WTF is Wellness is a new series that takes us alongside our Founder, Beryl Solomon, as she talks all things modern wellness with some of the most exciting and influential minds in the space. From CBD and cannabis to mind, body and lifestyle - let’s navigate this crazy world we live in one conversation at a time.
This week, we step inside the Brooklyn respite of Jessica Hendricks Yee. With the crazy successful philanthropic jewelry line, The Brave Collection, under her belt, the entrepreneur is evolving, pushing ahead toward her next great ventures both professionally and personally.The more colorful her life experiences become, the more connections Hendricks Yee tries to make with everything around her. From dedicated wellness routines to her newest venture, Zahava, she isn’t afraid to push the boundaries of expectation.
Beryl: Ok, lady - let's dive in :) Let’s talk about wellness. What does the idea of wellness mean to you?
Jessica: Wellness, in this moment in time, is about prioritizing all of that ‘other’. Our lifestyles are so crazy. I think there’s this big bucket of spending time with family, and a self-love bucket, an exercise bucket an eating-right bucket and spirituality... and it all lives is in this wellness category.
Beryl: Right! It’s the “other”.
Jessica: It’s like a pie chart. At times, it seems there is just not a whole lot of room for the other and sometimes there is. But as I have been getting a little bit older, yes, I’m transitioning out of my twenties and into my thirties, it’s like, ‘oh ok, so I’m going to literally burn out’. There’s more to life and there’s a different way of prioritizing.Beryl: So these days, what does wellness look like for you?
Jessica: These days, I’m obsessed with Sky Ting Yoga. I feel like when I go there, it’s exercise, but it’s this total mind-body thing. And I also do TM – transcendental meditation. I go through phases where I’m amazing and I do it twenty minutes, twice daily like you’re supposed to, and then I go like three months where I don’t do it at all. Still working on consistency there.
Beryl: Have you always been into meditation? Or with the rise of meditation is that something you’ve newly embraced?
Jessica: Both. My Grandmother is 92 and she’s been meditating for like 60 years. She’s the coolest – you should be profiling her, not me!
Beryl: Whoa, that’s amazing!
Jessica: She was macrobiotic in the seventies and would grow her own wheatgrass. Everyone thought she was a freak, before they started selling everything she made at Equinox for like $40. She’s done everything. And I would ask her, ‘if I could do one thing that you do, what’s the most important?’ And she said TM.
Beryl: That’s fascinating. Tell me more!
Jessica: I love Kabala. They’ve basically democratized this ancient wisdom so that anyone can learn it. It’s just like that hour of the week where your mind is in a completely different place. And you’re just thinking about your behavior in life, why you do things, and why you want things. We don’t really have a place in our society to think and talk about these things. Especially in the city like this, it was a very intimate experience.
Beryl: Right, you’re actually connecting with other human beings.
Jessica: Oh and Shabbat! I’m obsessed with Shabbat. We often do these big Shabbats, and it’s a big party and people go around and share and it’s really nice. But then sometimes it’s just me and my husband and we say, ‘Shabbat Shalom’ and ‘how’s your week?’ and we’re at a bar. It’s that built in moment to kind of separate one week from the next so that it’s not, ‘oh my God, six weeks just flew by and I don’t even know what my name is’. Beryl: Absolutely.
Jessica: I think there’s also something powerful about connecting back to traditions that have been done for thousands of years. Same with all of this- with Kabala with TM, it’s tapping back into this energy of what people have been doing for a really long time.
Beryl: Right, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Jessica: The best way to keep ancient wisdom alive is to keep it relevant. Kabala, for instance, is traditionally only for men over the age of 40. So I wouldn’t have ever even gotten the opportunity to even learn it. My husband certainly wouldn’t have. And to be able to share it...
Beryl: So things are flowing in multiple directions – with friends, husbands, girlfriends?
Jessica: It’s the luxury of today, that we’re such a global society. We can pick and choose what we’re inspired by. I went to Thailand and taught English when I was in college and I was obsessed with Buddhism. That was my first foray into this world of spirituality and wellness. That’s what I was attracted to. I didn’t want to go to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.
Beryl: So let’s talk a little bit about CBD.
Jessica: So I have a funny story about CBD. I went to LA a couple years ago and was with my sister. It was my birthday and I was really stressed out and she was like, ‘I just got this thing called CBD. It’s like weed without the weed, you have to try it.’ And she gave me some and I was like, ‘I’m so high’. ‘She was like ‘no, that’s impossible.’ I just didn’t get it.
Beryl: There are people who still don’t, that’s a big part of it!
Jessica: Even for me now, there’s aspects of all this that’s confusing. Which is why I’m obsessed with Poplar, because it makes me feel more safe. It’s like you’re interested and you understand the benefits, but sometimes it’s a lot to navigate. It’s not a world you know that well. But once I ‘got it’ that night with my sister, I was like ‘oh wait this is amazing’. I’ve always had anxiety. I like to be as natural as possible, so where there’s an option to do things naturally, I’m always going to be interested. So that’s what got me interested in the beginning.
Beryl: So what are some favorite products, CBD and otherwise, you can’t live without?
Jessica: Definitely the CBD tinctures and my friend just got me a CBD candle. I’m obsessed with Meyer Lemons right now, ginger tea, and rose petals on everything. Also my skin is really dry so all of the oils and rich face masks. I love Lauren’s All Purpose – I rub it everywhere.
Beryl: Do you have a place you love that you’ve been discovering natural beauty stuff?
Jessica: Oh and flower arranging. This is my favorite thing to do in the whole world - talk about wellness. I go to 28th street and I buy flowers and put them together. I have to promise myself I’ll never make a career out of it or I’ll ruin it – it has to stay my creative space. I mean this grows out of the ground for free, it blows my mind!
Beryl: So talk to me about Zahava – I’m sure that’s occupying some creative space in your brain too.
Jessica: Zahava really started when I was planning my wedding - mixing Jewish traditions and Chinese traditions into an event. It really made me think about all of the different symbols and rituals that each of us have from our past, and how we can celebrate them and keep them alive, but also how we can express being a very modern, multicultural, Williamsburg couple. That collision of identities.
Jessica: The pieces are all made in Tel Aviv and they all connect you back to an inner wisdom or an idea that is grounding. They’re tokens with motifs like botanicals and animals that have been meaningful to several cultures for thousands of years. We have other pieces that are globes and you can have a diamond placed anywhere in the world that you choose, and the rings each have engravings.
Beryl: They are beautiful!
Jessica: It’s been so much fun to work with customers because it’s a very intimate conversation when showing them the line and I’m hearing about why they want a certain piece or what they’re going through right now. People tell me the most beautiful stories.Beryl: Right, it’s like they’re sharing some of their most defining moments.
Jessica: Right! Zahava has been something that has been brewing for awhile and it’s been so exciting and vulnerable and raw and scary- but ultimately so good to put it out into the world.