This month’s Fearless Fridays interview is with Sabine van ‘t Hart – Orbello, who I met while working in the fragrance marketing department at Procter & Gamble in Geneva. We’ve unexpectedly ended up on similar journeys, having never planned to run our own businesses, and I’ve loved reconnecting with her in these past months as we’ve shared our experiences and insights.
In the interview, Sabine shares the important changes she has made in her own life, both in terms of career and business on the one hand and in terms of her health and wellbeing on the other. These two changes are related, as she has founded Puricious Health Coaching and is now on a mission to help people boost their energy through nutrition and holistic healing so that they can fully enjoy life.
Watch the full interview or read on for the highlights of Sabine’s story!
Leaving a corporate job behind to follow your passion: From marketing to health coaching
Sabine van’t Hart – Orbello was working in marketing at Procter & Gamble when her father was diagnosed with cancer and given only weeks to live. She chose to focus on what was most important to her, quitting her job to spend what ended up being the final months with her dad. Today, she is the founder of Puricious Health Coaching. As a nutritionist and yoga teacher, she is passionate about guiding people step by step to a healthy lifestyle!
1. At what moment did you decide it was time for a change?
I started studying nutrition when I was still working at P&G. In the beginning of 2013, actually both my parents got a life-threatening disease. Then, I was just scrolling through Facebook and there was an ad for a nutrition course, and it talked about how you can prevent so many diseases. To be honest, up until that time – well, looking back at my cookie consumption – I really wasn’t aware of how food impacts our wellbeing. So when I saw that ad, I went with the intuition that I needed that, and I needed it for my parents.
It really made such a big difference in their quality of life. It was incredible: the more healthily they started to eat, the better they started to feel, and the more energy they had. For my dad it was too late, because he had both brain cancer and lung cancer, stage IV, so it was really throughout his body. That was also the moment when the doctors estimated that he would live for only another two to four weeks.
That’s when I asked myself, “What am I doing with my life? I really want to spend time with him.” So that’s when I quit my job at P&G, which was pretty extreme at that moment, because I was really enjoying it. It wasn’t a very easy decision, but it was also an obvious decision between going after my corporate career and taking time for my family. Eventually my dad lived for another eight months, so we really had the best time; so much quality time. I would never, ever, regret that decision.
In the meantime, I was so excited about everything that I was learning, because it was so new to me. I started to eat less cookies, and I started to realise how everything had such a big impact. My Italian husband was eating pizza, pasta, gelato – starting his breakfast with cookies – and I started to share more and more not only with my parents but also with my husband. He was the first one to say to me, “Sabine, you changed my life!” He started to do sports, he quit smoking, he started yoga, he gave up his pasta, pizza, and gelato, and he started doing triathlons. So he told me, “I think you’ve found your calling, because without even pushing me, without even wanting me to change anything, you’ve inspired and motivated me to change my entire lifestyle.”
So when my husband told me that I should be doing this for a living, I started Puricious, my own company, and I started working with clients around the world. It was mostly online in the beginning but then after a while people in Switzerland were asking if they could work with me too, and I started to work more locally as well. Since then, I’ve done so many more studies about nutrition, and hormones, and I became a yoga teacher – I realised that there was so much more to learn!
2. What was the biggest challenge you faced in making the change?
My family is super entrepreneurial, my brother in particular – he would already be negotiating in the schoolyard or selling the game, rather than actually playing the game. I always had in mind that one day I would be setting up my own business, but I never really knew what or how. The biggest challenge was underestimating the change involved in going from having a corporate career where you have all these structures – you have the team in place, you have a whole supply chain, you have all of your suppliers – to setting up a business from scratch, where you have none of that.
On top of that, I didn’t go from being a marketing manager to being a marketing consultant, I completely changed industry and I completely changed my role. That really hit me in the face and I became very insecure. In the first year and a half or so, when I met people, I kept saying, “Hi, I’m Sabine. I’m a marketing manager.” Then I had to say, “No, no, no, hang on, I’m a nutritionist!” That killed my credibility…!
That’s also why I kept studying, sometimes doing two courses online at the same time, because I felt like I had to know everything about everything! I had to know everything about our bodies to really be able to help my clients.
So the biggest challenge for sure was changing not only from my corporate career to being an entrepreneur but also completely changing my role and industry.
3. Where did you get the support you needed to make it happen?
My family was very supportive. They’re the ones who really believed in me even when I was at home crying, “Who would ever work with me?” and I didn’t believe in myself. That was something that I had never seen coming either. The moment I decided to start my own business, I was doing happy dances all the time, “Freedom! Flexibility!” Then it hit me a few months later when I was trapped doing all this studying.
My cat was always right on top of my hands, on the keyboard. She would never go to bed until I was done. After a while, I’d be worried about her – “She really needs to sleep!” – so it was a good reminder for me.
Last, but not least, my husband has really been the biggest pillar in my life, helping me believe in myself; he has been very sweet. He helped me see, “And now you stop studying. You can’t even share this knowledge, because no one will get it; it’s so complicated. Your strength is that it’s practical and it’s about getting into action. Now go and actually put yourself out there.” We started doing workshops about sugar and toxins in your life, and other topics like hormones, and he would always come along. He was basically my biggest fan and my biggest believer and supporter.
4. What’s the best part of your lifestyle today?
The best part is the feedback from my clients. We come from such a mindset and a set of rules around what we believe success to look like. I started with, “Okay, so I want to have this many clients, and these are my financial targets,” because that’s what we’re used to in the corporate world. It was actually my husband who started to point out to me, that, “Damn, I’m so jealous of you. No one has ever said to me, ‘Thank you for giving me my life back,’ or ‘Thanks to you, I’m a different person.’” Or they talk about how there was a life before Sabine and then a life after Sabine!
It’s sometimes still very hard to even receive that kind of feedback, because it’s so overwhelming. I find it almost difficult to accept it, but obviously that’s really what keeps me going; it’s what gives me the greatest energy. That’s why even when I have days where I’m only doing the accounting or stuff that I don’t really enjoy, that really keeps me going as I know that I’m doing this for a greater reason. Having that purpose and having that direct feedback from happy clients, seeing their transformation – sometimes it’s incredible not only in terms of how they feel or their energy or weight loss but also in terms of their health – how much you can do with the right nutrition, the right balance, and movement; that’s really the most fulfilling thing, out of everything.
5. What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is considering making a big career or lifestyle change?
You want to see what gives you the greatest joy in life. That was really a wake-up call for me when my father passed away and I realised that it could all be over in such a short time. He was 59, so he was young still. Now, I want to make sure that, every single day, I do what I love. When I go out and do a presentation or a workshop, I always do these silly happy dances… For me, it’s a metaphor for how I wish people would feel, that they have the energy to really do what they love in life, and a way for me to convey the joy that I wish for every single person, every single day of their life.
So follow your intuition, follow your heart – but also have some alternatives like plan B, C, D, and so on – and you will find that the number of opportunities are unlimited. If you are well prepared, I’m sure everyone can really create the life and lifestyle that they wish for.