Rachelle "Chelle" Pean saw something that Albany needed and decided to fill in the gap: she's bringing a combination yoga, meditation and mental health therapy to the heart of the South End with her company, Root3d. She's hoping that her business will help bring healing and well-being to people who might not feel comfortable in many "wellness" spaces. We reached out to Chelle via e-mail to ask her about what brought her here, her business today, and her hopes for Root3d and Albany going forward.
Albablog: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
Chelle: I am of Haitian and White descent, and grew up in Schenectady. I moved away to the city for undergrad and grad school and lived and worked in the Bronx for about 4 years as a clinical social worker in an outpatient hospital, providing mental health therapy to individuals and families. Around two years ago I moved back upstate and have been pursuing my passion of wellness and healing locally, and it feels familiar yet completely new to be up here as my adult self! I'm enjoying my unfolding and blooming process and feel like I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be.
How did you first get into the wellness field?
There are many people in my family that have struggled (and still struggle) with their mental health; some talked about it openly and others don't and never have. As a child I quickly learned from an aunt that I'm very close to that there is a way to be active in our own healing. She would talk to me about things she was doing to help with seasonal depression and how yoga and light therapy helped her mood. From a really young age I could see how that affected her, and then looked at other people in my family with mental health struggles and wondered why their outcome was so different. I became curious about learning these different ways that people can heal themselves so that I could be part of the solution to the problem I saw so clearly growing up.
Can you talk a little about your personal philosophy of wellness?
My philosophy about wellness is that in order to heal and be well, we have to acknowledge and nurture all parts of ourselves: our minds (emotions, thoughts), our bodies, and our spirits (how connected we feel to the bigger picture of this life). I believe that nobody is defined by a "problem" or imbalance, but that these "problems" that come to the surface are a message to pay attention and care different wounds that may not have gotten enough attention in the past. I worked within medical systems where treatment is very "problem focused;" there is something "wrong" with someone and they come in to be "fixed." Although I learned so much in those environments and had valuable relationships, I had to leave because my personal philosophy of healing is that none of us need to be "fixed;" much of the healing work I do now is helping people remember that they are good enough just as they are, and that they have the wisdom to heal themselves from within.
What inspired you to start up your own business? What do you want to accomplish with Root3d?
I saw that if I kept working within systems that didn't share my personal philosophy of healing, I wouldn't be serving my clients at my fullest capacity. By starting Root3d, I am able to give therapy to people in a way that incorporates meditation, yoga, trauma processing, aromatherapy, and whatever other medium helps them remove blockages so they can feel more connected to themselves. I can offer wellness workshops and yoga classes that are designed with everyone in mind, particularly people of color and people that have experienced past trauma (which is so many of us). Root3d is here to remind us all that not only is it important to nurture the roots of our "3" dimensions (mind, body, and spirit), but it is actually necessary.
You're based out of the African American Cultural Center right here in Albany. What brought you there, and what do you like about the location?
I love the mission of the AACC: to hold space for community members to enjoy the arts, to connect to each other, and to have an active part in their community. I love being located in AACC because it is a sacred space where healing is happening all the time; through art being shared, dance, and black and brown people seeing each other succeed and create things. I could have chosen to be located in a wellness or yoga studio, but I really wanted to work with people that don't necessarily see themselves as belonging in those spaces, because healing and wellness is not confined to a specific environment or type of person.
What makes a really good day at work for you? What makes a bad day?
A really good day is when I know I've been present with my clients and they have learned something new about themselves, and in my being present with them I've learned something new about myself and about humanity. A "bad" day is usually a day when I haven't been listening to my intuition: if I try to push past that inner voice that says I need to rest or slow down, or if I avoid doing something outside of my comfort zone because of fear. Even the bad days are an opportunity to see where that disconnect came from so that I can keep learning and growing.
Any big hopes, dreams or definite plans for the future of the business? Will you be moving, expanding, or launching something new any time soon?
Within the next 5 years I would love for Root3d to have it's own space and employees, so that it can have more offerings for the community.
What would you like to see happen in Albany in the next few years?
I'd love to continue to see people creating businesses, experiences, and opportunities for this community. I would like for us all to continue dismantling the stereotype that nothing happens upstate, and continue creating the things that we want to experience so that this area continues to grow and flourish mindfully. I would like to see continued conversations about business and economic growth, how it impacts people that have been marginalized in this area, and ways to make entrepreneurship conscious and with a focus on improving this area as a whole rather than just having a few people rise to the top.
What are some of your other favorite local businesses?
So many! I love Umana in Albany for the comfortable and homelike atmosphere and delicious food, MelEMedia for brandstorming and helping me develop the long-term vision for my business, Little Peck's in Troy for their bomb avocado toast, Indie Vibez for Reiki Energy Healing, and Primo Botanica for ethically sourced chocolate that is high quality and delicious.
What would you say to someone who's considering starting their own small business?
I'm at risk of sounding cliche, but really believe in yourself. If an idea is coming to you, it is absolutely for a reason, and you are the only one that can bring it into fruition in your unique way. Surround yourself with other people who have gone for it so that you have that support. Come up with small steps and just start somewhere; it doesn't matter if you don't have it all figured out at once, but you will build momentum and figure it out along the way.
Anything else you'd like to say to Albablog readers?
Root3d offers weekly donation based yoga classes every Thursday at 5 at the AACC, and we have some dope workshops coming up if you check out www.root3dhealing.com. Thank you!