When you reach a certain age – for some, it’s 40, for some, it’s 50, for me, it was 60 – I think you look around and take stock of life. What have I accomplished personally? Professionally? How is my health and well-being? What legacy will I leave my children? What’s next for me?
Renee and I both spent decades (for me, 30+ years; for Renee, 20+ years) as executives at La Prairie, one of the world’s most prestigious beauty brands, and it was an incredible ride… but at the expense of our own self-care and well-being. The corporate environment is demanding, especially in our positions (I was Global Brand President; Renee was Global Vice President E-Commerce and Digital Marketing), and we saw more of each other than we did our husbands and children. The successes we had achieved during our years at La Prairie were remarkable and fulfilling, certainly, but something was missing… and we both felt it.
Towards the end of 2015, we both realized, if ever a time to make a BIG change, it was then. Truth be told, I think our respective ages (I’m 63; Renee is 51) would have hurt us from moving to another traditional corporate office job, so to speak. There’s age-ism in this industry; whereas age, tenure and experience were valued before, they’re often perceived negatively now. Yet another case for age-embracing (something we champion at Well Within)… but I digress.
Renee and I had many talks – many, many conversations – about starting a business together. We said if we were to do that, it was crucial that it fulfilled a passion and a purpose and spoke to where we were currently in our lives — and that very much included wellness. For us, wellness is first and foremost a choice to assume responsibility for the quality of your life. It begins with a conscious decision to embrace balance in all aspects of life — from beauty to nutrition to lifestyle.
We decided to take the plunge and pursue this business together, so we bid goodbye to the corporate environment of Fifth Avenue, hunkered down in our new business headquarters (aka the living room of my apartment) and set out to create Well Within and Planted in Beauty by Well Within. The process was incredibly raw and transformative… we weren’t just beginning a business; we were beginning a new stage in our lives – one that wasn’t defined by our titles and hours logged at an office and that was a real shift in our mindsets.
Not only did we start a new business – we started (or in Renee’s case, progressed) our wellness journeys. Renee was certainly further along than I, as she’s been active her whole life and very mindful of diet and nutrition. Renee is so passionate about well-being that (in 2015) she became a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. I, on the other hand, was at the beginning of my journey. I started small, making subtle tweaks to my diet and activity, and that led to more and more plant-based cooking (I’m home-schooling myself in that department, with successful recipes earning their spot on our Nutrition silo of the website).
Making the segue from our extremely corporate past to founding a beauty and wellness site and plant-based skincare range may not seem like a logical path, but this decision was beyond logic. It was about finding and sustaining our best selves and accepting where we were in life at this moment and what we needed to be fulfilled. Passion and purpose have pushed us more than anything else.