Claire Louise Owen is a model, an inspirational speaker and an author on a mission to rebrand sober as the choice for women who desire a more for life class journey is remarkable, and it’s been such a privilege to watch from the sidelines since I completed her rebrand several years ago.
Now she has embraced a life of purpose and success. Her journey began when she decided to stop drinking alcohol after she witnessed the impact that it had on her friend’s health. And this life changing choice opened the doors to incredible opportunities and achievements for Claire. One of her key moments is being being featured on the BBC News, where her authenticity and courage captured the attention of many.
Following this appearance, Claire was privileged to participate in a photoshoot for a glossy magazine and recently York fashion show. This experience showcased a unique style confidence, and inner beauty leading to a blossoming career in modelling. Claire believes that sobriety is a path to personal success and a gateway to discovering the potential of pursuing dreams. Claire is creating a community of women who embrace their uniqueness, live authentically, and find success in their own lives.
So, you walked into the Women’s Network meeting that I co-run years ago, I’m not even sure exactly when it was – with an idea..
I did. I think you were the second network meeting I’d gone to. And it was interesting because I had two hats. I was talking about property and then I was whispering this idea that was bursting to come out of me and I just felt so held from the people who were there that day. I was at the beginning of my journey with alcohol. So looking back, I was quite vulnerable. I see a different side of me looking back. I thought I was all together, but it was like the vulnerability was there and I had to be courageous that day and share the seeds of my idea.
Yeah, it was a really good conversation around the table and I’ve got vague recollections of us all having a really positive conversation about alcohol and about you starting your business and I suppose sort of building you up a bit, which was really nice. So you left that meeting and you decided that you were going to set up as the Soberholic. How hard was it to come up with that name?
To be honest, I think the name was already planted in me. I didn’t even leave the meeting. I hung around at the end and I spoke to Ann English who was doing a presentation, because I didn’t want to lose that connection. Once I was in a room full of complete strangers. And I hadn’t had that with my previous business. I hadn’t actually gone out and networked. I’d gone down the landlord network and never as a business with such strong women who I felt would play the game of Yes.
And because I was sharing my ideas with Ann and yourself, and I think Sarah Seed was there as well and we’re just bouncing off ideas. And I could see how it would really help people and it kind of gave me that permission to just keep going.
It would have been easy to run and hide. But this niggle was in my head and I made an appointment with you. And you came to my house and I said I need a logo before I start. And you were like, “Right, sit down and listen” well actually I think you said “sit down and tell me everything” and you got it out of me.
And it’s I mean, I know we’ve gone really far with the question, but I just feel so inspired that I look at these, you know, the avatars that you created from that meeting and they’ve just kept me inspired. The still feel fresh, the still feel brand new. There’s still so many things I can dig in with with them.
And it’s all because of that initial conversation. It was me sharing with you my story and my vision, even though inside I just wanted to run and hide. I remember thinking, Well, I’ll never see this woman again, you know, And then I think “if she starts laughing”, you know? But you didn’t. You held me and we worked well together.
And I think there was a team of us initially. And I didn’t know what I didn’t know at that point. I remember I got all the, you know, the artwork and the illustrations back from you. I got all the words from Louise Heaps. I had the vision and the strategy from Ann and I was like, now what do I do?
Like, what do I do now? That was just the beginning. Part of me thought that was the end.
Oh, definitely was just the beginning. Yeah, I remember I left that meeting feeling really inspired because, I mean, I’ve never been a big drinker, I think I shared that with you at the time. But now I literally have to have a cold and then I’ll have a drink because that helps it go away.
But that’s about it. Now. It’s really interesting when you start thinking about the benefits of having a life of sobriety, that there’s there is a lot of them. So do you want to talk about that a little bit before we move on to all the benefits that you’ve had as a result?
Totally. I mean, I think about it like the disco ball technique, right? I’m a bit of a party animal at heart. That’s what I love. And that soul that thought, the route to that was through alcohol. So a big part of me felt I had to give all of that up as well, where it’s actually like I’ve made one decision to say no to one thing and it’s allowed me to say yes to so many other things.
Yeah, but the energy that I’ve got back, when I look back, I could sit and think how was it that? Everyone struggles and everyone’s supposed to be happy. I could have kept going the way that I was going, but I had this niggle in the back of my head, I had this friend who I could see, you know, three or four years ahead of myself by looking at it her and it was my health.
It was my health that I really was inspired to look at initially because I lost my father and he was only 45. Now, I was coming to his age and there was just so many signs, big neon pointing, saying, “What are you going to do about it?” You can say, this is what’s happening – are you learning from the people in your life?
We all have the evidence to show don’t we, and it wasn’t so much what I was running away from. It was more to do with what I could have instead.
I’m here for the people who – we talk about ideal client, and I’ve gone all the way through all this training, and I keep coming back to the fact that it’s me following my golden thread and looking back and thinking, What did I learn, what could I share? What did I see?
I saw somebody who was trying her best, working hard, trying to be the best of what she was for her family. But I was relying on this thing that I didn’t realise was dragging me down. It wasn’t the glue holding everything together it was actually the problem. And it was so hard to admit that. Even now I find it hard to admit that because this is something that happens to people. But my way isn’t about hitting rock bottom. It’s about thinking about those positive benefits. And it all starts with your sleep. You know, when you pay off the sleep overdraft and you have that energy to do more of the things that you love to do. It gives that energy to the parts of your life that at first need your attention. And then after that you put yourself where you feel good and that pays off because it ripples out to the people around you so you turn up with more of a solution focused, can-do attitude instead of, “Oh, what you need is a good night out.”
Actually, that’s not what I needed. It wasn’t a good night out. I needed to stop and think about what it was that I was actually really craving? What was it that I really wanted and I didn’t know? It took me a long, long time to figure any of that out. And I’m still on that journey.
I’m still just, choosing again. It may sound like the benefits are whatever you want, really, because it’s that energy. It’s like having that petrol in your car to take you wherever you want to go. That’s how I see it. It’s so individual and personal to picture yourself as that best vision, it’s having a more upbeat, energetic passion for life and you still have bad days, you still have days where things don’t go according to plan, but that’s life, isn’t it? We’re not trying to avoid that. We’re just trying our best.
I love that by being the best version of yourself you have so much energy because those things obviously had that big change where you stopped drinking and you had that better version of you where you were feeling more energetic and you have this pull that you wanted to share with other people?
You could have kept kept going in property with a clearer head and doing better with it and feeling great. But you decided that you needed to tell other people about this and they needed to change their lives as well. Why?
It’s really hard to put my finger on what it is that continues to drive me forward with this because like you say, it would be so easy to just say, You know what, I’m just going to get on with my life and enjoy my life.
I think part of this is the timing just seemed to be really good because I moved as well. I relocated to Wales, which is part of our bigger picture for us as a family. And so being somewhere where I didn’t have any distractions and then COVID hit, I just felt like it was spilling out of me.
And it wasn’t necessarily for other people, it was for myself, if I’m honest, it was me first. It was for me first for me to see where I had been and where I was now and where I was heading. And Ann helped me with that. That first meeting she explained to me about unconscious competence and then conscious competence. And those are the five stages, you know, that walk you through.
When I was actually engaged like Elsie and learning and figuring it out . And then it was like when I looked at, So what do I really want to do? I want to be around inspirational people. I wanted to be inspired. So I went deep into the world of online learning and I applied for a competition.
Well, it wasn’t even a competition. It was it was a prize. And I didn’t win. The prize was to be featured in a book with other inspirational women, and I was really upset. I phoned my mam and I said, How, you know, I had my eye on the prize positive patterns on I was going for it. And my mam just said so flippantly, Just write your own book.
Of course, it had always been in my head, but until she said that it was almost again that permission and think and could I do that clearly think about that for a little while. And then I looked at all the stuff I already had, I’d built an online program. I was trying to sell that.
Then everywhere I went for meetings. What you need is a book. A book, a book’s like a business card. And I was thinking about that. I put it in the book. Yeah. And it’s a really good book and everyone who feels like they would like to be like the Soberholic needs to read it. There’s more about the story in here and there’s more about different ways to get through the different stages.
You’ve got this five stage process that we’ve created these, these ladies for. Do you want to talk people a little bit through the sober goals?
Absolutely. I think the first point was when I first stopped, my first day one was never to give up ever. And I mean, I still don’t use the word forever. Don’t say that I don’t use the word alcoholic.
I tend not even say recovery. I just feel like this is a chapter of my life. Like in So when I stopped drinking, I wanted to go and see my friend who had been to a recovery center and you could refer yourself as a client, but I couldn’t see myself like that. I had a property business. I had people who trusted me with their rent.
I didn’t want to walk in like that. So I walked in as a volunteer and I learned a lot about what they do to offer support. They offered me a job to help them with the rent. You know, anybody who was in active addiction having problems with their rent. And I nearly took the job and it just didn’t feel right.
I mean, it would have got me a regular wage. I could have felt like I was helping and it just didn’t tick the boxes. And so because they offered me a job when I was a volunteer, it was really hard to say, No, thank you. I don’t want the job, but I want to stay here. I thought okay and I just ordered loads of books off Amazon and started my own learning journey, started life coaching and came up with a five stage process by looking at my own journey.
So it starts with stuck like Susie. Then observe, like Ollie, observing your own behaviour first, as well as the people around you, as well as thinking, Well, how the hell else you know, what else do you do on a Friday night if everyone in your life drinks? Well, what do you do with yourself? It’s like you have to cut yourself off.
And that’s hard. That’s usually the hardest part. The people who are my ideal client because, you know, it doesn’t look like a problem from the outside. You know, she’s not sure if this is just mother’s guilt, but just feeling if she does deserve a good time on the weekend, you know, it still in that it’s like a conflict going on, constantly pulling back and forward.
So observing your own behaviour and see that for what it really is. No pressure to stop yet, but just observe and and then you become bold like Bessie, and that’s when you take action. We say, right, this is my day one. You know, let’s see how far I can get. And you just being a person is the best, right
That’s all you do. And in your learning where the obstacles are coming up, you’re learning – is it on a Wednesday every time you speak to your mother that you have to have a bottle of wine? When is it in your life that’s actually coming a cropper? So you can really identify it and say, What can I do to dig into that and change that?
So we’re not really thinking about the drink and we’re looking at the things, the pathway to the drink, and we’re trying to maybe offer some of the solutions, some other ideas and just things we’ve never tried before. I had never tried meditating. I’d never tried getting my head out under the sky instead of having a glass of wine.
It’s about doing new things in your group – there’s a free Facebook group as well. You’re all about encouraging people to do things differently. And I think at that stage you become engaged like Elsie So you’re not sitting at home with the curtains closed like you would maybe in dry January.
You’re not doing that, you’re going to the parties you’re having the difficult conversations – you actually say, No, not for me and it might be you come home a different person after you’ve said that and then you walk a little bit prouder and you’ve got another day under your belt and it’s it’s just a journey that you’re on. And then something happens and you have a drink and you go, right, You put that in the habit tracker and you say, Not today.
Today I’m going to look after myself. But the next time I’m feeling on top, I’m going to dig into ten silly ideas what I could have done instead. Yeah, I tried aerial yoga, I tried walking mountains. I tried so many things that I would have said. Most of the people in. I tried them for myself in new in like all of these things, you know, and and it’s just every time you just come back, like a little different version of yourself.
And recently I did a fashion show and it’s like just taking a ten year old self on it and all these little projects and adventures. And I’m having a great time. I mean, I homeschool my children now and this is me still in engage and I’m engaging I’m not using alcohol. I’m using this energy for something else. You know?
And then some days I feel like I’m totally rebalanced. Just like Riley. And that’s the final stage and you’re not always there. I mean, the beauty of the process is even if you slip up, even if I’m here one day and I’m engaging and I don’t feel that great, you never go right back to here. You can’t unlearn what you already know.
You can’t go back to that unconscious incompetence coming here because, you know. I know. You know. You know. You know. You know, So it’s really recognising yourself in this process and feeling like it’s no fail. I mean, we have so much shame. You try to do something and, you know, you try again and you pick yourself up and you try again.
It’s instilling mindset in yourself and in the people around you and learning about yourself really, isn’t it? Self awareness? Yes. And that’s really interesting that the people around you because you ended up taking your husband on this journey as well, didn’t you, Eventually, as well as all these women that you’ve helped? And I think there’s been a lot of a lot of brave movements in you building your business.
We might talk about that in a minute. But I think even before you started, you had to become sober yourself. And like you’ve just highlighted, you know, there are lots of times when you have to be brave. And if people go and buy your book, they can read more about some of those moments. But there’s one where you’re camping and people are drinking and you say No, and it’s it’s really hard to feel that you have to do.
Yeah. I mean, yeah, your husband saying yes and then you went to the Northumberland Drug and Alcohol Partnership for a presentation and you talk about that in your book and how terrified you were and I remember you doing that presentation. I’d met you by then and you were really nervous and it went so well and you got really good feedback from that lady and those things helped propel you forward.
But it’s about making those decisions and each of those moments, isn’t it? And that’s what you’re telling people to do when they when they’ve joined your program.
I’ve chosen this to be the thing that’s bigger than me. I spoke about that, and I think I’ve heard in AA speak – side note, I’ve never been to an AA meeting, right? For me, I wouldn’t, I just wouldn’t feel aligned. So I’ve tried really hard to build something for women just like me. I mean, that was built for men, by men in the 1930s. And I feel like I’ve created this for women. But today, we’ve been led to believe that we need it. I mean, the mummy needs wine culture.
That is what this is all from. You know we were being independent and were drinking pints with the lads because we could – the ladette culture – and then just the wine at home for me and the having kids – my drinking wasn’t really when I was going out. It was at home like most nights, not even for any particular reason or celebration, just because I was the grown up in the house.
That was the only reason. And it got to become such a drain on all of my resources. I think it’s recognising that and thinking, if I can do this, then maybe other people can do it too – have something bigger than me that keeps me going. One of my first clients was a lady with learning difficulties, so she really helped me to simplify everything that I felt I was going through, which helped me to embed that in an understanding because when you share with someone else, you know, you’ve got to understand it so that you can teach it haven’t you
And we talked about things like Anxious Andie and the Wine Witch, digging into why is it that we feel when needed when we’re all, we’re sitting here having a coffee, having a chat. We’re confident women who have brilliant ideas in our head and we’re poisoning ourselves and it just doesn’t make sense.
And to sit with a lady who has learning difficulties and to explain that, but to to say that she also felt totally left out because that was the society and that’s what you do. And if you don’t do it, then something’s wrong with you or it means you’re judging other people. And once that gets under your skin, you cannot just get a job in Asda and forget about this idea
You’ve got to keep going in. And all of the teachers, I’ve put myself in positions in front of amazing teachers like Tony Robbins. Dean Graziosi – they drive you forward and tell you that, you know, if this is passion driven, it’s something that’s inside of me. Doesn’t matter how long it takes. The impact that I’m having is it’s there, isn’t it?
It’s not like it’s not a destination. It’s just on the way. I’m just sharing what I know. And like the song from Pink, that’s all I know so far.
Brilliant. Where was I going to go next? I had a thought and it disappeared. Being bigger than you. So you have gone through this whole process and you’ve got you’ve got your program.
And I think it feels to me like things are going in a slightly different direction at the minute, not pulling away from this, but you are using the fact that you are sober as a catalyst to help you reach other dreams that you have, like being a model. And that’s been I know that’s been super exciting for you.
So do you want to share a little bit about how that’s come about and what it feels like to do something that you’ve dreamed of doing but you don’t think you would be able to do when you weren’t sober?
Oh, it’s just fabulous. I just loved it. I think, you know, I’ve been offered lots of different routes because of this type of work.
You know, you could I could have gone into, like health clinics and I could have tried like NHS route. And, you know, there’s many other people who stop drinking and who are making massive impact and change lives. And they set up charities.
So there’s all these different things. And because I’m still on my journey, it’s like me, what I call following my golden thread. So what jumps out to me – and the thing was the PR, I loved trying and aiming and pitching and then you get a win of being free PR, being in the newspapers or I was on TV. That was a fun time.
This has happened a few times and you’re still sitting there like “Ee I can’t believe this happens”. You’re a pro now.
I know! BBC and ITV News. You get loads knock backs, everyone sees the wins don’t they? But the things like I applied for a shampoo commercial and I was sure it was mine and I didn’t get it, I was trying for a model, modelling sofas and I didn’t get that one.
But it’s interesting how one of the things that I am enjoying has led to opportunities like putting myself forward. And I had my photographs taken – my brand pictures – which made a huge difference. If you’ve got your own business, that’s one day of courage and bravery, you know, with lots of planning before just helps you turn up even on the days when you’re not feeling so great.
So that is was a big step as well doing that, and planning it out because them pictures again still feel fresh at 2019 you know 2020 no 2021, they’re a couple of years old. I’m going to have to keep up with fresh ones done. But I think having that experience and and just dreaming and putting myself forward for things and having a few wins and then pitching and then you get to win it.
And then it’s a brand new version of yourself that has to prepare for that. So when I applied in a moment of bravery for the York Fashion Show and they came back and said, Right, interested, can you come to an audition? So the next week I was preparing for the audition and it just, you know, I’m fortunate I’ve got properties that are doing alright. So that means that I can put my energy into this and a lot of the stuff that I’m doing, I’m not getting paid for. It’s putting yourself forward – the fashion show. I didn’t get paid for that. It costs me a fortune to go. I went back to the modelling school, then I went back again for five days for the actual week.
But it’s where I want to be. It’s being around the creativity in the people who are all trying the best of all pushing themselves forward and the network is the photographers, the makeup artists, the designers. It’s just like I’m like, again, that ten year old just in awe of all of it. And now I feel like I’m on the fence.
I’ve been invited back in October and it’s making sure that the spin offs are there because all the ideas come. You’ve got to send the emails, you’ve got to say, look at me, which can get a bit exhausting, it can get tiring. You’ve got to have that plan ahead, which I feel like I’ve got my strategy, I feel like it’s just coming now because for a long time I was throwing spaghetti at the wall, seeing what stuck and then feeling it. And how does it make me feel? Like I’ve tried a membership, I’ve done one to one coaching, but I have decided now because of the stage in life that I’m at, home educating these teen pre-teens. I want to concentrate on that and maybe push my blog posts. And then after that maybe go 1 to 1 later on. So it’s all got to fit into your own flow as well, hasn’t it?
I could be back to back with one to one clients, but it wouldn’t be the Claire that’s sitting in front of you here now, today. That’s the great thing about having your own business. You can do it entirely on your own terms to fit you, with your own commitments and your own passions.
I haven’t always know that Amy. I I think that is a key part, doing what feels right. You hear people say that, but you still have to work hard to switch off that thing that tells you it has to be hard. Yes, I don’t know why, but especially about this, because it’s such a serious subject. And then here I am flouncing around at the fashion show and people are struggling. And you can feel a lot of Catholic guilt.
You are showing them what it can be like and how they can feel, they don’t have to go down the modelling route, but they’ll have the same feeling about something that they feel excited about.
Yeah, but just like that, that that is the vulnerability. It isn’t it? That’s the courage that I have to dig in. And when I have to switch that up because I feel as if that you could sit and procrastinate because of that and think I need to get to the trenches back in that where this pain and suffering is and carry these people out, and that’s not why I’m here.
That’s not helpful for anyone. No one did that for me. I didn’t even do that for my husband. I just shone my light and said, This is better. You know, this is better this is easier. Come on. And finally, eventually he said, All right, okay, then. Now it’s not about other things. It’s just. It’s easier. Easier
Last night I watched a concert on Veeps – a live screen concert. I watched it from home. I wouldn’t have wanted to be there with everybody else who was drunk. You become aware of this other high level thinking. And to me, I felt like I was VIP. I didn’t feel like I was stuck at home. It was perfect. I had my big earphones on and it was just amazing. It felt like I was there. And so you just find other ways. I mean, you can still go to the concert and still have a meet up with your friends, but there are other ways as well. You can design your life any way you want. And that’s what I found out.
So we we’ve reached the end already. You were going to share three things with us. I think some of them we’ve been briefly covered already, which is handy, but if you would like to share your things, that would be great.
The first tip is to learn at least enough to have an opinion. So if you can find opportunities to share your passion in your niche and it’s okay that somebody will know more than you, that’s okay. That’s absolutely okay. And the second tip was just reminder to be you because you are your brand.
I think I tried to hide behind my brand for a little while, and then as soon as I became Claire, the Soberholic, I think people want to see who you are, what lights you up, what’s your vision?
I just changed my profile picture. I had a picture of myself in the designer’s outfit. That’s her vision. And she gave me the attitude. And the story behind the clothes. Today I changed back to myself.
It’s your brand. It’s your vision of yourself. So be you. That’s what people want to see. They do.
And the final one was choose something that you can talk about for hours to anyone who will listen.And it doesn’t have to be your husband, but it helps if he doesn’t mind.
Mine points out bad logos when we’re in the car now. He’ll be like, that’s terrible – very funny. It’s great. Wonderful. Thank you so much Claire. That has been fantastic. I think I’ve heard things that I hadn’t heard before, which is quite something, so that’s good. I really enjoyed it.
Thank you so much.
Amy Purdie, The Brand Explorer takes you on an Adventure to discover what your brand is all about, helping you with your brand strategy, brand visuals and content ideas. You can join Amy’s Brand Success Club or join her in your very own Private Brand Adventure.
Amy has been enjoying designing logos, brand identities, illustration, print work and websites – since 2007 fuelled mainly by tea and chocolate.