The Power Couple Behind mindbodygreen

The Power Couple Behind mindbodygreen

I’m so honored to contribute to mindbodygreen as a writer and teacher, and I’m happy to introduce the couple behind the popular health and wellness site. Jason Wachob founded mbg when a back injury led him to yoga and sparked a passion for wellness. A few years later, his wife Colleen Wachob joined the company full time as its chief brand officer. I recently chatted with Jason and Colleen about what it’s like to work with your partner, their workout routines, and the trends they’re seeing on the health-and-wellness horizon.  

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Sadie Lincoln: What drove you to start mindbodygreen?

Jason Wachob: I played college basketball at Columbia, where in the off-season I did weight training and cardio for an hour a day. I stuck with this routine until I was 35. I used to think that if you were fit you were healthy, but I’ve since come to believe that health is more nuanced than that.

In my mid-thirties (I’m 41 now), I was running a company and trying to raise capital when I discovered I had two extruded discs in my lower back pressing on my sciatic nerve. I could barely walk and almost had back surgery. Looking back, it was probably related to stress combined with the fact that I was flying over 100,000 miles a year. Being 6’7″ and scrunched into airline seats didn’t help.

One doctor offhandedly mentioned that yoga might be a way to avoid surgery. I started practicing daily, and was very surprised that I loved it. From there, I got interested in a more holistic lifestyle. I ate organic and ditched toxic household products. I began to meditate. I started a gratitude practice. And after just a few months, I completely healed my back—without surgery.

It was a real awakening for me. I realized that health wasn’t about weight loss or looking good—it was a blend of how we treated our minds, bodies, and the environment. It was also the inspiration for starting mindbodygreen.

Colleen, in Jason’s book, Wellth (which I loved!), he talks about your accomplished career prior to joining him full time at mbg. When did you decide to go all in?

Colleen Wachob: I didn’t join mbg full time until 2013, when we were just starting to monetize the business. I had a full-time job (and salary and benefits) when Jason was starting mbg, which enabled mbg to grow slowly and methodically. I helped out at night and on the weekends, but gradually easing into being full time at mbg made the already stressful early stages of starting a company much more manageable, since one of us had a stable paycheck and benefits.

As business partners who are married, what are your strategies for maintaining work-life balance? What’s the best part about working together? What’s challenging?

Jason: It’s difficult! We are both so passionate about wellness that work and life tend to blend into one. Some of our best friends are also people who write for the site or are our business partners. I think when this happens and you’re able to share such a deep passion with your spouse as well as close friends, life and work can be pretty amazing. BUT, we have to consciously find time to disconnect and not talk about work! Shiatsu a few times a month is something that I love and definitely helps me disconnect.

Colleen: The best part is that we get to spend a lot of time together. We are often able to travel together for business, which makes being away from home more manageable and sometimes even fun. We travel a lot, which means that we get to keep up with our friends and members of the mbg community who are in the midwest or on the west coast.

What’s challenging is that it can really difficult to turn off work. There’s so much overlap between our work life and our personal life that we are always working in some capacity.

The most effective ways for me to turn off are acupuncture at Element Healing, walking or running along Brooklyn Bridge Park, and diving into novels that are totally outside of the wellness world and can get the creativity flowing more than non-fiction reads. I’ve recently read Sweetbitter and Modern Lovers, which were both great.  

Jason, you talk about your meditation practice in your book, Wellth. How has cultivating a mindfulness practice helped you? Do you have any advice for people who are new to meditation?

Jason: I literally feel like a mental fog lifts from my brain after each meditation session. I feel more relaxed. I’m calmer. I’m more in tune with my inner sense of knowing than ever before. I experience more coincidences. I also feel more intensely. If I’m happy, I feel almost ecstatic, or if I’m eating one of my favorite dishes, it seems to taste even better than I remembered.

Since I got serious about maintaining a daily meditation practice, it’s as if my life went from experiencing it through a black-and-white TV to HDTV with satellite—sharper, with color, and more channels! It’s my new favorite tool in my ever-growing health and happiness tool kit, and it’s something I hope everyone tries.

We have two amazing meditation classes online at mbg taught by the incredible meditation teacher (and my personal friend) Charlie Knoles. I highly suggest checking out either this class or this one.

What is the most important quality of a leader?  

Jason: Someone who leads by example.

Colleen: Passion for the mission is key, and someone who has a strong work ethic, takes ownership, and is a team player.

What’s your favorite way to exercise? Any tips for busy people who struggle to stick with their workouts?

Jason: Yoga! I practice at home every weekend. I love a relaxing 15-20 minute Vinyasa flow. Recently I’ve gone back to the bodyweight basics. I’ll do push-ups to failure, combined with dips and situps a few times a week. It takes me less than 10 minutes and seems to do the trick.

If you’re struggling, just pick something that you love to do and that you can commit to. This will make it easier to stick with. The best exercise is the one you actually do!

Colleen: I’m more of a fitness omnivore in that I love trying new things. I tend to always go back to my staples, which are running, yoga, and going on long walks in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Where are your favorite places to eat in NYC?

Jason: I love the Australian invasion that’s happening right now: Two Hands, Bluestone Lane, Sweatshop, and Five Leaves are all delicious and healthy. I also love Gran Electrica in Dumbo and their delicious ramp quesadilla.

Colleen: Jason covered a lot of my favorite places! When it’s a celebration, I love going to ABC Kitchen. I also love the gluten-free fried chicken served over collard greens at Wilma Jean.

What are you working on right now that you’re most excited about?

Jason: Our invite-only revitalize event, which will take place September 16-18 in Arizona!

Colleen: Ditto that!

What are the top three wellness trends today? What are your predictions for top wellness trends in 2017?   

Jason: Just three? There are lots of exciting trends to watch today that will roll into 2017. I actually wrote a piece about trends to watch in 2016 about six months ago.

But if i had to watch just three, i think athleisure is going through an interesting change right now. Wellness centers are cropping up everywhere. And nitro coffee is interesting—Starbucks just made an announcement there.

Colleen: here are so many exciting trends in the wellness world. I’m excited about how natural beauty products have moved to the mainstream, with stores like Target carrying many great brands like W3ll People and S.W. Basics. I think we are going to see more Traditional Chinese Medicine practices, like cupping, incorporated into natural beauty routines. I’m excited to see more healing herbs, adaptogens, and Ayurveda being incorporated into beauty and wellness too.

From a food-trends perspective, we are going to see more food innovators using what has typically been considered food waste (avocado pits, leaves and stems from broccoli,and the whole fennel) as part of the meal. And who couldn’t be excited about aquafaba going mainstream?

Is mindbodygreen on your list of favorite sites? What articles and courses have inspired you? Tell us in the comments! And if you’re not already a fan of mbg, check it out.

Meet Lucy Wallace Eustice, Founder of MZ Wallace

 Meet Lucy Wallace Eustice, Founder of MZ Wallace

I’ve always loved MZ Wallace bags—not only are they practically indestructible, they’re also the perfect mix of style and function. Turns out, the admiration is mutual—when MZ Wallace co-founder Lucy Wallace Eustice experienced barre3’s total-body workouts, she was hooked. That was the beginning of a beautiful partnership; last year, we were lucky enough to team up with MZ Wallace to create our very own signature tote.

I recently chatted with Lucy about how she and her co-founder Monica Zwirner took their company from start-up to cult status. She had some amazing advice on how to stay true to your vision, both in business and in life. Read on and prepare to be inspired!  

Sadie Lincoln: I love how hands-on you and Monica are in running your business. Can you explain what your respective roles are for MZ Wallace ?

Lucy Wallace Eustice: One of the reasons Monica and I have such a successful partnership is because from day one, we’ve had the same goals for the business. Today, our philosophy remains unchanged: to design distinctive accessories for women who lead dynamic lives. We work really hard to be mindful of that vision, declining external investment opportunities over the years so that we remain in full control of the brand, but still enjoy our personal lives. As far as design is concerned, we work together. With that being said, Monica tends to be more detailed-oriented while I tend to be more of the “editor.” All strategy and business decisions are made together. I think we bring strength and determination to our brand. We have, through our combined experience, been able to make more of the right decisions and avoid some of the wrong ones.

What led you to start MZ Wallace?

I began working in the fashion industry when I was 15 years old at the French clothing company, agnes b. Shortly after, I started at Manolo Blahnik, where I worked with the press and managed the store. It was during my job there that I first met Monica, who at the time was a stylist. She would come in to borrow shoes for fashion shoots. We became good friends but then lost touch over the years — by that time I had moved into the editorial side of fashion, working for magazines such as Mirabella, Harper’s Bazaar, and Elle. After my time as Accessory Director at Elle, I moved into product development in footwear, spending half the year in Italy until finally landing as Vice President for a European designer who was setting up his business in the US.  

It was when Monica and I serendipitously re-met at the Union Square Farmer’s Market here in NYC that it all began. We started talking and realized that we shared a similar sensibility and take on where fashion was at that moment. We both felt there was a gap in the market. This was the height of logo mania, and we thought there was a need for something else — a bag that really functioned without compromising style and a brand that addressed the modern woman’s lifestyle. Thus, MZ Wallace was born.

When we met last summer, we talked about the tug and pull of growing a company while also protecting your brand. Since then, you’ve maintained consistent quality and built a long-lasting cult following. What’s your secret?

As your company grows, more of your time is taken up with running the business, so it’s easy to get distracted and pulled in many different directions. The most important thing is to stay true to your vision. To do that, you have to be disciplined and stay focused. Relationships are key. Knowing your supply chain — working directly with your factories, establishing relationships with your banks, and most importantly building relationships with your customers to help you understand and address their needs. I believe that women today want to buy from brands that are truly authentic. Having an open, ongoing conversation with our customers is part of that authenticity. It’s important to note that we started from day one as retailers, and have always strived to maintain a direct line of communication with our customer — their feedback is important. We have been receiving daily sales recaps every evening from our retail staff since we opened our first store on Crosby St.

Speaking of cult following, what do you think people love most about your MZ Wallace totes? I can tell you, I love how chic yet functional and bulletproof they are! My tote comes with me  everywhere from barre3 to date night to camping!  

Thank you, I’m glad to hear you love it! I think a great bag should have the perfect balance of style and function. It should be able to transition with you from day to night if needed. Women today, myself included, are always on the go so we need a lightweight bag that will carry all of our essentials without compromising our look. MZ Wallace bags meet these needs because they are designed with these active women in mind.

I am curious if you have a mentor?  If so, how do they help you?  I know Chris and I can feel lonely as co-founders at times, and reaching out to people we admire for help has been a game changer!

I have many people I would consider mentors. I would say most often I hear the echo of advice both my parents gave me throughout my life. Trust your gut. If it’s scary, it’s good because it means you’re learning something new. Don’t be afraid. I would also say Monica and I really support one another for all the obvious reasons, but also because we are in it together, it’s an ongoing conversation, no backstory necessary. I do agree that it is lonely. Leading means having the strength to stick your neck out, be sure, confident and show the way. Sometimes people agree with you, sometimes not. You have to be able to handle when they don’t agree with you.

What are some other cool collaborations you’ve worked on in the past? What about barre3 made you want to work with us?

With Monica being married to gallerist David Zwirner, MZ Wallace has always had a strong connection to the art world and the contemporary artists in it. Our first collaboration was in 2005 with artist Marcel Dzama on a fine jewelry collection in celebration of our 5-year anniversary. Over the years, we developed our MZW Gives Back program, where we use our company and its strengths to give back. We’ve been honored to work with artist Glenn Ligon for the Studio Museum of Harlem, Food52 for The Edible Schoolyard Project and Charity: Water, or Raymond Pettibon for The New York Public Library, just to name a few.

I read about barre3 in a magazine about five or six years ago, and I was intrigued by your innovative approach. I started with the DVDs because that’s all there was before the website really launched. I had a feeling we were talking to the same woman. Realizing that the barre3 woman and the MZ Wallace woman have a lot in common, and that our companies address these women in the same way, I thought it’d be great to collaborate. The bag Monica and I first thought would resonate with the barre3 client and their lifestyle, was actually the same one you picked to be customized!

What qualities do you look for when you’re hiring a new team member?

Integrity, energy, good communication skills. Troubleshooting ability is really important, as things do not always go as planned.

What are your take-everywhere essentials that you always have in your bag?

Creme de La Mer sunscreen and SkinCeuticals sunscreen.  Giorgio Armani Face Fabric Foundation, and Dior mascara. Revive hand cream. I’m having a real hand cream crisis! If I was going into cosmetics, that is the first thing I’d make. And jewelry — I love my bling.

What are the big fashion trends coming in 2017?

I think there is a lot of mix and match coming this year. We are also working with off colors which I think are interesting. Of course, lifestyle and athleisure are going to keep gaining momentum. Our triple strap bags are going to continue to be important for our customers.

What’s next for MZ Wallace?

Lots! We just opened up our first pop-up shop in San Francisco in June, and so we are exploring other cities in which we have a loyal customer base. As far as designs, we are really looking to expand our travel message with more pieces specifically designed with a traveler in mind.

Want to see the bag we created with MZ Wallace? Head to the B3 shop and check it out!

Jennifer Aniston Nailed It

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Well said, Jen! I am so proud of Jennifer Aniston for standing up and writing this article about the objectification and scrutiny of women. She’s a real human being and a reflection of all of us. Her experience magnifies what every woman goes through. We are so much more than our bodies.

This is such an important conversation. Read it. Share it. Be a part of the change.

Love this? Check out Sadie Lincoln’s pieces on the dangers of photoshopping and why aging is a privilege.

Barre3 Just Became the Biggest Boutique Studio Video Platform

We love Well+Good’s overview of the new barre3 Online. Read on, and be sure to fire up the 10-minute free online workout at the end! Here’s Well+Good editor, Lisa Elaine Held.

Barre3 Just Became the Biggest Boutique Studio Video PlatformBarre3 founder Sadie Lincoln was ahead of the curve when it came to taking her mega-popular barre workout to the virtual masses, and she just debuted a platform upgrade that brings personal guidance from instructors to the online fitness space in a new way.

“I wanted to humanize the online experience,” Lincoln says. “I wanted a more real-time relationship. We are ‘give generous’ people and we want to connect more to that part of our brand mission.”

To that end, the just-launched barre3 Online (starting at $25 per month) includes a new workout posted every Monday combined with a discussion forum that gives you access to the instructor featured in the video, who acts as a guide for that week. “People comment like crazy and proactively reach out to us on Facebook and Instagram, and now we’ll have a place for real conversation,” Lincoln explains. (When you sign up, you also get regular emails from ”Tiffany,” a concierge who suggests workouts and offers encouragement, a touch I felt was pretty motivating.)

Barre3 Just Became the Biggest Boutique Studio Video Platform

You also can access recipes and meal plan ideas (the brand worked with a nutritionist on them) and more than 250 barre3 workout videos in the library, which are sortable via length, props needed, and focus (core, upper body, etc.), and a barre3 Anywhere challenge launching June 1 includes lots of perks for 90 days of pulsing and toning.

The biggest of which, of course, may be that you can do these workouts anywhere (hence the name)—and since the season of summer travel is upon us, that’s a major plus. Lincoln shared this quick, no-prop, total-body workout for you to reference between beach bumming and garden parties.

Ready to give barre3 Online a try? Join now.

The Washington Post Features barre3 Recipes

The Washington Post Features barre3 Recipes

Our user-friendly recipe index was featured on the washingtonpost.com! Barre3 DC 14th Street client Aliza Norcross told the Post, “It’s not about counting calories, but finding balance.” We couldn’t agree more.

Have you checked out our recipes yet? With tons of nourishing, easy-to-make, seasonal breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options, you’re sure to find something that’s just right for you. Read more. LINK TO THE POST.