We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennifer Hart, MA, LPC, E-RYT, YACEP, CIMHP and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennifer, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
My thought process behind starting my own business was enveloped in my desire to offer what I wish was offered to me when life got hard. I’ve had hard times, and I had an even harder time finding a woman of color practitioner that was well versed in alternative methods of healing such as yoga, sound therapy, study of medicinal plants and energy medicine. I attended to these healing modalities with women that were not of color and sometimes did not feel welcomed. I experienced going to spaces of healing and not feeling comfortable. I wanted to offer healing spaces for women of color and I wanted them to be at ease knowing that their practitioner is someone that looks like them. and has a similar lived experience. I also wanted these services to be easily assessable.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My business is called Soul Yoga Philly. We were established in 2020, just three months after the pandemic started. We offer counseling, yoga, wellness coaching and workshops specifically catering to BIPOC; we have culturally inclusive services, and we are focused on making alternative wellness practices assessable and affordable. We operate from a de-colonized lens and an anti-oppressive framework. We are also trauma informed.
Healing work is surely not easy; however, it is very fulfilling. I have been honored to share journeys with people who have experienced hardships in life and serve as witness to their rising and recovery. It is a beautiful thing to experience! Business wise, we are mostly word of mouth, with little advertisements. I believe we had maybe one or two flyers/postings at the beginning of our business and then…folks just showed up in droves seeking assistance! There is really a heavy need for POC serving as wellness practitioners.
Getting to where I am today? No – that was definitely not easy, however it was worth it. I love what I do! How do I overcome the challenges? I stick close to my village and I make sure I keep healing too! This is collective work! I am no one’s savior! I am here for the ride just like everyone else!
I want the world to know that healing is collective work! We, within America, tend to have a very individualistic understanding and approach to success and living. It doesn’t work that way with healing and it definitely does not work that way with people of color. Our roots are based on collective work. Our culture is based on collective work. Alot of our trauma happened as a collective experience – thus our healing must also be collective. Yes – it is counter cultural but so what — being “different” is what POC are known for anyway. Embrace it!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Oh my gosh! I love this question! Who thought of this question?! Okay I’d have to take you to the following:
– Studio 34 – It is in West Philly. So much of my healing has taken place here. It is a yoga studio and wellness center! It is like my second home.
-Surya Restaurant – It’s on Frankford Avenue. Just go! Two words: Lebanese Chocolate! Yes! I felt like I left the US and traveled abroad!
– Reading Terminal Market – I always love going here. Food is amazing!
– Maxx’s is hands down the best place to go for a Philly Cheese Steak Hoagie.
– Kelly Drive: Take a Hammick and have a picnic. It’s so soothing!
– Cubre Libre – live music and dancing…and the food!
– South Street
– Harbor Park
– Penns Landing
-Chung Dam Spa ( it’s a mini oasis. Its a japanese bath house and I love it there!)
– Antioch Christian Fellowship – This is also a second home for me. The people are very loving and welcoming. They are like family to me.
– Abiyah Naturals – Handmade Body Care Products and it’s WOC owned.
– Duafe Hair Salon – another oasis for WOC!
– Harriet’s Book Store
– Uncle Bobby’s Cafe
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to dedicate this shout out to my family; my dad who passed away in 2020, my mom who has offered support tirelessly, my daughter who never ceases to show me what it means to be resilient and brave, my fiancé who has shown me tough love and gentle love consistently, my brother who has shown me what it looks like to pursue what you want – and several friends and extended family members who I proudly call “my tribe.” I am not one. I am one of many and if it were not for my tribe I never would have made it to today.