March 8 is International Women's Day! This gives TopVintage the ultimate opportunity to pay tribute to a number of power women throughout the month. This week it's Elisah's turn: a woman with a successful business in dog coaching. Want to know more about how she made this happen? Let yourself be inspired, gorgeous!

Let’s go outside with Elisah Stassen
For our power women blog I had the privilege of interviewing Elisah Stassen, 31 years old, born and raised in the Dutch town of Valkenburg aan de Geul. Such a spontaneous and especially inspiring, strong and confident woman. In 2020 she took over her parents’ farm. She now lives a happy life there with her boyfriend and their two dogs: an American Staffordshire Terrier X German Shorthaired Pointer mix and a Tibetan terrier. In January 2021 she started her own business venture “Let’s go outside” and is already considered the specialist in dog coaching.

What inspired you to become a dog coach
“Coming from an agricultural background, I learned hard work from a young age. I studied at HAS University of Applied Sciences and obtained my degree in Animal Husbandry. A fabulous study programme that taught me about the mental and physical needs of large and small farm animals and the impact humans have on this. After I graduated I started working as a quality control manager but following a burn-out I started to realise it was time to change course. With the help of a business coach among others I tried figuring out what I really want in my life.

In 2019 I started my own dog walking service and I was walking dogs one-on-one in their own environment. My 'drive for life' offered me new opportunities and that’s how I started working on my farm as a puppy-sitter in 2020.  Since then I have learned so much about the language of dogs and what I can do to trigger a dog to either behave a certain way or to stop behaving a certain way. I actually struggled with training my own American Staffordshire Terrier X German Shorthaired Pointer mix and as a result I wanted to learn more about the subject and I enhanced my knowledge through training courses, workshops and a number of books. I also started getting more and more requests from people asking me to help them train their dogs and I realised that I have both a passion and a talent for it.

Starting in 2021, I’ve been using my hands-on experience and a no-nonsense approach to train dog owners and their dogs. So even though I am a dog coach, 80% of my work is actually focused on coaching people, namely the dog owners. For this I use my knowledge and experience to motivate the dog owners and make them feel strong and confident. My role as a dog coach is to help dog owners manage their dog’s behaviour, build up mutual trust and establish a harmonious relationship between themselves and their dog. I also provide the owners with a thorough understanding of dog language so they can give themselves and their dog a kick-start. The goal is to have a dog that is obedient and that is balanced both mentally and physically according to its needs!”  

How did you get to where you are today?    
“It’s been a matter of trial and error really, of ups-and-downs. First of all it’s been a tremendous learning process for me. I have had to learn how to handle emotions, something that I never learnt at home. It’s important to really be aware of your feelings and to find a good work-life balance. I also got out of my comfort zone: in the early days, I sent messages to dog trainers that I admire as a way of starting a conversation with them and exchange experiences. Those trainers now come to me. Which to me is exciting, even a teeny bit scary but very cool at the same time. Don’t be afraid of failure and dare to ask for help. That’s the advice that I really want to impart, because I’ve been through this experience myself. I offer very honest and direct advice and hold a mirror up to people. Animals can sense what you expect from them based on your energy and body language. Of course this isn’t always easy. But because I’m not afraid of showing my vulnerable side, the other person also finds it easier to open themselves up.” 

Has working with dogs been the fulfilment of a lifelong dream?  
“I grew up surrounded by Dobermans and Staffordshire Bull Terriers. And of course I come from a family of entrepreneurs. But it wasn’t until after I experienced a burn-out that I realised that I was also passionate about starting my own business venture. When I was still a kid the thought had entered my mind at some point, but it was only because of the self confidence that I built up over the years, the help that I received and the experiences that I’ve had that I actually started believing in it. Looking back I do realise that the entrepreneurial spirit was instilled in me from a young age and that it is actually in my blood, but even so you still have to believe in yourself. No-one else is going to do it for you, it’s hard work 24/7!”  

Which tip would you like to give women pursuing their dream? 
“If you do 1% of something each day, in a year’s time you will have done 365%. It doesn’t matter what it is, it can also be changing something about yourself. And having the courage to do things is especially important: dare to say no, dare to set boundaries, dare to step out of your comfort zone and dare to trust yourself. Your life doesn’t always have to be balanced, sometimes you need to go out of balance in order to rebalance your life. Set yourself small daily goals. Achieving these goals, will help grow your confidence and as a result your business and you as a person will grow too.” 

 Who do you consider a power woman and why? 
“My mother is my hero. Hearing myself say that really moves me. I always wanted to be seen by my parents. When I told them that I wanted to start my own business, they were hesitant. That made me even more determined to make them proud and to prove to them that I can achieve my goals. But it was a process of blood, sweat and tears and challenging discussions at the dinner table. But once I let my feelings out, our relationship improved tremendously. Since my parents are entrepreneurs themselves, I also started working from a young age. My mother taught me the value of hard work and that you need to work hard to achieve your goals. I definitely get my steadfastness and perseverance from her. They are extremely proud of me now.”