How Sam Willoughby Switched Careers To Launch The Live Well Festival

How Sam Willoughby Switched Careers To Launch The Live Well Festival

Sam Willoughby, founder and MD of Lime Events Group, a company that runs the Live Well London and Live Well Manchester festivals is no stranger to events, having worked for global events and exhibition companies for 19 years.

But as a mum of two, navigating 50-hour working weeks at very corporate, top-heavy organisations, she found her motivation and passion had started to wane. Unsure work-life-balance was a concept that existed in her then career, she decided she needed a change.

Realising that what she truly loved and excelled in, revolved around the creation of events, she was left wondering how she could do just that, but in an industry she felt more passionate about.

The leap didn’t happen overnight, but by utilising her existing network and skills, Sam was able to create a new professional path for herself within the thriving wellness industry.

In 2019 Live Well London was launched and now Sam is busy planning Live Well London 2020 as well as navigating the launch of Live Well Manchester. Here Sam reveals what pushed her to switch careers, why making connections is so important, and how working in the wellness industry has changed her life for the better……

What first sparked your desire for a career change?

I started my career in marketing and worked my way up to Event Director level –– with my last position being Event Director on the UK’s leading jewellery trade event. However, as a busy mum of two, not only was I finding the long hours hard to navigate, but the speed at which decisions were being made was slow and stifling and I realised I needed a change.

What finally pushed you to make the leap?

I started seeing a personal coach to help me work out what I should do and also how to make that change, as I had been talking about it for years, but had never felt brave enough to take the leap. 

One of the main things that had previously stopped me was financial worries. I had a big mortgage, family and was used to having a good, steady salary coming in, however, my coach was very good at helping me see that ultimately with my CV I would always be able to get a job, even if it wasn’t what I wanted long term. So, if I needed to be earning money at any point, I could.

I also concluded that building something up which culminated in a physical experience was what I ultimately enjoyed doing, and was what I was really good at. So I just needed to work out how I could do that in a different way, and in within a different industry.

This encouraged me to make the leap to leave my job and the company I had worked at for 13 years. 

So, why the wellness industry?

Part of my plan in setting up my events business was to a) find an industry that was growing and had potential and b) was an industry that I had a genuine interest in, as I find it’s so much easier to work hard on something that I genuinely have a passion for.  

The wellbeing industry was certainly one that was booming and given my own struggle for work-life balance, whilst knowing how it important it is to look after yourself both physically and mentally, was a topic that I was really interested in. 

How long did it take you to make that transition, and what did that journey entail?

Very fortunately for me, four weeks into this break I was approached by an old client who wanted to invest in me starting my own events business. The opportunity was too good to refuse and so I said yes!

After that, much of the first few months of me building up a plan revolved around going and meeting with people who were involved in the industry and talking to them about their experiences and thoughts.

What were the trends? Who were the key people or events in the industry? What were the competitors doing well or not so well? What was missing? The more people I met, the more I was convinced that the idea of Live Well was the right one. 

At that time, there really weren’t any events out there that were truly focussing on both emotional and physical wellbeing and their equal importance, or that were accessible to all, not just one age bracket or gender.

With that research under my belt, we launched Live Well London in 2019 with great success. We were overwhelmed with the feedback and are now busy planning Live Well London 2020, as well as having just launched Live Well Manchester. 

It’s been a crazy two years and I have already learnt a huge amount!

What’s your main piece of advice for anyone out there who’s thinking of making the transition into wellness?

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get out to network and meet with people in the industry. You can learn so much and ultimately people are all very willing to help and support you if they believe in your product or brand.  

So many of the things that have gone well with Live Well are a result of meeting someone, who then put me in touch with someone, who helped me with something else, and so on. People buy into people, not a faceless brand, and within an increasingly competitive market, that’s certainly helped Live Well to become successful and even more importantly, trusted.

What do you love most about working in the wellness industry?

I think it’s safe to say I am working harder than ever, as are the rest of the team, but we are really enjoying it and are very proud of what we have achieved so far. 

It’s a flexible environment, which is great because most of us are mums and need to juggle lots of things. We also get some great perks –– most recently I have had the pleasure of trying some fab new workouts when deciding on this years’ resident boutique studios for Live Well London, so I can’t complain.  

Also, being so entrenched in this industry, you are constantly reading and hearing about new ways to look after yourself both physically and mentally so that helps on a personal level. To top it all off, we have met some truly inspiring and genuinely lovely people along the way, so I know that I made the right decision making that leap.

What’s next for Live Well?

We’ll continue to deliver inspirational experiences for people wanting to look after and improve their physical and emotional wellbeing, ensuring credibility and accessibility, whilst constantly striving to improve on our offering. 

Our aim is for attendees to leave our events having learned or tried something that they hadn’t before, to help them on their wellbeing journey. For the brands involved, we hope they leave feeling like they have been supported every step of the way, achieved their objectives and had a great experience in the process. London, Manchester, watch this space for what’s next!


Live Well London, will take place from 28th February to 1st of March 2020 at Old Billingsgate, featuring an inspirational lineup of the very best in wellbeing, health and fitness. You can find out more about the event and purchase tickets, here
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