Food Labeling: How To Decode Your Produce

Have you ever really thought about what those numbers on produce stickers mean? Well… it's more than just a barcode to scan at the register. In fact, those numbers play a very crucial role in the quality of your produce. The PLU code or “price lookup number” printed on the sticker informs you of how the fruit/vegetable was grown. By reading the PLU code, you can tell if the fruit/vegetable was grown organically, genetically modified, or produced with chemical fertilizers, fungicides, or herbicides.

Read below for a basic rundown of everything you need to know!

  • If there are only four numbers in the PLU, this means that the produce was grown conventionally or “traditionally” with the use of pesticides.

  • The last four letters of the PLU code represents the type of vegetable or fruit. (ex; all bananas are labeled with the code of 4011).

  • If there are five numbers in the PLU code, and the number starts with “8”, this tells you that the item is a genetically modified fruit or vegetable. A genetically engineered (GE or GMO) banana would be labeled: 84011

  • If there are five numbers in the PLU code, and the number starts with “9”, this tells you that the produce was grown organically and is not genetically modified. An organic banana would be: 94011

Learn more about chemicals in your food and products at

1.50 5.00

 The Black + Well Spring/Summer digital issue is here! In this first issue, you will experience words of healing, and reflection, from a variety of black women, living in their truth. You will experience what the culture of wellness looks like for the black community. You will also dive a bit deeper into the possibilities of living holistically and intuitively as our ancestors did. These articles, stories, poems, and photos shared by our contributors will encourage you to be authentically YOU... and live the life of wellness you deserve.


Become A Contributor!


Get To Know You with Myers-Briggs Personality Quiz

If you're deep into the world of wellness and personal development you've probably heard of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This is one of the top personality quizzes that thoroughly identifies key traits within 16 different personality types. It distinguishes the extroverts from the introverts, the sensing from the intuitive, the thinkers from the feelers, and the judgers from the perceivers.

  • The rarest Personality Types are INFJ, followed by ENTJ and INTJ.

If your Type is rare, there are two ways to view this. You are a rare breed and your natural talents will take you far in life. Also, there are not many of your personality types out there, making it hard to find people you can relate to and who can truly understand you.

  • The most common types are ISFJ, ESFJ, ISTJ.

If you have a much more popular personality type, you probably find it fairly easy to get along with others and don't shy away from a crowd. To spice life up, try to mingle with more rare types given the opportunity. I mean... it's not like we're all introducing ourselves by our MBTI but you know! Try if you can!

Take the quiz for free here and share your results with us! (Less than 12 mins)


Meet Tina Charisma: Campaigner, Activist, + Founder of Charisma Campaign in the UK!

Interest in sustainability has grown over the years with significant shifts to sustainable fashion, organic food, and holistic living. Changes in our lifestyle have arguably also presented significant inequalities due to inequities in the trend. Living and pursuing a sustainable lifestyle has stereotypically been associated with privilege. Among those who are working to change this perception is Tina Charisma founder of Charisma Campaign an NGO supporting and empowering women and communities in the UK and around the world through sustainable initiatives that promote wellness and healthy mental health care. As part of her campaign initiative, she provides specially curated wellbeing boxes and reusable pads that help in addressing issues of period poverty while educating and creating awareness on the importance of eco-friendly living through her empowerment series and Charisma Campaign events and workshops.

According to Tina …

“The issue of sustainability has to do with all of us, therefore, there should be a diversity in the approach to make the knowledge accessible in order to reach all communities. Sustainability can benefit our everyday lives, improve our wellness, mental health and environment, therefore, we need to open up the dialogue and educate all even low-income communities of the benefits”.

Her campaign has in particularly been engaging the message amongst black ethnic minority women who she feels need to be part of the conversation the most. With there being considerable income lags in black households, both in the UK and in the US she highlights the presence of socioeconomic divides, in preventing lower-income households from taking part in much-needed conversations around sustainability.

Tina is among the Black women nationwide leading a growing effort to heighten public environmental justice in their communities. Through her platform Charisma Campaign, she hosts a series of events, helping spread essential knowledge by bringing together a diverse group of individuals from different industries and backgrounds to discuss these issues. Her next empowerment series event takes place this summer in the East End of London, Shoreditch on the 27th of July bring together other industry experts.

Tune Into a Instagram Takeover This Weekend July 6th with Tina to Learn More!

5 Spiritual Lessons to Live Your Best Life!

8 min read….

Every therapist was the same. After an hour of baring my soul, they would summarize my feelings without any depth and attempt to offer an immediate solution. Don’t get me wrong. I understand the power of processing my emotions in the moment, yet practitioners often minimized my experiences to one moment alone. I was tired of telling my story of abuse and disruption with little inspiration for a new perspective, ultimately craving a purposeful transformation. Four therapists later, I met someone who nurtured my wholeness in a way that invites the clarity whispered in my prayers. Whenever I found myself saying “I am trying”, my therapist replied— “You are doing the work”. I was learning to make peace with my trauma because entertaining toxic relationships, feeling chronically broken, and struggling with my self-esteem had to be worth something.

Curiosity led me to chat with spiritualists, from an intuitive in New Orleans to a Babalawo in Havana. I soon embraced the path forming before me; one that is adorned with crystals and thrives on healing through Reiki, tarot, oracles, and divine intervention. Something as simple as journaling takes on a new life when we understand the energy that surrounds us and we choose to dive through intentional practice. I am unafraid to profess that my spiritual awakening shifted how I embody wellness. This is a piece about how to vibrate higher, open communication channels, and provide ourselves with information to be different for the sake of the higher self. Here are five spiritual lessons to master for maximum wellness shared through small tales of my personal journey.

1. Synchronicity is an omen.

An omen isn’t inherently good or bad because our response shapes its nature. The catch is acknowledging the opportunity for change before the message intensifies and impacts our ability to adapt. If your spirit guides are anything like mine, gentle nudges turn into Groundhog Day to demand our attention. After spending four years with someone who ignored me at his leisure and reminded me that our relationship was some favor, I found myself believing the ugliness he saw in me. I justified every level of abuse despite quietly wanting better. Future situations were eerily familiar. I continued dating men who had nothing to offer for nearly 10 years because I thought there was little I could reciprocate. My self-esteem clearly required nurturing so I could determine my own value. These days, I recognize my participation in the chaos and am grateful for the omen that brought forth my truest self. I choose to protect my peace as adamantly as my spirit guides directed me. I cannot unsee these changes now that my awareness is heightened and the synchronicity of my experiences remind me that I am on the right path. Anyone fortunate enough to enter my space must be in alignment.

2.Manifestation requires honesty.

Excel spreadsheets, office politics, and slacks. These are a few of my least favorite things. Yet I found myself enamored as if they were symbols of a fruitful career. After earning a Master of Communication degree in Australia, I returned home in search of a corporate job. That’s what this expensive piece of paper was for, right? I worked with two multinational media companies before joining an equally known social media agency. I felt secure and excited to work with high-profile clients. That is until I felt unfulfilled one year later. The amount of social media likes and comments that translated to potential revenue no longer motivated me. Sitting in an office all day felt stifling. I needed more purpose (and flexibility) in my professional life. The decision to transition into the nonprofit industry wasn’t easy, but necessary for my happiness. What followed was two AmeriCorps terms serving the local community to advance environmental stewardship and educational programming. These opportunities even included field components that freed me from my desk! There was something undeniably set in motion. Currently, I work remotely with an organization that literally saves lives daily. The moment I chose to be honest with my desires, the universe made space for me to take meaningful action. I attracted everything I asked for because I was truthful and didn’t waiver in what was meant for me.

3.Discipline is a major key.

My obsession with journals started in middle school when I’d beg mum for the next one before scribbling on every page. I didn’t know then that my experiences as an adult would leave me feeling incomplete like those notebooks. In 2017, a spiritualist advised me to find a therapist for long-term support; this is when discipline took the place of avoidance and I was set on a path to wholeness. Shoutout to the Therapy for Black Girls directory, where I found my incredible therapist. The version of myself that showed up to the first session was filled with confusion, loneliness, sorrow, and found solace in victimization. My therapist and I met weekly unpacking traumas and triggers through powerful assignments. I’d meditate before journaling on questions like “Who taught me what about love?” Epiphanies surfaced and led me to identify the root of toxic patterns, appropriately name my emotions, establish boundaries, determine how (and where) I assign value and better understand Who I Want To Be. The greatest lesson thus far has been the integrity of choice. Today, I write this story feeling confident, grounded, joyful, and accountable for my actions. Our sessions have since moved to a monthly schedule because my discipline in doing the work unlocked constant growth.

4. Vibration grows with trust.

If someone told me I would become an entrepreneur, I’d question their thought process. Perhaps this was just a product of my own low-level thoughts. Now I understand that my spirit guides had greater plans than I could immediately envision. During my first Reiki session, the healer did a one-card tarot reading. The Child of Wands. The message was to address my creative restlessness and be confident that I have the prowess to bring my ideas to life. My ancestors also delivered a personal message to the healer, advising she share the I Ching oracle with me. I sat with all this new information and energy, divining with the oracle before brainstorming ideas I had neglected for years. Within two hours, I developed a business plan for what soon became a registered LLC. Whenever I am doubtful of my capabilities or unclear on the next steps, I consult the divine through these tools. I always receive what I need, affirmed by blessings and the angel number 444 which symbolizes spiritual guidance. My thoughts continue to vibrate at a higher level in direct correlation to my growing trust in the universe. Another way of thinking about this is I trust my highest self is unconditionally supported by my spirit guides and our open communication.

5. Everything happens in divine order.

Divine order is similar to the divine calendar as nothing happens before its time. The universal flow is always at work for our greatest good and brings as much grace as we allow. This concept helped me make sense of the most jarring experiences. In 2013, I was misdiagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder. The psychiatrist suggested I was a textbook case so I set off to take medication, join support groups, and own this identity fully. Other times, I was deeply disappointed by the healthcare system. Two clinicians later confirmed I was just a young woman who didn’t know how to deal with all the trauma endured. Although those five years forced me to own a false narrative, I was also pushed to pay attention to my emotions while becoming aware of how I relate to others. Since then, I sought a career that integrates empathy, learned to ask people how they are feeling, recognized pain where signs are otherwise missed and became dedicated to promoting personal healing. Without my own rich experiences with mental health, I wouldn’t be able to acknowledge the various spaces that emotional wellbeing exists. I wouldn’t have discovered the power of spirituality and connection. I wouldn’t have become a healer.

These spiritual lessons strengthened my commitment to self. I eventually honored myself as the source of change and divine communication. From romance to business endeavors, this dynamic improved many parts of my life by highlighting the synergy between spirituality and wellness. And as a result, I discovered different parts of myself and learned how to nourish each one uniquely. I’m now able to mindfully assess my needs, paying close attention to all the information available. I’m not my past experiences, but I damn sure learned from them. I celebrate the woman I’ve become daily and proudly make decisions that answer the calls of the universe. Finally, I get to live my best life.


Nya Wilson: Wellness Advocate + Reiki Practitioner. Founder of Dialogue Nyne, dedicated to cultivating emotional wealth and energy renewal within black communities. IG @dialogue.nyne

5 Tools For Mindful Eating

Do you work 40 hours in one day, come home blinded by exhaustion, and graze on whatever is available even if it’s cold fried chicken, a slice of cheese, a handful of croutons, and the crumbs from what was a plate of brownies? Do you pull up a chair and just eat straight out of the refrigerator? Or are you the rare snowflake who, on a Monday, sets a place at the table, dims the lights, plays soft music, and takes 90 minutes to savor every ounce of a meal so carefully prepared it would rival a champion on Chopped?

Each example seems extreme, right?… The truth is, most of us are somewhere in the middle. We work long hours, shuttle kids around, attend meetings, and then think about what, or if, we are going to eat.  The pace at which we live our modern lives is not often conducive to making the best food choices. Eating becomes just another thing on our long “to-do” list.  As a result, we eat mindlessly- in a hurry, in front of our computers or TVs, or on the go. The pleasure of eating isn’t in how quickly we can get the food to our bellies, counting calories, or measuring grams of protein, it lies in our ability to slow down and fully experience the meal before us. That pleasure does not have to come at the expense of our time (hours in the kitchen are not necessary). Nor do you need rare, exotic ingredients, a sacred ritual, complete silence or the absence of all stimuli. A shift in your attention and a simple, thoughtfully prepared meal may be all you need. Mindful eating is about presence and awareness.


Here are five steps you can take to eat more mindfully:

  • Slow down. Even if all you have is 15 minutes for lunch- take it!  Will you really be that much further ahead if you inhale a sandwich at your desk? Use the time to eat, not to check your email or your Instagram feed. We are constantly surrounded by distractions that not only reduce our productivity but increase our levels of stress.  Give yourself permission to be free of distractions while you are eating.

  • Instead of counting calories, count your colors. Is the sight of what you have prepared visually appealing? Let color inspire you. Eating a colorful array of food is an easy way to ensure that you are consuming a wide variety of nutrients.     

  • Enhance the smell and taste. Healthy eating doesn’t mean bland eating.  Salt and pepper will do the trick but you can take a simple meal from “eh” to “wow” with the right spices and herbs. Borrow from other cultures for bolder flavor profiles or try a new take on an old favorite then take time to notice the simple mind/body phenomenon of your mouth watering. Smell and taste trigger physiological responses that enhance the body’s anticipation of food. Also try including aphrodisiac spices such as cardamom, saffron, ginger, cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg into a meal or dessert!

  • Touch your food and play with texture. Prepare your food with your hands, not just a microwave. Combine food in interesting ways. One of my favorite salads combines black rice, marinated kale, crisp Green leaf lettuce, and soft roasted sweet potatoes with the crunch of pumpkin seeds.

  • Focus on how you’re feeling. Do you feel energized or like you need a 3-hour nap after you eat? Did you eat because you were actually hungry or because you were bored? Food is one of the most intimate relationships we have, and as in any relationship, you should feel good about your choices.  

Mindfulness can sometimes seem lofty and ethereal but all it really requires is our attention. What one thing can you give your attention to? Maybe you can reduce your distractions at lunchtime or prepare dinner with more colors. Simple adjustments can have a big impact. What adjustments will you be making?

Contributor Bio

Courtney Huell: Health Coach, Massage Therapist, and Creator of The Root Lady's Goodies. IG: @routewellness


Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 11.44.18 AM.png

Practicing Healthy Self-Talk

Practicing Healthy Self-Talk (1).png

“I would love to host an event but I’m sure nobody will show up.”  

“I would get my hair cut like that if my face was shaped like hers.”

“I can’t wear pants like that, not with thighs this big.”

“I was going to raise my hand but nobody wanted to hear what I had to say.”

“It doesn’t matter what I do, the weight just won’t come off.”

“I’ve been wanting to write a book but I’ll never be able to earn a living as an author.”

“I hate my job. I can’t stand my co-workers. I don’t have time.”

And on, and on, and on…  

Do any of these sound familiar? This is the sound of negative self-chatter. It lives in our heads, it slips from our lips in everyday conversation, it drives our actions and, believe me, it’s taking its toll. Regular self-bashing can become such a common practice that it’s difficult to recognize, particularly when we wrap it nicely in a self- deprecating joke and tell ourselves, “I’m just being real.”  Negativity is destructive and it can derail your best efforts at cultivating a healthy lifestyle. We have to start a new conversation with ourselves.

The average adult has nearly 70,000 thoughts per day - some that just pass through, others that stick around. Take a moment and think about the thoughts that run through your mind. Are they positive and uplifting (“I’m going to do my best.”) or are they doom and gloom (“This is never going to work?”)  

Positive thinking may seem like just a buzz word but it’s actually grounded in real neuroscience. Not only can positive thinking boost your mood, but it can also foster resilience, and actually improve brain function. I believe mastering your mindset is the first step to creating a sustainable, healthier lifestyle.  It’s the glue that makes any new habit stick. Whatever your new habit or goal may be, whether it’s hosting an event, giving yourself a makeover, speaking up, losing weight, or writing a book, your success will be determined by your mindset.

Everyone has negative thoughts at times but we don’t have to play them on a continuous loop. A snide comment, a past mistake, or a failed relationship doesn’t determine our future. Our attitude and thinking are choices over which we have complete control. Negative thinking might be a natural human condition but positive thinking builds fortitude and helps us grow from negative experiences, daily stresses, and the really hard stuff. We don’t have to accept negativity. Here are some actions steps we can all take right now:

  • Interrupt negative self-talk

  • Replace limiting beliefs with self-supporting goals

  • Stop comparing yourself to others

  • Embrace change (if you want different results you have to do things differently)

  • Practice gratitude (by citing affirmations/praying to start your day) SEE BLACK + WELL WEEKLY AFFIRMATIONS ON IG!

  • Surround yourself with positive energy and positive people

  • Reflect on negative thoughts then let them go (meditation, journaling, or simply stillness)

  • Do something good for someone else

Don’t let negativity hold you back!

Contributor Bio

Courtney Huell: Health Coach, Massage Therapist, and Creator of The Root Lady's Goodies. IG: @routewellness


Black + Well Spring/Summer Lookbook

Last weekend we released our digital magazine and the response has been incredible! In light of Mental Health Awareness Month, we bring to you our sneak-peek lookbook with a special featured article 'My Mental Health Journey' by Elizabeth DeHaan and an exclusive interview with Jason Rosario of 'The Lives of Men' and more. In the complete magazine, you'll view pieces on vulnerability, self-care, regenerative farming, cannabis, holistic healing, delicious plant-based recipes, and our lifestyle spread, including a list of the top podcast in wellness. Grab your Spring/Summer copy here.


Timely Topics at U.S. Veg Corp's 9th Annual Veg Food Fest (You Don't Want To Miss)

MANHATTAN-- The multi-faceted Gabriel Cousens--an ivy-trained M.D., an ordained rabbi, a Native American sundancer, and author of 13 internationally acclaimed books--will be just one of the keynote speakers appearing at the 9th annual NYC Vegetarian Food Festival, this weekend May 18-19, at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea.


Cousens is known worldwide as a spiritual teacher and an expert on plant-source nutrition. He's also a cutting-edge researcher on how to heal diabetes using all-natural methods. At the festival, he will discuss and demo Shaktipat Meditation on both afternoons, and will speak on "Holistic Veganism" on Sunday afternoon. 

Yet another top-drawer presenter will be Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. A long-time vegan, Adams has served the residents of New York as a police officer, state senator and coalition builder. In 1995, he co-founded 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care. He organized support against the NYPD’s controversial “stop and frisk” policy, and led efforts on behalf of gun control. He has also served on the board of the Eastern District Counseling Service, an organization assisting former substance abusers to live productive lives without dependency on drugs or alcohol. He'll appear on the festival's Apple Stage from 3:15 to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Celebrity chefs will also be featured at the festival, as they take over the Pear Stage on both Saturday and Sunday. With 10 vegan cookbooks to her name, Terry Hope Romero was head of the food vertical at Kickstarter, and is the program manager for the Food-X food startup accelerator. Her appearance is slated for Saturday from 1:30 to 2 p.m.

Dustin Harder is the host and creator of a popular web series called The Vegan Roadie. When not filming, he works as a personal chef and recipe developer. He'll give a presentation on the "Vegan Fondue Party" on Saturday, 2:15-2:45. 

Chef Alexandra Shytsman will hold fort early on Sunday afternoon. She is a cookbook author, food photographer, and creator of The New Baguette (a blog about plant-based cooking for beginners). She is the former marketing manager of NYC's Natural Gourmet Institute, the country's first plant-based culinary school.

Meanwhile, in the Kumquat Kid's Area of the festival, children and their families will be able to dabble in arts and crafts, listen to stories, and create some music... all on a plant-based and eco-friendly theme. The area is sponsored by the Coalition for Healthy School Food, which is this year’s official festival non-profit beneficiary.

Families can also take advantage of a "Vegan Parenting" panel to be presented on Saturday from 5:20 to 5:50 p.m. The panel moderator will be Emily Wood, co-founder of Raise Vegan Magazine and panelists are:

  • Robyn Moore, the brains between She has a master's degree in elementary education, a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell University, and a certificate in Humane Education from the Institute for Humane Education.

  • Jared Madden, an actuary and ultra marathon runner. He fuels his sub-3-hour marathon runs on a completely vegan diet.

  • Matisse Madden, a professional ballerina and ballet instructor at Yale University. She consults with others on the value of a vegan diet for dancers.

Other features of the festival include a Mind/Body Area where attendees can practice yoga and other wellness disciplines, as well as rows of booths showcasing plant-based food and lifestyle vendors and information tables highlighting some of the nations premiere non-profit organizations. A complete schedule of speakers, chefs, classes and activities as well as a list of exhibitors can be found at

The NYC Vegetarian Food Festival is presented by U.S. Veg Corp, which stages plant-based events across the country. For further information or to purchase tickets, visit VIP and general admission tickets are available online. Student, senior citizen and military discounted tickets are available with valid ID. Kids 10 and under are free but must be accompanied by an adult. A portion of ticket sales will be donated to the Coalition for Healthy School Food.

Here’s a list of some of our favorite vendors to look out for!

Beyond Sushi, Brew Dr. Kombucha, Doshi Vegan Bags and Accessories, HelloFresh, Hippeas, KeVita, Marty's V Burger, OM Botanical Organic Skin Care, Pranic Healing New York City, VSPOT … with many more.

See Ya There!

Karmay Of Gloetry Assembly On Holding Sacred Space For Women Of Color

We have to show the ugly, messy, vulnerable parts of ourselves in order to get to that space of like… Wow, I REALLY see you, I REALLY hear you, and allow that raw nakedness and exposing of self to take us to the next level of awakening.
— Karmay, gloetry assembly

Meet Karmay, the woman behind healing circles for women of color: As I walked into Heal Haus, there was Karmay, greeting me with an inviting smile and warm hug. I instantly felt the spirit of a young woman who was filled with compassion, love, confidence, and poise. Karmay is the founder of Gloetry Assembly, where she provides safe, non-judgmental spaces for women and girls to experience deeper connections with themselves and create sisterhood through women circles. Talking about boys, work, clothes, your most recent vacation or turn up is cool, but having conversations that are “substantial and soul filling” was something that Karmay says was missing. With a force of courage, Karmay decided to invite a group of friends, who had never really met each other, to come together under one roof and simply share. Little did she know, she would be starting a movement that wouldn't only affect her inner circle but would impact many other lives. Black + Well exist because of individuals like Karmay, here is her story.

What made you start Gloetry?

It wasn’t for the sake of like “Oh I need to create a space for women” was more-so like trying to fill a void that was missing in my life. It was at a point in my life where I really needed community, and I really needed connection and space for self-discovery and retrospection. I didn’t feel like there was anywhere I could go where I could get that. In my mid-20s, hanging out in the bar scene and conventional spaces that young people went weren’t really speaking to me at that point in my life. I wanted a space where people were genuinely interested in meaningful conversations deeper than the surface level.  

What triggered that need for something much deeper and meaningful?

After working at Yelp for 4 ½ years as a sales manager, I felt a deep desire for self-discovery and reflection. After you get settled in a career you're more than likely to get stuck in that profession. And I was like… I’m not sure if I want to do this forever. So when I left I was like well what else am I gonna’ do? where else am I going to contribute? where do I belong? When I left I was like okay... I belong to nothing, I belong to no one, I belong to nowhere. I was going through a bit of an identity crisis, although a very privileged one (she . smiles and chuckles). I traveled a lot and was able to find myself. Then I had a moment where I specifically asked God “What is my purpose?”. He then revealed Gloetry to me in three separate situations, amongst three different friends and it was like BOOM! I need to bring my friends together and just see what happens.

What makes Gloetry stand out from other women circles?

I intentionally wanted people to have space where we don't simply share relationship stories, stories about your worst tinder date, but to actually dive deep and walk away with at least one epiphany. We have to show the ugly, messy, vulnerable parts of ourselves in order to get to that space of like… Wow, I REALLY see you, I REALLY hear you, and allow that raw nakedness and exposing of self to take us to the next level of awakening. The whole meaning behind Gloetry is to raise collective awareness and collective consciousness.

Were you someone who naturally always spoke up and stepped into your truth?

No, not at all. I was actually someone who didn’t speak up. I was very much afraid of using my voice. I had learned at a young age to not do that. I came from two amazing parents who struggled with emotionally sharing, so my emotions and feelings were very stunted from being shared. I grew up being a child who just listened, obeyed and did what I was told. I saw how that dynamic showed up in my career and how I related to authority. However, my mom was someone who spoke up for herself and advocated for herself whenever it was time, so it’s a very interesting contradiction in that way. I did realize I struggled with speaking my truth in the face of authority, whether that was jobs, bosses, boyfriends, anyone who had some sort of “power” over me, that was my narrative. Gloetry has put me on a path of totally pushing out everything of who I was.

We have a different layer of healing than white women. We cannot do our healing unless we take into account the generational aspect of it and ancestral part of it.
— karmay, gloetry assembly

When was a time you had to speak up and advocate for yourself?

One day my job gave a white guy a promotion over me, who wasn’t performing as well as me. I went to my boss and was like… “Hey why did this person get a promotion when their numbers aren't as good as mine?” It's a pretty obvious thing in sales because you can actually see the numbers. She responded with “Oh I didn’t think you were ready”. Long story short, she ended up having to promote me because I approached her about it to her face.

Yes, girl!... So I know you host a circle for women from all backgrounds, but most recently created one specifically for women of color called Soul Sister Circle. How has that been?

Wow. With the Soul Sister Circle, the vibe and energy is just different. The circle keeps getting bigger, and I’m realizing that soon we’ll need a bigger space to accommodate our capacity. We’re getting the most inquiries with the Soul Sister Circles because if you look at all the women circles its recently become a very “white thing”. It’s typically a lot of white women. In London, California, Australia, Canada, literally all over, all white women. I haven't connected with another black sister who does the same work.

What made you decide to create this additional circle for W.O.C?

Spirit came to me when I started Soul Sister Circle. They came to me and said Karmay, you have to create a space for women of color because it’s time for us to connect with the unconditional love which we came from and which we’ve forgotten. We have a different layer of healing than white women. We cannot do our healing unless we take into account the generational aspect of it and ancestral part of it. In order for us to move forward as a people, we have to acknowledge what happened to those people in the past because we are the extensions and expression of those people who came before us. We truly are. All their pain, good doings, wrongdoings, is literally flowing through our veins. If we come from a place of love we’ll experience life joyfully, but if we come from a place of lack and unworthiness and inadequacy, inferiority and a general sense of aloneness then we’re gonna go through feeling as though life isn’t here for us, and a mistrust. Unfortunately our past is tied into the separation of our families, everything was stripped from us and slavery wasn't that long ago! I mean it ended in 1865, that's only a couple of hundred years ago, so our grandparents are still living embodiments of that time period. So there's a lot of expressing that they weren't able to do that we are now doing for them.

I hear you previously mentioned God. Did you grow up in a religious or spiritual family?

No, not at all. However, I did grow up with a grandmother who would always make us say our prayers every night, you know the ‘Our Father prayer’. God was always talked about. I remember being nine, and I renounced God, and I was like God does not exist! God is not there for me! Had one of those moments that I’m sure many others have at that age. I ended up having a dream that night, and I’ll never ever forget it. Ever since that dream I never doubted again. I’ve said my prayers every day for as long as I can possibly remember after that. I truly believe that is what keeps my family alive and well, that's why my grandmother is 100 years old. I realized the institution of the church isn't necessarily for me, but God and spirituality will always be for me.

What was the dream about?

I remember I was in this glass house as a child. But it wasn't me as the child, it was someone else. And it was a dark figure that came into the house. A very dark but benevolent ghost, and he was like... “I heard what you said, and I’m going to show you something”. He took me around to different scenarios of how we're supposed to be as humans, how we're supposed to treat each other, and why we’re here. The ghost went to tuck the child back in bed and the child asks “Are you leaving?”. The ghost said, “You may not see me but I’m always going to be here, I’m always going to be with you”

Wow, that's a word. A lot of people are into saying “The Universe” and using crystals and other forms of spirituality. What’s your take on that?

Well, my parents did meditate, and my mom had her crystals. My grandparents were very conservative church folk. As a child, we absorb so much, so I just kind of blend it all and find that balance between both practices.

The world is in such an interesting place. We have this unusual paradigm with like so much connection with Instagram and Facebook. I can easily speak to someone miles away, in a whole other country, but like how often am I talking to that person? Commenting on a post and liking photos doesn’t fill that void. It’s this interesting paradox of so much connection resulting in absolutely no connection.
— karmay, gloetry assembly

What can we expect next for Gloetry?

Well, I’m honestly just figuring it out as I go. There is no blueprint. I really want Gloetry to have a household name in NYC before anything else, by continuing our circles at Minka and Heal Haus. I also want to expand our reach to more school programs for girls. We also work with young girls 7-13 weeks, depending on what the school needs and we do 2hr workshops with girls ages 10-15 to learn more about their sense of self, who they are, and helping them define their values and worth on their own terms. I started that group because a lot of what we talk about in these women's circles always stems back to childhood. And I’m like, what if we could actually start getting girls to talk about this stuff at a young age, what if they already begin the introspection process at age 10 or 11. Where would humanity be then?

That's so amazing and necessary work for our young girls and communities. I really love that. When did you begin this?

I piloted the program last year with 5 girls and it was just amazing how these girls opened up. I had a mixed girl in the session and she would always wear her hair back, she was very insecure about her curls. You know, at that age when you don't really know how to manage your hair, and it's just all frizz? She hated it. And through the workshop which is all about self-love and self-acceptance, she began to wear her hair out towards the end of the program. That was so amazing! Now she's wearing braids, doing all this stuff and truly trying to explore herself. And the girls that I have now, they never want this program to end. I mean seriously, they always ask if I’ll be back next semester and next year. So I really want Gloetry to be in more schools!

What about your Corporate Culture Workshops?

Ok, so corporate wellness became a thing because yoga and meditation became a new hot thing.  A lot of corporate spaces now offer yoga as a perk with your corporate job. That's great, but yoga and meditation are still very individual. When I meditate that's my own experience, I'm connecting deeper with myself and I’m finding peace, balance, harmony, and spirit within myself. What's being said now is that the antidote to depression and anxiety is a connection, connection to other people. Loneliness is actually more of a killer than cigarettes. So it's like if you're doing yoga and meditation that’s great, but you still need to talk about that experience with someone, you still need to be able to express yourself and be vulnerable and release whatever is inside of you. So I would really love to see corporate companies start bringing in sharing circles like Gloetry, and let's start changing the culture, and stop making our lives such isolated incidents, because in reality we are so interconnected, we are so much more than ourselves. I believe the world is craving that inter-connectivity. The world is in such an interesting place. We have this unusual paradigm with like so much connection with Instagram and Facebook. I can easily speak to someone miles away, in a whole other country, but like how often am I really talking to that person? Commenting on a post and liking photos doesn't fill that void. It's this interesting paradox of so much connection resulting in absolutely no connection. The core of us as humans is actually being face to face, in a physical space, and sharing.

How do you stay true to your core values with Gloetry?

By just sticking to the ethos of Gloetry that we're not just going to give you this cute thing, and hand it to you in a bow. Wellness is not a cute thing. Wellness is messy, wellness is raw, healing is messy, healing is raw, healing is not a perfect smile, healing is not pretending everything is ok, healing is not trying to keep it all together. Healing is really showing what you're really going through. I think too often wellness is shown as this cute, bow-tied present handed to you because of it being marketable and profitable that way. That's not what Gloetry represents. What Gloetry means to me is finding the light within yourself so that you can spread your light to others. It’s interesting because it has the root word ‘glow’, and it ends with ‘tree’. I really believe that's what we are. We are growing and rooted in the earth. We are all trees, we are all connected to each other by our roots. So Gloetry is a very spiritual and symbolic word in itself. We call everyone who comes to our sessions ‘Glo-trotters’. It's essentially about being a support system for all women’s mental health.

Stay connected with Gloetry Assembly on Instagram and up to date with upcoming circles in NYC via Facebook

Contributor Bio

Azalia L. - Wellness Advocate and Coach, Founder of Black + Well

Like this article? Tap the share button below to share with friends.

The Invisible Vegan: A Documentary For The Collective

Meet Jasmine C. Leyva, an actress, filmmaker, and producer of The Invisible Vegan, a 90-minute independent documentary that explores the problem of unhealthy dietary patterns in the African-American community, foregrounding the health and wellness possibilities enabled by plant-based vegan diets and lifestyle choices. Jasmine identifies as a black American, hailing out of Southeast DC, “pre-gentrification” (she says, pointing that out makes a difference). The film interweaves her narrative with the professional and personal experiences of a prominent group of vegan activists. It also integrates interviews with popular culture luminaries including Cedric the Entertainer (actor and comedian), John Salley (former NBA player and wellness advocate), and Clayton Gavin (aka Stic of the hip-hop duo Dead Prez). Jasmine shares with Black + Well her perspective on veganism, and what she hopes viewers walk away with. Rent or Purchase The Invisible Vegan HERE. Full trailer available below.

What made you go vegan and decide to create this documentary?

I was exposed to veganism when I was twenty, which is why, initially, I only wanted to try it out for cosmetic reasons. I saw Chef Babette, the middle-aged owner of Stuff I Eat, and I said to myself “I want her body when I get older”. She shared her vegan habits with me and I put them into play. But my reason for going vegan evolved when I noticed health changes around my weight, acne, digestion, hygiene, etc. I read vegan books and I watched several documentaries on a vegan diet like Cowspiracy, Vegucated, Food Inc, Forks Over Knives, and others. As I learned, I tried to put my black friends on to the health game, but they dismissed me with “you’re on that white people shit.” or “you on that LA shit.” and it hit me… A lot of people in my community don’t feel connected to health and compassionate living because the subjects have not been equally marketed to us. When I reflected on the documentaries I watched, all of the messengers were white males who might not relate to inner city people of color that grew up the way I did. So I chose to create something tailor-made for people like me.

Is being vegan a total lifestyle for you? Do you avoid any and everything that is resourced from animals?

Recently, I’ve encountered debates on what it means to be vegan. I’ve heard it referred to as a diet, philosophy, religion and a lifestyle. What intrigues me is how offended some people get when you don’t use their semantics, so for safety, I’ll throw labels out of the window. I am on a journey of wellness and compassion. For the past few years, I have been following a vegan diet, and my latest purchases have been cruelty-free. However, while I don’t buy products derived from animals, I didn’t exactly throw away my wardrobe and shoe collection that was not ethically made. This shift of consciousness is a process and while there are rock stars that make the change overnight, I am not one of them. To avoid relapse, I took my time and upgraded like an iPhone. Once I secured one habit, I moved on to the next and this method makes it so I don’t really feel the change.

What's the number one misconception about veganism?

The number one misconception I encounter in regards to veganism is that we are depriving ourselves. For the first time in my life, I am hyper-concerned with how many nutrients I am getting. Before, I would eat fast food and several meals that contained no nutritional value. That is when I was depriving myself. I was deprived of vitamins, minerals, vegetables, fruits, healthy carbs, and awareness. Eating plant-based food isn’t deprivation; it is paying attention.

Do you think veganism is a form of revolution for the black community?

I don’t think veganism it’s always a form of revolution; that gives vegans too much unearned high ground. Some people go vegan to appease other people’s standards of beauty or want to follow celebrity trends. That’s fine, but it’s not a form of intentional revolution. Veganism becomes a form of revolution when intelligence, consciousness, change, and compassion are at the core of one’s choices.

When black people/ POC consider going vegan, ethical reasoning such as animal cruelty, the environment etc. are usually not a thought. The conversation is typically around consuming healthier food to prevent disease. Why do you think that is?

My film covers animal rights but it’s more focused on health. I received mild backlash for that choice and I told those people, I’m a black woman and I can’t operate the way others operate. If I had come out with a film about the conditions of farm animals while unarmed black men and women are being customarily executed, many members of my community wouldn’t have given me or my film the time of day. Not because I come from a race incapable of compassion, but more so because people are dealing with more immediate issues. When people are stressed out because they hate their own conditions, it’s hard to convince them, in this stressed state, to worry about another group they perceive to be unimportant due to cultural conditioning. The same goes for the environment. If people have to constantly worry about keeping food on the table, habitually in stress mode, these people aren’t in a position to put rational thought into the state of the environment in fifty years, they are in “fight or flight” mode. However, people in my community are repeatedly battling with losing friends and family to degenerative disease. So it makes sense, to me, that someone might be more concerned with their grandma’s diabetes or their mother’s cancer than problems they can’t see.

What advice/tips do you have for someone one interested in conforming to a plant-based diet?

Look at being unhealthy as a drug habit. Bad foods are just as, if not more, addictive than drugs. If a person tries to stop smoking crack, it’s going to be hard if it’s always in the house, if they always see commercials for it, if all of their friends are crackheads, and they have no support system pulling them in the other direction. So my advice: get a support system. Talk to your friends and find out who wants to get healthy with you and more times than not, these people exist in your circle.

What do you hope people who watch this documentary walk away with?

When my brother watched my film he said: “I’m not gonna lie, I’m not going to go vegan tomorrow, but you definitely gave me a lot of things to think about that I hadn’t considered.” At the very least, that is what I want. I want non-vegans to walk away with, at least, a new spark of consciousness in regards to their food choices. I want vegans to walk away with compassion for non-vegans and reflect on their marketing. They need to understand how some outreach efforts, while well-intentioned, can exclude, devalue and repel non-vegan people of color.

What does being black and well mean or look like to you?

It’s feeling sexy. And not because of photoshopped Instagram photos, but because you radiate energy and compassion. It’s loving yourself so much that you want the best for yourself down to the detail. It’s understanding that there are a plethora of forces trying to further disenfranchise our race, and we don’t want to be a permanent underclass. We need to be healthy enough and love our race enough to fight those battles. Being “black and well” is self-love and collective preservation. (Insert finger-snaps)

Like this article? Share with friends.

Anasa Troutman on Joy, Radical Love, + Forgiveness

Photo Source:  Anasa Toutman

Photo Source: Anasa Toutman

Writer, producer, and entrepreneur, Anasa Troutman has dedicated her work to the importance of culture and the power of love. As CEO of her company, Culture Shift Creative, Anasa works to build and execute strategies for artists and organizations that are aligned with her vision of a loving world and her belief in creativity as a pathway to personal, community and global transformation.

In her recent TED TALK, Troutman discusses going from justice to joy. She goes on to say “What if we teach everybody that all of us of deserve joy, wellness, the benefit of the doubt even… what would that be like? A culture of joy offers sustained well-being for everyone”.

Watch as she shares her full story below!



Black Women In Wellness: 21 Influencers + Advocates You Should Know + Follow

As a way to celebrate International Women’s Day we put together a list of black women authentically and unapologetically advocating for wellness within their communities.

These women represent what is means to be Black + Well


@TheCoffeyBreak: Every week the Black + Well community is blessed with affirmations by the one and only ‘Affirmation Queen’ Chelsea Coffey. Admitting to not “having it all” Chelsea uses affirmations and her spiritual awareness as a way of manifesting a purposeful and fulfilling life.


@dejanetanye: Wellness writer, certified cannabis educator and founder of @greengodessglow. DeJanae uses her platform to encourage mindful cannabis + self-care practices.


@thatschelsea: Chelsea began her platform in an effort to help teach others how they can live a healthier lifestyle, as well as become more knowledgeable, and health-conscious consumers. Her content ranges from quick health tips to eco and green beauty reviews, to plant-based recipes.


@meanttobeyasmine: NJ based writer, body positivity advocate, and content creator. With a simple mission to “honor myself enough to become who I’m meant to be”, Yasmine encourages others to be fearless and do the same with @transparentblackgirl; a community organization founded to encourage, highlight, and nurture unapologetic women of color.


@shannatyler_:Life + Biz Coach and Podcaster. After being diagnosed with major depressive disorder and hospitalized in an inpatient facility, Shanna decided to move toward the light, and share her story to empower others to do the same with her podcast Self Soul Sport. Catch her sharing all things wellness over at


@GreenGirlLeah: A sustainability + wellness writer and advocate, whose overall goal is to help people live with both self-care and the environment in mind. Leah is passionate about environmental justice and equal access to nature, which she personally calls 'Green Inclusivity'.


@Kforteco: Writer, health coach, and light force. Kharissa continues to advocate for wellness in multiple ways, spiritually being one. With her book Pardon My ApathyKharissa aims to help women create authentic lives by reaching the root of their core desires and seeking fulfillment over validation.


@aalaoffical: After curing herself of an autoimmune disease, Aala has been encouraging others to take their health into their own hands with her cookbook cleanse. You can catch her spreading health and wellness at


@somiigbene: Advocating for health and wellness through a plant-based diet, Somi shares drool-worthy recipes over at


@zelue: A Brooklynite, Nurse Practitioner, and creative. Danielle dedicated her blog to plant care/styling, self-care, vegan and sustainable living, home decor, and the pursuit of cultivating a joy-filled life. Her goal is to be her most authentic self and inspire others to do the same.



@herthrivinglife: Larriell believes that health is a priority and should be considered mentally, physically and spiritually. Her Thriving Life exists to inspire others to live a life of wellness to produce growth, peace, and happiness.


@metricdisco: Melissa shares her personal wellness journey unapologetically. Along the way she’s learned to give herself “permission to enter spaces of predominately thin, white people and tell myself “yes, this is for me” even when I felt like the people around me were implicitly telling me no”. Follow along as she cultivates an active practice of self-care and joy at


@mashandspread: Registered Dietician by day. Blogger by night. Jasmin shares creative ways to indulge in healthier food choices at


@elevatedbygrace: Vegan Health Influencer. Amanda’s goal is to lead a life of health consciousness and inspire other to do the same. Check out her YouTube Channel where she shares recipes and mini docs. ElevatedByGrace


@balancedles: Les is the fitness-loving founder of Balanced Black Girl, a podcast and supportive wellness community for women of color. She creates space for women to have candid conversations about wellness, self-care, and self-love, with a dose of humor.


@yesbabyilikeitraw: With a holistic approach to wellness, Nzingah shares food, fitness, mental health, and self-care tips along with natural remedies to empower others to live more wholesomely.


@wellwithbrielle: Black + Well contributor Brielle shares her own personal wellness journey and tips around a lifestyle of wellness on her blog.


@maiahthemermaid: Wellness coach and fitness instructor, Maiah advocates for others to get fit and offers wellness programs over at


@brooklynbabe NYC Mama, Doula, Wellness & Self Care Advocate, and Content Creator. Denise loves building community, supporting moms, women, and humans while remaining in a constant state of growth and connection with the universe.


@floursihheights: Dietician Valerie advocates for women’s nutrition & wellness and helping others plant their health on higher ground.


@TiffanyIma: Teaches creative women how to use exercise and self-care to manage depression + improve their overall wellness. She believes we all can build our own happiness through a simple and holistic approach to wellness.

Like this article? Share with a friend!

Diaspora Darling: A Childhood Reflection

Diaspora Darling: A Childhood Reflection

When I was little, I knew we were different. Not only because of my parents and their thick accents but because of the lines they drew around us and the other children in the neighborhood. I remember my mother saying, “You are not to go and play with those kids! They are not like us!” Even now, 30 years later, it rings out like an echo. A black mom boomerang.

Using Gratitude To Naturally Increase Happiness

Using Gratitude To Naturally Increase Happiness

Gratitude boosts your happiness and that’s great for your health. Science shows that improving your happiness also improves other areas of wellness in your life. I’ve found that gratitude has been an easy, but super effective way for me to live in the present while constantly tapping into feelings of love and happiness.

Essential Oils & Emotional Detox: How One Energetic Transit Brought Me Deeper Healing

Essential Oils & Emotional Detox: How One Energetic Transit Brought Me Deeper Healing

I always say my first son birthed a Mother, but my second son birthed an Advocate. A woman who wants fellow millennial mothers to thrive in their role as divine co-Creator, even if she’s come face to face with death in the process. I’ve been talking about birth trauma for two years now- supporting women in getting comfortable with acknowledging and giving voice to the undiscussed pain behind their birthing experiences

19 Habits To Bring Into 2019!

19 Habits To Bring Into 2019!

This year boundaries has been a hot topic! Have you gotten comfortable with setting those boundaries to live a life that respects your needs? If not, it’s time to get comfortable. Make a list of the things or people you need to set boundaries with. It may be putting yourself in check or letting friends and family members know where your priorities lye. Check out this episode ‘The Gift of Boundaries’

Two Women Of Color Impacting Youth Wellness In Underserved Communities + Bringing The Conversation To WellSpring 2018

Two Women Of Color Impacting Youth Wellness In Underserved Communities + Bringing The Conversation To WellSpring 2018

We took some time to chat with two featured women on the Wellspring talent lineup, who effortlessly represent what it means to be black + well. Nicole Cardoza, founder + executive director of Yoga Foster , and Ebony Smith, founder of Yoga N’ Da Hood.

Mindful Ways Women of Color Can Channel Painful Emotions Without Bingeing

Mindful Ways Women of Color Can Channel Painful Emotions Without Bingeing

You see although the most popular view is that emotional eating is due to a lack of control or weakness, it’s really much deeper. Certain situations can trigger you if you’re unconscious of them or choose not to respond to them. Most of us are generally unconscious of these signs and only become conscious of them when taking time to be present and aware of your own personal habits.

3 Tips To Overcome Bad Habits!

3 Tips To Overcome Bad Habits!

They say it takes between 21-28 days to create a habit which may sound like a long time to some people, but it’s actually very short! I’m sure we all have things that we wish we didn’t do, but we just need a little help on how to overcome it. Here are 3 tips to overcome bad habits to get you on a path to a better life.

A Happy Mind Starts With Analyzing Your Mental Health

A Happy Mind Starts With Analyzing Your Mental Health

Therapy has such a negative connotation and in the black community, it might as well be a sin to speak on therapy. When in reality we have been conditioned to believe that we are always supposed to be okay and to keep it to ourselves. I believe the biggest problem of all is a lack of knowledge. Mental health isn’t being sick or being mentally ill, but it is a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.