Suzanne Mills On Calming Anxiety, Breaking Personal Barriers and Ending the Stigma around Mental Health
About Suzanne Mills –
Queen of Kombucha on –
- Calming Anxiety, Breaking Personal Barriers and Ending the Stigma around Mental Health.
- Disrupting the way people socialize by setting up a BOOZE-FREE COOL SEXY HEALTHY KOMBUCHA lifestyle trend.
- Therapy, Gut Health, Sober Socializing, Emotional Well Being, Conscious Living and Entrepreneurship.
Suzanne is on a mission to promote overall wellness and create fun experiences by bringing BAR STAR BUCH
into spaces where people are gathered to support local community in social settings! Modern Mental Health has been brought into the light of the everyday by BAR STAR BUCH.
Kombucha Queen | Entrepreneur | Creative Genius | Innovator | Change Maker | Influencer | Social Trend Setter | Purpose Driven | Community Healer | Booze-Free Babe | Certified Yoga Teacher | Health & Wellness Advocate | Coffee & Elixir Barista | Former Bartender Therapist
Suzanne Mills on How to break free from the socio-emotional stigma and create a conscious life of meaning and purpose by asking for help, adopting wellness practices, sharing vulnerabilities, having a power circle and serving the community.
“I don’t drink (because clearly I’ve already had more than my fair share). Maybe you drink everyday or you’re a monthlyish blackout binge-er like I was, maybe you’re sober-curious (or maybe that’s a completely foreign term to you), maybe you are an addict of some kind with a self-image that could use some improvement… or you’re in recovery… or maybe you just want to be healthier overall… all I’m saying is that maybe if you drink a bit of kombucha everyday it will help your physical & mental state because the gut is the second brain and if your guts ain’t right then your mind ain’t gonna be right.” - Suzanne Hampson, founder & owner of Bar Star Buch
Favourite Quote: “When the fear of not doing something outweighs the fear of doing something, that’s the perfect time to leap & do it.” – Unknown
Wanna calm your anxiety, break free from socio-emotional stigma, experience enriching health and overall well-being and most importantly feel lively? Be sure not to miss this scintillating awe-inspiring conversation with one of the most gritty and thoughtful human being who is also a symbol of Women Empowerment. Please help us in welcoming Suzanne Mills, founder & Boss Buch of BAR STAR BÜCH ‘Kombucha’
Suzanne’s journey has been a nerve-racking roller-coaster ride and therefore, a fascinating & inspiring one. We are glad to capture her wisdom and insights in this episode. If her open-hearted approach to life is going to get you the chills, then don’t be surprised.
A little bit about Bar Star Buch Kombucha….
Bar Star Büch brews premium kombucha that features the highest quality organic ingredients & is crafted to have potential health benefits in addition to the benefits of regular kombucha.
We also love to offer signature booze-free cocktails at events for your special guests! These BAR STAR BÜCH kombucha-based drinks can be customized & curated to compliment the theme + style of the experience you wish to create.
We love our community! 100% of the proceeds from our rotating seasonal kombucha brews go back to local charities that focus on mental health.
We also promote Zero Waste & Plastic Free culture since we don't pre-bottle or preserve our büch... instead you can find BAR STAR BÜCH growler fill stations in numerous spaces across Alberta & Manitoba so you can have the tastiest + freshest büch at home or on the spot!
If you are an entrepreneur or a business owner of a brick & mortar retail storefront and you want a completely unique way to increase revenue with minimal investment PLUS majorly ELEVATE THE EXPERIENCE of your clientele while they are in your space, then you should have a kombucha bar…especially if you run a business where there are awkward minglers. Make them drink buch while they hang out, you could potentially take all the credit for two introverts who become besties.
With having a kombucha bar, you get to be part of an awesome Canadian-born brand that was created organically from a passion for wellness & advocates for mental health. You get happier customers, increased revenue, more traffic, access to the benefits our wholesale relationships by bringing in retail products you see at other locations at prices less than what you’d normally get as a stand-alone business. We promote your location regularly on our social media and you get a featured web page on our official website. We will supply you with some signage and merch at a smokin’ deal. We don’t ask for any royalties or percentages of your business, just that you show us proof of a signed commerical space lease and that you serve Bar Star Buch on the taps of your bar.
And we are open to all kinds of different businesses thriving with our kombucha bars as an add-on to their existing business but contact us at email@example.com to brainstorm! We are, specifically, seeking businesses like bars, restaurants, craft microbreweries, distilleries, yoga studios, holistic wellness centres, organic foods markets, local collective retail boutiques, children + youth-focused arts & athletic spaces, specialty fitness studios (boxing, pilates, barre, spin, etc.), high-end hipster coffee houses, trendy hair salons and luxurious spas… places and spaces where clientele treasure their own time and value their wellbeing while supporting local.
Episode Highlights –
1. Nuggets of Wisdom
- Life is not easy. Persevere, Adapt or Pivot. Do whatever you must, but never ever give up!
- Opposite of Addiction is Connection.
- Being vulnerable is not a weakness but a way of experiencing absolute freedom, confidence and power.
- Self-love is the beginning of the departure of all toxicities and of the arrival of empowering inputs in life.
- It doesn’t take sheer will power to sober up or fix yourself, rather it takes a lot of Self-Awareness, Faith & Feeling to get to the roots of your wounds and to start healing.
- Strive for a healthy balance around Money, Emotional Wellness, Mental Peace and Relationships.
- Life is short, amazing, precious and sometimes hard. Do not take it for granted. Your loved ones are just a call or a text away. Do not hesitate to reach out to them, connect, help and get helped.
- A new business is like a newborn baby that requires constant attention, creative ideas, a network of people, unwavering commitment & many sleepless nights.
- Sober people still like to have fun with friends but when you have to order water or feel like you just ordered a drink on the kids menu, it can be a real buzzkill. Sobriety and Healthy Living gets Cool & Sexy with booze-free Kombucha lifestyle.
2. Holiday Season Greetings
Bar Star Buch is launching the super exclusive new six-pack Kombucha along with a new flavour called Ginja Ninja this holiday season and giving back to the community by making charitable donations to Hospice Calgary.
3. On Entrepreneurship
- It’s not for everyone and that’s OKAY. If you can’t sell what you are offering, whether that’s a product or a service or a lifestyle, entrepreneurship is not your cup of tea.
- Not everyone will like what you have to offer and that’s totally fine. At the same time there will be many who will support you, join your tribe and become your brand ambassadors.
4. Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
- Lean on your network for advice or feedback. DM them and don’t shy away from asking for help.
- Connect with other entrepreneurs on a pedestal. They are normal people who are willing to support and give you their valuable time.
- Believe in your offerings (product/ service/ lifestyle) and go out, share and sell them.
- First you will FAIL, then you will LEARN, then you will GROW, then you will SUCCEED.
5. Advice for Employees & Job Seekers
- Don’t get carried away by or too attached to your status in the organization or to your income-level. Always be open to new opportunities and learn new skills.
- When hit by a job loss, don’t let your destructive ego & pride drown you. Rather see it as an opportunity to explore better options for higher fulfilment and improved health.
- Believe in yourself and in the power of manifestation.
6. The Impact
Ending the stigma around Mental Health by creating a shift from the current alcohol-induced downtown lifestyle fad to an AUTHENTIC, INCLUSIVE, HEALTHY & SOBER social lifestyle and making it INFECTIOUS, FUN, COOL & SEXY with KOMBUCHA.
7. Suzanne’s Story
How it all started? (Nerve-racking roller coaster ride) -
Suzanne Mills is the owner/founder/boss büch of Bar Star Büch kombucha. An Alberta girl born in Edmonton, as a kid she grew up just west of Sylvan Lake on a farm surrounded by horses, cats & dogs. Later on for her high school years, her parents’ divorce would move her mom & younger sister to the windy-est place in the province (and likely on earth too!), a small town in Southern Alberta called Pincher Creek.
Suzanne was overweight, shy & geeky by all standards but was friends with everyone, especially when she was drinking at a party! After high school, Suzanne went to Lethbridge College, then to SAIT and yet she still didn’t know what she wanted to be when she grew up. By age 20, she was a new mom & wife who secretly suffered from post-partum depression, disordered eating and survived a suicide attempt. By age 26, Suzanne was a divorced single mom, had graduated from Olds College with honors, had a six-figure salary working in oil & gas and was finally a homeowner with roots in a city that would become home: Calgary. From what it looked like on the outside, Suzanne had the perfect life - a fabulous job, a happy child, she had the nice car, great clothes, glamorous friends, fancy vacations… it appeared to be the lifestyle everyone wants. Except for the partying; it was the drinking that would eventually bring Suzanne down to her knees. The drinking culture of a ‘downtown’ lifestyle introduced her to the true cost of having that high-end income & status in a very corrupt male dominated industry. Various toxic relationships took the biggest toll on her because she realized she didn’t have many meaningful relationships, the deep whole-hearted connections she craved, and after mental breakdown and a visit with a psychologist, in 2014, Suzanne landed in her first AA meeting.
The beginning of the end of “The Suzanne Tsunami” -
Suzanne’s estranged father was an alcoholic who struggled with his recovery for most of his life so when AA was the prescription for her dis-ease, she felt a sense of relief more than anything. After sobbing hysterically through that first meeting, Suzanne decided that she had to quit her oil & gas career, end all of the toxic relationships she was in at that time & get it together for the sake of her young son. She also was hell bent on going to Mexico to get her yoga teacher training certificate because it was always her dream to not only teach yoga but to open a yoga studio because over the years yoga was her ‘one thing’, that one consistent place where she could just be. These life-altering decisions helped her break through her stigma and marked, what she calls as, “The beginning of the end of the Suzanne Tsunami”.
Eventually she was laid off from her O&G job in 2015, which ended up being a blessing because she was now totally sober and free of the self-destructive community she’d become so immersed in. In 2016 she took a major leap & opened The Bar, which was her vision of what ‘a bar’ should really be: booze-free with kombucha on-tap, yoga classes & art workshops with some retail therapy items too. There was something at The Bar for everyone who wanted to partake in this new lifestyle amongst a like-minded community.
In & out of being an Entrepreneur -
Without realizing it, as a new entrepreneur Suzanne had morphed into a workaholic who was absolutely physically/mentally/emotionally/spiritually drained due to burnout. Running The Bar became her new obsession. She was not healthy or well anymore then her father passed away in July 2017 and although they didn’t have much of a relationship most of her adult life, this loss greatly affected Suzanne. The grief overcame her totally but eventually she would come to a place of forgiveness and compassion, thanks to faith in her dedicated yoga practice. Then when Suzanne’s younger sister, her husband & their infant daughter came to visit one week in August 2018 EVERYTHING would change. Suzanne’s brother-in-law unexpectedly collapsed and was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme, terminal brain cancer. It was at that point Suzanne realized she could NOT do it all. Although the yoga studio was her passion project & her ‘baby’, she realized she could not support her clients as much as she wanted to because the workaholism burnout was still lingering & the grief was just so heavy. Suzanne sold the yoga studio in September 2018 so she could be the support system that her family needed & take what she thought would be a much needed self-care break. The sale of The Bar would not be easy either as it ended up in a lawsuit (that did eventually settle). Suzanne did go back to oil & gas for a few months as a means to pay looming bills but that didn’t last long because she realized the money wasn’t worth it anymore after having a panic attack at her office desk before the morning operations meeting.
Being Hell-Bent and The Healing –
It should be noted that maintaining sobriety through all of this was no easy feat. No, sir. Suzanne did go to regular appointments with her psychologist, found some supportive podcasts, read a ton of self-help books, followed some raw & real sober women on instagram but also thankfully connect with a group of badass sober women via AA who served as an important pillar of strength for her when she was feeling shaky, weak or shadowy. This welcoming camaraderie of women would be a place of inspiration and emotional safety for Suzanne to go every Wednesday night.
Taking time off to just be with family was also an important learning assignment. She had never experienced her mom or sister living in the same city as her nevermind her house be the landing pad for them for months & extended family would even stay at her house sporadically. Suzanne is a private person with introverted tendencies, like a hermit… you can likely imagine how overwhelming this was.
Many psychologist/CBT sessions/doctor/massage/reiki/energy healing appointments later, Suzanne was able to manage her cluster of all the feelings and gratefully witness her niece giggle, grow & learn to walk in a hospital beside her daddy’s bed. Suzanne watched her 30 year old brother-in-law learn to talk, walk, feed himself and most importantly jab smart comments at her after he survived major brain surgery, radiation & chemo. Suzanne most importantly watched the bond between her son & her brother-in-law get to a place where most best friends don’t get to go with each other. Beauty was all around even in the midst of devastating pain, sadness, anger, loss and grief.
The Birth of Bar Star Buch (Beginning of the new Entrepreneurial Journey) and Giving Back to the Community -
After much hesitation, in February 2019, Bar Star Buch was officially born. Suzanne was nervous to start another business for fear of experiencing burnout again. She and her family were still walking the cancer journey with her brother-in-law so she felt like she was on shaky ground because a new business is like a newborn baby that requires constant attention, creative ideas, a network of people, unwaivering commitment & many sleepless nights. The thought of starting another business was anxiety-inducing but Suzanne knew she wasn’t going back to an oil & gas career plus she knew her daily dose of kombucha had helped her guts through all the stress over the years… why not start a kombucha company and only sell to businesses that hosted great communities in social settings? Why not break into the restaurant & bar scene too because there is a severe shortage of cool healthy sexy non-alcoholic drink options on menus of trendy restaurants?! Sober people still like to have fun with friends but when you have to order water or feel like you just ordered a drink on the kids menu, it can be a real buzzkill. By cracking open the hospitality market, Suzanne wouldn’t necessarily need to be tied down to a formal storefront that would ultimately wear down her sanity as a solo entrepreneur. It would take a team to open an official Bar Star Buch location & to scale the business properly… which is also intimidating considering all that Suzanne has been through in the last few years but it is a wild goal of hers!
And that’s how this newest chapter began! Bar Star Buch is different from other kombucha companies because not only is it owned by an Indigenous 35 year old woman (Suzanne is an Alberta Metis) who manages to somehow balance work/family life with her 15 year old son’s busy schedule but every flavor has been intentionally crafted to have bonus health benefits in addition to the regular benefits of kombucha because the ingredients she uses include medicinal herbs, spices, flowers and plants. Bar Star Buch has been growing slowly but steadily since its birth. Suzanne has learned to love the patient pace it takes to run the entrepreneurship marathon and although the business model is very different than The Bar’s yoga studio model was, the entrepreneurship path been a positive experience overall. Looking back, nothing worth it ever comes easy and being the friendly neighborhood kombucha dealer is definitely not glamorous most days. There are still many stumbling blocks she has as a solo entrepreneur but Suzanne has proved to be a resilient rockstar and has been proudly plus gratefully stone cold sober since 2015.
Suzanne’s brother-in-law sadly passed away on September 23, 2019 and in his honour she will be launching a new flavor of kombucha called Ginja Ninja that will be available in December 2020 where a percentage of profits from this flavor will be donated to Hospice Calgary.
P.S. We loved having Suzanne on the show and appreciate her candour and giving attitude while she shares her vulnerabilities and insights with us. Kudos to her grit, humility and fighting spirit.
Hope you enjoyed this episode and have had some key takeaways to reflect on and share with your loved ones. If you are an individual, who is feeling isolated, anxious or disconnected; OR if you are an organization seeking to have happier more engaged customers and increased revenue, you are in for a treat with ‘The Stunning Suzanne’.
Let’s make Bar Star Buch Kombucha movement go viral!
Sober is Sexy!