“My brand was precipitated by an existential crisis,” says Tamu Thomas, founder of Three Sixty wellness brand. “I had become increasingly unsatisfied with life… this eventually manifested as physical illness then anxiety and low mood.” So she completely changed her work-life and discovered true joy…
Tamu Thomas, 42, lives in North West London. She is the founder of a wellness brand aimed at women in their late thirties and forties called Three Sixty, and delivers her work through holistic life coaching, group work, public speaking, podcasting and writing.
How long have you been in your current line of work and what led you to it?
I launched Three Sixty in May 2018.
My brand was precipitated by an existential crisis. I had become increasingly unsatisfied with life for approximately seven years, this eventually manifested as physical illness then anxiety and low mood. I thought forty was my magic number, I believed that I could carry on working hard turn forty and life would finally begin, my fortieth birthday came and went, nothing changed. My emotional health tank was close to barren.
I had a few panic attacks and my daughter told my mum she was worried about me. She often heard me typing when she woke up for the toilet in the early hours and said I was “shouting for every little thing”. My daughter recognised that the threshold for normal had changed because of my behaviour rather than hers. This was a real wake up call. I had no choice but to question the meaning and purpose of my life in a new way.
As I reflected I realised that I started to feel uneasy around the age of thirty-three, but at the time I thought this was normal so pushed against myself believing that my unease was due to me not being enough. I tried to compensate by working harder and taking on more not realising that this was the exact opposite of what I needed.
Everyone I knew with a profession and children was depleted, jaded and somewhere on the spectrum of malaise. We lived for our holidays which were never really holidays as we remained logged in seeking opportunities to catch up when we were supposed to be chilling poolside.
I didn’t know any other way to be however I desperately craved something else and knew that employment wasn’t for me. I spoke to my GP and was offered one-size-fits-all solutions. As I delved deeper into the world of personal development and spirituality, I became certain that (for me) the biomedical and clinical model was lacklustre.
My issue was not mental ill health, although I acknowledge that could have been next. My issue was that I was emotionally malnourished, my life was unfulfilling and I thought that being more productive and achieving more was the remedy. I started to see that I was living upside down, I thought I had to work hard to get and achieve stuff, which would at some point lead to ‘happy’.
What I learnt was that accepting that I’m enough as I am enables me to go beyond the version of myself that is on display. My need to be busy lessened and I started to notice joy everywhere. Happiness became less attractive, joy became a stable, grounding baseline that enabled me to be more productive without depleting myself.
“(Joy is) a state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is a settled state of contentment, confidence and hope.” – Theopedia
I could (can) see the emotional malnourishment I experienced in women – particularly those aged forty and above – all around me, yet there were very few wellness brands talking to them. Self-care was very millennial, Eurocentric and elitist. I decided that I could utilise my social work skills and the knowledge I acquired in my own journey to create something holistic and nourishing for Generation X women and Three Sixty was born!
What were you doing previously?
I was a children and families social worker for fifteen years, this included supervising and mentoring students and newly qualified social workers. My clients ranged from disenfranchised to high-flying professional families, the latter were particularly interesting – the duality of the lives they lived was fascinating!
Was there any training/studying involved for your current career?
I am a qualified social worker and most of my social work skills are transferable. Brene Brown often refers to her social work background informing her work. “Social work is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that engages people and structures to address life challenges and enhance wellbeing” (BASW). Which is a fancy way of saying that social workers distil academic and psychosocial principles into practical strategies to support people through life’s challenges to make long lasting changes that enhance wellbeing and life outcomes.
I have a diploma in Mindfulness and Life Coaching and a certificate in group work facilitation. I gained these qualifications as social work focuses on getting people to a “good enough” standard. My focus is supporting women to go from surviving to (sustained) thriving, using a range of modalities from science to metaphysics in a manner that is SMART.
I am diligent, I do not take my work lightly.I still adhere to the social work code of ethics and I work to the National Occupation Standards of Healing.
Do you do it for the love of it, money or both?
I do it for both. I have to love what I’m doing. When I love what I’m doing I’m not just motivated, I’m committed which for me is more important. Motivation is fleeting. A story I run on loop is that I’m a starter not finisher, loving my work allows me to continue despite the story running in the background. Also, I want my financial abundance to match my inner abundance. What better way to do that than doing something you love, what beautiful energy.
To be clear (because we fanny around too much with the topic money) not only do I want to change lives with my business, I want to make life-changing money.
Which career moment are you most proud of?
I am very proud of starting my award-winning podcast – Three Sixty Conversations – because it’s something that I wanted to do for about six years before taking the leap. I didn’t start when I had the idea because I was judging myself hard! This ranged from believing that my voice sounded like Kermit the frog to I’m not cool enough! I didn’t understand that being me was enough. I am proud of the way my podcast provides nourishment and wisdom to women around the world.
I also have to add that my day retreats have been dreamy, nothing beats in-person connection. Having the opportunity to provide women with a holistic, integrated experience is nothing short of magical. I feel so honoured to do the work I do. This is a privilege I do not take lightly.
And your lowest point?
My business is 15 months old, I am trying to work out if I am firmly in the honeymoon period or if this so aligned with my values, that the lows I’ve experienced don’t seem so low. I have really coached myself to look for the lessons in my perceived lows and apply them. I know this sounds really philosophical (shout out to my Stoic squad) but that’s really where I am.
Let’s be real: business lows tend to be linked to money. I’ve made decisions that have led me to losing money because I was led by my ego. For example, going ahead with the production of my second capsule clothing collection despite knowing that it was no longer aligned with my brand vision. However, the low feeling didn’t last long, I learnt a lesson and I know money is energy, it doesn’t disappear, I always make money. My focus now is not merely to make money, but to receive it openly and abundantly.
What are your daily work challenges?
My daily work challenge is structure. I find it really hard to be accountable to myself. I love learning which is great but also problematic as I can get so lost in learning that I become a rampant information consumer when I should be creating. For example, I’m launching a group coaching programme in October which is informed by different modalities including neuroscience, which I find fascinating. It is all too easy for me to get lost in neuroscience for four hours, which is not a good use of my time. I have to remind myself that this is not a self-indulgent vanity project.
I have a peer support to keep me in check and I have recently hired a coach, otherwise I am like a runaway train… in reverse!
How do you cope when things aren’t going as you’d like with work?
Deep breathing, connect with myself through meditation/ prayer or exercise. If that doesn’t help, I remind myself that no one has been harmed and ask myself what I would do if I wasn’t judging myself then discuss with a trusted friend with a similar business.
Do you reward yourself after a work success – if so, how?
The truth is I’m not very good at it, I generally do a happy dance and move on to the next thing!
Would you be comfortable to tell us what you earn?
Can you interview me again in a year!! This year my main income has been from social work consultancy and mentoring, this is what enables me to meet my needs currently. I haven’t earned enough to cover all of my living costs through this business and that causes a shit storm of shame even though the reason for this is that I pivoted. I wound down the clothing element of my business at the beginning of the year. This was the main source of income. It took me a while to accept that I was entering the world of coaching until a social worker that re-trained as a coach referred social work as coaching for people that don’t want it! I intentionally slowed things down so I could acquire/ improve on skills and build a new business model. My revenue will look very different by the end of the year.
Are you happy with that amount?
What’s the dream/aim/goal – career-wise?
The dream-aim-goal is to be one of the world’s leading transformative life coaches specialising in supporting women on the cusp of forty and beyond overcome limiting beliefs and live a life of joy and fulfilment. This will be delivered through my podcast, books, wellbeing products, public speaking (TED I’m looking at you), transformative life coaching and at some point, a small chain of multipurpose co-working spaces for people that thrive in serene spaces.
Three people we should follow, in your industry?
Nicola Rae Wickham @alifemoreinspired. Nicola is a Creative Coach that specialises in supporting women to create and market their purpose driven brands.
Avni Trevedi @avnitouch. Avni has many titles. I describe her work as an integrated approach to health and wellbeing. Avni reminds me about the importance of touch and movement which are two things I think we lack day to day.
Ingrid Fernandez @decanddash – Ingrid is not in the wellbeing industry. However, she has set up a legal consultancy that simplifies legal matters which is essential for any thriving business – large or small.
Anything you’d like to plug?
My Everyday Joy Membership will be open to new members from 23rd – 30th September 2019. I will be running a pop-up membership group for one week so that people can try before they buy. If you are interested in joining the pop up group, you can sign up here.
I’m launching an intimate group coaching programme called: The Joyful Woman: overcome your limiting beliefs and live joyfully. Sign up to my newsletter for more information as I will share details there first. No spam I promise, nourishment sent fortnightly!