From Italy to Lancashire: the life and wellbeing coach who went from an overflowing Monday inbox to finding her purpose
It was 9.30am on a Monday and Renata Gianquitto's email inbox was already full. All of a sudden she realised something. "I realised I was unhappy," says Renata. "I'd been on autopilot and just lost awareness of how I was feeling until, that Monday morning, I had a bit of a breakdown."
Born in Naples, Italy, Renata - spurred on by her love of languages - began travelling at the age of 15, arriving in the UK and eventually undertaking a degree in Modern Languages, French & Spanish at Manchester University. During Freshers' Week, she met her now-husband and, 19 years later, the pair are still together, living in East Lancashire with their two kids.
Settling quickly into a life of busyness, Renata found it was becoming harder and harder to juggle her personal and professional life. "I got caught up in the hamster wheel of life," she says. "Caught up in climbing the ladder and thinking that, because colleagues got fancy cars, I should get fancy cars."
Despite having a good support network, Renata says she struggled to find a balance and grappled with the fact that, while she had everything she'd ever wanted in terms of a career and a family, she simply wasn't enjoying it. The end result was her sobbing at her desk on a Monday morning.
Having had a taste of life coaching through her work, Renata decided to explore the concept more thoroughly and immediately found it to be enlightening. A 180-degree perspective switch allowed her to focus more on her own wellbeing and, in her own words, unlocked a strength in her that she didn't even realise she had.
"It also made me realise that I wanted to help people for a living," explains Renata, who, furloughed from her job and anticipating redundancies, went on to retrain as a coach and wellbeing mentor. In August 2020, she founded Wren Coaching & Wellbeing in order to give others the chance to experience a breakthrough like hers - both adults and children, too.
"During the pandemic, my son, who was eight at the time, was going through a tough time because his world was crumbling," explains Renata, now 36. "One night, I took him to bed and he just said 'mama, the world outside seems really dark' That triggered something in me and I realised I ought to try and incorporate my coaching into working with kids.
"That's how I came across Relax Kids, which delivers mindfulness and relaxation sessions for children with the intention of helping them with their emotions," she adds. "I was happy to take the leap and start my own business during the pandemic because lockdown had finally made me stop and realise how amazing it was to be at home with my family.
"Before then, I was leaving the house first thing, I was last to get home, and I was moody because my patience was spent," continues Renata. "While it's not easy starting a business, it's all been worth it. It takes an awful lot of self-belief, I've had to dig deep, and I still have days where I question whether it's going to take off, but I'm confident in what I do.
"I've found my purpose."
Specialising in helping adults, children, and businesses with wellbeing concepts such as mindset, self-esteem, and confidence, Wren provides tailored sessions to support people in living happier and more fulfilling lives through one-to-one and group coaching, weekly mindfulness and relaxation classes of a Monday evening, and Relax Kids sessions in schools.
"It's amazing to be able to help give kids that awareness and a toolkit to try and make things better," says Renata of her work, which has taken her to a number of local primary schools. "I've done sessions on managing difficult emotions and a lot of children brought up similar concepts and running themes, which showed them that they were all going through similar things.
"Often, our relationship with ourselves is the hardest to master," she adds. "My friends call me Ren and the wren is a small bird with a powerful voice. Coaching released that inner voice for me, which is why I called the business Wren Coaching."