Welcome to our new feature, Beyond the Sheets. Each month, we will speak with an expert or influencer, disrupter or trendsetter in the wellness industry to glance into their journey around health and wellness.
For our first feature, there was no contest, Amy McDonald is founder of Under a Tree and serves as a wellness hospitality consultant for Nollapelli. She is a proven force in the wellness hospitality industry. Amy stays true to her values and oversees her company with compassion. It was fitting we connected with her on International Women's Day earlier this month, as Amy is not only a champion of women in business, but she also encourages women to maintain a healthy work life balance. We are honored to have her in the Nollapelli family. Enjoy your time with Amy.
Nollapelli: Under a Tree is a renowned wellness consulting business and has been in existence for 14 years. What was the catalyst for you to create this company?
Amy: From a business standpoint, it was a natural evolution. I had reached a peak. At the time, I had come off four years of managing Spa and Programs as a VP for Miraval. I had this amazing run of success- not financial success, just success in creation. I finally reached a place where I had something of value to say, and it was important for me to share with the industry.
I felt the industry was moving as well. I saw a transformation when guests came together, typically outside of the treatment room. I saw a business model where treatments are important and of value to the guests, but at the end of the day, real change happens in different ways.
On a personal level, I started the business because at the time, I was 42 and I was pregnant. I thought how am I going to work six or more days per week? Hospitality is a tough business. It never closes. You miss the holidays. The nature of who I am, I worked all the time. My husband and I decided this was the time. It was a leap of faith. He was excited to be a stay-at-home dad, and I was excited to change my life around to be a mom and have a business.
The other piece for me is I wanted to work with women who have children. I knew there was incredible talent out there. I didn’t want these women to have to compromise. They could raise their children, be at home, and work for me.
Nollapelli: That is wonderful thought. There are not many companies who seek out that demographic of women for employment.
Amy: When I first opened, I had a commitment to sustainability. We didn’t have offices and we weren’t driving cars. We were using less resources. More importantly, in an intangible way, we were ensuring that the families of the people who worked for me had more quality. It was an indirect way of achieving my sustainability principles. It has changed a lot, but the majority of the women are still with me today. So today, being International Women’s Day…
Nollapelli: What a great day to be talking to you!
Amy: The fact that I have a story to tell is really great.
Nollapelli: Since becoming the boss, what is the greatest lesson you have learned?
Amy: I think it’s two-fold. I have loved what I have done every single day. I only take clients that I know I can bring value. Sticking to my values has been really important. We constantly have humility - we are only as good as our last project. If we stay honest to what we have committed to our clients, we can’t ever go wrong. I can stand today based on the fact that I have kept my integrity. Every project is important. We don’t take a project because of money, we take it because we really believe in the vision of the owner.
Nollapelli: Allison connected with you about a year ago. What was your initial reaction about Nollapelli?
Amy: 100% I saw her success. Now, I didn’t know how long it would take; we didn’t know what the barriers would be. It’s been a journey.
Nollapelli: What progress have you seen Nollapelli make in a year?
Amy: She [Allison] has grown more confident and clearer. It is really important because the story is about her. From a hospitality standpoint, she has had a successful pilot program. The product has evolved. Allison is extremely strategic and discerning. I like that she is cautious. She is fierce, but she is cautious. The biggest thing, she is very open and has expanded. To me, she has all the components of a successful business women. And I am grateful that she is not going to give up.
Nollapelli: What excites you most about Nollapelli's signature soft sheets and pillowcases, specifically with respect to the hospitality connection?
Amy: It’s exciting to me as a female business owner to see Allison become recognized and successful - whatever success is to her. The second piece is, I have been in the hospitality business all my life, and there are parts that are boring. One of those things is linen. Any opportunity where we can deliver more wellness and value to the guest, the better. Allison is a complete disrupter, and I love that!
Nollapelli: What do sheets have to do with wellness?
Amy: One of the key components of mental, physical and spiritual health, let’s face it, is sleep. You can eat all the right stuff, exercise every day, but if you don’t sleep well, it’s an issue. If a soft sheet is going to help you sleep better, it has a direct impact on pretty much every aspect of your life.
Nollapelli: Describe Nollapelli in three words.
Amy: Cool. Clean. Nurture.
Nollapelli: You travel all over the world with your business. What wellness trend has yet to hit the United States?
Amy: American women work harder than any other culture. We take less time off. And, we are absolutely the most stressed. When I look at statistics of women and heart attacks, we have to get it together. Because when we go down, our families go down. The responsibility is high. We can learn from other traditions. We need to find that time. We need to get better at taking care of ourselves. It is not selfish to put ourselves first, it is actually survival.
Nollapelli: What is one thing you do for your skin every day?
Amy: Drink water.