A health journey sparks a community

After she began her own health journey and seeing how good the benefits were, Liora Pine wanted to bring as many people along for the ride with her. 

Growing up in the 80s in America when mac’n’cheese out of a box was a thing and junk food reigned supreme, Liora almost didn’t stand a chance.

She also had her family's health history stacked against her. On her mum’s side of the family, most died young, with bad health conditions including lung and heart disease. 

Liora is a Rocketspark Design Partner and not only was she a finalist for our Launch 2021 Client Impact Award, she also won the Digital Strategy and Ecommerce Award at the 2021 Waipa Network Business Awards.

Liora grew up in sunny California, heading to Washington DC for University where she gained a double degree in Graphic Design and Communication.

While she was at uni, Liora was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, something that made her question the direction of her life.

“I thought, this isn’t what I want. I was constantly nauseous, unwell, lethargic, I couldn’t keep up with anyone, even while just walking up a flight of stairs. I decided, no, I don’t want to die in my 40s. I want to change my story,” she reflected. 

When she finished university and moved back home, Liora hired a personal trainer for the first time in her life and joined a gym.

But, just as she was discovering what it was like to feel good, she injured her back severely.

“Being in America, they wanted to do surgery, I said no, I will rehab this. I had an amazing physio who basically became my personal trainer. I discovered yoga, I discovered how to eat a balanced meal and that was the real beginning to my wellness journey,” she said.

Not long after that, Liora came to New Zealand on holiday in 2007 and ended up staying here to live. She lived in both Auckland and Wellington before finally settling in Cambridge, where she’s been for the past eight years.

Before leaving America, Liora discovered an exercise called barre. Barre fitness is a hybrid of ballet inspired movements, combined with the stretch elements of yoga and the core strength of pilates. Barre fitness uses the support of the ballet barre itself, therefore offers great stability and balance.

Barre was the thing that kept her feeling good, but when she moved to the Waikato she couldn’t find any classes to attend.

“I started to feel a bit yuck again, and didn’t know what was happening, so I took a step back and looked at what I was doing and it was obvious why I was feeling yuck. All I was doing was eating toast and drinking coffee. 

“Once I discovered what it was like to feel better again and I got back to barre, I realised it was something I could bring to the community. 

“I thought it could be the one thing that people needed, because they don’t want to do a high intensity cardio class, or do yoga because they think they aren’t flexible enough, or pilates isn’t fun for them because they have to lay on their hips on the floor and it hurts. 

“So, I figured if I were to introduce another form of movement, barre, it might be the right fit for someone who is ready to start their wellness journey, but hasn’t found an outlet.”

Liora said as someone who moved to Cambridge and was self-employed, without kids, it was very hard to find a community. 

“With barre, I wanted to create a community factor. I wanted it to be a safe place to make connections and introduce some of those wellness tips that have helped me,” she said.

Liora said she had no idea if Cambridge would even want barre, it wasn’t really well known in the area and so she started out with a Facebook post on the Cambridge Grapevine and got a lot of traction. 

Flourish Wellness has been part of the Cambridge community for three years now, and Liora is happy to be able to call it an award winning business after taking out the Digital Strategy and Ecommerce Award at the 2021 Waipa Business Excellence Awards.

What Liora does is more than just barre to her. She sees Flourish Wellness as a holistic way of looking at your lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be movement, it can be mindfulness, it can be community, it can be nutrition, it can be whatever it is that you find lacking at any moment in your wellness journey.

Liora had entered the Waipa Business Awards four years prior, but she found the process long and daunting. It wasn’t until one of the Cambridge Chamber team reached out to her to say she should enter and that they had changed to the process to make it more simple that she decided to give it another shot.

“I wanted to apply because I thought actually it was pretty cool that Flourish had gone from studio classes to online classes so quickly during lockdown.

“Most businesses didn’t need to shut until Level 3, but we had to close as soon as we got to Level 2. I did one trial online Zoom class and the next day it just took off. 

“It was a pretty quick turn around from being, ‘my business is closed’ to ‘we are open for business’. We had to figure out how to get subscriptions on the website, how to schedule Zoom classes, where to put the links, where to store the videos, and just things we have never had to think about.”

Liora said feedback was fantastic, and reflecting on it now the fact that she was the only ‘one man band’ so to speak, “was quite phenomenal. Everyone else has a team, and for Flourish, it’s just me”.

“What started as a one page website so I could direct people, let them know how to get in touch with me, how to book classes, what barre is, and other basics, quickly grew into a four page website. Then, to an ecommerce website, to, now, an over 10 page website with a fully fledged blog, an integrated iCloud booking system and everything else you can imagine,” she said.

Flourish Wellness is the Rocketspark website that got Liora into Client Impact finals for Launch 2021, Liora is a Design Partner at Rocketspark through her other business, a graphic design agency called The Little Acre.

“If you look at the Flourish Wellness website, it’s been a fantastic way for me to showcase how a brand can grow, which compliments my other business.

“I have two very different companies, however because I am the designer behind it all, it’s really easy for me to test. Anything I want to trial specifically with Rocketspark or digital marketing I can test on my own website and I can be my own case study, which helps massively for my other clients.”

Liora said Rocketspark saved Flourish Wellness during lockdown.

“The fact that we were able to turn our ecommerce website into a subscription website meant that during lockdown I actually gained more members than I originally had because we were able to provide that online community when everyone was feeling quite alone. The website would normally see under 100 hits a month and now sees around 1000 hits a month,” she said.

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