March 21, 2024

Episode #132: Ellen Comerford – Core De Vie

Ellen Comerford, a native of the outskirts of Boston, has called the city home for the past 25 years. Celebrating 27 years of marriage to Mark, she is a proud mother to her daughter, Jacquelyn. With nearly four decades of experience in teaching fitness and wellness, Ellen is the esteemed owner of Core De Vie Wellness, a successful establishment located in the heart of Beacon Hill. As an integrative wellness practitioner, she specializes in guiding clients through natural movement patterns, utilizing biomechanics and Gyrotonic techniques. Ellen’s passion extends to coaching on adopting a low-carb lifestyle, embodying her dedication to holistic well-being.


you’re listening to the self-made is a myth make a difference together show with your host coach Tim campsa where we talk with successful business owners to hear the stories of their Journeys in building their successful businesses and more importantly we recognize the folks who help them Excel because we know that achieving business success is not something we can do on our [Music] own hello everyone this is coach Tim campel and I’m excited to have a fellow business owner from Boston with us today and something unique about my guest is that at the age of eight she check this out this is funny she prescribed a diet to her own mother which that act started her passion for holistic well-being in her downtime she enjoys hiking and being in nature with her husband and their dog and she is most proud of the dedicated care that she provided her mother who was bravely battling Alzheimer’s and passed away about 18 months ago it is my pleasure to welcome Ellen to the show today hello Ellen hello thank you for having me hey let’s start with having you introduce yourself tell us your full name and a bit of your personal story like where you were born and live and about your family uh yeah thank you so my name is Ellen kerford and I grew up in Burlington Massachusetts which is just just about 12 miles north of the city but I’ve been living in Boston Proper for about 20 years which I just I love Boston I love being here and I’m in a neighborhood called Beacon Hill which if you’ve ever been to Boston it’s our favorite neighborhood and it’s truly a village in a neighborhood like we all go to the hardware store you know to see Jack who owns it and his wife Cassie and the everybody goes to the pharmacy so it’s it’s a beautiful Community yeah so Ellen tell us um a little bit more about uh the hiking and being in the nature what uh what is your favorite thing to do in nature so I I was thinking about this the other day what I I think now that I have done so many trainings in holistic Wellness being in nature scientifically does calm you um you know the fresh air the lumens from the Sun you know the grounding um but I remember when I was a little girl my dad used to take my brother and me we would just drive not to like a park but you know Woods you know behind a a company in Burlington when would just go off into the woods and explore and I just loved that that was one of my favorite things to do and fortunately my husband loves that too and we’ve been able to um do some um bicycle trips so we have gone to Grand Canyon you know bicycled you know Zion and um rice we’ve also gone to Alaska where he actually proposed to me but yeah being in nature I think is you know the national parks are amazing it’s my favorite thing to do I love the city but I just I love being you know in the woods or on the ocean or on a lake it’s it’s so soothing I love it so hey is there a funny story that your family likes to tell about you that you’d be willing to share with us today well you know I it was when you mentioned about when I was aish that you know and my mom had just told me that probably about you know 15 years ago um I have always been so passionate about wellness and health and you know when she reminded me that I wrote her a prescription for a diet and and you know it’s I think it’s funny but it’s also um reassuring that I’m in the right place you know um but I’m sure I I’m the youngest of four children and I just I used to write my mother love letters all of the time I just was madly in love with her my whole life she was my best friend but I’m sure I heard her saying oh I have to lose weight oh I have to lose weight and she told me that the letter started out out first of all I love you then I went on to prescribe the diet yeah I’ve been very very interested in this my whole life you know just how can we feel the best be happy and healthy what a wonderful story though Ellen tell us how’ the business come about and at what point did you have the confidence you could run your own business uh that was a long journey uh I had my daughter pretty young so I I was 17 and I finished high school but I had her during high school and so I ended up and I married her father um I ended up going to night school for college so it took me in fact my daughter Jacqueline when she graduated high school in 2000 I graduated from nor Eastern University with a degree in congratulations thank you yes um and it was a long journey because I you know of course work full-time and again I my passion was wellness and fitness and I ended up working for this Semiconductor Company um and so I did a degree in marketing because I got reimbursement they wouldn’t pay for you know medical school right it’s like well what are you gonna do here and and it’s fun I love marketing and I love business um but I would teach Fitness like at 6: a.m. before work every day and you know then I’d be going to night school and the homework and it was a crazy journey and i’ and then I was working in marketing so I was traveling a lot and I wouldn’t be able to finish the um you know courses at night because of attendance and so it was a lot of juggling and that’s why it it it took so long but you know when I finally got my degree um by the way my my Jackie’s father and I divorced you know when we were 30 so we got married when we were 17 and we decided at 30 it was you know a good run so I um remarried mark my soulmate and we’ve been we’ve been married since 1997 but when I finished my degree um he was like what are you gonna do now what are you gonna you know and I said you know I had you know a friend I knew said there was an opportunity at heal at Packard and you know he’s like whoa whoa you’re gonna do the same thing well like what are you gonna do and he really inspired me to really think Beyond uh I didn’t have am I gonna get in the I was in a high-tech company my passion was not high-tech yeah and you know I my uncle Howard who also had Alzheimer’s he passed away in um 2019 he when I was little told me Ellen if you can figure out what you love to do and do that for a living you’ll never work a day in your life I thought wow so I kind of had this hope like oh I want you know what what is it and I kept on coming back to Wellness it’s like well that’s a pretty big subject and it is but it is it it entails so many different things to be truly well um and so that’s when I I started going full-time into training again of course you know I was already certified personal trainer Fitness and things but then there was I got into Pilates a movement system gyrotonic which is amazing um Advanced biomechanics tons of nutrition training it’s it’s so amazing that whole world out there so I truly am you know Howard Howard was right I love it but you know the business end isn’t always there’s work yes indeed yes it a little misleading so tell us a little bit more about the company what’s the name what do you guys do how do you help people so my company is called civie and I have to shout out to my daughter Jacqueline Ley because while I was doing all this training she’s like Mom you should definitely open up your own Stu pilat Studio everybody oh my mom’s a Pilates teacher and I was like that’s so much more um but yeah she was like you should call it core to V because core you know Pilates is your core um and in French it’s like heart or body so I love that heart of life and I’m like oh you know so I was toying with the idea for years um and then when I finally did it you know I was kind of like Jackie what do you think and she’s like what do you mean what do I think so she thought of the name and people love that name you know um and so I I actually started just a little a little safe business one of my clients had um and still has it’s called The Pilot House in the North End on the waterfront and she wanted a little Wellness studio so I opened that up very safe no risk you know and that’s Technically when I did but um but then the real brick and mortar like the risk was in 2006 when um I was I had been working for I was working for Sports Club LA I was a Pilates Master at the Boston Conservatory I was doing my little North End thing I and I was at this place called the Movement Center of Boston with beautiful Studio but I was just running all over the place and all that time it took and it’s you know and it was really um I had a very prominent client his name I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Jack Welch yeah he CEO of all right so I I started teaching him in around 2001 and um he was always after me to start my own business and I had another client Meredith clap just passed away in January was Ellen you got to start your own business and she noticed a little store in Beacon Hill was having a huge sale I think they’re going out of business and I was terrified and I was saying to my husband oh my God Meredith is after me like this is I think I’m gonna do this and then she calls me the next day they have a forent sign up and that my husband do it you know and so you know Jack Welsh was so cute he was like it’s a no-brainer so I was like all right I’m doing this but it was really scary and exciting and fun and um I started just in this uh back space of a of a of a big space so Charles Street is like Main Street of Boston that’s the all the little boutiques okay at the end of 40 Charles Street was River Street at the other end of this one building and I had the little back room and that’s where I started my little plates gyrotonic studio and then we expanded into the front our own the owners of the building was um Mario ratsky and his wife and they sold like uh rugs these you Turkish rugs but they wanted to get out of the business and so they said um we love what you’re doing they can’t believe how you know I we were a full house I had my employees we were cooking and they said we feel really bad but we don’t want to do rugs anymore and we want one tenant for the whole Space we don’t want to manage two tenants M and I was like I felt so like what am I going to do I felt responsible for my employees and by the way we made them employees we opened up a real life business all the other Studios were like you were contractors there was no health insurance like I wanted to do a real business that was you know part of the community part of you know employee enrichment you know my neighbors the organizations and we proposed to them we will take it over and we had to do a build out downstairs on they said you can have the lease as long as you build out the downstairs and that was a lot of money and time and we were like we just did it so we became um py on Charles Street the rent was huge and buildout was huge but you know then being on that Main Street just brought in all the all of the community you know and um we had a opened retail like I had never done retail I don’t even like shopping but you know what this so this is 2007 2008 um my husband was in the startup world and the VC world and he happened to know um the the the company that had just um worked with Lululemon to go public and in 2007 2008 there was no Lululemon store and we got it no I’m telling you if I wish I had video because people were screaming when they saw that this little blue lemon they were it was it sold itself you know so that was um that was a journey in itself the whole retail animal but um and then of course you know the buildout and all of that money and I don’t know if you’re remembering what happened in 2007 and 2008 there was a recession so as we were ready to open we built out a whole Spa downstairs for massage and acupuncture facials we had the whole staff ready to go they wouldn’t let us open it they said there was like some technical floor area ratio that we should never have even been able to get a building permit oh no so we were like well so I know I was thinking like of challenges this was so devastating we it took us a year to get the downstairs open so we actually had to lay off the staff we had it was and this is during that recession we’re like good God we just put all investment but um yeah and then we we it was great it was great and hard and then retail was so hard and you know I was teaching Jack Welch this whole time and of course he moved to New York and he summered on net so I used to go to net to teach him and every time I would go to teach them the first thing is like all right who’s working today how many appointments you have that that like drilling me about my business really good because people pay him a lot of money to do that and I was like leave me alone it was I think the big challenge for me after the Lululemon you know wasn’t so hot anymore um the other big product I I brought in because of my passion was uh vbr five fingers I’m very much into foot health and vbr five fingers came out with a five-fingered sneaker I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this but it’s like a glove for your foot so it allows you to do Barefoot movement because we have 33 joints in each foot um outside and and this was like I was we got that was so great they said it first said that we couldn’t have it in our retail store because they only wanted to sell to shoe stores because it was such an education process but once we told them everything that I taught and they were they were thrilled and so that was another I hit the little lemon I had the vbro and that was passionate but um then it became really hard and picking new lines and I found myself you know managing all the employees and I felt like I was managing retail store that I’m it wasn’t my passion you know um so that was another challenge and and I I’ll never forget I kept on telling that to Jack like the the retail is awful I hate it and he told me there was a A very wise Mentor he had that told him make your back room somebody else’s front room and I was like huh and he said oh your retail space in the front that’s your back room and I was like so that really that really changed my game because then I was able to I I sublet it to someone that was passionate about their line right they it was it was a an athletic wear line competing with the lululemons and and then I didn’t have to worry about that anymore that’s wonderful so that was great and then it was great you know employee stuff and you know little things here and there and it was a lot of work and then covid hit and then we had to shut down and um we were talking about another 10year lease my lease was up on August 1st of 2020 and in February we were negotiating another 10 years and I heard about this this thing that people were worried about and as time was going on I I you know they were comparing it to the Spanish flu and that thank God yeah I Mark and I were talking about it and I just said I don’t I don’t think we should sign and that was so hard because Beacon Hill’s my home yeah Community but that rent was huge and so I mean even at in in um in February at the end of February people were leaving because a lot of people in Beacon Hill have second and third homes nobody wanted to be in the city our our attendance rates are not good and you know I had people calling me how did you get out of that lease like it was up you know people were trying to get out of their leases and their landlords were like talk to my lawyer so I it was it was so hard and I was so grateful because I got out from that I mean we certainly paid for an empty Studio through the end of July but um so Ellen what’s your biggest learning as a business owner I think the biggest learning um is that no nobody is going to come and rescue you you know it’s like I don’t know growing up just like you know family helps and the but you know at the end of the day it’s your business and you really have to figure things out like you know not signing another 10 years nobody told me to do that and I wanted you know in those times when you’re so unsure it’s like somebody tell me what to do somebody tell me the right steps here you know because when we were that was you know that was that was so hard and and but it I gained so much confidence too I knew it was the right thing to do in my heart of hearts yeah in my c v it’s so important to listen to our gut you know it’s it can be hard to hear it at times with everything that’s going on but yeah so I agree and I think that that I tie that back into Wellness you know I a lot of people ask me about my story and one of the things I didn’t really talk about is when I was in my early 20s and I I told you I was like crazy I had a little kid right I was going to night school I was teaching all these classes I looked amazing the number on the scale all right you got it right you get it I felt awful I F I was exhausted and that is not Wellness right and and so that Wellness like what is Wellness that big subject and you know now that I’m like old and seasoned so I’ll be I’m I’m coming up on 60 and um I you know I I’m always revisiting that question and my clients too I like I have clients from all ages all Fitness levels you know some with Alzheimer’s Parkinson you know I have ice skaters I taught Dorothy Hamill you know like all of it yeah and I have like I used to have this pillar like well we have to I call it food move and mood right so like your your nutrition your movement and your mindset really and they all interplay but I always had the foundation sleep so sleep if you it doesn’t matter if you’re not getting sleep it doesn’t your food you know it’s not gonna it’s not going to do it for you but um what I’ve realized uh is that sleep is actually one of those those pillars and really I think our foundation and I’ve come to this understanding in the past couple of years is really our hormones our Hormone Health is something you can’t see you really have to get tested for it and like that may be why you’re not sleeping so this underlying level is I think huge um and and that’s another business I’ve actually just gotten into it one year ago um and it’s it’s a this it’s a Hormone Health company and I’m so excited about it because I am holistic I do not believe in injecting growth hormone or taking it but um one of my dear colleagues Marie Asing she has an organic Spa here in Boston and she had been reaching out to me during covid but I was just like uh she’s a scientist she she’s from Sweden she’s a scientist and she was like look it I’ve been I studied this product for three months and I’m going to get involved and I was a two I was too wounded still from the shutdown in Co but you know um a year ago I called her I got back into the City and I was like what tell me about this and and um it’s it’s a it’s an amazing you know company that I think that is going to be huge it’s it’s an allnatural gel it’s homeopathic and so I I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the aura ring yeah so the ordering I’ve been wearing since February of 21 and I started I’m like all right I’m gonna try this gel and see right it’s all natural things nothing right because I’m I’m I make my own toothpaste okay I make my deodorant I’m like so I I’m a month in and I my HRV has gotten high and my heart rate got low and that those two things were really bothering me because I feel like I’m checking all the boxes right and that’s why I changed my mind on the Hormone Health as the because it was something I couldn’t see and here then I’m like wow why is my heart rate always elevated why is my HRV how what is this elusive HRV and one month in it was unbelievable and so then when when that when you’ve that I’m telling you you sleep better which is really important but then you want to make better diet choices you want to move you feel like moving right and all those things you’re happy your thoughts you’re joyful you’re excited you have hope so yeah I’m I’m back it you know so I have a little office space I’m a so practitioner right now and I’m let’s let’s talk about the future so the next one to three years what’s the number one priority or or challenge that you see in achieving your goals so the the the number one um priority is going to be self-care and and I’ve done a lot of um you know work on this again that big Wellness bucket it comes down to self-care because you got to do the work yourself like people come I have people I have a new client she canceled her knee surgery after the second visit she’s like my knee doesn’t hurt anymore W and so it’s like but she’s doing the work I can tell her what to do but so so my mission is I’m going to empower millions of people to create self-care and self-care looks different for everybody you know uh but there’s a lot of there’s like a there’s a lot of check boxes everybody should have so I think self-care for myself for my community um and you you know I have my little brick and mortar but I’m really excited about doing more you know Co taught me how to teach online so I have clients all over the world it does it technically doesn’t matter where I am as long as I have WiFi and I that’s really exciting so I think I want to um you know uh go more in that direction especially with this you know homeopathic Hormone Health company like I’m I’m really that’s growing and that’s you know in the umbrella of Civ V but yeah self-care very cool so Empower people I’m going to put you on the spot here a little bit Alan if I was to ask you to pick three people in your business owner Journey that you’re most grateful for them being there to help with the grow your growth who are those three people and how’ they help you I think um number one my my husband Mark Herford he he has a lot of business experience and he has been there through it all um he has really good advice and you know I remember when I was so afraid to open up that Beacon Hill space and he said you know you have so much passion and I have so much business like come on you know and so I like if I have three people I got to go like well Mark right and like of course Jack Welch and Merith oh but um my daughter Mak like oh can I put those as like a big one because and then I want to say my mother oh my gosh all those years like she really was such a cheerleader and she loved that I opened a wellness center and she loved coming to it you know she would have facials and massages and acupuncture and you know she s when I was so afraid she was she was just my whole life she was a cheerleader yeah I yeah so you know what I’ll I’ll boil it down to my mother my husband and my daughter wonderful last question here Jim ran um an awesome business Guru says that we become the average of the five people we spend the most time with so as you think about that quote what advice would you have for business owners who are trying to do it on their own uh I I love ran by the way and I’ve been you know studying him especially with this new business I authenticity you know they say fake it till you make it I don’t know about that I I don’t think faking it I think I don’t know if people are just more Savvy or when somebody’s faking it I feel like I can tell and I I I if it doesn’t feel good in my in my heart like cord of V like authenticity is is is hard but you know what at the end of the day no matter what happens you were true you were true and don’t ever give that up believe in yourself but be authentic I love it yes you you’re right we can we can sniff it out when people aren’t being their their true selves right right right now there is enough you mentioned mindset earlier I think maybe the other side of that you know what instead of fake it what what people should be told is find your own confidence because confidence attracts right other people to buy into your idea and and if you’re confident in your idea even if you said earlier right hey running a business is hard so you know we might be in unconfident in the running the business side but if we’re confident in what we’re offering or the the product or benefit right the the rest will all work itself out right that’s they used to you know when we’d run the numbers the uh you know retail sales it was always the highest when I was working the store or my daughter my daughter poor Jackie she worked the store too but you know for me I never felt like a salesperson but I wanted everybody in vbr five fingers I wanted to teach everybody about that I wanted them to buy these healthy supplements that you know wanted them to so yeah and that was authentic it wasn’t like yeah go ahead head buy this yes you know we whatever it is you’ll love it you know that’s just they believe me my husband’s like you know we could have made a lot more money if we sold like sugary Caffe things you know pick something people are addicted to one of our uh phrases is that um selling is actually professionally helping people to make a decision that’s right for them yes I agree I agree doing that and you believe in what you’re offering then right it’s not selling anymore it’s just you know helping people it’s helping you’re of service that’s a good that that helps me if I feel like oh I don’t want to feel salesy but you’re being of service I you know I’m I’m grateful to my friend Marie telling me about you know this homeopathic Pro I’m like every I’m so glad that I have you know these products in my life it’s made such a huge difference I love it Ellen it sounds like you’ve been blessed with some incredible people that have been part of your journey if they were all on the show today what would you want to say to them I I have a gratitude Journal which I recommend everybody do and I fill it out morning and night and I am I am beyond grateful you know and what was I was I meditate a lot too before I go to bed and you know being grateful puts you in a very healing State you can’t be in fight or flight and grateful at the same time so just thinking about one thing you’re grateful for I am so great I get I I’m so grateful I would say you know Mark and Jackie and my dog Pasha and Jackie’s dog Freddy you know I love them so much they’re my whole world I’m grateful for our health because that is true wealth and you know I’m grateful we’re in this beautiful city in Boston and we get to be together a lot I love that that we live right by the common we are in nature just you know right at our doorstep and I love them and I’m so grateful I don’t you know I don’t even know how to thank I don’t know how to thank them I’m really blessed I love it thank you so much for your authenticity Alan it’s been a pleasure speaking with you today thanks for being on the show thanks for having me it was really fun talking with you Tim thank you thanks for listening to the self-made is a myth show please help spread this Movement by liking and subscribing to our show and following us on Facebook and Linkedin to join our movement go to bead okay folks that’s a wrap please pay it forward and be sure to tune in next time to the self-made is a myth podcast