An interview with Dr. Amanda Mei of Northumberland Health & Wellness Centre.
Describe your business.
I am the chiropractor and owner of Northumberland Health & Wellness Centre in Brighton. It is a multidisciplinary clinic providing chiropractic, acupuncture, massage therapy and orthotics.
The biggest value we hold is to treat our patients and community with the utmost integrity and respect. We are problem-solving based and look to successfully treat patient conditions so they can return to their normal life. We are advocates for the patient and want to empower them to be able to manage their health; we teach them about their condition, discuss the prognosis and give them the tools and knowledge to help manage their condition outside of the office.
We taper down treatments as patients improve, and should the same issue arise again, they have the tools to help manage their own health.
What brought you to the region?
When I first left chiropractic college, I was practicing west of Toronto, in two clinics and working 6 days a week. The lifestyle of city living had suited me as a student but as I started to learn the realities of practicing as a professional, I came to the realization that I needed to move somewhere that allowed for more life balance.
A close friend of mine, who had relocated to Belleville, suggested I look around for opportunities, and I found this clinic. A month before I was to start working in Brighton, circumstances put me in a role of owning and operating my own clinic. Since then I have been able to grow my business, have a wonderful group of patients who I feel tremendously fortunate to be able to help, and I am able to have a work-life balance more in line with my values and lifestyle.
What makes the Bay of Quinte a good fit for your business?
There are several reasons that make BoQ a good fit for my clinic. People in this area are very active, be it playing pick-up hockey or hiking in Presqu’ile, there are always teams to join and exercise to be done. As a chiropractor, my focus is to encourage a healthy lifestyle and help return people to their normal activities of daily living should they encounter an injury along the way.
I am a huge advocate of being active at any and every age. With many people in Brighton retiring to this area from the GTA, my niche of care has really been embraced by those who want to stay active even in their golden years. Personally, starting a business in this area has let me sustain and healthy work-life balance which would have been negatively compromised if I had started a business in more urban area where the mantra is to work yourself into the ground.
My career is a marathon, not a sprint, I protect myself from burnout over all else and I attribute working in the area as what allows me to have that balance.
What was the hardest thing about starting a business?
I would say the hardest thing would be wrapping your head around the idea of taking a risk and forging your own path. Many professions, including chiropractic, don’t come with a “how to run a business” course. Taking the first step in believing you can stand on your own and make a viable business is very hard when you are at the beginning.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs in the area?
If you are starting out, I would say start small. Make all your mistakes on a small scale, learn from them and then when you get bigger you will have a good knowledge of what works.
Whatever area your business is in, stay true to your values and beliefs; don’t follow fads, don’t do something you don’t agree with just for the sake of making more money. Integrity is the most valuable characteristic your business can possess, don’t throw away your best asset to make a quick buck!
What surprised you about starting a business in a smaller community?
How friendly and curious the community was. In the first month of opening I was visited by the mayor, contacted by surrounding local businesses and was met with nothing but friendliness and genuine curiosity about what my business was and what services I might be able to provide the Brighton community.
I was fearful that I would meet some resistance being a newbie to the area, but it was exactly the opposite. It is in that spirit now that I have been here for a few years that I am welcoming of other businesses who come to the town, even similar services – it’s all about collaboration over competition.
How have you been adapting your business to COVID-19?
When we first closed our doors there was a lot of uncertainty about when we would be able to reopen and I went through a process of grieving what had been lost. But as with many challenges, once you have passed that initial stage you get creative about what you might be able to do instead.
For me it was to create social media content, which was something I had always neglected. I started filming videos which would update patients on the status of things. I also created informative content including tips and tricks, stretching, foam rolling and self-massage so that they would have tools to use at home. The reaction I received was fantastic and it really helped me develop a new skill set. It also let people know that I was still accessible even if the clinic was not able to operate.
Once we were able to return to work there were many new practices and procedures, as well as a financial investment to create a safe environment for the public. I was nervous about how people would react and if they would feel comfortable returning to the clinic. I was pleasantly surprised and since our reopening on June 3rd we have been busy with patients (new and old). Even though masks and sanitizer are a staple in practice, everyone has been so understanding and compliant, which as a small business owner is wonderful to see.
Although it may not be ideal and I hate not seeing people’s faces, it does feel good to get back at work. I have a newfound appreciation for helping people, feeling productive and interacting with patients in person.
Describe your perfect day off. (This answer was supplied pre-COVID.)
My favourite way to spend my free time is with friends and family. Being around people I care about really energizes me and makes me feel the happiest. My perfect day off would be to wake up at 9 am, leisurely have my breakfast, take my time reading the paper and sipping on coffee. Then I would head out to something nature-related, like a winter hike or summer beach day with some friends and my husband. In the evening, head out for a nice dinner and then out to watch some live music! I love the Hayloft and any venue where you feel completely immersed in music!
What’s your secret to surviving winter?
With a vice and a virtue! Virtue – EXERCISE. In the last year and a half I have really increased the amount of exercise I get, and it has helped with the winter blahs in a big way! Vice – RED WINE. My favourite local one is The Grange’s Gamay – there is something so decadent and cozy about sipping on a good red by the fire when it’s chilly outside.
If you were to have one word tattooed on you, what would it be?
It’s not really one word but I would get – QUE SERA SERA- tattooed on me. A fact of life that I have really embraced is that no one can predict the future. Don’t let the future give you anxiety or stress, just always take small steps forward. Generally everything works out, maybe not necessarily the way you envisioned but it’s often something better than you could have predicted.