Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Rev. Barbara Ann Michaels, Founder of Jester of the Peace and House of Holy Humor, located in New York, NY, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

House of Holy Humor is a non-religious congregation for humor for wellness. Our members are people who resonate with humor, art, and love as life paths - including people with a faith home and atheists. The programs of the House of Holy Humor are local, national and international collaborations because humor for wellbeing is a global movement. House of Holy Humor puts sunshine on others, too, worldwide, who are using humor, art, or love for health in many forms.

We have a multi-lingual story library, called It's Funny Now, of true tales that were hard at the time yet that the tellers find humorous today.

Humor Arts Museum was founded to celebrate the power of humorous art in all media to uplift people who are reaching for hope, resilience, or joy.

We have a humorous personal growth holiday for every day of the year, called Holidaily because people use holidays to take brave emotional steps. Therefore, at House of Holy Humor, every day is a holiday. We are serious artists using humor to reach people and help people reach each other. This is serious fun!

Tell us about yourself

I'm Rev. Barbara Ann Michaels, Jester of the Peace. I'm a clown theater artist and an ordained interfaith minister. To me, these are the same. I use humor to uplift the heart of humanity. I'm also a writer and an educator.

I was a wedding officiant for ten years, performing over 550 weddings, including some of the first legal same-sex marriages in New York State. I served creative people who needed to express themselves to feel genuine in their ceremonies. Doing costume weddings and helicopter weddings, I realized I had a deep desire to make sure people were taking my unique clients seriously. I went to interfaith seminary to put gravitas to creative expressions of love.

I've also been an audience-interactive theater artist for over 30 years after being a theater kid growing up. I've been a pediatric hospital clown and festival performer, created characters for galas, galleries, trade shows, private events, and more. I've created street performances, been a tour guide, and done one-woman shows. All of my work has people who participated feel seen, heard, celebrated, and connected. I realized, through guidance from a mentor, that I had been creating community with my performance artwork all along.

Eventually, the clown and the minister were going to come together, even though I didn't anticipate that. They did, under the umbrella of House of Holy Humor. All parts of me fit; no parts are left out. This core alignment is its own energy source. My mission is to put humor, art, and love back in the medicine cabinet for generations. Join me!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I founded House of Holy Humor to meet a need of the human spirit in modern times. All people need to address and partner with the mystery of life. Art, Love, and Humor are the three great connectors and re-connectors whenever humans feel disconnected. They each are a spiritual/life path and a human right.

I founded Humor Arts Museum for the same reason - there wasn't a museum for uplifting, humorous art, one that respected and celebrated how powerful humor is for wellness.

These two projects are both structured intentionally as consortiums to amplify Art, Love, and Humor as daily tools for all people. Collaborating with others to foster humor as a global health movement is an honor and a pleasure.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Do your best not to wear too many hats. Being in a self-employed business, it's tempting to think that we have to do everything ourselves, that we're the visionary, the best at it. Learning to form partnerships with other trusted colleagues, to leverage other people's time, money, offerings, spaces, audiences, and more is key to expansion and stability. Learning to let go of control of something we started while still steering it is a vital lesson. Leadership is about empowering others to also lead, united by the common vision of our mission. Legacy comes from successfully creating new leaders who carry on this vision.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Partner with people, organizations, and movements — there's no such thing as being in business alone. All business is about quality, win-win partnerships, including for the solopreneur.
  2. Laugh with the ups and downs. You may not get to laughter right away, yet sanity lives in reframing our stories, and that rejuvenation and its aha moments live in humor.
  3. Go backward from your biggest vision vs. looking only to the next step. The biggest vision of what we're here to do will inspire more people to join forces with us faster. People want to get on a moving train to a magical destination. Be willing to be a global business on the first day - in your vision and how you talk about it - even when you're the only one in the room on day one. Bigger visions also keep us in the game of growth because they are larger than us. They give us a reason to stretch and leap in a way that will benefit other people, potentially for generations. Having a legacy of service to others is very motivating through the ups and downs.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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