Yoke and Abundance spotlights wise women of the Triad
One Greensboro woman knows all about the anxiety networking can cause. She also knows that starting businesses and pitching creative ideas are never easy. She has decided to share her experiences and lend a helping hand to other local women through a blog, podcast and panel discussion.
Alisha Wielfaert is a leadership, life and creativity coach with her company Yoke and Abundance, which is based in Greensboro.
“My purpose and what I do is work with women who are creative, women who are inspiring entrepreneurs, women who are seasoned business owners and I help them crush their goals,” Wielfaert said.
Wielfaert came to Greensboro to attend Guilford College 17 years ago and never left. She graduated Guilford in 2004 and worked in corporate America for a decade before she realized it wasn’t for her.
“It was one of those things where, during that time I always thought I was supposed to be doing something to make a difference, to have a greater purpose,” she said. “I am one of those people that needs my work to be in line with my life’s purpose, and I didn’t know what that would be.”
Wielfaert said she then completed 200-300 hours of teacher training and founded Greensboro Downtown Yoga. She said after a year of running the studio and working a full-time job, she decided to sell it and quit her full-time job to pursue her own business in coaching, which she called Yoke and Abundance.
“Yoke, because of my yoga background, yoga means to yoke,” she said. “In yoga, you can think about it as the yoke is the tool that you use to accomplish the task.”
She said there is also a negative connotation to yoke.
“A yoke is our burden to bear, and in coaching, I believe that we should be able to choose the burdens we bear,” she said. “Because, in any job, there are pros and cons, right? So it is about choosing what your burden or yoke is.”
She chose the name Yoke and Abundance because she wanted to help people choose their burdens and handle them accordingly, all while living life to the fullest (or to its “abundance”). Wielfaert said she began Yoke and Abundance as a blog and while she was working at the yoga studio, she started writing a column she called “Wise Women Wednesday.”
“I did that to teach myself a lesson,” she said.
Wielfaert said she had feelings of jealousy, fear and lack due to another (and what seemed like a more successful) yoga studio opening not far from hers. She said on the outside she was trying to practice what she preached, but on the inside, she didn’t feel the same. She said she became stuck in these emotions.
“I am feeling jealousy toward another woman who is just up to something big,” she said. “I want to be up to big things too, and I know a lot of women who were up to a lot of big things, so why am I not celebrating these things and learning from these things instead of being stuck in these feelings?”
Wielfaert said she began interviewing different women each week and writing her column. After about a year as she was starting her own business, she realized how successful it was becoming and wanted to create a community around it.
“I hate networking, I love friendraising,” she said. “So I wanted to create a space that people could get to know each other based on opinions and ideas.”
In January, Wielfaert said she brought Wise Women Wednesday off the page and onto a monthly panel discussion. She said the panel begins with a half an hour of “curated friendraising.”
“I want people to feel like they have found a place of like-minded spirits and souls, and that they are in a supportive environment where they can learn, grow and be vulnerable with each other,” she said.
Then Wielfaert said she takes 30 minutes to ask questions to panelists and 30 minutes for the audience to ask questions to the panelists. For Wise Women interviews, Wielfaert said she is looking for women who are doing something creative and “living for themselves from a place of abundance.”
The next Wise Women Wednesday panel is on Nov. 14 and will feature panelists Christina Brown of Moon Bird Pottery, Jen Brown from FEARLESS Winston-Salem and Fa’Lon Thomas of Onyx Ocean Technologies. She said there is another panel discussion scheduled for Dec. 12 as well, which makes up for the canceled event due to the hurricane in September. Those panelists have not been announced yet.
Since the Wise Women blog and panels have been successful, Wielfaert also started a weekly podcast in August. She said the podcast is accompanied by a blog post and it goes online every Tuesday. She said the listenership/readership are enthusiastic women between the ages of 25 and 55 in the Triad area who are entrepreneurial-minded.
“The response to that has also been overwhelmingly positive,” she said. “I am always looking for podcast sponsors.”
Tickets for the Wise Women Wednesday panel discussion cost $20, or for a discounted rate Wielfaert said to join her Collective (www.yokeandabundance.com/collective/).
“Everyone is welcome, and I never want someone to let money be a reason why they don’t work with me or why they don’t come to my events,” she said. “So there can always be an exchange of energy. I can always use volunteers.”
Wielfaert’s biggest takeaway from her experiences is that entrepreneurship is hard and it takes courage, passion, and commitment to be successful.
“So many women say to me that they want to start a business and have some easy extra income,” she said. “Starting a business for easy extra income is so not why you start a business.”
Wielfaert hopes that more people will come to the Wise Women Wednesday panel because she believes it is a place where attendees will leave with new friends and a community of women who wants to see them succeed.
“I think there is an awakening happening now, I think since the  election it has become crystal clear that we can’t wait for things to happen to us,” she said. “This is so cliché, but you have to be the change you want to see, and I know that I have flourished anytime, man or woman, has stuck their hand out and given me a hand up. I want to be a hand up for other women.”
For more information, visit the Yoke and Abundance website.
Katie Murawski is the editor of YES! Weekly. She is from Mooresville, North Carolina and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in film studies from Appalachian State University in 2017.
The next panel is Nov. 14 from 7:30- 9 p.m. at HQ Greensboro, 111 W. Lewis St. and it is recommended that tickets be purchased online or at the door for $20.