from the other stuff that’s happening in your life. You can, but it becomes very disconnected and isn’t a pleasant place to be.
“I have clear pillars I come back to, like mommy, retreats, fitness, mental health and wellbeing. I will flip through pillars, but depending on where I’m at in that day or week, my content will be more catered to one or the other.”
Carly Rowena was told to stick to a niche from the very beginning because that’s how you grow. Yet, this is not the way she has set out to show up online.
“I couldn’t do this job if I had to fight with myself every day to be something else for everyone.”
There is a widespread popular belief that if you don’t have a niche, people follow you and are equally happy to unfollow you because you’re not always talking about the one thing they want.
As Carly points out, at the same time, that if you share more of yourself, people feel like they know you more. You create a stronger connection.
That presented itself as a choice: do I have faster growth but less connection with my followers? Or do I have the pillars and have the connection and a little bit less growth? “For me, it is always connection first.”
Creating better boundaries
Carly’s content is honest and multi-faceted. She encourages her community to see her as an older sister they can confide in. This can often be mistaken with lack of boundaries, yet they are at the foundation of the core of showing up online.
“When I’m sharing my personal life, you probably get 20% of my personal life. I am very in tune with my gut feeling.”
Questions like: “Does this need sharing? How is this going to help someone? Does that bring anything to anyone?” help her shape her content daily. The same goes with acknowledging the boundaries for the people around her.
“When I first had Jax, I thought I’d never film without her – she’s attached to my hip all day long.” Until she said, mommy, I don’t want to be filmed. “Now she doesn’t want to be filmed, and that is her right. I moved away from that. It’s the gut feeling, it is all you can go by. That’s what I’ve been listening to”.
Being a mum to Jax taught her a lot of things, including the importance of being present. Children don’t think about the past, and they don’t think about the future. They have no concept of time.
“My daughter honestly wakes up from a nap, and she thinks it’s still the same day. She’s like, Oh, I was swimming this morning. And I’m like, “No, that was five weeks ago!”
Kids don’t need anything particular. They just want you. They are so focused on whatever they’re doing, and they’re getting pure enjoyment from it. Carly admits that she never truly realised how much she was either in the past or consciously thinking about the future in business. Many of us can resonate with the feeling of pushing for what’s next, not taking the time to celebrate the wins.
“Jax has taught me just the power of being present. Enjoying the moment. Maybe I haven’t got my whole To-Do List done today. Jax would be so proud of doing all those things in a day. The power of presence is amazing.”