Feeling empowered through wellness
We share a freshly brewed herbal tea tincture with Leilani Finau, a wellness advocate, writer and accredited nutritionist (BHSc) from Endeavour College of Natural Health.

Do you recall the moment you were first interested in natural health?

I was 11 and my mum had just enrolled me in netball, so I attended a two-day coaching clinic. Just to set the scene: before this, I was the kid who never played much sport. Some dancing and gymnastics here and there and perhaps a game of tag at school, but for the most part tree climbing, hide and seek and milkshake drinking filled my days.

By day two of that clinic, something changed. I decided I wanted to give this netball thing a real crack. I remember sitting during break at the clinic, opening my lunch box, staring down at the half-squashed, supermarket-edition cupcake residing in it and thinking — nope, that piece of sugary smoosh just isn’t going to cut it anymore. The next day I snacked on hummus, carrot and celery sticks for the first time in my life. And that was that! My love of health and natural wellbeing was born.

What did you study at Endeavour College of Natural Health?

I studied the Bachelor of Health Science (Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine) — and I loved every single second of it. It gave me the best of both worlds: science and evidence-based nutrition paired synonymously with natural health and traditional practices. This duo was interlaced throughout the degree; we were taught to find and understand balance between the two and I feel incredibly grateful to now be able to pull from knowledge in both areas as a practising nutritionist.

Why did you choose to study at Endeavour?

This one’s simple — because it felt like a family. When I walked into traditional universities on open days after graduating high school, all I remember is the distinct (and seemingly unsettling) feeling of being one fish among a sea of thousands. But at Sydney Endeavour College, I arrived on level two on their open day to a group of smiling lecturers and staff, each holding a freshly brewed herbal tea tincture to calm those first-day jitters. Instead of feeling “unseen”, it was like being the only person in the room. The attention to each and every attendee on the day was unparalleled — and this carried on throughout the entire degree. Each lecturer ensured I felt heard, understood and empowered. I had found my place.

What did you love most about your degree?

The people. I don’t think I’d ever been surrounded by such a well-connected group before, all like-minded but relentlessly individual in their own way. No question ever felt off-limits. If you needed to take a minute to clarify a new concept, the class would stop. Workshop it. Smooth out the grooves. Figure out what it was that did or didn’t make sense and build from there. No judgement, only intrigue — just as a learning environment should be.

Beyond the lectures, these fellow students soon became my family. Nearby coffee shops were our sanctuary and breakout rooms our dining tables. Each class was its own little haven. We laughed over Brussels sprout memes, drank an obscene amount of caffeine and blamed our bad days on Mercury being retrograde. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

What are three tips you would give someone looking to start a career in natural health?

Intern and gain as much real-world experience as you can
The beauty of the natural health industry is that there are endless avenues you can take. Find your niche by figuring out what you’re most passionate about (this will be trial and error and that’s okay). Then figure out what steps you can take now to get yourself closer to that goal. In most circumstances, the best option for this is an internship. If you like a particular company, reach out to them, explain your interests, your studies and how much you would love to gain some experience working for them — even if they’re not actively looking for an intern. There’s no harm in asking. Taking initiative is important.

Start now
I often have people ask me how long I waited until I began sharing my health knowledge via my blog and Instagram. Personally, I started about a year or so into my degree, but I think you should feel empowered to start as early as you want. Think of it like learning a really delicious cookie recipe, but never actually baking it for people to try. How will you know if it needs a little less sugar or a little more chocolate? You have to start making your cookies so you can finesse the process. You’ll never stop learning, so you may as well start sharing all the brilliant ideas you’ve got filling up in that little brain of yours. Trust me, the world wants to hear it.

Invest in the other wonderful upcoming people in your industry
They are your support network, not your competition. Collaborate. Share ideas. Find ways to start entering the industry together. It may feel like you need to connect and collaborate with already-established natural health professionals, but don’t underestimate the power of everyone starting out alongside you. You never know what wonderful things they will go on to do, so nurturing and investing in those relationships early is important.

What does your wellness practice look like now?

If there’s one wellness practice I’m passionate about, it’s my evening rituals. No matter how chaotic the day gets, I know I can always come back to my sacred space, my bedroom, to re-centre, recalibrate and reconnect with myself. For me, this encompasses a few things: I never bring work into my room. I always light the space with candles, my salt lamp and dim fairy lighting. I turn on my diffuser. I play my sleep playlist gently over the speaker. I burn some sage to cleanse the day and put my black hematite crystal necklace on to ground and relieve any built-up stress. I read a little bit and then I write … until my eyes can’t stay open any longer. This process is cathartic. The words that come out onto paper constantly surprise me. They bring perspective to whatever is weighing on me that day, the good and the bad.

What’s next for you?

I have a few exciting things in the works. I’ve just begun taking bookings for my own clinical nutrition practice. Then the aforementioned company I interned for ended up offering me a job last year, so I’m working for them and I love it. My days are filled with everything from wellness writing to recipe development and shooting in our studio kitchen.

For more, visit @by_lani on Instagram or by-lani.com

Endeavour College of Natural Health is the leader in natural health education and produces the experts that keep the world well. Offering courses in naturopathy, nutrition, acupuncture, complementary medicine, massage and more, Endeavour allows you to discover a career in a thriving industry. For more, visit endeavour.edu.au