As the world of wellness expands by leaps and bounds, it's easy to forget that self-care and intentional healing practices have been around for centuries. What is new, however, is the fever with which "wellness" dominates popular culture.
Unsurprisingly the originators of many of these practices, such as energy healing or astrology, have been left out of America's swift movement towards mindful living. And while the default can oftentimes be to demand inclusion from the brands and spaces who aren't catering to us, many Black entrepreneurs are taking a different approach.
For example, women such as Bri Owens, founder of Spiked Spin, a New York City-based hip-hop cycling company and Kendra Blackett-Dibinga, founder of D.C.-Based Bikram Yoga Works, are creating spaces just for us.
Darian Hall and Elisa Shankle are the latest Black wellness entrepreneurs to be added to this ever-growing list. Their brainchild, the Brooklyn-based wellness community space HealHaus, was created so women and men of color can come to heal — emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
"Instead of choosing to focus on why major wellness outlets and brands aren't being inclusive, we decided to create what was natural for us," Hall and Shankle tell ESSENCE. What resulted is a wellness practice that placed our community at its core.
"By creating a community around wellness in an elevated space that's truly inclusive and diverse on the practitioner as well as the client end, we believe we fill a huge void that is missing," the founders share. The duo knew all too well the trepidation many people of color feel when entering a yoga or meditation studio when no one looks like them. So they intentionally created a space that did away with this.
Both wanted to create an environment that openly welcomed people at various points in their wellness journey. So unlike most studios, there isn't just one place to take classes but several different zones.
In addition to an indoor space where yoga and meditation classes take place, there's also an outdoor patio, private rooms for one-on-one consultations and even a holistic cafe. The HealHaus goal is simple: to ensure everyone feels comfortable, even if that means simply staying to enjoy a tea. "We have a little something for everyone," they assure.
In addition to curating a welcoming space, Hall and Shankle are committed to making wellness financially accessible for our community. "Because we are on a mission to shift the culture in wellness, and show that healing is not just a trend but a lifestyle, we have weekend community programming that is donation based," Hall says.
When asked what's been the most rewarding and exciting part of this journey they both agreed it's been the overwhelming support and love they've received from the exact community that inspired HealHaus. "Since we launched [on May 29th], multiple people keep saying that HealHaus feels like home, and that is exactly what we wanted it to feel like."
For more information, check out HealHaus.com.