The non-clinical spotlight series exists to shed light on all of the interesting paths that physical, occupational, and speech therapy professionals have taken. Today’s spotlight focuses on Chanda Jothen, PT, DPT, who went from physical therapist to founder of Pink Oatmeal, the successful pediatric movement website.
What is your full name and title?
Chanda Jothen, PT, DPT
Owner/Founder of Pink Oatmeal
Where did you go to PT school, and what year did you graduate?
What did you do when you first graduated, and for how long?
I started off in orthopedics and sports. The entire time I was in school and on my internships, I was certain I’d spend the duration of my career in that setting.
I’d played three sports in high school and was a kinesiology major, so ortho and sports seemed like the perfect fit. I worked in that setting for two years before realizing that setting wasn’t for me.
What did you do next, and for how long? Why did you make the switch?
After spending two years in the sports and ortho setting, I decided to make the move to the school setting.
Although pediatrics had never been on my radar initially, I really liked the idea of getting to work in a school environment instead of a clinic. I also liked the idea of getting to consult and collaborate with teachers and staff.
At what point did you start thinking about Pink Oatmeal?
I started Pink Oatmeal when I was on maternity leave and taking a baby class with my first child. There were a lot of questions from other participants in the class about gross motor development that I could answer, given my profession.
The instructors would often refer to me for the answer. I decided to start a website from there.
What were your ideas for it at the beginning, and how did they change over time?
Initially when starting my website, I thought that I would include baby development stuff thrown in with recipes (I hate cooking by the way), and home stuff.
I thought maybe I could be like the next Joanna Gaines, or Rachel Ray. Turns out, I am neither of those, not even close.
I found that writing about what I know was the easiest, and also seemed to get the most page views.
It was all hobby at first. It started to evolve into more of a gross motor and developmental website as I found that people seemed to come to my website the most for those kind of posts. Initially it started out as all baby stuff, since I was home on a long maternity leave and I had a baby.
As my maternity leave was ending and I started to get ready to return back to school, my mom (a teacher) had suggested that I look on a website called Teachers Pay Teachers to see if I could find some different resources I had been looking for.
I found very few things in regards to movement activities or resources that would be useful for a school based physical therapist.
That is when the light bulb moment happened and I knew I could be the person who could create these resources for teachers and other therapists given my background.
How did you come up with the name?
Pink Oatmeal came from the all hobby part. I honestly had no plan when I started my website. I started combining words. I like the color pink and I like oatmeal. The domain wasn’t taken! That’s literally how it came up!
What does your website do? Who do you target, and what services do you provide?
My website provides ideas the following:
- Gross motor skills
- Physical activity
- Child development
I create printables for teachers, parents, daycare providers, therapists, and really anyone who works with children and wants to promote physical activity.
I provide both free and paid printables.
How did you initially monetize the site? Did anything change over time, or do you use the same strategy now?
I initially monetized by some basic ads, affiliate work, and sponsorships. I moved to selling printables on Teachers Pay Teachers, and finally opened up my own shop on my store.
My main source of revenue is my printables. I still run ads on part of my website to help cover costs, do some affiliate work, but I no longer do sponsorships.
How do you drive customers to the site?
The main three drivers of traffic to my site are:
- Social media
I’ve learned to run Facebook Ads and Pinterest Ads. I love Instagram too, but I tend to let people see more of the behind the scenes happenings at Pink Oatmeal than actually doing much promotion.
What were some of the biggest challenges along the way?
Coming from a background of zero marketing or website knowledge, I had to learn it all from square one. The thing was, even though I was starting from ground zero, I found it so interesting and fun that it didn’t seem like work at all.
As my site has grown, I’ve also had to learn to ask for help by hiring others to do work for me. Letting go of being in full control was probably my biggest challenge, but it was a great decision!
What have been some of the biggest rewards?
I love knowing that I’ve created resources that reach so many kids that promote physical activity and motor development! I love that I can make it easier for therapists, teachers, and parents to incorporate fun ways to get kids moving!
A huge reward has also been the control and flexibility over my own schedule.
Do you currently treat patients? If not, at what point did you step away from patient care, and why?
No, I had my third child in August 2017 and didn’t return back to the school system. At this point, it was the best option for my business and my family. I have a ton of flexibility being my own boss.
Do you have any books, podcasts, or other resources you’d recommend to aspiring entrepreneurs?
I’m a big fan of Smart Passive Income by Pat Flynn. I also enjoy the Goal Digger Podcast by Jenna Kutcher. That’s my absolute favorite podcast.
It’s also been very important for me to find a community of like-minded individuals to collaborate with.
What is next for you? Do you have big plans with Pink Oatmeal or anything else?
I’m totally type B, and don’t always have a plan! But in this case, I do have a membership site launching in August! I plan to continue to create resources for incorporating movement and physical activity, and members will be able to access these resources.
I hope to be able to inspire other therapists to take a risk and try something different outside of the traditional role of physical therapy.
We have a ton of knowledge and, with a little creativity, you may find yourself doing something you love!
Do you have any advice or recommendations for someone considering building their own business or website?
Take risks, life is short.
Thanks for your insight, Chanda!