It may be ubiquitous nowadays, but wellness has never been more necessary. After more than a year of living with a global pandemic, it is safe to say that developing and maintaining a healthy wellbeing is of paramount importance. When many among us have suffered losses, ill health or are simply burnt out, taking good care of oneself is an important factor in living a happy and fulfilled life.
Indeed, wellness is a lifestyle that not only involves self-care, health and wellbeing, but encompasses everything from the clothes we wear to the food we eat and the content we consume. That is the basis upon which Lena Aisha started FLAURA Wellness in 2020. As the founder and editor-in-chief, Lena’s aim for the digital platform is to provide women with meaningful content that enriches their lives or, simply put, to “help you bloom”.
Through daily newsletters that begin with inspirational quotes or positive affirmations and with a playful yet educational quiz, and from beauty product recommendations and fashion tips to meditative practices and recipes, FLAURA takes a personal approach to explore ways of achieving a better quality of life.
Based in London, Lena started FLAURA at the onset of the pandemic, just as the city and the world at large shut down. Needless to say, it was stressful period that threw up multiple challenges. However, her risk-taking paid off and, more than a year on, Lena has created a thriving community of 12,000 and counting subscribers who are on a journey of discovery and betterment together.
The Folklore spoke with Lena Aisha, founder and editor-in-chief of digital wellness platform FLAURA, about championing positivity through meaningful content, being an entrepreneur, and her top wellness tips.
What inspired you to found FLAURA?
I wanted to help people take care of themselves. I think it’s the most important thing we can do for ourselves and those around us, and I wanted FLAURA to be a hub of tips, resources, and tools that reflected that.
You started FLAURA just when the pandemic took hold and the world went into lockdown. Now, a year later, what did you learn from the experience? Is there anything you would do differently, or wish you knew beforehand?
I’ve learned that consistency is key, especially in the content business. Building up a loyal audience comes from giving consistently valuable content and I’m continuously challenging myself to deliver on this.
The one thing I would do differently is to be more present as I didn’t realize how quickly the time would go by. FLAURA has come a long way from the first newsletter and I wish I had taken more time to celebrate the milestones that we’ve hit.
What was your background before founding FLAURA? Did your previous roles help with starting your own enterprise?
I have a law degree, which never hurts when starting your own business, and I’m currently completing a Masters in Business with Entrepreneurship. I also have experience in fashion media, and have worked in marketing, editorial and legal roles. I’ve picked up a lot of tips along the way that have helped me in building FLAURA. From softer skills like understanding team dynamics and continuously learning how to be a good leader, to more practical skills such as using project management tools like Trello or creating solid contracts and agreements – I try to find a use for everything I’ve learned so far.
We’ve heard the words “wellness” and “wellbeing” so much recently, especially after the challenges of the past year. What does wellness mean to you?
Wellness to me means healing. It’s the painstakingly slow and gradual yet very rewarding process of healing our minds, bodies, environments and societies.
What do people get wrong about wellness?
I don’t think people realise the breadth of wellness. When we say the word, many of us imagine kale smoothies and yoga on a beach. While those two things are very much encapsulated by wellness, the definition of the word takes into account our mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, environmental and social health. Nike sneakers and Fitbits are wellness products. Moves to ditch single-use plastics relate to environmental wellness. Therapy sessions, social outings, daily or weekly prayers and healthy-eating diets are all wellness. All the small things we do in our daily lives to be healthier and happier both individually and as a community can be brought under the umbrella of wellness. It’s a far more important notion than many of us think, and I’m glad to see the narrative around wellness beginning to change.
Being an entrepreneur and running a business is a non-stop grind. How do you switch off or unwind after a busy day? Is there anything specific you do to declutter your mind?
I switch off my devices! Running a digital platform means that I am glued to my laptop and phone for obscene amounts of time. Putting them to the side before bed and spending some time away from a screen helps me draw a boundary between work and rest.
On the flipside, how do you motivate yourself when you’re feeling particularly unproductive and just want to stay in bed all day?
Moments of demotivation for me usually come as a warning sign of burnout. So, when I feel demotivated… I let myself be demotivated. I trust that my motivation will return (and it always does) and I allow myself to rest. I think these ebbs and flows of motivation are only natural, and I don’t force myself to be switched on all the time it’s one of the biggest acts of self-care I’ve taken.
What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur? What is the not-so-great part?
The hardest part of being an entrepreneur is that your business comes first. I can find myself working late into the night on Sundays, or scanning through emails during my lunch break. Juggling other priorities like friends, family and (ironically) self-care can be difficult. It’s important to find the right integration and this is something I’m continuously learning how to do.
The best part of being an entrepreneur, especially in the wellness space, is how rewarding it is to be building something that has a positive impact. Hearing from FLAURA’s readers that the newsletter brightens their day makes me grateful beyond belief. I also love working with, sharing the stories of, and meeting amazing women — they show me what’s possible and inspire me to work hard for what I believe in.
You’ve added your voice to the movement to combat racism and injustice with FLAURA’s Amplify Initiative, a series that highlights Black-owned businesses and brands to support. As a Black woman in this space, what would you like to see more of from the wellness industry in this regard?
The challenges we face as Black women in relation to our physical health, mental health, social health and other areas of wellness are different to our counterparts of other races, from maternal mortality rates, to “inclusive” beauty/health products, to finding mental healthcare professionals who understand our perspective. I love seeing brands that create products or services that completely understand our experiences and bodies as Black women, and would love to see more of this.
What is next for FLAURA and what can we expect from you this year?
More amazing content and exciting partnerships! We’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of amazing content from experts in the industry this year and I’m looking forward to expanding that. I also love to think of new and exciting ways to partner with brands — like the Live Tasting we did with Kurami and Keto Hana – and so ideating and bringing new partnerships to life is a definite goal for me this year.
Can you share your top five self-care and wellness tips with our readers?
Eat well. Sleep is medicinal. Read, read, read! Spend time outside/in nature. Find a way to make your thoughts mostly positive.
Discover more about FLAURA Wellness by visiting the website and follow @flaurawellness on Instagram
Photographs by Sabiq Abedeen (@sbqbdn
) and Aliou Diallo (@alioufilms
), courtesy of Lena Aisha