Every Monday we ask small businesses key questions. Here we speak to nutritionist Wendy Urwin of Wendy Urwin Nutrition, based near Cannich in the Highlands.
How and why did you get into business?
Twenty years ago I was a physical wreck. I’ve had tummy problems since childhood, which didn’t help as I was a picky eater and in the 1980’s was living on the worst diet Scotland had to offer – sweet, fizzy drinks and fried delights.
My health deteriorated throughout my 20s to the point that I was unable to continue my work as a freshwater biologist and microbiologist while also caring for my daughter.
GPs were skeptical of chronic fatigue and could do little more than offer antidepressants and antacids for irritable bowel syndrome, which didn’t help.
Healthy eating was the answer
I knew food affected my mood and energy, so I frantically experimented and avidly read what little research was available. Slowly my health started to improve but due to lack of support from a trained practitioner it was a rocky road with many relapses.
The Revelation Diet and Nutrition was able to heal in areas where conventional medicine could not inspire me to find a way to help others in similar situations to live happy and fulfilling lives.
How did you get to where you are today?
First, I had to gain professional qualifications in order to be able to offer clinical care at a high level. I enrolled in a postgraduate (MSc) nutritional therapy course in York and continued my education at the Institute of Functional Medicine alongside physicians and general practitioners who wanted to learn more about nutrition and lifestyle medicine. This was a game changer.
After qualifying I opened my first clinic at the Nourish Cafe in Inverness and quickly filled my books with clients. Working online pre-Covid allowed me to reach clients in the Highlands & Islands and beyond.
Everything went online during the pandemic but now I look forward to returning to in-person consultations next month and opening a specialist clinic at Highland Wellness Center in Inverness to support people living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Who has helped you?
My family was great, especially my mom who took care of my kids and pets when I was in college and my husband who worked from home. My husband kept his faith and supported me even though he had no idea what I was doing or what I was talking about.
Working as a sole proprietor with limited business acumen, it was also very reassuring to have the Small Business Association by my side for legal advice and support when I needed it.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Do it. It’s a bit of a cliché, but too many remarkable people don’t turn their business ambitions into reality because they fear they’re not ready — that they need more training and planning time, or that they should prioritize family. Don’t strive for perfection, just strive for it.
What’s your biggest mistake?
Sell vintage cars that would have been worth a not-so-small fortune today.
What is your greatest achievement?
Helping clients improve their health and quality of life gives me amazing job satisfaction.
How is your business dealing with rapidly increasing costs, and what should the government do to help?
I’m fortunate to have low overhead and working online means I commute less, but I still need to heat my office in the winter. The rising cost of domestic heating oil is a concern for those of us living in remote parts of the Highlands, something the government has yet to recognize and address.
What do you do to relax?
Spending time outdoors with my family, dog and ponies also allows me to exercise daily.
What are you reading, listening to or taped on TV right now?
I’m reading Still Life by Sarah Winman – recommended by book club friends. Before the arrival of 4G I had no TV reception for over 20 years so I’m not a big TV viewer.
What are you wasting your money on?
I have ponies so I don’t have any money to spare.
What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
Hydrate with a glass of water and then coffee.
What do you drive and do you dream of driving?
I drive a Honda Civic – a fabulous little car. I’m a secret petrolhead and can claim prior ownership of a classic Mk2 Golf GTI and a 1968 Mustang. I crave an old pickup truck to tow my horsebox.
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[Diet ‘revelation’ was catalyst for Highland woman’s new business]