5 Black Woman-Owned Wellness Businesses You’ll Want to Know
As the quest for wellness continues to influence how we conduct decisions surrounding our health, passionate practitioners, brand founders and disrupters of the status quo are ensuring wellness is accessible to all–from non-profit wellness centers and ancient healing practices to marketplaces and products that are safe (and sustainable) for all of us to use.
Get to know these five black women-owned wellness businesses that are thriving and inspiring us to live our most healthy, vibrant lives yet.
Gina Pierre, Dac., LMT; Founder, Ommmango Wellness
Dr. Gina Pierre is a licensed acupuncturist and a massage therapist whose passion for healing others led her to found Ommmango Wellness, her zen-like studio in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. She works not only with the body, but also with the mind and the spirit to bring patients back to homeostasis, to be fully energized and productive.
Gina is a graduate of Pacific College of Oriental Medicine with a training in multiple massage modalities including Swedish, Myofascial, Deep Tissue, Thai massage, Tui na and Reiki. Through acupuncture and massage, Gina works on a deep conscious level by feeling into and sensing the individual’s needs and making connection to provide a lasting therapeutic massage.
Dr. Kristian Henderson, Founder, BLK + GRN
Dr. Kristian Henderson is a professor of public health, a natural lifestyle enthusiast and the founder of BLK+GRN, an all-natural marketplace by all Black artisans where products are curated and sold in categories like skincare, home, and bath and body to meet the needs of wellness seekers who want to buy Black and live green. Kristian’s latest entrepreneurial endeavor is the culmination of her belief in #BlackGirlMagic and her experiences in the public health industry.
She is an unshakeable optimist who is passionate about helping women cultivate a lifestyle that’s free of artificial ingredients, toxins and harmful chemicals. In its infancy, BLK+GRN has already been featured in publications like Essence, Forbes, Blavity and Teen Vogue. Kristian attributes the early success of her company to the artisans and customers who remain authentic and intentional about health, wellness and community cultivation.
Kristian holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a doctorate degree from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.
Viviam Williams-Kurutz, Founder & Executive Director, Harlem Wellness Center
Vivian Williams-Kurutz is founder and executive director of the Harlem Wellness Center (HWC) in New York City, which combats health inequity by targeting populations most vulnerable to adult-onset diseases that are preventable by lifestyle choices. HWC offers a holistic approach to wellness that includes yoga, mindfulness meditation, bodywork, special workshops, outdoor activities, weekend retreats, healthy eating and social interaction between diverse groups of people to reinforce community in an ever-changing neighborhood.
Since 2003, Vivian has been committed to cultivating a health-conscious Harlem community engaged in holistic living practices that fortify body, mind and soul wellness. She is certified as a personal trainer, meditation teacher, yoga instructor and Thai massage practitioner. In addition, she holds a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts. She is pursuing a master’s degree in mental health counseling.
Barbara Jacques, Co-Founder & CEO, Jacq’s Organics
After creating her first all-natural skincare product in her kitchen in 2010, Barbara Jacques discovered she was pregnant with her first child—but the happy news was nearly eclipsed by the discovery of an ovarian tumor. During the months that followed, Barbara dove head-long into the world of personal care products and their effects on our health, only to find a discouraging shortage of truly safe options.
The result was a journey that led her to formulate her own products harvested from her home state of Florida; in 2012, she and her husband launched Jacq’s Organics. Now, seven years later, Jacq’s Organics remains true to its mission of creating highly effective, natural and lovingly made skincare products to address a myriad of skincare needs—all while utilizing locally sourced ingredients.
Naana Boakye, M.D. & CEO; Abena Slowe, COO; Akua Okunseinde, CCO, Karité
When these three sisters moved from Ghana to the U.S., they discovered how much they missed the high quality, pure shea butter to which they once had abundant access—so they made it their mission to create an ethical company and launched Karité, a shea butter-based line of skincare products that supports sustainable business practices. Karité is a member of the Global Shea Alliance (GSA), a nonprofit industry association made up of retailers, suppliers, NGO’s, women’s groups and brands that works to secure fair practices and standards for shea production.
Dr. Naana Boakye, M.D.
Naana Boakye, M.D. is co-founder and chief executive officer of Karité. As a dermatologist who specializes in the health and appearance of the skin, creating products with scientifically-backed ingredients that have the ability to nurture the skin and optimize its health is her passion. Naana received her BA at Wellesley College, her MPH from George Washington University and her MD from Temple University. She completed her dermatology residency at State University of New York Health Sciences Center in Brooklyn, New York, where she also served as Chief Resident.
Dr. Boakye is affiliated with numerous professional societies including the American Academy of Dermatology, and she has been featured in Redbook magazine, O, The Oprah Magazine, and more.
Co-founder Abena Slowe is Karité’s chief operating officer. She focuses on the brand’s operations and growth strategy, helping the brand identify and develop opportunities across the industry in key strategic areas.
Abena has more than 10 years of legal experience in both law firms and corporate settings. She has spent most of her career at a national law firm in New York City, focusing primarily on all aspects of complex commercial litigation. Abena received her BA in economics and political science from Columbia University and a JD from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. She is also a member of the bar in New York and New Jersey.
Co-founder Akua Okunseinde is Karité’s chief creative officer. With 10 years of sales, marketing and strategy experience, Akua has worked with Fortune 500 brands in the luxury retail, beauty and travel industries, helping them drive customer acquisition and retention. Akua earned her MBA with a concentration in marketing and entrepreneurship from Columbia Business School, and her BA in economics and political science from Tufts University.
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