You spent your 20s working toward building your dream career, but now that you’re in your 30s, what do you do when you’ve, well, changed your mind? Or maybe you never quite figured it out, and you’re now ready to commit to something you’re passionate about, whether it’s a job, a city, or just a new way of life. To celebrate the career changes that can come at any age, we’re debuting a new series, Second Life. Each week, we’ll hear from women who got over their doubts and fears and made the biggest changes of their lives.
A trained psychologist, Sophie Chiche has a firm understanding of human behavior. Although she no longer practices psychology, she swears her education in this subject was the best training to help her achieve all of her goals, including starting her own company.
"I don't fear change," Chiche tells MyDomaine. Instead, she listens to her intuition and an inner voice that steers her in the right direction. For her, the right direction led to Shape House, the urban sweat lodge company she created as a way to help others improve their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual wellness in the way that she had.
"I see what is missing and I want to create it," the entrepreneur explains. Now, Shape House receives buzz for being frequented by celebrities like Selena Gomez, Demi Moore, and the Kardashians, and Chiche continues to do what she loves.
Ahead, the CEO shares her personal journey to trusting her gut and turning her passion for well-being into a thriving business.
Tell us about your first career path
I am a psychologist and a journalist by trade but an entrepreneur by DNA. I have always been involved in all sorts of ventures. I see what is missing and I want to create it. Training in applied psychology was the best possible training for everything I do in my life. I love understanding how we are made, how we get ourselves from point A to point B, and how to be coherent between what we want and what we do. I can’t imagine better training to achieve anything.
How did you make the transition from working in psychology to running your own company?
I've always been interested in wellness—mine, and others. My health journey led me to a 200-pound weight loss. Stopping everything I was doing to open Shape House was almost unavoidable when I was introduced to the technology. It felt like such a good addition to my wellness protocol and it seemed to help so many others.
Running Shape House allows me to check so many boxes on the list of what is meaningful to me. Taking care of me while taking care of others, inspiring people to live their best lives, being creative and innovative, working closely with a tribe of people I love so dearly, and contributing a service that truly helps people. That is what gets me going in the morning. I am so very grateful I get to do what I love all day, with people I love and making a difference.
Tell us about your current business
I am the CEO and founder of Shape House, an urban sweat lodge that allows you to sweat in a holistic way to improve your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellness. I imagine it growing at least as big as Starbucks (people should sweat at least as much as they drink coffee). I split my time between running the company and speaking about sweating in the world. I go where I am told. I have a strong inner radar and I run everything by it. Is this the best use of my time? If it says yes, I do it. If it says no, I ask again. I get inspired or told from the inside of me, and I go do that. It has led me very well so far.
What have been the biggest challenges in your many careers and why?
Until a few years ago, the biggest challenge was other peopless opinions. Not that I let it stop me, but I had to address it. When a company becomes successful, people think it is a great idea, but until it succeeds, people throw their judgments and fears at you. I care about people around me, so I listened and had to respond. I don't do too much of that anymore. People see the value of what we do. I no longer need to defend it.
What triggered your need to change this time around?
I knew I had to. I have worked my whole life to develop my intuition. When it speaks, I listen. I had such clarity and vision when I started Shape House that I could not have not done it. I am wired a certain way, I think. It is in my DNA. I don't fear change. I don't think of the worst that will happen if I make a different choice. I think of all that would happen if I did not follow my bliss, and that kicks me in gear.
Why is your current path suitable for your personality?
I don't do the same thing every day. It is very varied, and I love that. My days are made by the overall focus and needs of the company. It leads me to the next thing. That fits me very well: creative and eclectic. And I spend a lot of time with people—clients or team or press. Shape House offers a platform to guide the conversation to be deep and meaningful and often to discuss people's transformation, their interest in feeling/being better. Right back where I started!
What's the most important thing you have learned from making a big change in your career?
Change is not scary. If I take one moment at a time, if I trust the process, it keeps showing me what it needs. I have learned that those who want to make a change and don't do it, they look like they have died a little. I have learned to surround myself by people who think big, who push me to be bigger and better. People who don't live their biggest lives tend to want to keep you small, even if unconsciously. Pick your team well. It makes all the difference.
How did you move past the fear of change to pursue your passion?
I am wired a little differently than some other people. I don't fear fear. Fear helps me dig deeper. When I feel fear, it does not stop me; it just calls for more resources inside me. I mean it physically. Fear does not register [to me] as Don’t do it; it registers as I need more than I thought to make this happen, so it pushes me forward not backward. And I surround myself with amazing people who think I am a cross between a ninja and a unicorn. I don’t want to disappoint them, so I push through.
What are some mistakes you made along the way that ended up helping your success?
I really have a hard time thinking of them as mistakes because I am built on the idea that nothing is a mistake. So the second one happens, I go after the learning; I go after the silver lining. I have a lot of those. Since I don't fear making mistakes, I make a lot of them. And I have learned to forgive myself. I truly believe that I try as hard as I can, so no mistakes. Just learning so I do the next round better.
What do you love most about your current role and why?
I love being of service. I love thinking of running my company as if I worked for it. What does it need? It guides me well. My role has become mostly one of inspiration for my staff. I am very close to the people I work with. As cliché as it sounds, we are a family and truly care about each other's wellness. I love that I get to work with people I love so much.
When you look back and reflect on your previous career, do you have any regrets?
I don't dabble in regrets much. When I step into a choice, I either love the choice or I love that I am going to learn something about myself. I don't seek comfort; I seek truth. Sometimes I'm uncomfortable, but [I'm] en route to something closer to my bones.
What change do you want to see—or pave the way for—in your industry?
Make wellness fun and enjoyable. Tie wellness with self-love. Too many people take care of themselves in a non-caring way. They push so hard. They punish themselves yet another way. I want to want to take care of me, not have yet another chore to accomplish.
What advice do you have for other women who want to take a leap but fear change?
No one needs to empower you. The subtext that someone needs to empower you is that you don't have the power. You do. And work hard. And eat your veggies.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?
Someone gave this advice to me for parenting, but it applie: Address stuff as it comes up. Don't wait to be exasperated about something to bring it up. It makes it too hard for the recipient to receive it. Speak when you notice the premise of something, not when the person has been late 12 times and now you are so upset you can't even speak about it. Listen to the whispers so it does not need to become a scream for you to pay attention.
For more inspiring stories from successful women who've made major career changes, tune into MyDomaine's Second Life podcast.