“We needed to define for ourselves what it meant to be young, black and well.”
When I think about why Just Be came about, it's pretty simple. There was a need, and we decided to fill it. The need was personal because each one of us were searching for something. We wanted a space to fill up mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The idea started with a tea shop and honestly has developed into a wellness space. It didn’t happen all at once, but we realized there was a real need to be black and well. I had adopted the word synchronicity to represent moments that I could tell were ordained for a greater purpose, and us coming together was exactly that.
We got to work brainstorming, planning, and even scratching and restarting. Often, we reflected on why we wanted to do this. It helped us to remember what was important on this journey. Being black millennial women, we loved to find new ways to care for ourselves, explore new places and even relax in coffee shops. Looking around, there were not many spaces, if any, that made us feel like we truly belonged. Of course, there were coffee shops and eateries that never turned us away and were welcoming, but we still didn’t feel included. We didn't notice anything familiar - from the music to the pictures on the wall. We never saw ourselves, instead we saw depictions of a lifestyle we were expected to conform to if we wanted to feel included. But the standard did not include us.
Let me break it down. It’s like being young and scanning the shelves for a doll that looked like you, but not being able to find it. As a child, you rationalize that either you're so different that you didn’t matter or that you should try to become more like what you saw. In other words, being how you were wan't good enough. It seems that mindset tends to follow us into adult hood from the way we wear our hair, to how we talk and interact. We began to realize the importance of representation in order to really embrace self-love. We needed to define for ourselves what it meant to be young, black and well. We wanted to Just Be.
So here we are, a year later still growing and still creating. While a lot of what we do now is online, our vision is much bigger than a virtual experience. Our vision is that anyone who walks in our doors could feel at home with a warm embrace – rather than a casual nod. Our vision is that you get to choose which version of you, you want to be today. Whether happy, sad, angry, or the rainbow of emotions we may experience, we want to empower you just to be. Just be what you need in that moment. We promise to just be along with you in the best ways we know how.