From a boardroom in LA to a beach in Maui, Chris Roy’s entrepreneurial journey is as inspiring as it is fascinating. After living through the rat race of LA’s entertainment marketing world, a dramatic health scare motivated Chris and his wife to leave it all behind and pursue their dream. They founded Namaste Interactive in 2004, a custom web design agency for emerging companies in the yoga, organic and healthy lifestyle space and they haven’t looked back since.
These days, family and health are top priorities for the duo, and everything else follows from there. They’ve seen their business thrive and grow—the result of focusing on self-care, raising their son and living holistically.
The Namaste Interactive office was originally based in Boulder, Colorado. After Chris’ son started experiencing difficulties living there, they decided to take their team and work remotely instead. How did they decide where to move? It dawned on Chris one night in a vivid dream—and that “dream” was all it took. They bought three one-way tickets that night and gave themselves 6 months to pack up the Boulder office and move to the island of Maui as a family, sight-unseen. The rest of the team at Namaste Interactive unanimously opted to work remotely.
Wanna know how he’s livin’ the dream? Meet Chris Roy of Namaste Interactive.
What was life like before Namaste Interactive and what motivated you to quit your day job and start your own business?
I was working in Beverly Hills in entertainment marketing. At the same time, I was beginning a yoga practice. While I was personally starting to feel a deeper connection to my health and the planet, I realized professionally things weren’t lining up. I was marketing products to kids like video games and fast food–consumer brands that were far from healthy or sustainable. It slowly began to eat away at me. I would go into the Beverly Hills office and check my heart at the door, then leave to do yoga after work.
The gap between what I felt in my work environment and what I felt on the yoga mat grew wider and wider. I was in a high paid position and doing well living in LA with a serious overhead. The idea of leaving that behind felt like a huge leap of faith and pretty scary. But then it all came to a head and I had no choice but to make a drastic change.
What happened was my appendix ruptured on a yoga mat. I didn’t know what it was at first, but after about 12 hours some friends took me to the hospital and I was rushed into emergency. That was the wake-up call that forced me to leave my job and take the leap of faith to follow our hearts. For me, it was a very intentional kick in the a** to move in a new direction.
I think we are all made to believe, early on, that success is based upon our status and how much we’re making. I bought into that for a long time too until my body decided it was time to take a break.
After I had surgery on my appendix, I launched Namaste Interactive from my hospital bed with my wife. That was back in 2004.
Chris’ 3 pearls of wisdom for entrepreneurs:
- Launch a company based on what excites you versus what’s going to make money. When you’re getting ready to launch something, envision yourself in 10 years. Will you still be excited about what you’re doing?
- Give yourself space in the morning. Go through your morning ritual—spend time with your kids, meditate, walk the dog. This way, when you step into your first email or call of the day, you’re in a high-frequency place.
- Don’t hit the credit cards right away! Find a way to ease into your venture and tap into your resources first. We launched our business with 10 credit cards and maxed them all out in our first year, racking up thousands of dollars of debt. We were lucky but typically this will handicap your business in the long run.
Describe the biggest challenge you’ve experienced as a small business owner and how you dealt with it.
The toughest thing for us is that there’s a number of new technologies that challenge our business. We are a web design firm and agency that focuses on high-level custom design websites. These days, there are so many tools that allow businesses to create a clean website quickly and on the fly. We are in a paradigm shift and risk potentially becoming obsolete. So that’s a scary thing for small business owners.
To manage this, we keep asking ourselves: “How is the landscape changing and how can we continue to refine our business to focus on what we do and do it in a way that differentiates us as a specialty or niche product for our market?”
Ultimately, what we want to do is be the obvious choice for a client because we understand our customers and we are creating offerings based on what is important to them.
Regular conversations with clients allow us to understand what they value so we can deliver that to them
The most effective way to do this is by developing strong relationships with our customers. Regular conversations with clients allow us to understand what they value so we can deliver that to them. Things like surveys, emails but, most importantly, one-on-one conversations help us stay close to the companies that we work with. It’s one of the key things that’s created change for us as a company.
Share a story where you went above and beyond to solve a problem.
One of the first clients we worked with was a spiritual jewelry company. At the time, we specialized specifically in email marketing. In one of our first meetings with them, they asked if we would also design their website for them. Back then, we didn’t have any website design experience but, as a new company, we wanted to go that extra mile for them. So we went home and taught ourselves how to design custom websites. While it took weeks of researching, it ended up working out really well and that’s how we ultimately became a website design company.
It’s a typical work day. Where can we find you?
I am easy to find. I’m at the yoga studio first, a quick stop at the juicery around the corner, then in my home office on conference calls. You do a lot of conference calls when you’re in the middle of the Pacific Ocean! When the day ends, I am most likely walking on the beach with my family
Inspiration or perspiration?
Definitely inspiration. We can work hard but we have to find a way to stay inspired. Whether that means getting on a paddle board or going to a yoga class or a festival just to recharge the batteries. Perspiration is overrated and, if that’s all you have, eventually you hit a wall (or your appendix ruptures) and you have to make a change. I used to do perspiration and I ended up in a hospital bed. So I like inspiration–it keeps me charged. It’s far more sustainable in my experience.
We can work hard but we have to find a way to stay inspired.
Who is your role model?
The entrepreneurs and the companies we work with really inspire me and keep me focused. There are so many amazing people in our community who are living from an authentic place and doing incredible things in the world, so I draw a lot of inspiration from them.
Do you have a motivational mantra or inspirational quote that helps you get out of bed in the morning?
There’s a quote by Howard Thurman that’s stuck with me:
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it—because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Work-Life balance is *tough* for a small business owner. How do you stay balanced?
The greatest secret for me has been waking up early. I wake up every morning at 3:30 a.m. and have a 2-3 hour morning ritual. It consists of yoga, meditation, walking our dog and making my famous coconut smoothie. The morning time is how I reset my focus and begin the day with ease. It’s my non-negotiable routine that happens before answering any emails or taking a call.
While I want to do everything I can to support the company and our clients, I realize we have to take care of ourselves first. In our culture, we are taught that’s a selfish thing, but if we don’t nourish ourselves and give ourselves what we need, we won’t be our best for anyone.
To practice what I preach, I launched a personal page on Instagram called Namaste Tribe to share philosophies around living a holistic life. It’s been a lot of fun and I think people find it inspiring.
What’s next for Namaste Interactive?
From an agency perspective, we are going to continue to evolve and look at how we can move where the digital landscape is shifting in our industry. We are moving towards becoming a full-service digital marketing agency. There are a lot of exciting things ahead for us!
Chris’ 5-year-old son Juna creates beautiful abstract paintings on canvas. He currently has 20 original pieces on display at a café in Maui! Chris attributes his son’s precocious talent to the fact that instead of having a TV running in the background, he and his wife have committed to inspiring him through nature, instruments, books and, of course, lots of painting materials.
Learn more about Chris Roy and Namaste Interactive:
about the author
Amanda is a content editor at FreshBooks, writing and producing blog content to help small business owners achieve their goals and enjoy (yes, actually enjoy!) running their business. Amanda’s background in education and customer support makes her a natural communicator who loves empowering others to succeed. When she’s not writing and editing content, Amanda takes her dog, Jonny, on adventures searching for the best coleslaw in Toronto.