4 Busy Wellness Founders On The Importance Of Cultivating Self-Care

Presented in partnership with WeWork.

Presented in partnership with WeWork.

Four innovators in the wellness industry speak to why it’s such an important moment for women to participate in self-care conversations (while looking after themselves too).

In New York City last month, Girlboss joined forces with WeWork to host a conversation around one of the most important wellness topics amongst our readers: Self-care. It’s a concept that contains multitudes, tapping into a long and varied history of women’s health, activism and self-preservation that has, historically speaking, largely been dismissed.

But in recent years, a new generation of business founders have begun providing valuable services across a broad spectrum, spanning industries like nutrition, alternative healing, physical therapy and beyond. And to say these services have resonated on a deep level is something of a severe understatement; the self-care industry is reportedly valued at $10 billion and shows no signs of slowing down.

Weighing in on the panel conversation at the WeWork offices in Bryant Park was Latham Thomas, author founder of maternity wellness platform Mama Glow; Dr. Emily Kiberd, chiropractor and founder of the Urban Wellness Clinic; Cyndi Ramirez, founder of the buzzy nail salon turned cafe turned massage parlor hybrid, Chillhouse; and Sarah Larson Levey, founder of cult hip hop yoga studio Y7.

Over the course of the hour-long discussion, the entrepreneurs touched on what their own personal definition of self-care is, why it’s such an important thing to cultivate right now, and what it takes to spread the message to women in a meaningful way. Read some of the highlights below.

Self-care for business founders

Latham Thomas, left, founder of Mama Glow; and Dr. Emily Kiberd, founder of the Urban Wellness Clinic

Latham Thomas, left, founder of Mama Glow; and Dr. Emily Kiberd, founder of the Urban Wellness Clinic

“Self-care is what you're doing right now, showing up for yourself and making choices on a moment-to-moment basis that really align with your optimal well being,” said Latham Thomas. “It's [also] about creating healthy boundaries and saying ‘no’ when you need to.”

Thomas went on to speak to the nuance of what self-care means in a community: “We become arbiters of self-care for ourselves, and then that allows us to translate that work into our communities and the work that we do at the workplace or in our families,” she said, noting the importance of self-care for historically marginalized women, in particular. “We're already coming in from a deficit, so anything that you do to pour into yourself, to love yourself a little bit extra, is not selfish or self indulgent. It's part of your survival strategy to make sure that you stay well, especially living in a city like [New York].”

Why self-care is so important in 2018

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The panelists spoke to a long history of Western medicine not taking women’s health concerns seriously—an issue that’s been dissected in depth as part of a broader conversation examining the rise of self-care and why it’s necessary.

“There was a problem that we were looking to solve … I needed to feel like someone was holding my hand as I crossed this river, and that's what I do now. I help women as they cross the river in their own pregnancy and wellness journeys,” said Latham, speaking to what she views as a glaring lack in the prenatal and maternal care industry.

Larson Levey went on to speak to the shortcomings of preventative care in our current healthcare system and why taking actions that may be perceived as small are so necessary: “A massage shouldn't be looked at as an indulgence. You get that time with yourself, and it’s good for your body … I think that's what really excites me about being in the wellness space—being able to spread that message of preventative medicine through movement and self care.”

“We all step into wellness either to fill a need, to solve a problem,” Kiberd said, ”or to learn for ourselves how to heal our own bodies better, and so for me, that was my story.”

On promoting self-care while practicing it

From left to right: Neha Gandhi, Latham Thomas, Dr. Emily Kiberd, Cyndi Ramirez and Sarah Larson Levey.

From left to right: Neha Gandhi, Latham Thomas, Dr. Emily Kiberd, Cyndi Ramirez and Sarah Larson Levey.

It’s an irony that was not lost on these entrepreneurs; the demands of building and maintaining a brand are significant. Even when that brand is selling the importance of self-care. “I'm really good at boundaries. I've honed that, 'cause I have to take care of people,” Thomas said. “You figure out how to bend time … I'm very good at anticipating my needs. And I think that all of us can be really good at that, so long as you listen to your body.”

But that, of course, is a skill that requires training, that can easily become buried under the cacophony of our everyday lives. “Sometimes I'm really good at taking care of myself, sometimes I'm really bad at it,” Ramirez acknowledged.

“My intention this year is to be consistently better at it every day, whatever that means...[There were days] where I was like, ‘I just want a beer and a sandwich to get me through this, and there's no room for a workout during this time at all.’ And you know what?... That’s just recognizing that you have to listen to your body. It’s one thing at a time, taking it day by day.”

Words: Deena Drewis
Photos: Liz Devine