I was talking to a friend recently and told her when I need to find inspiration, I first look at the women I know. My friends. My family. My colleagues. My clients. My networks. On a subconscious level, we have been trained to start looking for motivation outside of our circle. I am all for reading up on Michelle Obama and Priyanka Chopra and Indra Nooyi and Oprah and learning about their journey. As women of color, they reiterate the power of dreams, perseverance, and fearlessness.
But when I see someone I personally know succeed, it fills me with realistic optimism and enthusiasm. Honestly, I find my dreams feel more attainable when I hear stories of women in my inner world doing groundbreaking work. Look deep into your world, and I can bet you that you know women who are making an impact and influencing others along the way.
August is National Wellness Month. Today, I want to share stories of four women who are touching lives, pursuing their dreams, and moving and shaking things in the wellness world all while launching their businesses during the pandemic.
Zoe Isaacson is a yoga instructor and ESL instructor who divides her time between Finger Lakes and Queens, NY. Around ten years ago, Zoe was looking for an interesting way to compliment her workouts.
“I would sporadically take yoga classes, but it wasn’t until a class in Brooklyn in 2011 that I became dedicated,” she says. “The mental clarity and steadiness that I felt after a class was new for me and I wanted to share this with others. One day a teacher didn’t show up, and I led part of a class, and that was it – I knew I wanted to do this.”
While Zoe has taught and continues to teach yoga at other spaces, in 2021, she launched Skybranches Yoga. Zoe offers a wide variety of virtual yoga classes, and you can sign up for private one-on-one online sessions too.
“Yoga has been my steadiness, my rock, my place to come back to,” Isaacson says. “It has been truly one of the few things that I have stayed committed to. It is a gift to see the same students come back to practice.” For more information, visit the Skybranches site.
Prabha Saha, CEO and founder of Amaaya Wellness lives in Singapore, makes delicious looking soaps (amongst other products), and is a big proponent of self-care. She reminds us that “self-love or self-care are not luxuries; in fact, they are necessities … to keep us sane, to keep us happy and to keep us productive. And if we take care of ourselves, then our family and all our other relationships automatically get taken care of.”
When I ask Saha what inspired her to launch Amaaya, which means lovable and beautiful, she says, “As a young girl growing up, my regular skin care regimen included natural ingredients like green moong powder and chana dal powder for cleansing the body and face packs were certain Ayurvedic preparations like Kasturi Manjal or Rakta Chandanam mixed with pure honey. Later when I got married and moved to Singapore, I lost touch with all of this. Moreover, I found that my busy life left me with no time for such time-consuming skin care rituals. Instead, fancy, branded and well packaged products became my go-to. All that changed, when I visited India a couple of years ago, and got reintroduced to the skin care regimen of my youth. Once I got back to Singapore, I replaced my everyday bath paraphernalia with natural ingredients from my kitchen. Recently, after attending workshops, I started making my own soaps and this allowed me to experiment with natural organic products that I have been using every day.”
For more information, visit Saha’s page.
Kara Freedman lives in NYC and started baking and perfecting an oat bite recipe a few months before quarantining started. When stay-at-home orders went into effect, she decided to turn her hobby into a business – and launched Baked by Nature. The oat bites are natural, vegan, and made without preservatives or added sugar.
“I was inspired by my grandfather – Walter Freedman – who escaped the Holocaust and Nazi Germany,” says Freedman. “After coming to America, my grandpa was drafted by the U.S. to fight in WWII. He landed on the beaches of Normandy two weeks after D-Day, was wounded, and received a Purple Heart. After returning to the U.S. (New York to be exact), he started his own business. As an entrepreneur who always placed an emphasis on wellness, I started Baked by Nature to honor my grandfather, who died in August of 2019.”
When I ask Freedman what working a full-time job and launching a business has taught her, she says, “I learned that I thrive even more when I have a balance between being busy and taking a break. As things start to return to normal, I will continue to honor my need for down time and do my best to not return to my over scheduled life.”
For more information, visit the Baked by Nature site.
Kalpana Patel is a Queens, NY-based life coach and holistic healer. She enjoys connecting deeply with people and inspiring them to be their best selves.
“Our behavior is largely determined by our subconscious mind,” she says. “Our bad habits are a window into our subconscious mind, which is more powerful than our conscious mind.”
It’s no surprise that Patel brings deep knowledge of Reiki, life coaching, eating psychology, meditation, and a lot more to her health coaching sessions (both virtual and in-person).
“When I started working with my clients, I found many of them struggling with issues like mine, around eating, body weight and self-image,” she says. “It dawned on me that the real issue underlying this struggle with food and weight, was really low self-image. I understood and felt the pain of my clients. I also realized how unhealed emotions impact the body and translate into physical ailments. I gained a deeper understanding of the mind-body connection, and realized true healing involves healing of body, spirit, and mind.”
On one of her recent trips in early 2021, Patel had an epiphany about the next steps: She launched her organic skin and hair care line. Her offerings include Reiki-infused oils and body butters and bath salts, hair oil, and much more.
For more information, visit her site.
Next time you don’t know where to turn for inspiration, pause for a moment and look at the people you know. I promise; should you choose to look deeply; you will recognize numerous voices and faces making the world a better place.
“I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint – and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you.” ~ Oprah Winfrey
For more of The Balanced Life on SEEMA, check out The Balanced Life: Pivoting Careers