Dr. Athena Perrakis is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Sage Goddess, the world’s largest source of sacred tools and metaphysical education. Each week, Sage Goddess reaches almost two million people across the globe, on every continent and in more than 60 countries. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in educational leadership, and has 15 years of experience as a professor, corporate trainer and consultant, and educator. Athena has traveled the globe and worked with CEOs and senior executives from the Fortune 50 companies. But her metaphysical experience, in which her current work is largely rooted, spans more than 30 years. During that time, she has become an expert in gemology, astrology, Tarot, aromatherapy, Reiki, and herbal medicine. Her Etsy shop was the first online metaphysical storefront to reach the Top 10 stores in the handmade category around the world. Today, there are more than 3000 products available through SageGoddess.com – everything from essential oils and ritual perfumes to candles, jewelry, gemstones in every form, home decor, clothing, body art and temporary tattoos, canvas art, and more.
How did you get into the industry?
Ironically, I never thought I was getting into the industry. My life has been this long process of following my heart’s desires and my soul’s deepest calling, which was to work with crystals and essential oils as a means of healing and supporting our planet. I have studied metaphysics since I was 14. So the past 30 years have been a fertile learning and breeding ground for my own evolution and exploration. I did what I loved, and it landed me here.
Any emerging industry trends?
The most exciting industry trend for me is that movement toward holistic spiritual living. People are looking to integrate spirituality more intentionally in their daily lives, more than ever before. I’m seeing this momentum around authentic living and deeper, more meaningful relationships that requires alignment between who we are physically and who we are spiritually. You’re seeing articles about crystals, astrology, and meditation in mainstream media outlets. I was interviewed about astrology and the recent Solar Eclipse in both Redbook magazine and Reader’s Digest! It’s a new day, and there’s plenty of room to run.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
In response to this increased desire for meaning and purpose, I created a new set of online courses this year that focus on crystals and gemstones, aromatherapy, and energy work. Students can enroll in just one course (Gem Wise, to learn about crystals for example) or they can enroll in all three, which we call our Holistic Healer program. We are finding that many people want to learn more and then become teachers themselves. We provide both the content and the teacher training through these courses to help our community expand their own set of tools and practices they can draw upon to both help themselves and those around them. Demand for my online courses has never been higher. They are affordable, accessible, live but recorded for later viewing, dynamic, and appropriate for both beginners and advanced practitioners. Plus when they join the classes they receive access to private, intimate Facebook groups focused on each topic (plus the umbrella Holistic Healer group) where they receive dedicated products set aside just for them, special offers and discounts, bonus content on special topics they request, direct engagement with me, and beautiful connection to like-minded folks who are learning with them and teaching them as well!
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
Sage Goddess began humbly with a single white sage and rose bundle that I listed on Etsy so a friend who lived out of state could purchase it. I had no idea when I listed that bundle – which by the way, sold dozens before my friend could ever purchase one – what kind of door was opening for me, and ultimately for my clients. Once I saw the reaction to my bundles I thought to myself, well, I also make perfume – would people like to try that? (Yes). And then I thought, well, I work with crystals – would people like that too? (yes) and so here we are, 6.5 years later, with 3000 products on sagegoddess.com and a worldwide audience in the multimillions who follow us, purchase from us, take classes from me, and have become our extended spiritual family.
My vision for the period ahead is expansion to reach an increasingly global, mainstream audience. As I like to say, I can’t think of a single person on Earth who doesn’t need to do the work I do. It’s timely, it’s life-changing, and it’s magic. I have long-range plans to open a healing center for retreats and events. And I’m preparing to publish multiple books that will also open us to new audiences. So many exciting things ahead!
What's next for the Business in the near future?
We are very excited about the next 18 months. I have multiple, long-awaited books due to be published during that time, and I’m working on expansion of my online programs for 2018 with brand new ideas that will dazzle my students – even those who have been with me for a long time. I constantly try to bring something new to the learning table, so there are exciting plans in place to build on the knowledge base we’ve established over the years. By the end of 2018, we plan to have a fully accredited set of courses for extended education that practitioners of the healing arts can use to build upon and maintain their existing knowledge. I’m using my PhD in educational leadership to create accredited programs, a virtual university of sorts.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
Sage Goddess is a spirit-based business, and as such our key initiatives always center on our mission, vision, and purpose. Our goal is to inspire and encourage people to live better lives – lives of meaning, purpose, service, and engagement. Lives of optimism, love, and joy. To that end, we focus on delivering value to our clients – in the form of courses, products, rituals, events, and community – and enriching their lives through the services and tools we offer. We are so blessed to be able to do the things that resonate with our model, and not do things that don’t resonate. Our affiliate model is a great example. Through the model, our clients will earn cash back for purchases made by members of their communities. This decreases our profit but increases our community’s sense of connection and purpose to our work and our creations. For us, their happiness and their ability to feel like they are genuinely part of this movement, this revolution of love and light, exceeds a focus on profit.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
When I first launched Sage Goddess, we sold only on Etsy.com, a website that features and supports handmade products by artisans from around the world. About two years ago, Etsy made a major shift in their organization and decided that they did not want to sell metaphysical items, at least not with metaphysical language or descriptions that hinted at healing properties. We had to dismantle our Etsy site, take every single listing down to edit and scrub for metaphysical language, and reload all of the products; if we did not, our site would have been removed by the company. In hindsight, I can’t thank Etsy enough. Did this create stress and panic for a bit? It did. But it also forced us to transition our listings to our own domain and build out our website, which has been the best move we ever made! Sometimes you are ‘forced’ to do something that betters you, and you have to look and remain grateful.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
We have custom sparkly indigo mailing envelopes made especially for us that we use to send orders to customers, and they say MAGICAL MAIL in gold letters on the front. We want the entire experience of shopping and learning at Sage Goddess to feel like Christmas morning – you know that feeling as a kid when you couldn’t wait to open the packages, or you couldn’t wait to see what surprises awaited you? I believe all adults should have fun surprises in life, so often we gift gems and crystals and perfumes with our customers’ orders, just because. The packages smell beautiful because our space is perfumed with resins, incense, and sacred essential oils. The entire experience is sensory magic, from the time you place an order and choose your tools to the time you receive and open them, and of course when you use them!
How do you motivate others?
People want to be seen. More than anything else – almost more than love – although being seen is love, in many ways. So to motivate others, I try to show them that I see them, I see their challenges, and I see their energy. I also believe in meeting people where they are rather than trying to get them to conform to some rigid model of being or living. Lastly, I believe in inspiring people – living an example of what it means to lead a spiritual life.
Career advice to those in your industry?
I have seen many a metaphysical company come and go, both brick-and-mortar shops and online websites. I think what sets Sage Goddess apart is our constant innovation. We deliberately disrupt business models and ideas about what the best companies do. If you want to thrive as an online businessperson today you have to understand the current paradigms, the current models, and be ready to create something new. We have plenty of people who try to model their businesses after ours, and it doesn’t work – not that they don’t have the skill or the drive, but they aren’t innovating. They aren’t pushing the edges of the envelope. They aren’t teaching anything new. There is so much information available now on everything, that if you aren’t bringing something new and special to the table, it’s unlikely you’ll last long.
Most importantly, you have to authentically love what you do. I work so hard – 7 days a week, sometimes into the wee hours – and I have 2 kids, a husband, friends, aging parents, and health challenges I have had to overcome. If I didn’t love Sage Goddess, passionately and insanely, there’s no way I could maintain my work schedule or survive the pressures on me. Do something new, and love it hard.