Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jillian Stewart, Founder of Surf & Turf Therapy, located in San Juan Capistrano, CA, USA.

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

Surf & Turf Therapy is a nonprofit organization committed to bettering lives through non-traditional therapeutic activities, including surfing and horseback riding. We provide therapy services for people with disabilities of all ages, targeting traditional, functional goals using non-traditional approaches. These unique approaches offer unparalleled opportunities to address deficits in strength, stability, body awareness, coordination, safety awareness, tone management, flexibility, attention, and sensory integration.

Our treatment focuses on improving daily living skills, such as walking, postural alignment, talking, and writing, rather than simply teaching individuals how to surf or ride. Family and friends are invited to join in treatment sessions, with therapy emphasizing functional, fun, and inclusion-based treatment approaches.

Tell us about yourself

My background is in physical therapy, with a passion for hippotherapy (using the horse as a tool in physical therapy). While working in hippotherapy, many families would ask me about surfing, as they had the opportunity to participate in a "surf day" with various organizations that travel the globe, providing one-day experiences for people with disabilities to enjoy the surf. The desire to fill the gap and get people out surfing year-round and seeing the potential overlap between how the horse and a surfboard can be used as tools in therapy ultimately led to the founding of Surf & Turf in 2018.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is the community and environment we have created. Surf & Turf is a place for EVERYBODY - everyone is welcomed, appreciated, and celebrated. This sense of community is at the core of who we are. We refer to it as the "Surf & Turf Family" and wouldn't have it any other way!

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

Keeping my identity outside the business and having people remember I am still just a human. Having grown so quickly, most of my time and energy has been spent serving the community and running Surf & Turf. Still, getting lost in the business is easy, and then any issue with the business (growing pains are normal!) feels like a personal attack or failure when your work is your identity.

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

  1. Go for it - you may think it's a big reach, but you never know what will happen if you don't try!
  2. Be creative and flexible.
  3. Set good boundaries for yourself from the beginning. It is easier when you are smaller to get into good self-care habits.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I know this is a solopreneurs shout and while I have poured all of myself into this nonprofit for the past four years, the support around me has grown exponentially and is truly what makes this organization great. Thank you all - and a special shout out to my fiance, MJ - he does not get enough credit and has been roped into volunteering for this organization, and I am incredibly lucky to have his support.

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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