Thrive Global Women in Wellness: Interview with Elizabeth Grojean, Founder of Baloo Living

This article originally appeared in Thrive Global on October 27, 2019.

Thrive Global Women in Wellness Elizabeth Grojean

Get good sleep. Sleep is a building block for our minds and bodies; it’s when our brain integrates learning from the day and our muscles and tissues cleanse and repair on a cellular level. Being well rested improves your mood, gives you more patience and tolerance, makes your skin brighter and helps you stay slim. If there’s one thing that positively impacts every area of your life, it’s sleep.

Asa part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth Grojean. Elizabeth is the founder and CEO of Baloo Living. Baloo aims to support transformational self-care with its signature product, the Baloo Blanket, a weighted blanket mindfully made with the best materials and designed with the intention to promote more peaceful living through connecting mind and body to soothe anxiety and support deeper, more restful sleep. Baloo’s impact is clear through its customers’ testimonials, as well as the contributions the company makes to the Pajama Program to support good nights for better days for children across the US, and The Foundation.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

I have a story that I think many in today’s world can relate to: as a young adult, I felt compelled to do what was expected, but I struggled when it didn’t quite fit. Feeling burned out after a succession of corporate jobs in 2017, I left New York City for Bali on a one-way ticket with a little bit of savings but no safety net. It was a moment of drawing a line and saying that the way I had been living was not working, and I was going to trust my intuition even though I was terrified, to lead me to another way of living that felt better for me. The process of stepping away and taking a risk — but trusting myself — revealed my true path as an entrepreneur. I ended up spending 13 months in Bali and learning from an incredible number of heart-based entrepreneurs and explorers, many of whom were instrumental in my journey. My first company, Baloo Living, was launched a little more than a year later from there.

Can you share your top three “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?

So often the simplest things are the best, but that doesn’t make them easy. I’ve taken these three practices on to support me throughout the day.

1. Breathe deeply. Stop what you’re doing and take two to three slow, deep breaths. Breathing deeply balances the nervous system, oxygenates the blood, and interrupts the anxious patterns that many of us get stuck in. I set a timer to remind me every two hours throughout the day to stop whatever I’m doing and take some slow, deep breaths.

2. Give yourself a hug. It might sound silly, but the feeling of having arms wrapped around you whether they’re yours or someone else’s promotes a feeling of calm well-being. Just think of all the people who would love to have a hug from you, and know how lucky you are that you can get one any time you feel like it!

3. Get good sleep. Sleep is a building block for our minds and bodies; it’s when our brain integrates learning from the day and our muscles and tissues cleanse and repair on a cellular level. Being well rested improves your mood, gives you more patience and tolerance, makes your skin brighter and helps you stay slim. If there’s one thing that positively impacts every area of your life, it’s sleep.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

My most interesting story, apart from leaving everything behind and launching a self-funded, sustainable business in less than a year is how naturally each step has unfolded. I believe the shift occurred when I stopped trying to control my life and surrendered to the voice inside begging for change; each step of the way learning to listen and follow even when it was terrifying.

With this as the context, Baloo is managed and run by a location independent team here in New York, across the US, and Asia; an experiment in building the company as a clear expression of the values we stand for: respect for the choice to design life according to each person’s own ideas and definitions of happiness.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Launching Baloo was a leap of faith. I crossed my fingers and jumped, but didn’t expect the kind of success we’ve seen. When New York Magazine featured Baloo as the “Best Weighted Blanket to Gift”, our sales exploded and we sold out in just two days. As a result, we lost out on a potentially very big holiday season. I’d had a strong sense that weighted blankets were going to be a popular gift for the holidays, but just didn’t trust my instincts enough to bet on them. I learned a couple of lessons from this. First, it was a reminder to trust my instincts. Secondly, it was a lesson to appreciate how well things are going, and to be so grateful for these kinds of problems.

When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

Baloo’s weighted blanket has helped many people feel peaceful and safe and sleep better to wake up refreshed. There’s a ripple effect — as we go out into our communities as better versions of ourselves, we have more to offer to others, more patience, more tolerance, more warmth and understanding. My favorite author Paulo Coehlo says, “Life attracts life,” and we’re all connected. Each interaction is a chance to increase the positive vibrations in the world around us, so my hope is that through Baloo, we’re helping people feel calmer, more grounded and peaceful, emanating that in waves outward.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

When I left my job, apartment, and life in New York to board a one-way ticket to Bali, there was only one person who understood what my heart was aching for — my mother. Whenever I felt lost or confused, my mom has been there to listen to me from love, and seen me in my greatest power. There were even moments when I thought the fact that she believed in me made her a pretty poor judge of character. But, she’s been proven right, as I came out the other side, and continue through the challenges and growth of running an expanding business, learning new things about myself and relationships every day.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would love to be part of a movement to help people connect their own inner voice and intuition. The noise from the media makes it increasingly challenging, but it’s never been easy. I’ve practiced this through journaling, meditation, and taking time for stillness and quiet. I love weighted blankets because they can be profoundly grounding and help quiet the mind, but the true beauty is you don’t need anything to access this wisdom. When we can be connected and guided by our intuition or our hearts, we’re more confident, present, and powerful. I would love to live in a world like this, and I believe it would help us solve some of our world’s more serious challenges.

What are your “3 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

First, I wish I’d read Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown long ago about how to choose the right things to focus on at the right time, to make the greatest impact. Without discipline, it’s too easy to try to do everything all the time, but in the process of that, I can become completely overwhelmed and make much less impact.

Second, everything is about people. Being part of a community of like-minded people who understand, encourage, and support what you’re doing has a power beyond what you can see. I believe the communities I was a part of in Bali while launching Baloo were a key part of our early success, and the integrity, commitment, and awesomeness of everyone working with Baloo now is what makes it all possible. I spent a lot of time dreaming about being an entrepreneur, but it wasn’t until I put myself around other entrepreneurs that anything started to change to make those dreams a reality.

Third, the world is always changing, and fast. It’s easy to think that all the big ideas have been taken, or it’s too late, or any other number of reasons to justify not taking a risk. But once I jumped in, I realized everything that’s happening in the world is fluid. It’s only by participating that we can have a positive impact, improve business practices, products, and customer experience. There’s no use waiting until the right time, right idea, or to be invited. The greatest satisfaction is in the process of constantly evolving and improving.

Do you have a “girl-crush” in this industry? If you could take one person to brunch, who would it be? (Let another “woman in wellness” know that you respect her as a teacher and guide!)

Sarah Kauss, the founder of Swell. Her story of starting Swell with $30,000 (Baloo started with a loan for $20,000) and going all in on her vision to do good for the planet through her company really resonates with me. I also admire that the company has stayed self-funded as she’s evolved as a high-impact leader.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

I’m most passionate about the environment. We operate as though we are separate from nature, as if the Earth is a thing we can use, but we’re part of Mother Earth, from her, and as we abuse her, we abuse ourselves. All the money in the world can’t make clean air, clean water, or a healthy environment. These things are priceless, and only the Earth can provide them. When creating Baloo as a company it was important to me that we show our gratitude for the Earth that makes our business possible, so from the beginning, we’ve contributed to the Foundation to offset the carbon emissions from our shipping, and now from operations, to support reforestation and renewable energy projects.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Instagram, @elizabethmanette and @balooliving

Thank you for these fantastic insights!

Christina D. Warner, MBA