SWANSBORO – April Clark knows all about stress and 70-hour workweeks. She also knows about tranquility and peaceful paddles along the White Oak River.
Clark left the stressful life to open Second Wind Eco Tours & Yoga Studio in this small coastal town by the river, and she’s used her business to introduce people to the natural wonders that the White Oak has to offer while devoting some of her free time volunteering with the N.C. Coastal Federation and advising the group as to how best protect the river’s natural resources.
The federation recognized that commitment to the coastal environment by awarding a Clark its 2012 Business Pelican Award.
“I worked in the corporate world. I was very high up in the wireless service management field for 16 years,” she said. “I was in sales and there was high pressure and high stress. I worked between 60 to 70 hours a week and life was very hectic.”
Although she was working all those hours, the thought of a business such as Second Wind came to her during a seminar when she was asked what she would be doing if she wasn’t working in her current job. Her answer was that she wanted to do something where she could spend time kayaking — something she really enjoyed. Clark soon got her chance.
After being laid off, Clark started Second Wind, which has been evolving ever since.
Clark says she was always the tomboy in her family of three girls and gives her father all the credit for her joy of adventure and love of the outdoors. “He’s the source of my outdoors persona, “she said. “I was the first girl in Onslow County to play Little League Baseball. He was a Marine with three girls — I was his boy. We have camped, hiked, been to Africa. He even took me skydiving for my 40th birthday.”
She began Second Wind as a kayaking adventure business but soon realized she couldn’t sustain a business on kayaking alone, so she added yoga and massage therapy with her sister and friend Cheryl LeClair, a masseuse and yoga instructor.
In addition to kayaking, yoga and massage, Second Wind offers bicycling tours with a goal of bettering the environment. While in graduate school at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Clark took an environmental ethics class and wrote her thesis on progress and preservation in a seaside town with the help of the federation.
Clark has continued her partnership with the federation. She currently serves as a very involved member one of the group’s advisory committee. Clark also sponsors special events for the federation and represents it at festivals and workshops. She is also very hands on in whatever volunteer task is needed.
Because of her interest in Jones Island in the White Oak River during her thesis research, Clark began popular kayak and yoga trips to the island that give participants a chance to experience and learn about the federation’s education and restoration center there.
The White Oak New River Keeper Alliance also benefits from Second Wind as a portion of the proceeds from many of her events goes to that organization. The business also serves as a drop off for a local organic farmer to make it easier for him to get his produce to consumers who are interested in eating more healthfully.
Clark also helps active duty and combat veterans with yoga and meditation on Thursday evenings. They are free classes that are designed to address the mental stress from combat.
A simple visit to the Second Wind studio is a respite in itself. You can’t help but relax just walking in the door. Located in the town’s old post office building, the storefront also serves as a local art gallery, featuring paintings and jewelry, and the yoga studio is spacious and dimly lit with flowing white cloth and peaceful lighting. Second Wind is Clark’s opportunity to get her “second wind” and she is using it to give others the same opportunity.