We had the good fortune of connecting with Iona Holloway and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Iona, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I prefer to think of risk as choosing to be brave. Being brave is taking action in the absence of evidence that your efforts will pay off, and with no guarantee of success, but choosing to try anyway. Taking risk is something I’ve always done, although the energy behind my bravery has changed over the years. I took a massive risk at age 20 when I accepted a scholarship to play Division 1 field hockey at Syracuse University. I left Scotland and moved to the US having never visited before. My coach took a big risk on me. She’d never even seen me play!
I was brave in that moment because I wanted to escape my life at home. I was struggling with disordered eating and a clean break felt brave, and hopeful. In hindsight, I know I was running away, but I still believe moving to the US saved my life. Eight years later I cashed in all my bravery to heal my destructive relationship with perfectionism, food, and my body.
To me, risking the loss of my tiny body for a promise of freedom was terrifying, but necessary. I threw a ‘Hail Mary,’ and it worked. And trust generalizes. When I quit my job as a creative director and turned down partnership at the agency I was working at to start my own business and empower women to reclaim their body, worth, and power through vulnerability, creativity, and breathwork I took a big risk. But it’s paying off in ways I never could have imagined, including writing and publishing my first book, Ghost – Why Perfect Women Shrink which will be released in January 2021.
What should our readers know about your business?
I grew up as, what I refer to in my book, as a ‘Ghost Woman.’ I was strong, tough, smart, and intelligent. And these gifts gaslighted me. I was so competent and capable that everyone assumed I was fine and that I didn’t need help. I spent most of my life executing on my brilliance, shining academically and creatively, and simultaneously shrinking my body to the bone. My pain hid in plain sight, and in hindsight I wasn’t alone. I grew up surrounded by Ghosts.
That’s why I started my business. I only learned how to feel, process emotions, and eat in my late twenties when my body shut down and I was faced with no choice but to learn how to be a human after nearly two decades functioning as a robot. That’s what sets my business apart. That’s why my clients resonate so deeply with me. I understand what it means to struggle invisibly. I understand what it means to be gaslighted by your gifts. I understand what it means to have your pain hide in plain sight.
I started my business with the vision to help create a world where women don’t shrink their bodies, worth, and power. I now have the pleasure of working with women all over the world through honest, creative and embodied coaching, online resources, and books that empower women to liberate their mind, body, and soul from diet culture, perfectionism, and shame. It has not been easy. It’s never easy to build a business from scratch with no investment. But in reality, there is no such thing as scratch. My own experiences inform my business. It is an endless work in progress, just like being human. When you approach building a business through a creative lens, failure is impossible. Perfect is made up. There’s only learning.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to Scribe Media who supported me in publishing my first book, Ghost – Why Perfect Women Shrink which will be released in January 2021. I’d also like to shoutout my coach, Ange Bradley from Syracuse Field Hockey. She changed the course of my life by taking a risk on a random girl from Scotland(!) and I’m forever grateful.