Bettina Peets, our NJMOMpreneur of the week, has always had a sense of adventure. With her travel know-how and willingness to experience it all (she’s been in the Air Force and worked as a flight attendant), this dance teacher began taking solo outdoor adventures after her daughter left for college. Bettina eventually asked friends to join her as she filled her cup hiking and mountain climbing, and others—seeing her posts on Facebook—wanted to join in too. So she started organizing monthly group activities and wellness retreats, formally launching Adventures for the Soul. Today, she offers unplugged experiences as a respite for busy women with non-stop lives who are looking for “me time,” sisterhood, and challenges while rediscovering inner joy. We caught up with this Bloomfield mom of one to learn about the empowering story that’s stuck with her, the cause she supports that’s close to her heart, and the artisanal ice cream shop where picking a favorite flavor is nearly impossible (yes, it’s that good).
Featured Photo: Tamara Fleming Photography
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. I’m a divorced mom of an adult daughter, Nya (29). I’ve lived in Bloomfield for about 12 years—it’s a town I love for its wonderful sense of community and easy accessibility to NYC. I am the founder of Adventures for the Soul events and retreats, which gives busy women an opportunity to step out of their comfort zone, work on themselves, connect with sisterhood, and find the value in having fun. In addition, I’ve been teaching dance in the public school system for more than 20 years, and I am a certified yoga instructor. Shortly before the pandemic, I embarked on a big adventure of my own. I signed a 2-year contract to create a dance program for an international high school in Beijing, China, but it was cut short when everything happened. I have no regrets because when I returned to the US, I was able to pick up where I left off with my business, Adventures for the Soul, and it’s been growing ever since.
Have you always been adventurous? I joined the Air Force right out of high school, which sparked my love of travel and adventure. And afterward, while in college, I was a flight attendant for Continental and would attend my classes during the week while working for the airline on the weekends, enabling me to travel, explore, and open myself up to new experiences.
Was there an “aha” moment that caused you to launch Adventures for the Soul? I’ve always been super adventurous. I enjoyed hiking and rappeling in the military, but then later, as a single working mom, I didn’t have much time to pursue many of the more adventurous things that fed my soul. When my daughter went off to college, I realized I was feeling a bit depleted, and I needed to fill my cup up again. So I took that time to push and challenge myself with hikes and other adventures, and I enjoyed it so much that I encouraged some friends to do it with me. Others started to see my posts on Facebook, and they wanted to know if they could join, so I began to make it more formal by adding in some wellness and one-day retreats. Initially, it was about a once-a-month gathering that provided women with an opportunity to connect with other women, step out of their comfort zones, revive themselves and refill their cups. Now, the events and retreats include hiking, rock climbing, camping, goal setting, yoga, great meals, and bonding.
How has the pandemic affected your business? Because many of the things I do are outdoors, the pandemic positively impacted my business. Early on, people were socializing on Zoom, but they also wanted to do things together to connect in person, but it needed to be outdoors and safe, so the business started to pick up thanks to birthday and shower hikes. I also began to add more challenging things, like an adventure with goal-setting and rock-climbing, because challenging yourself in one aspect of your life can help inspire you and give you the confidence to reach your personal goals.
Do you have a special story to share about one of your adventures? On a camping and whitewater rafting adventure over the summer, I had a group of women that had never done that before. The experience was really something to see at first, and then things came together, and they got it. Later that day, I asked them what they’d learned. And one woman said that she learned “to give herself the grace to find her own rhythm and to give those around you grace to find their rhythm.” That realization stuck with me because this business is about the empowerment that comes from putting yourself out there, stepping outside your box, and allowing others the same courtesy.
What is the best thing about being an entrepreneur? What is the most challenging thing? I love the freedom and the ability to create my day and what my business will look like without having to run it past anyone else. And, the most challenging thing is that you have to wear a million hats.
Has your family been supportive of you running your own business? Nya is very supportive. She’s a bi-coastal brand strategist, and since this is what she does, she’s always offering great advice on tweaking this or adding that. She’s encouraged me to launch a membership program this summer. It will be perfect for those that want to stay connected and be part of a sisterhood where they can pay a monthly fee and attend several events throughout the month.
What’s your favorite way to unwind after a stressful day? When I was in Beijing, I started taking kung fu lessons, and I’ve kept up with it. I find punching and kicking to be the perfect de-stressor!
Are there any causes that are particularly important to you? Veteran’s Affairs (VA) has been very important to me. When I was feeling lost, they were there for me and helped me find my apartment, among other things. They have so many resources and do a lot of good, and I know this first-hand because I’ve been on the receiving end. I also like to give back. I always ask for recommendations for someone who needs a particular experience who might not have the finances on my Facebook page. And, if one of the ladies can’t make an event or retreat, they’ll often ask me to gift it to someone else. We’ve created a fantastic community here that keeps getting bigger and better.
Bettina Peets (front and center) with a group of women amid bonding over shared experiences.
What are some of your favorite local shops in NJ? Johari is a phenomenal lingerie store for grown women. They carry beautiful things, and they provide such personal attention. Another amazing place is Kreme & Krumbs, an artisanal ice cream shop in Bloomfield. It’s impossible to pick a favorite flavor because the ingredients are fresh daily, so the flavors are constantly changing, and there’s always something incredible.
What are your favorite things to do in NJ? My favorite thing to do is the horseback riding lessons in West Orange. The Essex Equestrian Center is very special. When I first returned from Beijing, I was feeling lots of stress about starting over, and the VA hooked me up with a horse to deal with stress and anxiety, and I’ve been riding ever since. It’s been a game-changer for me.
What is your best advice for a MOMpreneur just starting? If you have an idea of what you want your business to be, study those already doing it and doing it well. Then, reach out to some of those people and get their input. Most people are very open to sharing, and it will help you build a community and your professional network.