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Words by Rachael Akhidenor

An Important Message From Our Founder

This message was first published to our email and Instagram community on 20 June 2022.

This is possibly the most difficult founder message I’ve ever written. I’ve written it in my head a thousand times, and yet, as I sit here, the words continuously seem to escape me.

How can I possibly communicate the decision to wind down a retail brand – this retail brand – that I’ve dedicated 5+ years of my life to building? That means so much to so many? That’s been such a strong pillar within the Australian wellbeing landscape? That’s led by one of the only young black female founders in Australia today?

I guess I can begin with the decision itself. It was both long and short in the making. Long in the sense that I had been slowly coming to terms with the state of independent retail for a while.

I had written about the challenges of being an independent brand in a Founder Reflection close to 12 months ago. In a post-algorithm world, the cost to run and grow an independent retail brand – especially in a country like Australia – is immense and hard-fought.

Of course, I could’ve made it work. In start-up world, if there’s a will there’s a way. But I began to ask myself how much was I willing to sacrifice? What lengths was I willing to go? And was I steadfast in my commitment to double-down, build and grow?

At this point, some other things were happening in my life. I was reckoning with my own evolution. I began this brand when I was 23 years old. (Well, technically, I was 22, but 23 when we launched into the market).

This year, I’ll be 29. There’s no doubt the person writing this today is different to the person I was back then. Perhaps, as is customary for anyone moving through their Saturn Return, I began to question. Everything.

Why was I doing the things I was doing? Who was it out of habit? Was it out of duty or expectation? Or was it because of genuine desire, excitement, interest?

I went offline for 4+ months. I got quiet. And in that space, it dawned on me the irony of my life. I was leading a brand that espoused the importance of living intentionally. That created tools to look inward and examine how we were living and why we were living in that way.

And yet, for some time, I had been living my life out of habit. I had outgrown this identity of "wellbeing founder". This role, that had once so deeply excited me, no longer brought me joy. I yearned for something different. I craved breadth.

I no longer wanted my working life to be centred around the three themes of self-care, psychology, and wellbeing. I didn’t want to answer the question that was asked to me in almost every social interaction – “how’s self-care going?”

And in that instant, my world changed. The glass shattered. That big, scary, daunting truth was so clear to me I couldn’t ignore it. I had to let go. To do anything else would be fake, disingenuous and out of integrity.

Hence, me writing to you now.

When I look back on these past 5+ years, I am filled with so much gratitude. Gratitude for this community, our customers, wholesalers, stockists, and beautiful champions of this brand. Gratitude for those of you who have purchased our product, engaged with our content, or cheered us on from the sidelines.

I'm so proud of the impact we’ve had. We pioneered a social movement (!!!) and made self-care and wellbeing more inclusive and diverse in Australia. We created products that democratised psychology, therapy and emotional intelligence. We made looking inward cool and accessible to those of us who didn't fit the traditional “wellness” mould.

To my team - past and present - and all the incredible collaborators who have touched and worked on this brand, I am so deeply grateful.

To be a young black female founder and to have made such an impact is something I hold so dearly. (We can’t talk about this brand, and my journey, without talking about race.) The representation I hope I have given to other young black founders, creatives, and people in our community – it’s perhaps what I am most proud of.

As I close our retail brand, it would be remiss of me not to mention that our Practitioner Partnerships and Organisational Partnerships will still continue to operate as they always have. So, I’ll still be floating around in the Self Care universe, albeit in a more limited capacity.

As for what’s next for me, it's less "founder" and more creative. For someone who has been guided by spreadsheets, roadmaps, forecasts and plans for the past 5+ years – there’s much beauty, excitement (and nerves) in this sea change.

If you would like to continue to follow my journey, my personal Instagram is where you’ll find me. (Say hi, I don’t bite!) I’m launching a Substack in the near future, so if you’ve resonated with my founder reflection emails, please do sign up via this link to be notified of its launch.

And if this is where I leave you, then all I have left to say is, thank you.

You’ve allowed me to live one of my dreams.

And for that, I will be forever grateful.

Big love and gratitude always,

Rachael X

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Self Care™ Originals respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Owners of country on which we work, the Wurundjeri Willam people, and pay our respects to their Elders past and present.