An Interview With Candis Oakley

An Interview With Candis Oakley

Pronouns: She / Her / Social Sorceress 

Zodiac: Libra Sun / Aquarius Moon / Virgo  

Favorite Dinosaur: Nigersaurus 

Favorite Musician: Billie Holiday

What inspired you to start your own business?
After a few years of teaching yoga and managing studios, I quickly became underwhelmed with the industry’s direction. I wanted to bring something fresh to the table and find new ways for us to engage with the principles of yoga and build a community around that. I envisioned a community that practices and embodies the nature and philosophy of mindfulness and yoga without the need for a studio, and that’s exactly what I created.

Can you give a brief overview of your company's mission and values?
VHS is here to inspire self-discovery, self-acceptance, and heart-centered relationships through catalytic programming. We are a body-centered social wellness club that holds space for individuals to access deeper parts of themselves and relate to others authentically. We value kindness, openness, curiosity, mutual respect, and self-determination.

How did you come up with the name for your organization?
Psychedelics. I began to feel boxed in by my initial business, a spiritually oriented venture called The Alter. Acknowledging this was both difficult and scary, especially after investing so much time and energy into it. I dedicated time to be still, pray, inquire, and confront the boredom and unease I was experiencing, under the guidance of my good ol’ pal, psilocybin. Alas, Very Human Social emerged, providing me with the space and freedom to create within my business that I had been yearning for.

Can you share a particularly rewarding moment or success story in your entrepreneurial journey?
In January, I collaborated with Mashallah, a Palestinian jewelry-label and lifestyle store in Pilsen, to transform my signature platonic speed dating program, Friend Request, into a fundraiser named Bonds That Benefit. Together, we raised $7.5k for initiatives supporting the people of Palestine. Making a tangible impact through creative solutions to global issues is incredibly rewarding and affirming. I can’t wait to see what else I can tackle with VHS in the future.

How has being an entrepreneur changed you personally?
Entrepreneurship has transformed me in every imaginable way. You can’t bullshit yourself—there’s no hiding. Entrepreneurship demands courageous honesty. It makes you acutely aware that the only thing standing between you and your vision is YOU. I have become a much more confident, direct, and self-trusting person because of what entrepreneurship demands.

What is one lesson you've learned in your entrepreneurial journey that you wish you knew when you started?
If I had known how demanding it was going to be, I might never have started. Sometimes, knowing less works in our favor.

How do you manage work-life balance as a founder?
Balancing work and life is a continuous practice for me. Being clear about my values and aligning my actions with them helps me avoid wasting time on things, places, and people that don’t match my values—a significant energy saver.

What activities or hobbies outside of work bring you joy and relaxation?
I love biking around the city, spending time in nature, and camping. I enjoy reading, setting up my hammock in various parks for sun-filled naps, and deeply listening to music. Making new playlists, appreciating silence, staring off into the distance to let my mind wander, and exploring the depths of consciousness via psychedelics are also among my favorite activities.

If your business were an animal, what would it be and why?
Tiger—quick to catch on to the latest wellness practices while remaining distinctly unique and true to our values, and fiercely protective of our community’s emotional and social well-being.

What's the most unusual or unexpected skill you've discovered as a founder
Libra here! I’ve naturally learned the power of charm (used wisely) and sincerity and its ability to put people at ease. These skills have significantly contributed to my personal growth, which has helped me quickly build trust, connect deeply with others, and forge important partnerships.

What historical figure, dead or alive, would you want as a business mentor?
Clarence Avant and Shep Gordon. Both of these humans have extraordinary people skills, a deep understanding of human nature, a knack for negotiation, advocacy, and were/are guided by a win-win philosophy in business.

What's your favorite outdoor-themed movie?
The Sandlot!


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