Student Highlight: Armed Forces to Holistic Business Owner

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Erin Crawford is a student in the AAS in Complementary Alternative Medicine program and is the owner of Neesta’s Holistic Alternatives.

Choosing Wellness

After becoming injured while serving in the Army, Erin’s eyes were first opened to the possibilities of holistic health. “I started having to get care for certain issues and injuries that I had suffered in the Army and they overmedicated me and I almost died at one point,” she says. After this, Erin started doing small things to try and lead a healthier lifestyle for her and her family.

“In the process, I started growing my own food and raising things around my farm that were better for us and started getting interested in growing herbs,” Erin says. She researched herbs online and was able to find lots of information about the benefits, but not much about cautions or safety.

Erin decided that if she was really going to be able to use what she learned about herbs, she wanted to do it the right way. “That’s when I started looking for a school,” she says.

Getting an Education With Veteran’s Funding

Before going to ACHS, Erin wanted to become a hairstylist but then she discovered that she had an interest in learning more about herbs. She was able to use Veteran’s Funding for her education at ACHS. For anyone interested in using military funding for education, you can learn more about Veteran’s Education Benefits here.

Erin says that she appreciatess the flexibility that online education can offer. “I almost feel like there was more support going online than if I had gone to a brick-and-mortar school,” she says.

Erin recommends really listening to your Student Services advisor once you are a student. “One of the problems that I had was that I gave myself too much of a break. I felt like I wasn’t qualified enough because I didn’t follow through. I know my subject matter and am really good at what I do, but I held myself back because I didn’t push myself through that part that was the hardest bridge to cross at that point,” she says. “My advisor Joel has been basically the only voice of reason that I’ve had as far as the education goes. I guess if I had listened to him better and pushed myself like he was trying to tell me to do, I wouldn’t have had some of the downsides I had.” 

Now that her break is over, Erin is excited to be completing the last semester of her program this summer.

Starting a Business

Erin started her business unofficially in 2018. She began making holistic products while doing a fundraiser for a service dog, and people responded well to the products. “My fundraiser turned into a lot of people really enjoying what I had. I thought I should just keep going,” she says.

During the pandemic, Erin took the leap and opened a storefront. She says, “In the middle of a pandemic I decided to open a brick and mortar. I feel like it gives me an opportunity to touch bases with the community a bit better. People who don’t want to necessarily get an education in herbalism but want to do something that’s better for themselves.”

In her town in Alabama, there is limited access to herbal knowledge. Her store, Neesta’s Holistic Alternatives, helps to fill that gap and provide the community with resources, including herbal products and educational classes.

Inside The Store

“One of the features of my store is I am encouraging people to bring in their own packaging to get a refill on their products,” Erin says. She also provides free consultations to anyone who wants to live more holistically. “ I can give them a holistic view of what they can do in their lives, whether that be meditation, or aromatherapy, or herbs,” she says. These consultations are her favorite part of her job.

Erin offers a variety of holistic products in her store. “My absolute most favorite and one that I use the most is my arthritis cream. A lot of people use ointments and salves but this one is a cream so it’s a lighter product that doesn’t have a strong smell,” she says.

One of Erin’s future goals is to open a cafe within her store that features healthy alternatives for the community. “For example, one of my menu offerings is a beetroot latte. It sounds scary to some people but in reality with the natural ingredients that are in it, not only is it going to be good for you but it will also be something that people are going to want to come back for,” she says.

How To Overcome Fears In Starting A Business

After experiencing and overcoming her own setbacks while creating her business, here is Erin’s advice:

  1. Develop a business plan. “A business plan is essential. By business plan I don’t mean something you write and ignore or write and stick adamantly to, it’s got to be something that’s a living breathing document.”
  2. Use what you learn in school. “Think about your best subjects, and use what you learned about stress management.”
  3. Keep going. “If they feel like there’s nothing but obstacles, stop looking at the obstacles and start looking at the things you can pick up to get over those obstacles.”

 

In addition to serving the community through Neesta’s Holistic Alternatives, Erin is also planning on continuing her education to become a nurse practitioner specializing in holistic medicine.

Follow along with Erin:

Written by Gillian Turner for the American College of Healthcare Sciences

Earn an Accredited Online Degree in Herbal Studies. Click here to learn more.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I am the social media & PR specialist for the American College of Healthcare Sciences, the Institution that publishes this blog. However, all opinions are my own. This blog may contain affiliate links. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.

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