We had the good fortune of connecting with Sarah Bentolila and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sarah, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I took a huge risk starting in this career. I was 25, graduated from one of the best business schools in France and working as a headhunter in Paris. I was well established in my career and personal life, but something was missing. Passion was missing. I had been learning Chinese medicine on the side as a hobby during my weekends and free time and really fell in love with it, I could not shake the pull…
So I left everything, quit my job, separated from my boyfriend, and left for China. I did not speak a single word of Mandarin, and had no plan other than go to the source and learn there, make a life out of it. That’s all I knew. I wanted to do this. I was alone and had to learn the language, and work to finance myself as I studied medicine in Mandarin for 6 years.
Then I moved again, to California, to be with my husband. After working in a clinic for a few years, I started my own business. We opened on the first day California went on total lockdown because of the pandemic. Talk about risk! A year later, we are still here and growing strong!
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I am the owner and founder of Taproot Acupuncture & Herbs, in the Pasadena area of Los Angeles. I opened my practice after a long journey of passion for healing arts, in particular Chinese medicine.
I studied for 6 years in China, at the source, at Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese medicine, in mandarin. I wanted to learn from the best. It was a daily struggle, not only to learn the language and the culture, but also the arts of Chinese and Western medicine. I never stopped struggling and grinding, day in and day out, to fulfill my dream and follow my passion.
After graduating, I moved to California and had to relearn everything again, a new culture, and a new continent. I was told by the Acupuncture board that I had to go back to school, since they had stopped recognizing Chinese degrees in Chinese medicine that same year! So I did, I bit the dust, put my head down again, went back to grinding and completed a second Master’s degree. I then worked with my professors, and after a while it was time to open my own practice.
I ended up opening on the first day California went on lockdown. So no, it was not easy. As I was opening my business, I was also completing my doctoral program. But a year and a half later, we are here, I am a doctor, Taproot is growing so fast that we need to hire other practitioners to fulfill demand.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love nature, and LA is full of it. I would take them to Malibu for rock climbing and diving, to the mountains for some serious hiking. The San Gabriel valley has wonderful restaurants, but I’d love to show them our urban farm in Temple City, where we grow all our veggies.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Linda Sayyad, physical therapist
photos by Kaysha Weiner