For Minding the Body owner Susan Schork, the problems she faced after Superstorm Sandy were just a drop in the bucket compared to previous trials.
The Point Pleasant, New Jersey entrepreneur spent well over a decade battling an undiagnosed case of Lyme disease – but didn’t let her mysterious health problems slow her down.
“It got worse and worse. I couldn’t really drive, and was afraid because I had a couple of different accidents,” says Schork, who believes she contracted Lyme disease in 1989. Her symptoms worsened to the point where she felt it necessary to quit her job in sales and marketing at Nestle, due to the driving the job entailed.
“I couldn’t work in a corporate environment,” she says. “I needed something to do where I could sit.”
A New Career Path Leads to a New Lease on Life
Earlier in life, Schork had worked as a model and dabbled in makeup artistry.
“I was interested in making women feel as good as they could,” she says, so she decided to go to skincare school, where she became a licensed esthetician.
After school, she began working for a holistic doctor, whose vitamin C treatments seemed to ease some of her pains.
“I was worried I was just a hypochondriac,” she says.
At this point, Schork was collecting disability while working part-time, as she still wasn’t strong enough to handle a full-time job. A therapist convinced her that the illness might be in her head, and that if she went off disability, she might recover.
As a result, she found a full-time job with another doctor – but the symptoms just got worse.
One day while with a client, Schork says she was talking about her symptoms, and the client, who walked with a cane, suggested that Schork’s illness might be Lyme disease – the same illness she had suffered from.
After meeting with the woman’s doctor, Schork was correctly diagnosed, and finally began to recover from the debilitating symptoms.
Taking the Plunge to Become an Entrepreneur
Schork had befriended the owner of a nearby wellness center – and purchased it in 2007, when the owner decided to move to Florida.
“It cost us $150,000,” says Schork. She and her husband remortgaged their home to buy the center, believing that Schork’s personality would be well-suited to running a business devoted to helping others.
Unfortunately, the economy tanked in 2007 – and Schork found herself the owner of a wellness center specializing in luxurious treatments that were the first things to be cut from clients’ budgets.
By harnessing the power of sites like Groupon, Seize the Deal and Amazon Local, Schork says she was able to stay afloat and keep her employees on board.
With Superstorm Sandy came yet another trial, as Minding the Body lost heat for two months, though she knows she fared the storm much better than others along the Jersey Shore.
As the shore continues to rebuild, Schork maintains hope and stays focused on helping others – two qualities that have helped her to weather the other storms she’s faced personally and professionally.
“Everything I faced on my own, one of the only things that helped me is that I really feel I can help people in ways they won’t find elsewhere,” says Schork.
As for the Jersey Shore, Schork is confident the region will bounce back. She’s repainted her center as other businesses rebuild, and believes the town of Point Pleasant is ready for the summer season.
“Like [governor] Chris Christie says, we’re stronger than the storm,” she says.
“We’re strong here in New Jersey, and we can make it better than it was.”