In addition to empowering our students to find ways of living and eating that make them feel like their happiest, healthiest selves, we provide the coaching, business-building tools, and knowledge to create a successful wellness career. In this series, you’ll hear from IIN students and graduates who share their inspiring stories about how IIN helped them realize the work their hearts were meant to pursue, from health coaching and beyond. These stories have the power to unite us in continuing our mission to spread the ripple effect of health and happiness, one Health Coach at a time.
Sara Wener worked in the fashion industry for over 20 years as an accomplished designer and stylist. She will graduate from IIN’s Health Coach Training Program in September 2021. Sara is passionate about healthy living, aligning with truth and sustainability, and integrating these passions into her work as a life stylist and transformation coach. Sara's desire is to empower her clients and communities at large, to heal from the inside out by guiding them to take care of their whole selves – and ultimately our planet – one small step at a time. Sara is also a certified yoga teacher, numerologist, Reiki practitioner, and strategic intervention coach. Outside of work, Sara loves to travel, watch foreign films, dance, read, cook, and spend time with her two teenage children in the San Francisco Bay Area, where they currently reside.
What work were you doing before enrolling in IIN’s Health Coach Training Program?
“I was in the fashion industry as both a designer – I had my own collection – and stylist for more than 20 years. I worked as a fashion stylist and personal shopper. To many, this may seem like a dream career. It was for many years, but as I transformed and became more conscious, I also became acutely aware of how toxic the fashion industry is to our planet, underserved communities, and their inhabitants.”
How did your IIN education shift your perspective in your work?
“After styling hundreds of clients, I can express with certainty that many carry childhood traumas or have eating disorders, body dysmorphia, or terribly low self-esteem due to lack of self-love and acceptance. Contrary to what other style experts may claim, a gorgeous outfit alone will not – regardless of quality, fit, or styling – create long-term happiness and a consistent state of self-love and balance.
“The fashion industry is a vicious, never-ending marketplace – one that intelligently leverages unresolved emotional wounds to push trends and products. We have created an epidemic by which our society is addicted to retail and consumerism as a means to feel good and mask all that’s hidden beneath. However, this addiction happens without any consideration for how destructive it is to our planet and ultimate survival of the human race.
“If one doesn’t understand what it means to truly love and value oneself, one will never understand the impact their shopping habits have on families, communities, and ecosystems. This ripple effect begins at the source of everything – within each of us.
“Initially, I attempted to slow down fashion and encourage my clients to purchase less. As you might imagine, this didn’t make me a great fashion stylist! I tried to advocate for industry transformation and accountability, but that wasn’t my fight to fight.
“I turned inward and found my purpose, connecting with my gifts, and pursuing what I do best. As a life stylist and transformation coach, I support and guide others to learn how to love themselves, find their purpose, connect with their truth, and feel whole and healthy. We always start from the inside and eventually work our way out, as opposed to what I did as a stylist, which was to work from the outside in.
“If we are healthy, our planet is healthy. I am therefore using my IIN education to help my clients understand the importance of seeing nutrition from a medicinal perspective. I teach my clients that rather than being fearful of food, they must view it as a way to keep themselves vital and strong. I am also using my yoga teacher certification and certificate in strategic intervention as a means to shift mind-set and heal emotional and anatomical wounds.”
Why did you feel inspired to do this work?
“When I first started styling, it happened by accident. Initially, I worked with a multitude of Hollywood celebrities, styling them in my own designs for TV, film, and red-carpet appearances. But after I relocated to the Bay Area, I started working with mostly high-tech executives and many of their spouses.
“What I loved about my work was witnessing the transformation that happened when my clients saw themselves as ‘put together’ and exuding style. With my guidance, they were able to feel confident and consequently changed the way they presented themselves in both their professional and personal lives. But I also noticed those who were most unhappy and broken would hire me to style and shop for them on a regular, almost compulsive, basis.
“I would see all types of things in my clients’ closets. Everything from drugs and vodka bottles to firearms. I was working with some very unhappy people, and rather than being a part of their healing, I was helping to put a Band-Aid over their deep-rooted issues. It became apparent to me I was enabling unhealthy behavior. This ultimately inspired me to search for tools and strategies to help my clients heal from the inside out, reversing the order. Instead of painting the leaves green, I now start with watering the roots and strengthening the trunks.”
Are you bringing your understanding of wellness to areas of your life outside work?
“My work and life are the same; wellness is all-encompassing. Wellness is a balance between our minds, bodies, and spirits. It is the ability to nourish all aspects of ourselves and to ultimately find inner tranquility, our true purpose, and connection to something greater than we are.
“I was always aware of the fact that styling is a luxury service, and it really bothered me I could not offer support to those who were underserved and struggling financially. I would occasionally volunteer my time to shelters and clinics to talk about style to young women, but it became clear talking about presence and style was hardly a priority to those who were trying to figure out how to put the next meal in front of their children.
“It is my hope that as I gain knowledge about nutrition, wellness, and life coaching, I will be able to create programs to support these communities, as everyone deserves to feel balanced and healthy inside and out.”
If you could give one piece of advice to your pre-IIN self, what would it be?
“Everything you need exists within. Your direction, purpose, uniqueness, value you bring to this life, unconditional and infinite love... it is all already a part of you. When you stop searching for external validation and accolades, you will find your inner peace.
“Until a few years ago, much of what I focused on and revolved my life around was based on appearance and accumulated luxury possessions. I built an entire business and lifestyle around it. As a fashion stylist, I promoted that if you looked and felt fabulous on the outside, you could heal the brokenness on the inside. But we all know this couldn’t be further from the truth. Improving your exterior is only a quick fix and always leaves you wanting more.
“I feel a huge responsibility when working with clients. Rather than enable bad behavior and encourage retail therapy, I now guide them to embrace more holistic and integrative lifestyles, starting from the inside and working their way out.
“Style is not about fashion; style is about how we express ourselves – our inner beauty, health, authenticity, values, and service to one another and to our world.”
When it comes to pursuing a career in health and wellness with an IIN education, the possibilities are endless. The health coaching philosophy can be applied to any professional setting, which provides IIN graduates with incredible opportunities to get innovative in curating the type of career – and future – they’ve always dreamed of. Learn more about what makes our Health Coach Training Program the perfect choice for your health and wellness education by downloading our free Curriculum Guide today.
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