Interview: Nature Unplugged Owners Sebastian Slovin & Sonya Mohamed

By

Susan J. Farese, SJF Communications

When was the last time that you ‘unplugged’ from your devices and appreciated or partook in ‘nature’?

If your answer was today, this week, recently etc. – No worries…but if there’s a gap…there’s definitely hope!

In this interview, you will ‘virtually’ meet SJF Communications’ clients Sebastian Slovin and Sonya Mohamed, Owners of Nature Unplugged in Encinitas, California. We spent some great quality time ‘unplugging’ outdoors together at the beautiful San Dieguito County Park in Rancho Santa Fe for this fun photo shoot, inspiring conversation and of course, connecting with nature!

And now…without further ado..please sit back, relax and enjoy our SJF Communications interview with Sebastian and Sonya, owners of  Nature Unplugged!

Sonya Mohamed and Sebastian Slovin,
Nature Unplugged

SJF: Welcome Sebastian and Sonya! So nice to chat with you both today. What compelled to create Nature Unplugged together?

Sebastian:  The origin of Nature Unplugged began about 10 years ago, when I started by providing unique outdoor experiences around San Diego. The aim was to get people off of their devices and out into nature by combining movement and mindfulness practices. I offered a variety of outdoor experiences – such as guided hikes, outdoor yoga, surfing, stand up paddling, and snorkeling – based on my  expertise and background as a professional bodyboarder (boogieboarder), yoga instructor and nature enthusiast. My time in the ocean and on the mat inspired the services/experiences that Nature Unplugged provided.

A few years later, I met Sonya. While I grew up exploring the beaches and waves of Southern California, Sonya adventured in the woods of Valley Forge National Park near her home outside of Philadelphia. It wasn’t long before we started to explore ways to combine our individual skills and passions and share them with the world. We were fortunate to enroll in the MA of Leadership Studies program at the University of San Diego. It was there that our vision for Nature Unplugged really came together.

While at USD, we began to create curriculum specifically designed to help people cultivate wellness through healthy relationships with technology and a deeper connection to nature. Our focus right now is creating momentum for this movement. We offer workshops, speaking engagements/presentations, and one-on-one coaching. Our vision is to create conscious individuals and thriving communities through healthy relationships with nature and technology.

SJF: That’s awesome! What a way for each of you to live your purpose! Sonya, please describe 3 types/groups of people that would be ideal Nature Unplugged clients

Sonya: Sure, we work with several categories:

New Professionals/Millennials

  • We work with new professionals and millennials who are seeking work-life balance and want to prevent or manage burnout.  This group often works in jobs where tech/screen times are heavy and finding balance is critical for their success in work and happiness beyond their professional roles.

Parents, Caretakers and Educators

  • We work with parents, caretakers and educators who are raising and developing young people in this digital age. We offer plans/tools/tips on how to teach healthy boundaries with technology and how to reconnect youth to the outdoors and nature.

Students

  • We work with adolescents (middle school/high school) who may have an imbalance with their tech use/screen time. This could be due to gaming/social media/etc.   
Sonya Mohamed and Sebastian Slovin, Nature Unplugged

SJF:  What motivates you as entrepreneurs?

Sebastian and Sonya: We are both highly creative and are energized by the process of starting something new. We feel uniquely equipped – with our personal, professional and educational backgrounds – to create and share tools and resources that can make a meaningful difference in people’s lives and communities.

SJF: Any roadblocks or challenges with Nature Unplugged along the way? Any challenges working together as partners/spouses?

Sebastian: While we’ve had some wonderful successes over the years and built great connections with individuals and communities, we’ve also had some challenges along the way. We work with people of all ages, though our formative work was primarily with adolescents ages 12-17. Often we would connect with parents who were very eager and committed to helping their children become less attached to/dependent on their smartphones, video games, or other devices. As you can imagine, that’s not the same mindset and eagerness the youngsters met us with.

As for working together as partners/spouses, there are sometimes added challenges and conflict with our dual roles. It can be hard to separate our personal and professional boundaries. Purely from a business partner standpoint, we are also quite different people. Sebastian is fueled by the larger abstract thinking and brainstorming where Sonya has more of a task and process orientation. Most often this is a useful balance that produces both the innovative ideas and the ability to implement them and bring them to life. It can also lead to misunderstandings and frustrations, as there’s a natural tension between the two.  

That being said, we are grateful and feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn a lot about work and leadership dynamics through our MA in Leadership Studies program. We’ve learned (and continue to learn) how we work best individually and as partners. With styles and approaches that are very different, we have learned how to capitalize on our strengths and manage our tension points. The awareness and attention to those differences make for a great partnership.

SJF: Thank you for that incredibly astute explanation! Despite potential challenges you two work very well together!

SJF: How would you talk about Nature Unplugged to your 13 year old self(selves)

Sebastian: Great question! I’d say: “ You know 13 year old Sebastian, when I look back on my my life, do you know what stands out? It’s the relationships I’ve had, the face to face time, and the adventures of mixing it up out in the ocean and in nature. Your time is precious. Do what makes you feel alive”!

Sonya: I would say: “Never lose sight of your wild self. Run a muck outside as often as you can for as long as you can. Find some friends, get out into nature, explore and goof around. Play is not something reserved for children! You’re going to face a lot of pressure to conform and to take yourself more seriously. Stability is valuable, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of your happiness. Get in touch with what you want and don’t be afraid to go for it. It will be tempting to fill all your free time with tasks, and TV shows, and social media. Be careful there, you won’t be happier for it.

SJF:  Why should we unplug?

Sebastian: Simply put: it feels better when we do. There is a growing body of research supporting the benefits – mentally, emotionally and physically – of getting off our devices and outside.

 

Sonya Mohamed and Sebastian Slovin Nature Unplugged

SJF: Pricing points?

Sebastian: For more information about Nature Unplugged presentations, workshops and coaching plans and pricing email: sebastian@natureunplugged.com or call: 858-775-6486

SJF: What is your Motto/Tagline and how it evolved for Nature Unplugged? 

Sebastian: Our mission/motto: Cultivating consciousness in the digital age

SJF: Describe your awesome, simplistic (yet extremely effective) Nature Unplugged Logo Design

Sonya: I designed and created the logo, using the ‘N’ from Nature and ‘U’ from Unplugged to create something beautiful and relevant to our work.

SJF: Who are Role Models in the entrepreneurial, fitness, academic etc world for you both?

  • Terri Monroe
  • Zachary Green
  • Brene Brown
  • Fred Kaufman
  • Jack Kornfield
  • Michael Phelps
  • Jon Kabat Zinn
  • Byron Katie
  • Michael Gervais
  • Jim Carrey
  • Paulo Coelho
  • Thich Nhatt Hanh
  • Jose Stevens
  • David Whyte
  • Dr. Seuss

SJF:  Wow, such a great list. We’ll need to follow up and see any connections that might ensue! If you had to do it over again, (starting a business)….

Sebastian: We would have done it sooner! It’s scary (we still feel that fear a bit) and it’s taken us some time to lean into the discomfort and just go for it.

SJF: But…if you didn’t ‘go for it’ we wouldn’t be working together! So glad you leaned in!

SJF: Describe a workshop/presentation for Nature Unplugged

Sebastian and Sonya:

TITLE: “Nature Unplugged: How to Cultivate Consciousness in the Digital Age”

Presentation:

This interactive and dynamic presentation is all about the what and the why. What are we filling our time with and why? The focus is on why balance between time we spend/spent with technology and out in nature is important, and then practically speaking, how to find balance when we’re constantly being pulled and lured into imbalance. We explore the latest research on increased tech use and the benefits of nature, sharing our own personal stories in search of balance. Also included are tools and practices offered as takeaways to inspire attendees to take action and create meaningful change in their daily lives.

SJF: How much time are the presentations?

Sebastian and Sonya:

Typically 1 hour but can range 45 minutes to 1.5 hours.

SJF: Where do you teach/provide the presentations?

Sebastian and Sonya:

We’ve presented in a wide variety of locations such as: schools (5th – 12th grade), universities, and businesses.

SJF: How about the Workshops:

Sebastian and Sonya:

Workshops are highly interactive and are a combination of content, small group work, and personal reflection and practice. More than simply delivering information, we provide opportunities for reflection, guide practices and offer tools to make immediate and impactful change.

SJF: How much time is spent in your workshops?

Sebastian and Sonya:

We offer half-day (4 hour) and full-day (8 hour) workshops.

SJF: Where do you teach/provide the presentations?

Sebastian and Sonya:

We hold workshops on site at schools (5th – 12th grade), universities, and businesses. Workshops out in nature (parks, reserves, etc.) are also available.

SJF: What are some of your Workshop Learning Outcomes?

Sebastian and Sonya:

  • Discover (or rediscover) the beauty and benefits of nature
  • Regain control of the tech/media in your life by setting healthy boundaries
  • Live more intentionally by developing or deepening your mindfulness practice
  • Reclaim a spirit of playfulness and reinsert free time into your day
  • Try new things, learn to lean into discomfort and push the edges of your comfort zone
  • Understand your values, how they inform your behaviors and attitudes, and learn how to align your goals to them
  • Build capacity for self-reflection and self-awareness

SJF: Anything else you’d like to mention? 

Sebastian and Sonya: Thanks so much for your time Susan and SJF Communications. We really appreciate it. The only thing we’d like to share with your readers is:

“We’d love to hear from you and continue the conversation. What obstacles are you facing? What do you want to know more about? What about Nature Unplugged resonates with you? Don’t hesitate to reach out!”

SJF: Please let us know how to find Nature Unplugged 

Sebastian and Sonya:

Nature Unplugged Website: https://www.natureunplugged.com

Email: Sebastian@natureunplugged.com and Sonya@natureunplugged.com

Short Video: https://vimeo.com/204711401

Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NatureUnplugged/

Instagram: @natureunplugged

and

https://www.instagram.com/natureunplugged/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/natureunplugged

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/nature-unplugged/

Books by Sebastian Slovin:

The Adventures of Enu: https://amzn.to/2je98Bi

Ashes in the Ocean: https://amzn.to/2q4F0LC

SJF: Many thanks, Sebastian and Sonya –  for sharing your purpose, goals, story and information about Nature Unplugged!

Here’s a little recap video of our time together with mindset, mindfulness and movement in mind!

Thanks for stopping by!

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