Entrepreneur to Watch: Emma Lynds of Elements Academy
This month we’re talking about back-to-school. Most parents know that a return to class usually also means a return to extracurricular activities, which ties in very nicely with our profile today. Emma Lynds is the owner and instructor at Elements Academy of Martial Arts. Emma encourages the women who train with her to tap into their inner strength, empowering them to set and achieve high goals for themselves. And, as if that weren’t enough, she is also raising two teenagers on her own.
What is your role in the company?
I am the owner of Elements Academy of Martial Arts and the first and only woman to own an independent Martial Arts studio in Vancouver. Due to our small size, it is a necessity that I have my hand in all aspects of running the business. However, my primary roles include program development and promotion and student body progress management. I am also the lead instructor in the Women’s Program.
When did you start the company?
In 2009, after sevel years of partnership in my first Martial Arts Club, I went out on my own and opened Elements Academy of Martial Arts. This October we will celebrate two years in business.
What were you doing before you opened your business?
Before opening Elements Academy, I was an equal partner in Dojang Studio of Martial Arts. While a partner at Dojang, I learned many of the skills required to run a successful business – although as an owner I feel the learning never ends. In addition to running Elements, and training myself, I am also raising two teenagers.
What inspired you to start your company?
I take great satisfaction from the fact that every morning I get to wake up and go to work doing something I love. After dissolving my old partnership, it was a natural decision to open my own Martial Arts studio. I feel a responsibility to use my strengths and knowledge to help others attain health and wellness. Martial Arts is not just a hobby, sport, or career choice. It is a path, a lifetime pursuit. The values and benefits of practicing Martial Arts are things I want to share with as many people as possible.
What is your company all about?
My business successfully caters to families in our community and allows me to follow my passion for training people to become their best. Personal growth and experience have shown me that my skills are best served by teaching self-defense to women and girls. I am proud to role model that being a strong woman who is capable of defending herself is an admirable quality. I try to make Martial Arts approachable with a focus on fun, form, and function. We maintain small class sizes and adhere to an individualized approach to teaching and learning.
What’s your vision for your company?
I want Elements to continue offering first rate Martial Arts instruction to kids, youth, and adults in Vancouver; but more importantly, I want to know that every member in my club is learning how to successfully defend him or herself. We are not an academy that focuses on competition or belt progression, although we also support members with these goals. My focus is teaching effective and applicable self-defense techniques so that my members have the know-how to get out of bad situations. I want Elements to be known as the resource on self-defense, especially for girls and women.
What excites you about what you’re doing?
Making connections with people and creating an environment where students feel supported and encouraged to learn something new. Even though I am rooted in a traditional Martial Arts system, I really try and make connections with each of my members on an equal level. We’re all students trying to better ourselves, so I focus on being there for them. And this creates lasting bonds of friendship with our member families. I also embody what I teach my clients and members: a healthy body and a healthy mind. It is a case of mutual inspiration for our members and our team when we see hard work and commitment rewarded so immensely.
What are some early examples of success?
Athletically, I started my Martial Arts training at 16 years of age and became the first woman to be awarded a black belt at age 24 under my Grandmaster. In 2010, I won my first Muay Thai fight while training in Thailand and later that year was promoted to a Blue Belt under Royce Gracie in Jiu-Jitsu. My passion has come full circle with the opening of Elements. In only two years, our club has grown and with it our reputation for training excellence.
Are there any charities or organizations you’re involved in?
At Elements, we support a number of non-profit organizations through donations and Women’s Self-Defense fundraisers. As an advocate for women’s wellness and safety, I have something unique to offer, and I am always looking for opportunities to become more involved with my community.
What’s next for you?
I am currently training for my second Muay Thai fight that will take place in March 2012 in Thailand. I also want to compete in my first boxing fight in the next year. While time is limited – divided between my children, my business, and my training – I also hope to pursue a degree in the field of human kinetics.
Amber Strocel is a writer, aspiring math teacher, suburbanite, wife and mom of two. She believes in the power of the Internet to connect people, and she believes that numbers are the poetry of the universe. You can often find her knitting, sewing, volunteering, working in her garden, and sneaking chocolate when no one's looking. She blogs at Strocel.com and shares her photos on Instagram as @AmberStrocel.