Choosing her happiness and finding her zen.
By Ellen Linnemann
When Susan Stone couldn’t find the crystals, sage, palo santo and fresh incense she needed for her spiritual practice here in the Lowcountry, she found herself making trips to North Carolina every few months to stock up on supplies. After numerous trips, she came to the realization that she probably wasn’t the only one here in the Lowcountry who couldn’t find these basic supplies. She also realized that not only was there a definite hole in the market for these types of products, but that she was the perfect person to fill it.
An intuitive healer for more than two decades and a Reiki master who has lived in Beaufort County for the past 26 years, Susan, 62, started her practice making house calls for the first ten years, later joining a chiropractic office and then securing her own office location – where she has based her practice for the past six years. When the store building next door with a garden space became available, she decided to follow her heart and further expand her dreams — finding her Zen, and helping others do the same, through the launch of ZenDen – a place where the community members can come to escape the world and heal their body, mind and spirit. ZenDen technically opened in November of 2017, and officially opened their new store in their current building in March of 2018. ZenDen’s store is located at 707 Paris Avenue, and the Healing House is at 709 Paris Avenue, in historic Port Royal.
“When I decided to open ZenDen, I had $700 to merchandise the store after I paid the first month’s rent,” she recalls. “So I dug up all the crystals in my yard, called all my artist friends to put their work in on commission, made a small investment in some incense and we opened.”
Today, ZenDen is a thriving tribute to sustainable living. ZenDen has grown to over 70 local contributors from those in the healing arts to those who create art, soap, jewelry, textiles, handmade furniture and more. In addition, the Healing House offers classes, meditation and private sessions with various practitioners. ZenDen also expanded into hosting festivals, as well, with Susan noting that “we’ve had three so far and the community has supported us and all of the vendors in the most beautiful way.”
In finding her Zen, and the launching of ZenDen, Susan–who spent more than 30 years working primarily as a gardener and landscape designer until severe heatstroke at age 55 drove her to reinvent herself–stresses the importance of friends and mentors who showed up to help her run her business – and her strong belief in the importance of choosing happiness over money when it comes to living your passion.
“I felt completely unqualified to run a business, but the people who showed up in my life to contribute to ZenDen were amazing,” she says. “People have shown up out of nowhere to help me with social media, taxes and in general, managing people” – further noting that her personal journey has been one of miracles. She was struck by lightning and became a shaman at age 50, became an ordained minister at 51 – and in that same year being adopted by the Cherokee Nation as a clan mother and given her name Great Bear Medicine Woman (which explains all the bear references.)
In reflecting on her decision to choose happiness over money, Susan is equally as passionate about the steps she has taken on her journey as a business owner here in the Lowcountry.
“Money doesn’t motivate me,” she stresses, noting that she strives to keep her store as local as possible, and is thrilled to support more than 70 artists, artisans, authors and makers. “Beauty, community involvement, feeding treats to passing dogs, giving away crystals to kids, having real conversations, helping people feel better and contributing to the health of our planet, those are the things that motivate me.”
Choosing happiness over money, and finding her zen. Not only has this combination proven to support Susan’s success as a business owner, but it’s proven to be the key to her success in helping to support the bodies, minds and spirits of the Lowcountry community, as well.
Susan offers these tips for others interested in starting their own businesses.
- Ask yourself the question “If not now, when? There is a reason you have a passion for something – if you have an idea or see a gap that needs to be filled, trust that you will be guided.”
- Trust the timing of the universe. There is a rhythm, and a season for everything. Don’t worry about what you DON’T have. Place all your attention on what you DO have and then allow life to unfold.
- If you make money the most important reason to open a business, don’t do it. You might make some money, but you won’t enjoy your work. When you love what you do and do what you love, you will “play for profit” and laugh all the way to the bank.