The GROW program at Bounce supports both aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs as they bring their ideas to life. The program focuses on minorities and women. Aujile Riley is a graduate of the eighth cohort of the MORTAR at Bounce program, our 15-week business accelerator.
When Aujile Riley chronicled her 100-pound weight loss journey on Instagram more than four years ago, she inspired others who reached out to see if she offered coaching. That interest and her success in finally keeping the weight off for good inspired her to found her business, Eat Clean-ish, in January 2022.
“In the beginning, I was 100 percent virtual, offering online coaching to support others in losing weight naturally, practically and sustainably through balanced nutrition and changing their mindset,” said Riley, who previously worked as a mental health counselor and holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology. She also has past experience working as a Beachbody online fitness coach.
Unaware of the resources available to entrepreneurs through Bounce Innovation Hub, Riley discovered Bounce in 2022 while searching for Akron bounce fitness classes online. This class uses moon boots or trampolines to create high-cardio, low-impact exercises. Instead of finding these classes, she found MORTAR at Bounce, a 15-week accelerator program for established businesses.
“As I learned more about MORTAR at Bounce, I quickly realized this was a good fit,” she said. “Although my business was already established and I had clients, I wanted to get involved mainly because I have no business background. I wanted to make sure I was setting myself up for success.”
She applied and was accepted into the program’s eighth cohort that started in late 2022.
“I learned how much I really didn’t know,” she said. “I met people with diverse backgrounds from a variety of different businesses, but we all had many of the same challenges and still had to do much of the same groundwork. It was an amazing experience.”
Building a vision
While participating in MORTAR’s “Life’s a Pitch” competition, the culmination of the program, she met Al Jones, one of the judges. He was sponsoring a fitness gala and connected Riley with the organizer. That led her to connect with the holistic health practitioners at Regenerative Self Care and Wellness in Fairlawn. She moved into that location in March and is now providing in-person coaching as she explores the additional programming she will offer.
“Eat Clean-ish is still growing, but having a physical location has presented new challenges, such as learning how to shift from online marketing to local marketing,” she said. “I have big dreams for the collaboration and would like to buy a warehouse to create a self-care and wellness facility that would also promote co-working with others in the wellness space.”
Riley also aspires to become a public speaker to talk about weight loss, self-care and self-prioritization.
“If you don’t prioritize yourself, you will gain weight. I want to reach as many women as possible regarding the message that you must love yourself,” she said. “Weight loss is about helping you to look and feel your best.”
Navigating new challenges
It’s been gratifying for Riley to work with clients and receive positive feedback about how much she has changed their lives, but she’s also faced her share of challenges.
“I was successful when I started with online coaching during the pandemic, but post-pandemic, people’s habits have changed,” she said. “I’ve had to adapt, pivot, and learn how to do things differently. You have to trust the process, even if the money isn’t there, and keep going without the financial reward.”
She advises entrepreneurs to keep working at their full-time jobs, if they have one, while they are building their businesses. Riley quit her job to pursue entrepreneurship full-time with the support of her husband.
“I would have found a way to do both to alleviate the stress,” she said.
While Riley didn’t necessarily dream of becoming an entrepreneur, when she looks at her past experiences she realizes they have led her to this point.
“Everything seemed random: my mental health experience, Beachbody coaching and personal journey with weight loss, but when you look at it now, it all works together and makes sense,” she said.
For those on their own entrepreneurial journey, Riley advises: “Don’t take your experiences for granted. Use them to your advantage.”
To learn more about Eat Clean-ish, please visit https://www.eatcleanish.com/.
To learn more about MORTAR at Bounce, please https://bouncehub.org/mortar/.
About the author:
Jill Wodtley, APR, is a freelance writer and owner of Fine Point Public Relations and Advertising. An accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America, she develops and implements marketing communications, public relations and advertising initiatives for a variety of clients, ranging from health care and social service agencies to industrial/manufacturing firms.