Written & Photographed by A Wild Dove
It’s Friday before sundown at Karen Mehiel’s cinematic Hamptons home, and guests draped in tie dye slips, floaty embroidered linen, and beachy floral dresses are filing indoors. The group is gathering as part of the first summer collective hosted by Five Pillars Yoga and A Wild Dove called Women Wavemakers, dreamed up by Mehiel and Lynn Levoy to offer a holistic style and wellness event that shares in the personal processes and practices of female visionaries across the industry.
Inside, stroll through stations of flower-garnished hors d'oeuvres arranged under a crystal starburst chandelier, bottles of San Pellegrino and rosé chilling on ice, and with a gallery of Le Prunier face oils, Moon Juice elixirs, Pursoma healing bath salts, and Act + Acre cold-pressed hair products at A Wild Dove’s Lotions & Potions Pop Up. Close by, a skateboard emblazoned with “Hell Yes” flanking Malia Mills swimwear. With rows of white chairs arranged in the late afternoon shade, the party moves poolside for the panel discussion of female entrepreneurs selected for their contributions in shaping a more modern wellness landscape. Leading the first discussion, Samara Sine, NY director of Common Sense Media, introduces the panel members. Designer Malia Mills of her eponymous label and health guru Medea Juhasz of super-supplement Catalyst Gold join hosts Karen Mehiel and Lynn Levoy settle in for a conversation about second acts in life, keeping balance when “occupational burnout” is a real 2019 work-life hazard, the women that helped them along the way, and how they’re helping women now.
HUSSLE AND HEART
For the entire group, the path to success has been winding, often unpredictable. “I’m going through an evolution, I keep evolving,” admits Mehiel, who’s dedicated to various boards including Robert F Kennedy for Human Rights and Stony Brook Women’s Leadership Council, a mentoring program connecting young women with mentors. “You have this one life that we know of—where are you? Are you taking care of yourself? If you’re letting things go, and you find that you’re not the person you want to be—maybe that’s when you say ‘maybe I don’t need to go to that next place’.” Aside from running her own manufacturing company along with the Five Pillars Yoga project she started with Olga Palladino, Mehiel puts her energy into activism that brings awareness to inequalities in the world in hopes to provide a support system. It’s this kind of support that Malia Mills calls out as the driving force for opportunity in cities like New York.
“All of us get curveballs thrown at us, and I think the important thing to remember is that we have these villages surrounding us,” Mills shares. And for NYC, where she dreamed up her American-made RTW label in the basement of The Odeon restaurant where she waitressed to make ends meet 25 years ago, it’s a particularly powerful village for female voices. “Everybody who is there is there because they have a ton of hussle and a ton of heart, and all they want to do is help you and want to put you in touch with people who they know and give you good advice,” says Mills. “When we started to talk to other women, we felt a real camaraderie.” With her sister Carol, Mills brings their shared mantra “love thy differences” into their swimwear designs. The pair celebrate diversity of women on the street every day via their non-profit brainchild. In their studio, they teach women in need industrial sewing skills and help place them in jobs in the tristate area. That pull toward something more—for a new purpose, a second act, is something she knows well and references to the group. “I think for a lot of us, what we do, whether it’s launching a business or starting a new hobby- it’s about feeling very intuitive about what’s getting our heart beating faster.”
SECOND, THIRD, AND NEXT ACTS
For Levoy, who kicked off the conversation of finding balance through an updated career vision, it was about seeking out a life that included optimism, happiness, and new priorities. “I wasn’t as happy as I thought I’d be working in fashion,” says Levoy, who styled editorially in New York for years before launching A Wild Dove. “For me, after my son was born, I wanted to create something that I could do while I was with him, and that he could be a part of–he was very much my inspiration for starting my company- as he grew, my business grew, he’s with me half the time and sitting in meetings.” Whether it’s shooting health gurus with fashion photographers or tapping a ten-year-old for his preference on image selects, Levoy put her new life ahead of the cultural norm of a more-is-more office hour attitude. For others, it was a total-body balance issue that sparked change.
“Somebody told me once that your career should be what you would do for free,” shares Medea Juhasz, whose culty Catalyst Gold supplement line sits on the Lotions & Potions table just steps away. “I have a classic story of a wellness entrepreneur who basically went through very extreme health struggles, and healed herself to be able to help and heal others—this is, I guess my third career act,” she admits, noting that she started out in the music industry as a teen, then moved into fashion over a decade that she experienced a dip in her personal health. “I was a mess when it came to my health, I had digestion issues, allergies, liver problems, my hair was falling out, I was addicted to sugar and processed foods. Western doctors gave me western medicine which gave me more side effects.” Once she started reading books from herbalists, she ordered a mix of adaptogensand started to play around with them on her kitchen table—ninemonths into experimenting (interesting timing for the birth of an idea) she finally “reached a certain ratio—all of my health issues started to disappear.” It was a long road to her realization—and after encapsulating her discovery into one pill, one formula for Catalyst Gold, things finally started to unfold naturally. “When you get on the right career path, which took me almost 40 years to figure out, things will align and things will really work out,”she notes. “I’m one of those people that I was very comfortable at my career—the universe had to push me to change careers, heal myself, and develop a product and work basically as a nutritionist and holistic health coach to help people.”
DAILY RITUALS AND RESPECT
“One day I was leaving a yoga class and I felt a really powerful shifting,” shared Mehiel of the moment she tapped her partner Olga Palladino, the first instructor to sign on with Five Pillars. “I would not have imagined 10 years ago I would be an owner of a yoga studio—and to even say that I’m a teacher now!” enthuses Mehiel. “I’ve gone through a transformation with yoga, and it’s been incredibly beneficial—what I needed and I didn’t know I needed it.” Levoy seconds the notion of powerful practices. “A major shift was when I started to do transcendental meditation—20 minutes in the morning, 20 minutes in the afternoon—I became a better mother, a better partner, a better friend, a better coworker,” she notes of the first thing she does in the morning, before she even looks at her phone. “I like to work out every day, I have to fit it in, to me it’s not taking time away from something else, it’s making me a better person. Eating clean, taking supplements in the morning (which take 30 minutes to get through!), it’s a checklist.”
For Juhasz, it’s about appreciation. “I start my day every day with a gratitude list—sometimes I do it on a subway, sometimes if I’m not in the greatest mood I do it three times a day!Gratitude list and boxing—non-negotiable!” Mills even brings the idea of daily “Chi jacks.” What are they? According to her sister Carol, the inventor, they’re essentially jumping jacks performed while thinking happy thoughts. “You stop thinking about the thing that’s really stressing you out, you force yourself to think positive, and then just literally the physical movement kind of gets your whole system going—and then loud music is always a good thing, too,” says Mills. “It’s great to have women in our lives like Lynn who have a great rhythm to what they’re doing.”
TINY ACTS OF REBELLION
These are what Sine calls out as “tiny acts of rebellion”—taking time back for yourself, her own version in the form of a morning cup of tea. And as Sine wraps up the convo with Gigi Mortimer, founder of the blue light blocker EyeJust, the concept of respecting your own time expands. “One third of teens wake up in the middle of the night just to check their social media,” notes Mortimer, who adds that the blue light from screens triggers your brain into thinking it’s daytime, disrupting sleep. “Sleep is when our brain is detoxifying. The fact that we’re spending 7 hours a day on screens and then we aren’t sleeping well really worried me for my kids, and is what inspired me to launch this company.”
And considering that sleep is what balances our body’s cortisol, our moods, our happiness, there’s a lot of logic in the idea of locking phones in a box outside of the bedroom every night (a practice that Sine has taken on with her family). Mortimer references a study of NBA players who, when they tweeted after 11pm, scored worse the next day and are no longer allowed by the league to tweet at night. Yet another reason to relax in a bath of Pursoma salts, enjoy a sleep elixir, and set aside the phone until after your first morning “act of rebellion,” whether that’s transcendental meditation or simply catching another fifteen minutes of quiet before embracing the moment.
For those seeking a summer focused on balance, our next A Wild Dove x Five Pillars Yoga The Kindness Reaction Event happens this Friday, 5:00-7:00, same place. Message Lynn to reserve your space.