If you guys watched my insta-stories or saw my post this Saturday, you already know I spent the day at the Well Summit in Boston and it was absolutely amazing. It was a day full of in-person connection, support, inspiration and education. The energy throughout the day was freakin magical. Everyone was so happy and excited to be there. We had the opportunity to hear some seriously incredible women speak about a variety of topics. We also got to learn about and sample brands that use real and non-toxic ingredients. In case you didn't get to follow along on my stories, I'll give you a break down of the day as well as the names of all the speakers and brands that were a part of it all.
I normally would have joined in on yoga session at 8 AM (taught by the beautiful Sara Divello), but I had to make sure the pups had some extra time outside since my fiance was away on his bachelor weekend. I was bummed to miss it, but felt better knowing I'll be attending another yoga event lead by her this upcoming weekend! Here is the link in case you want to join us!: https://www.roomandboard.com/m/events/AprilYogaBoston
The day started off with an opening keynote by Sara Divello, followed by an extremely grounding sound meditation by Sara Auster. Sara is a sound therapist and meditation teacher. She lead us all through a series of deep breathing exercises and encouraged each of us to make our own sounds and a variety of sounds together as a group. It was really cool to see and hear everyone focusing on the doing the same thing. I don't know about you guys, but even 2 minutes of breathing and meditation can change my whole outlook, mood or mindset for the day. Go check her out to learn more about beginning your own practice.
The first panel of the day was titled "Everyday Products, Their Ingredients and Our Health". It was lead by Emily Kanter of Cambridge Naturals and included Tara Foley, Mia Davis - from Credo Beauty, Elizabeth Zulick - a scientist and researcher here in Boston, Marilee Nelson - co-founder of Branch Basics and Dr. Janis Covey - the founder of Kosmatology. This panel was truly eye opening, the cleaning products, make up products, hair products and skin care products we grew up around or even using ourselves can cause serious health issues internally and externally. The scary thing is, that for a very long time, these industries didn't have to release the ingredients in their products. Ingredients that haven't been tested in terms of being safe for humans or the environment and have been scientifically proven to cause chronic illnesses and even cancer. One thing that Liz mentioned that is important for these companies to consider is that everyone has a different chemical make up, therefore, the chemicals they put into their products impact each person differently. Unfortunately our world will never be chemical-free and we will always be exposed to some sort of chemicals or toxins, However, we CAN choose the products we use, bring into our household and put on our skin. We get to choose which companies we want to support - so do your research and read articles in order to find companies you trust. *A great resource that we have access to check ingredients is EWG - the Environmental Working Group. You can utilize their website to look into companies and the ingredients they use in their products. One of the biggest takeaways of the panel was to remember that your journey to wellness takes time. You won't figure out what works best for you overnight. Experiment with a couple products and see how your skin reacts to them.
After learning about some great eco-friendly brands and learning about which chemicals to stay away from, we had the chance to check out awesome brands that were set up at the Summit. All of the brands there had similar missions - to use REAL, non-toxic ingredients and in turn, positively impact our health and the environment we're exposed to. Healthy skin care companies included: Follain, Kosmatology, Piper Wai, Vapour Beauty, and True Moringa. Follain is located in Boston and has SO many clean beauty options in their store. I haven't had the chance to get in their myself but I can't wait to! Kostmatology also offers a variety of skin care options that are gentle on your skin. Vapour Beauty has TONS of clean beauty products, from foundation to mascara. True Morninga is working hard to create clean products all while supporting small farms. I loved their lavender oil! Piper Wai is a natural deodorant company that uses activated charcoal in their product. You may have also seen them on Shark Tank!
About 2 years ago, I began the transitioning our home to become more green and eco-friendly. Specifically focusing on the hair and skin care products and cleaning products we used. I threw away all of the toxic products we had in our home and began researching companies. A few months ago, I was on the Well Summit instagram account and stumbled upon Branch Basics. Their products are SUPER green and their mission is to help everyone have toxin-free homes. You should absolutely check them out if you're looking for some green cleaning products!
Food and drink companies included: Watermelon Road (who you may have seen on the Well Summit insta-stories last week), Bark Thins, Elemental Superfood, Jinjur, Health Warrior, and Hyvida. Watermelon Road makes fruit jerky with no added sugar - their pineapple mojito jerky was my favorite! Unfortunately, I couldn't sample a lot of the Bark Thins chocolate because it contains soy, but they have tons of flavors to choose from. Now let me tell you guys about Elemental Superfood. I was SUPER excited they were at the Summit because I have been DYING to try their product. Not only did I get to meet their founder, Nicole, but OMG babes, these bars did not disappoint - they were out of this world and the ingredients were on point. I hadn't been able to find them anywhere around me, but I did find out that the bars are sold at Pressed Juicery in Boston. You can also order them online which I'm absolutely going to be doing VERY soon - their Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter bar was absofriggenlutely delicious.
Another product I was so freakin PUMPED to try was Jinjur, which are liquid herbal extracts. This company is run by two awesome women who are Acupuncturists and Herbalists - Kate and Alexandra. They created these tinctures to help people reap the benefits of herbs without the crazy cost. They have four types of tinctures - Let it Glow (to promote healthy hair skin and nails), Wake Up (to boost energy levels), Chill Out (to decrease stress levels), and Sweet Dreams (to promote restful sleep). All you have to do is add a couple drops to your water, coffee, tea or even Kombucha!
Health Warrior is a company that I'm very familiar with - I discovered their chia bars in early 2015. Their bars are super nutrient-dense, as chia seeds are the main ingredient. Each bar packs a punch of Omega 3's, as well as plant-based protein and fiber. They're the perfect size to carry in your bag or travel with. They also make an awesome pre-workout or mid-afternoon snack! They recently launched their Pumpkin Seed bars which are also delicious and have super clean ingredients. I highly recommend you check them out!
Last, but certainly not least is Hyvida - a brand that I was not familiar with, really loved the product when I got the chance to try it. They make hydrogen infused sparkling water - similar to a seltzer water except it hydrates you! I got to chat with one of the founders who explained that it can help with headaches and migraines thanks to the hydrogen it provides. He also received feedback from customers who told him it is a great cure for hangovers! You can find them on their site and amazon as well.
Next up, were the breakout sessions, there were two to chose from - I attended "Turning It Off When You're Always On" which included two very inspiring women, Chelsea Williams and Chinae Alexander. Chelsea is a plant-based wellness blogger and founder of live sacred dc. Chinae is an a global Adidas ambassador and lifestyle blogger based in NYC. Together, we discussed building your brand on social media, how to deal with rude or negative people and how to detox from technology. Chinae explained that its important to build a thick skin and protect yourself emotionally. People tend to say things to you online that they would never say to you in person. She and Chelsea also discussed the importance of having support from the people closest to you - for the days that the comments do bother you, you need your community to be there to build you back up. One thing that Chelsea said that stuck with me is that its hard to turn your phone off when you're using it to build your business. Which is so true, yet she also talked about the importance of making time to be in the present moment, not mindlessly scrolling through social media apps. Their advice was to find what works best for you. Some people can spend days without their phone be totally fine. Others can only spend a few hours because the thought of messages and emails piling up gives them anxiety. We have to remember that we are all wired differently and what works for one person, won't necessarily work for the next. Lastly, they reminded us that we are lucky to have access to a working phone everyday. It should be looked at as a tool, not a necessity.
Our mid-day session, right before lunch was lead by the lively, Agapi Stassinopolous. Agapi is a motivational speaker and the author of Wake Up to the Joy of You. I had the opportunity to see her speak this past fall at the Well Summit in NYC and absolutely loved it. She tells her own personal story about facing rejection and how she moved past it to become successful. She realized that we live in a world where we constantly compare ourselves to others or what they've accomplished. We don't spend enough time paying attention to the opportunities we have in front of us. When we're worried about what other people are doing, it creates a block in our creativity and passion. One thing she said that rings true in our society is that we hold back because we want to be liked. But guess what? Not everyone has to like you and you don't need the approval of random people to go after your dreams. People may call you crazy or say you'll fail, but what they're really doing is projecting their own fears onto you. From there, we have two choices - 1. let their fears become our fears or 2. ignore them and go after what we're truly passionate about. Failure is an important pat of the journey, we learn from it. The last words she left us with were "trust that you have the ability to create the life you want". Sure, this may be easier said than done, BUT if you want to make something happen, you have to believe in yourself and keep pushing until you get there.
After Agapi's motivational words and dance party, it was time to break for lunch, which was provided by Sweet Green . We had a variety of delicious salads to choose from (as well as snacking on the food provided by the vendors mentioned above). After re-fueling with some delicious food, it was onto the next set of breakout sessions. I chose to listen to the "Creating Success on Your Terms" panel, which included the AMAZING Gianne Doherty herself - founder of the Well Summit and co-founder of Organic Bath Company, Jess Edelstein - co-founder of Piper Wai, Jessica Maniatis - founder of JSGD, and Kristina Tsipouras - the founder of Boston Business Women and Moroccan Magic. It was super interesting to hear each of these brilliant women talk about their own personal journey and what made them want to start their own businesses. For most, it started with being stuck in a job they weren't excited about and some were so stressed out from their jobs that they were physically ill. Which is unfortunately reality for a lot of people in this world. The biggest takeaways from this panel were the pieces of advice that these entrepreneurs had to offer. One of my favorite quotes was from Jessica M., "There is always fear in everything we do. You have to find trust in yourself. As long as you're following your path, you will be successful (even if it takes awhile)." These words were extremely encouraging for me, as someone who is working on building a business and a career I love.
Other pieces of advice I loved:
- Encourage others to start their own business and go after their passion.
- Don't wait for permission, give YOURSELF permission - you don't need anyone else's.
- You only get what you want in life by having the courage to ask for it.
- Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Learn to embrace it. This is where the true change begins to happen.
- If you don't put your talents out into the world, you are depriving others of what you have to offer.
After listening to that panel of inspirational, female entrepreneurs, we had two more breakout sessions to chose from. I chose to listen to the "Business of Wellness: Monetizing Social Media" panel, which included Holly Finigan, the founder of Nantucket BlACKbook, Chelsea Williams, Chinae Alexander and Ksenia Avdulova, the founder of Breakfast Criminals. I was very interested in this panel because I'm always curious how people use social media to create sources of income for themselves. It is also very motivational to hear how each person started their brand and built it to where it is now. One misconception all of these entrepreneurs face is people thinking that they live glamorous lives and what they do is easy. When in reality - its taken them a long time, multiple failures + accomplishments, combined with a lot of hard work to get to where they currently are now.
Some of my favorite takeaways from this panel:
- It takes time, effort and hustle to build your brand. There is no, one formula.
- Have multiple projects going on at all times
- Get clear on what your expertise is, create a list of everything you have to offer and the costs of your services.
- Find brands you like, believe in and who align with your vision for your band. Ask to work with them.
- Try to focus on working with brands and companies that align with what you're truly passionate about, don't do something just for money.
- Remember that your worth is not based on the amount of followers you have.
- You have to do a lot of outreach to get your name out there. Talk about people and brands like, tag them and show them some love.
- Whatever is important to you, put it out there and make it known. Have your own unique voice. Be authentic. ("Its way less exhausting to just be yourself", as Chinae Alexander says).
- Create your own hashtags and stick with them.
- Hire out for the things you're not good at. This gives you time to focus on your vision and gives other people the funds to fuel their dream.
At this point, we were more than half way through the day, but still had to awesome panels to choose from. The second to last panel I attended was entitled "Drop the Labels: healthy food for your mental health", and was lead by Heather Stevenson - the founder of Thirst Juice Company. This panel included Chelsea Williams, Jenny D. Brice - a Reiki Practitioner and Psychotherapist, and Rachele Pojednic - Professor of Nutrition, Scientist and founder of Strong Process. I was familiar with Rachele and Heather from hearing them both speak last year at the Well Summit, but hadn't heard Chelsea or Jenny discuss food and its role on our mental health. The first topic of discussion was dieting, fad diets and if they are sustainable. There is a difference between a diet and lifestyle. Dieting is short term, whereas a lifestyle is long term. Making small changes and beginning to incorporate them into your life is what a lifestyle consists of. Diets tend to be restrictive and in the long term, unrealistic to stick with. Their advice was to create your own "diet" based on what YOU like and what works for YOU.
Advice, Tips + Takeaways:
- ALWAYS do research, read labels and ingredients. Unfortunately a lot of brands use false marketing.
- Pay attention to what you're putting into your body. If you can't read the ingredients or don't know what they are, you probably don't want to eat it.
- Being healthy is based on eating REAL food and less processed food. Basically eat more food without labels, like fruits and vegetables!
- Experiment with different foods, figure out what makes you feel good or bad. Pay attention to how you feel when you eat certain foods. Remember that what works for ONE person, may not work for you.
- Work on building a healthy relationship with food. It's important that food is not viewed negatively.
- Be proud of yourself for where you are now. If you feel like you need to make some changes, do it.
- You NEED to fuel your body when you exert it, try to move away from restrictive eating and move towards intuitive eating.
The last panel of the day, lead by Siraad Dirshe, (beauty editor at Essence Magazine)was titled "Redefining Self-Care" and included Rebecca Casciano - clean beauty make up artist, Asha Ramakrishna - spiritual mentor and author (who I've always felt such a strong connection to since we first met last year), Gianne Doherty - you all better know who she is by now, Sara Divello - yogi, author and motivational speaker and Melissa C. Let me tell you babes, this panel really hit home for me. Mostly because over the past 6 months, I've really tried to focus on turning inward and doing what's best for me. We discussed self-care as a whole, eliminating toxic energy and negative people, doing more things that make YOU feel good, and the importance of setting boundaries. We, as women, tend to give and give and give, but forget to take care of ourselves. You need to give yourself time to rest so you don't get burnt out. The saying "you can't pour from an empty cup" applies perfectly in this situation. In order to show up and be there for others, you must do the same for yourself FIRST. We also tend to try and please everyone, which, let's be real - is NOT possible. One thing that Asha said that resonated with me is that we may make decisions that other people don't like and that IS OKAY. You have to do if it's what is truly best for you. Self-care is defined differently by everyone. It doesn't have to be expensive, it can be as simple as saying "No".
My Favorite Takeaways:
- Make a list of things that bring you joy. Do more of those things on a regular basis.
- Listen to your body. Pay attention to what its telling you.
- Tune into how you feel after interactions with people. If you feel good, keep them around. If not, stay away from them.
- Try not to feel bad for not following other people's expectations. This is YOUR life and you are in charge of making decisions that are right for YOU.
- Create some sort of routine that makes your days and weeks feel happier.
- Start practicing self-care, whether it be big or small. No one else is going to do it for you!
I had to leave early (to get home for the pups) so I didn't get to hear the closing keynote by the phenomenal Gianne Doherty herself. I was bummed to miss it, but was on such an absolute high from the day itself. It's not JUST a wellness conference - it gives you the chance to turn inward and work on yourself, learn about and discuss topics that really matter and connect with so many beautiful souls. I'm so thankful for the Well Summit and all of the people I've gotten the chance to meet the past 3 events I've been too. I know this was a lengthy blog post, but I felt like the topics discussed are SO important and that there were SO many beneficial takeaways that you all can begin applying to your own lives.