Lisa Xiong is a single mother, working full time, running an insurance business and has just launched a new company. Youvana was launched after spending many years thinking about it. She envisioned a shared space for health and wellness that offered affordable services.
“Over the past few years, going through my own personal journey through health and wellness, it was very important to me to just do it now. There’s never going to be a right time,” Xiong said. “Hearing stories of family and friends going through a lot of chronic illnesses, having a lot of health issues, I was compelled to create a space that welcomes people in an affordable and accessible way. My focus is to target the people of color in our community and those from low-income areas because I find that they are the people who are most marginalized when it comes to health disparities.”
Right out of high school, Xiong realized her dream of being an entrepreneur by opening her own interpreting agency. To better acquaint herself with the business world, she took some training classes at Neighborhood Development Center (NDC), where she later accepted a full-time job.
“It’s really been eye opening. I have just been inspired by the people that come through our doors at NDC,” she said. “You see their challenges with seeking financing and capital to not having the proper knowledge of business acumen to launch a business that can be successful. It’s heartbreaking but it’s also rewarding because we’re able to alleviate some of those barriers for them. They have the grit to start their business and know that it’s so hard. I’m like, ‘you know what, I think I’m going to do it this year! I’ve been dreaming about this and I want to bring this to the community.’”
Xiong has lived on the East Side since arriving to Minnesota as a refugee. When looking for a space to house Youvana, she knew exactly where to look and is settling into a space at Indigenous Roots on East 7th Street.
“I know this neighborhood best, I love it,” she said. “I wanted to be placed in a neighborhood that I am a part of. To me, thats meaningful.”
Youvana offers services ranging from Zumba and Yoga classes to mental health counseling and energy healing. They also have an in-house organic product line called NaturaLEE and have traditional Lao, Thai and Hmong dance groups. Youvana is an employment opportunity for local practitioners and trainers.
“It’s about creating jobs too and creating a platform for other practitioners,” Xiong said. “My intention is to have a space that is a platform for all practitioners to share. So it’s really our space, not just mine.”
The name Youvana stems from the word “nirvana”, which means state of happiness.
“I really wanted this space to be about you, the people that walk in the door for these services, classes and products,” Xiong said.
Xiong hopes to continue building Youvana’s roster of practitioners. She is also exploring the option of becoming a social enterprise in order to apply for grants to subsidize services for those who cannot afford to pay market rate. Find the schedule for Youvana’s classes and request services on their website.
Youvana is also currently seeking donations. You can contribute here.