Why? After the financial crisis, the fragility of the economy seemed to magnify the fragility of well-being, leading to soul searching and career changes. And that’s when many Wall Streeters we talked to decided to use their 14-hour days differently—namely to help others. Or, maybe it’s just all that green juice they’ve been sipping.
Whatever inspired these financiers, their business acumen certainly didn’t hurt when launching natural beauty brands, yoga studios, and cleanse companies. Meet six, successful, healthy entrepreneurs that migrated from Wall Street to wellness. —Lisa Elaine Held
Founder, Yoga Vida
Mike Patton was a futures’ broker at Bear Stearns for two years. He was looking to move up in the industry but was having a tough time finding an opportunity.
“I practiced a ton of yoga in the interim and slowly realized I didn’t even want the ‘good job’ that I was looking for,” he says. “I wanted to help others realize the benefit that a regular yoga practice can offer and to believe in the service, the industry, and the business model.”
Yoga Vida now has two New York locations with consistently packed classes—and he’s managed to maintain some of the lowest prices in the city.
Professional cyclist, Team Specialized Lululemon
Evelyn Stevens started at Lehman Brothers in 2005 right after graduating from college, where she says she pulled all-nighters on a regular basis. “I ordered from Seamless every night and drank way too much Diet Coke,” she said at a recent event for Specialized.
In 2007, her sister introduced her to cycling and she was immediately hooked. It was the peak of the economic crisis, and she watched as others around her were laid off. “My bike became an outlet and a release for me,” Stevens says.
By 2009, she had quit her job and taken up cycling full time, and since then, she’s placed first in more than ten races around the world and even competed in last summer’s Olympics in London.
Julie Macklowe worked in finance for more than ten years, during which she managed her own $250 million hedge fund. But after breaking out in hives from chemical-packed skin-care products, she dropped it all to develop her luxe natural beauty line, Vbeaute.
“I made it my mission to work with the best lab and scientists to create an anti-aging line for sensitive skin that was fragrance-free, paraben-free, and gluten-free, for women on the go,” Macklowe says. The line is now sold at Bergdorf Goodman.
Founder, Dig Inn Seasonal Market
Adam Eskin worked in investment banking for five years, mainly at Merrill Lynch, before being presented with the opportunity to open The Pump, a protein-heavy, clean food restaurant.
He was only 26 at the time, but he went with it, and the company, which he renamed Dig Inn Seasonal Market, and has gotten even more healthy (and veggie-centric) since, and it now has five locations in the city and Kombucha Bar.
“Though our recent success is amazing and really exciting, it’s been a long road for us,” Eskin says. “I have a tremendous appreciation for those that have built successful businesses.” And now it seems finance types eat more Dig Inn brussels sprouts than farmers can pull from the ground.
Founder, I.AM.YOU Yoga
Lauren Imparato was killing it as a vice president in fixed income at Morgan Stanley, getting promoted amid the start of the financial crisis, right after Lehman Brothers collapsed. But when she took a yoga teacher training for personal growth, and started teaching classes out of her loft, something started to happen.
“Within three months, the loft was jammed packed with people who hated yoga, got dissuaded by a prior yoga experience, or refused to ever try yoga—yet they were still coming for these free sardine-packed classes of mine downtown,” she says. Imparato realized that her style—doctrine-free, super-athletic, and sweaty—had pull.
“People needed it, and I became obsessed with delivering it. Quitting my job was frightening, I am not going to lie, but it was the best decision I’ve ever made,” she says.
Co-founder, Sakara Life
An Arizona-native, Tingle gained 15 pounds while working on Wall Street. She realized how difficult it was for other busy New York women like her to eat healthy while maintaining high-pressure jobs, so she quit her job and joined forces with Danielle DuBoise to change that.
The pair founded Sakara Life, a chic and healthy meal delivery company, that makes eating organic, clean food feasible for women chained to their desks. And Tingle became a certified yoga instructor to boot.