Visitors at the bustling Moss Street Market may not expect to find a walk-in clinic between a table of local ciders and a stall selling bunches of organic kale, but this is not your typical walk-in clinic.
Eir Mobile Medicine is an acupuncture and natural medicine clinic housed in a multi-coloured Winnebago that travels around Victoria and the southern Island doling out natural health care — think doctor’s office meets taco truck.
Owner Mercy Southam learned the power of acupuncture while receiving
the treatment as a young gymnast with severe back issues. Even then, it took over a decade before she began training in the practice and formulating her business idea.
In 2017, Southam purchased the Winnebago and began parking it at markets around Victoria a year later.
“I’ve tried to create a space people can feel safe and secure in but also relaxed,” Southam explains. “I don’t want to have that sterile clinical energy to it. No one is actually saying that walk-in clinics have to be boring and ugly.”
Southam wants Eir to be a source of community healing and envisions a future with a brick-and-mortar hub and a mobile vehicle that services vulnerable communities.
Patients need not have had any experience with acupuncture to participate. All they need to do is write their names down on the whiteboard, pick a treatment from the menu and, with kale in hand, begin feeling better.
Q & A with Mercy Southam
What was the best business advice you ever received?
Don’t be afraid to break some rules. Maybe not break, but bend. As I was ruminating on this business model, I kept finding myself stuck with what I should do or what others would do. I realized that I can make my own rules.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Write more of your ideas down. The first day I saw the Winnebago, when I met the seller in the Cowichan Valley, I had so many visions and ideas that day, and they’re gone now. Those moments of inspiration — write them down.
What would you do differently if you could do it all again?
Do some more test runs. But that’s kind of how I roll. Dive right in and adapt. Maybe that’s where my gymnastics training comes in. Gotta think on my feet!
This article is from the April/May 2020 issue of Douglas.