Grant Recipient

June 19, 2024

May 2024 Mental & Emotional Support Grant Awarded to SPARK Relationship + Sexual Wellness

SPARK Relationship + Sexual Wellness

Woman Entrepreneur:
Meghna Mahambrey

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Congratulations to Dr. Meghna Mahambrey, owner of SPARK Relationship + Sexual Wellness for being the WomensNet $10,000 May Business Specific Grant recipient in the category of Mental & Emotional Support.

Recently, WomensNet Advisory Board member Jama Hernandez sat down with Meghna for an exclusive interview. You can listen to their conversation and view the transcript below.

Video Transcript

WomensNet: Hi, my name is Jama —I am with the WomensNet Advisory Board, and I’m so excited to introduce our May 2024 business category winner. We have Meghna with SPARK Relationship and Sexual Wellness. She’s doing some amazing things in the wellness space, really helping us to have a higher quality of life. Meghna, can you start and tell us a little bit about SPARK Relationship and Sexual Wellness?

Meghna: Sure, I’d be happy to. I am the founder of SPARK Relationship and Sexual Wellness, which is an organization that is dedicated to helping people build happy, healthy love lives. And I do this through a number of services, including one-on-one coaching, public workshops, organized monthly date nights, couples retreats, happy hours. And we also have a blog and a podcast and a YouTube channel.

The thing that kind of distinguishes what I do is that we’re not clinical in nature. So a lot of times people hear what I do and they think, ‘oh, you must be a therapist…’ but I’m actually an educator. So my entire career is rooted in academic academia and my approach to helping people with their relationships is focused on building their knowledge and their skills around the romantic relationships,

WomensNet: A very essential part of life, and how wonderful we know that education is so powerful. And so thank you.

So you talked a little bit about differences on therapy versus your approach, but what else makes your business unique from other businesses that are also providing a similar type of service?

Meghna: So I’ll say that probably one of the most interesting challenges in building my business is that I didn’t have a model to map onto. If I had a hair salon or a bakery or some other sort of established business model, then I could have just kind of followed suit.

But because I was just kind of inspired internally and based on my own life experiences, with this business idea, I really had to design it step by step and figure out what does this look like? How do I package it? What are people’s needs, and how can I deliver it in a way that actually gets to the root of what they want to know? So when we think about relationship and sex education, I mean, people maybe get mediocre at best, a little bit of sex education, and quite frankly, it doesn’t even address the things they want to know.

The majority of people get no relationship education. And when I say relationship education, I’m talking about not even just actually once you’re in the relationship, but things like crushes and attraction and flirting and dating and how to choose a compatible partner. Then once you get in the relationship, healthy communication, emotional intelligence, managing conflict, caring for one another, love languages, there’s so many things you can do to deepen and strengthen your relationship, but without this education, you’re sort of just winging it. You know, you’re throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. And I found that we have this kind of, like I said, mediocre at best education in middle school or high school, which at that point we’re not even quite able to absorb yet. And then we leave people to their own devices. And the only time they start paying attention to their relationship again is when things get really rough and they’re having problems, and then they seek out a couples therapist.

By that point, it becomes intervention, and they are likely full of so much pain and heartache and resentment that we are now unraveling all the damage that’s been done to try to repair and restore. And I kind of insert myself in the middle there and I said, okay, I wanna be working with adults, because that’s usually when we start to form our serious long term mature relationships. But I wanna be on the front end of relationship development. I wanna help people by educating them with interesting ways of thinking about relationships, approaching relationships and concrete skills. Right? So a lot of times we’ll hear these lofty ideas and idealistic notions about what love should be. We see it on Instagram, right? Love is this… You find the partner who does that. I’m all about that, but I really like to break things down for people.

How do I distill all of these lofty notions and ideals into something that is tangible that people can take and apply to their lives? And that’s the teacher in me wanting to do that, right? It’s like, how can I help people learn what is needed and then develop the skills to find that and maintain it? And so I think what kind of distinguishes my practice from say, a more traditional couples therapy practice is, like I said, I’m less clinical, less intervention, more educational and protective and preventative on the front end. And yet I’m not simplifying and boiling things down to like a level of, let’s talk about… I don’t know… I think about sex education, pregnancy, and let’s talk about sexually transmitted infections… All of that’s important information, but much of that can be Googled. Not to say Google’s right about everything, but I think there’s so much more nuance in the romantic side of our relationships that needs to be addressed. And so that’s kind of where I see myself fitting, and that’s what I have built my business around.

WomensNet: Fantastic. And even that whole self-awareness piece of knowing how to communicate how to be a good person…you know, we talk about relationships and sexual wellness, but really when some of these skills are applied in other aspects of our life, it just all gets better. And so I love that it’s being a little bit more preventative than the intervention. Sometimes going that route is a lot easier, a little bit of upfront investment, but it’s a lot easier and even cheaper at times than the intervention piece. Wonderful.

Because you are in a very unique kind of space…what strategies have you used to let others know about your business?

Meghna: Well, when you have the word sexual in your business name, let me just tell you the assumptions people make about the types of things that go on in your office. So I think part of my work is not only trying to clarify to people the nature of what I do, but also to address any misconceptions or concerns people might have. Not that I get that that much, but I think because it’s something that it, again, like I said, it’s not quick, I can’t just say I’m a hairstylist or a chef… when I say I’m a relationship coach that doesn’t track as easily as some other fields. So I think first and foremost, I’ve had to get really good at my elevator pitch and kind of how I, in 20 seconds or less, say what it is I do. As we’ve mentioned, attention spans are short.

Like you said, when people ask how you’re doing, they’re not actually asking how you’re doing. When people ask what you do, they don’t really want the entire explanation. They want the quick and dirty version. So I’ve had to figure out how to explain what I do to people quickly. But because the nature of my business is so unique, people don’t actively go out searching for it. So if you’re looking for a restaurant or you’re looking for a doctor, or you’re looking for whatever, you google that thing and then you see all the options. Well, if nobody’s looking for relationship coaching, that means nobody’s googling me. So I’ve had to really stretch and get creative with how to get myself out there. Of course, I’ve tried all the different things that most people do, but I think the two most effective things for me is: number one, I happen to be on a main street in our city where I have an office space upstairs, but I was given permission to put signage on the building.

And so my business name alone is visible in two different locations in a high traffic area where there’s restaurants and bars and stores and other things. So a lot of people will tell me, ‘oh, we were just out shopping or getting dinner, and we saw the sign and we Googled it.’ And so if you google my exact business name, of course it’s gonna take you to my website. So that was definitely worth the investment of getting the signs made and going through the permission process of getting approval to get that on the building.

But I would say even above and beyond the signage on the building, the hands down, most effective strategy for me has been building up my Google reviews. I did not realize early on how important those are, but in essence, if you don’t actively have new Google reviews coming in, your search listing gets pushed further and further down.

And so what ends up happening is people do type in, couples therapy, marriage counseling, things that are kind of adjacent to what I do. But because I have gotten so many reviews with some similar keywords, it has now from what I understand, bumped my listing up to number one. And I do no paid advertising. I do no paid Google sponsored ads or anything, but when you get real feedback from real clients, that weighs more in the internet world than anything else. And so I would say 95% of people who come to me now, I have a question at the bottom of their intake form that says, how did you find out about SPARK? And they always say, Google search and read your reviews and saw how highly you were rated. And so we decided to come. So I know all businesses understand the importance of Google reviews, but for a business like mine where I’m not even gonna catch certain keywords of people looking for me, I really have to cling on to the feedback from clients and hoping that that keeps me visible in Google searches.

WomensNet: Thank you so much for sharing that, because we know that we also have in our network so many coaches…just even trying to describe a service it doesn’t neatly fit into like, doctor, lawyer… And so that is definitely a challenge. And certainly, for your business, the reviews are really worth gold. So that’s pretty incredible and I love that you figure that out. Did it take a long time to make that connection, or how did you come to that conclusion?

Meghna: I don’t really know. It’s been five years now. I just remember in the beginning, I don’t know if someone gave me advice or maybe I saw it written on the internet or something, but I think accidentally… I didn’t ask for Google reviews in the beginning, but I think some clients just left them. And then I got feedback from new clients on reading those reviews and liking them.

So then somewhere in that, I just started to ask for them, pay more attention to them. Then I learned that it was boosting my listing, and so I think it’s just honestly, like most business owners, trial and error. I didn’t go into it going, ‘here’s my marketing plan and here’s what’s most effective.’ You don’t know what’s most effective for your business until you try all the different things, and then you see the return on your investment.

So I had a lot of people telling me up front, ‘do paid social media ads… get a spot in the local newspaper.’ I tried that a couple times. I don’t really know how many people I got from that. If I pump more money into it and get more creative with my videos, maybe it would be better. But I have found that Google reviews alone are carrying all of the weight for me, and it’s free. I’m not paying for anything. I am just humbly requesting from the people who have experienced the product or the service, share their experience. And we all know that word of mouth is ultimately the most powerful tool.

So, yeah, I don’t really know when it occurred to me to start prioritizing that. I think it was just learning along the way and then paying really close attention to what is working and what is not working. And in spite of advice from other people to do something different, I followed my gut and I just went with what is actually working.

WomensNet: Fascinating. I absolutely love learning about this. You know, we’ve had food truck winners and for them it was community partnerships and social media. Facebook, Instagram… and then we have other companies that say, ‘no, it’s not Facebook, it’s Instagram.’

And then our year-end winner last year owned a wood shop and it was learning SEO. So she just took a few weeks out of the year and got really good at SEO, took a free course, and that was what did it for her. So it’s so fascinating to know what’s the spark..

Thank you so much Meghna for telling us a little bit about your business, telling us how you are transforming this world, making it a better place, and helping us to live healthier and more joyful lives. Thank you so much, and congratulations.

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