'Self-care' may be a tired buzz word, but that is not because we’ve mastered it.
I am a mother of two grown children, a survivor of fifteen surgeries, and a female entrepreneur of over 30 years. I saw the need for self-care products long before I heard the phrase, certainly not knowing it would become the industry it is today. I’ve come close to many breakthroughs only to have them peter out in the face of much larger brands. I’ve lost investors, lost health, sat up at night scribbling recipes beside the bed of my sick child—and despite all the discouragements, I’ve created a brand that reminds women daily how to resist the messages that say they’re not enough.
After suffering a stroke at the age of 23, I left my full-time job in marketing to help with my mother-in-law’s boutique, and I was surprised to find myself smitten with the addictive field of retail. This, along with my longstanding passion for hospitality, eventually led me to build a restaurant inside the boutique, compact enough to fit up to forty diners at a time. Before I knew it, I had a full-blown career that was demanding my time and attention.
It was during this time that I gave birth to my children—a startling success considering the severe endometriosis I’ve battled since the age of 16. I delighted in the chaotic juggling act that was marriage, motherhood and my life as an entrepreneur.
Then what started out as an ordinary childhood fever ended up landing my husband and I in the hospital with our 2-year-old son, where he was diagnosed with a life-threatening abscess on his liver. Although we were blessed with a full recovery, our renewed outlook on life took time to settle in.
I ran my first boutique & bistro for a total of fifteen years before we lost our lease on the building and were forced to relocate. At this point, my son had seen a full recovery and I was back at it, enjoying what seemed to be the final signs of my triumph over endometriosis. I took on an investor, rehabbed the historic theatre in my town, and opened my second boutique & bistro.
Health has a way of leveling the playing fields. Try as I might to ignore the return of pain, my body began to make clear something I had denied for years: I needed a hysterectomy. I had to fly out-of-state for the complicated surgery, but it was a success, and I recovered.
Only a few months later, my family was back in the hospital— this time with my daughter, who had been diagnosed with a brain tumor after getting x-rayed for braces at the orthodontist’s office. The news was terrifying and absurd, and I finally hit a breaking point.
Coincidentally, so did our economy. My daughter’s brain surgery and my second hysterectomy fell within months of each other during the 2008 financial crash. Though it broke my heart in its own painful way, I left my boutique & bistro along with all the little pieces of my identity I had buried inside it, and recovery became our family’s mission once again.
Lifetherapy was born out of this long-haul recovery process. I dreamt of opening my own private label for years, but it was the chaos, disappointment, and reorientation of this time that allowed me to create the self-care products I had always craved. I played with recipes, explored moods, drafted mantras—and unlike all my entrepreneurial pursuits before, it didn’t even feel like work.
If my family’s health struggles have taught me anything, it’s just how important it is to slow down and be present in each moment, no matter what is going on around us. Looking back, I recognize that some of the best moments of my life happened within the four walls of a hospital room, halted in my hustle, surrounded by those I love, and learning all over again what it looks like to choose my own take on life.
We’re all fragile, every single one of us, and the problems come when we start to think we’re not. Taking the time to slow down can be difficult precisely because it is a daily reminder of our fragility, but ironic as it may seem, that reminder is the purest form of self-care there is. My hope is that Lifetherapy products will give each woman who uses them the space to slow down and look at herself exactly as she is, because I can promise she will always find beauty.
Founder and CEO of Lifetherapy