Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Charlotte Couples Put Their Hearts - Into Holistic Businesses

Dec 16, 2008 05:46PM
By Lisa Moore

To many couples, owning and running their own business sounds like a dream come true. However, great satisfaction and big challenges can coexist on many levels. There’s a lot of freedom in spending time with the person you love and creating something new out of a passion for your work and each other. But it can be difficult to create effective structures to resolve conflicts quickly and define boundaries between work and family life. Five Charlotte couples with established holistic businesses share their experiences of successfully working together full time. The Peaceful Dragon

The Peaceful Dragon is a martial arts and holistic health center that provides ongoing classes in tai chi, Shaolin kung fu, yoga and Zen meditation. After school martial arts programs, a weight-loss and fitness boot camp, a variety of workshops, massage therapy and Reiki services are also offered.

As director and head instructor, Eric Sbarge develops and oversees all classes and educational programs, manages marketing and teaches classes. Debra Sbarge is the Front Manager and greets and assists students and guests and handles book keeping, finances and student records. They can be contacted at 704-504-8866 or

Debra: “The blessing about working with my partner is that we are always there to care for and support each other. The challenge is there are a whole lot more things to argue about when you spend so much of your life together. You have to make a commitment not to argue too much.”

Eric: “Much of what we teach at our school is centered around finding balance and harmony in your life. Working as a husband and wife team, you find infinite challenges: The need to work too many hours, disagreements on organizational strategies and differing views on goals for the center. Maintaining harmony and balance strengthens our relationship as we have to compromise and really listen to each other’s point of view.”

Funny Story from Debra: “Eric travels every year to wholesale gift shows to select merchandise to sell in our Asian gift shop.†In my mind, he would pick out a few nice things, but he always chose lots of stupid things that no one would want to buy.†Every year I would say, ‘Don't pick out any more of that junk you got last year.’† He would say, ‘Show me what junk so I know what you're talking about.’ But the junk was often gone, so I had to admit that he was picking stuff that people†did want†to buy. One year when†several shelves were almost empty†he said, ‘See, the customers did buy almost all the tea pots from last year.’ I took him to the storage closet and showed him hundreds of unsold teapots. I had cleared them off the shelves because no one was buying them.†He finally†stopped buying them, too!” Wang Acupuncture and Herbal Clinic

Jeffrey Wang and Mary Ren are a team of highly skilled Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture experts, with over 48 years combined experience as clinical practitioners in China and the U.S. They successfully treat an array of conditions using acupuncture, Chinese herbs and Chinese Massage Therapy. Having both graduated from the same medical school in China, Jeffrey specializes in OB/GYN and Mary in Internal Medicine. They can be reached at 704-968-0351 or

Mary: “Many female patients come to our clinic with gynecological problems and some stubbornly turn to me for help, so I have to fully explain Jeff’s specialty. My husband is an outstanding doctor in his field and has had many successful cases treating infertility. Numerous patients who failed with in vitro fertilization and other infertility methods became pregnant after being treated by him.”

Jeff: “I like working with my wife because in Chinese philosophy everything in the world should be balanced. This is called harmony. The husband belongs to Yang and the wife belongs to Yin. Yin and Yang always co-exist.

My wife is very smart and always has tons of brilliant ideas and suggestions. When we work together, it is very easy for us make any decision. Since our work is so similar, we can always supplement each other. Working together also provides us the opportunity to always consult and differentiate our diagnoses. It makes our jobs a lot easier and much more fun.”

Talleys Green Grocery

Talley’s Green Grocery is a natural foods supermarket that opened in 1991 in the Dilworth area of Charlotte.ÃœMarc Friedland is the President and runs the financial part of the business and Jyoti Friedland runs the kitchen and food service and teaches people how to cook healthy food. They can be reached at 704-334-9200 or

Jyoti: “I’m a thoroughbred Scorpio – stubborn, with a mind of my own. Imagine the combination! I’m blessed to have Marc as my boss - not in the house, though! He helps me keep my two feet on the ground and my eyesÃœin the sky.”

Marc: “It’s very important to have Jyoti in the store as she gives a more personal touch to the business. This is a family business and without her participation it would just be an ordinary business. Working with your spouse is very challenging and we manage by clearly defining our roles in the business and allowing each other the freedom to do our specific jobs.”

A Funny Story: Some years ago, Sidney Poitier was in Charlotte to do some filming.ÃœHe came into the store and went to Marc to ask where to find yeast-free bread.ÃœMarc didn’t recognize Poitier, but Jyoti did. When she told Marc, he didn’t believe it. So she approached the customer to ask if he indeed was Poitier.ÃœHe acknowledged that he was, but that wasn’t enough for Jyoti.ÃœShe brought Marc over so he could see for himself.ÃœPoitier simply said, “You should listen to your wife.” Carolinas Natural Health Center

Carolinas Natural Health Center is a comprehensive holistic wellness center that was created to empower people to better health. CNHC offers Naturopathic Medicine, inclusive of homeopathy, clinical nutrition, and botanical medicine, as well as acupuncture, massage therapy, meditation, hypnotherapy and a successful weight management program. Michael is the primary Naturopathic Physician at the center and Debby is the lead massage therapist. They can be contacted at 704-708-4404 or

Debby: “I like the fact that I can express myself without worrying about what the boss will think. I have a tendency to get overwhelmed with pending deadlines and Michael helps me stay calm. What I love most about working together is the joy of creating something together that we are both passionate about.”

Michael: “I love to be able to see Deb’s smile when I’m at the office. When she is in the office I am much more relaxed, just knowing that Debby is there is a great relief. The best perk is that I can get a hug when I really need it.” 

A Favorite Recurring Story from Debby: “Most patients don’t realize that we are married until one of us - to their surprise - will start talking about our children. We are very good at keeping a professional atmosphere while working together.” The Center for Positive Living

The Center for Positive Living is an ecumenical Spiritual Community offering life-changing spiritual principles through the teaching of the Science of Mind, by Ernest Holmes. The center honors all Spiritual Teachings and believes in the Divine nature of all beings.

Christy Snow and Renee LeBoa are ministers, musicians and spiritual empowerment coaches. They can be reached at 704-531-7993 or

Christy: “Working, living, playing and being with Renee 24/7 helps me to remember to view life positively. She makes me laugh every day. Renee helps me to stay grounded, centered and absolutely grateful for life.  I can't imagine a better way o do business than with a partner like that!

We began the work that we do to help others enjoy life. Renee is quick to remind me if I start to forget to follow my own advice. She helps me do what I do more effectively by helping me to live what I teach.” Renee: “Christy is my best friend. We laugh everyday and know each other so well that we finish each other’s sentences. The flow between us is so amazing. Having this synergy allows us to work incredibly well together in creating workshops and classes as well as presenting. Christy inspires me. She is my favorite person and my best friend. We met at a conference sharing our souls passion and it has never stopped. What a gift to have my business partner be my life partner.”   A Favorite Story from Renee: “I remember singing once and Christy was accompanying me on guitar. I forgot the words and she just started to sing without missing a beat. She continued until I told her with a look that I was coming back in and then she just dropped out and I took the lead again. Like that song, our work together is seamless because one picks up where the other leaves off.

Lisa Moore is a freelance journalist in Charlotte, NC.

Upcoming Events Near You
Current Issue




Global Brief
Health Brief
Join Our Email List

Receive Digital Magazine and Special Offers

* indicates required
Email Format

Receive Digital Magazine, Special Offers and Advertising Information

* indicates required
Email Format