What led three Cana­dian women to put their health first and make the pro­fes­sional leap into the well­ness world


GRAYDON MOF­FAT, 52, TORONTO Founder of plant-based beauty brand Graydon Skin­care and for­mer chef and yoga in­struc­tor “My con­nec­tion to ther­a­peu­tic plants goes back a long way. I was blessed to spend my child­hood vis­it­ing laven­der and rose­mary fields in France be­cause my dad had been trans­ferred to Paris and ev­ery week­end my par­ents would take a road trip. But as a teen, I strug­gled with eat­ing dis­or­ders, anx­i­ety and panic at­tacks. Even­tu­ally, I re­al­ized I needed to cre­ate a bal­anced life, and once I be­gan to com­mit to my well­be­ing through the power of heal­ing foods, ev­ery­thing started to shift. I moved to L. A. and worked as a chef to sup­port my art school stud­ies and soon after, I got a ‘real job’ in pack­aged-goods mar­ket­ing. Work­ing in a tra­di­tional en­vi­ron­ment wasn’t easy for me, but I learned a lot of im­por­tant busi­ness skills.

When I mar­ried my for­mer hus­band and be­came a mom, I de­cided to be­come a yoga in­struc­tor. I of­fered my clients a few skin­care prod­ucts to use dur­ing their prac­tice that I had made in my kitchen. Mak­ing those prod­ucts was ther­a­peu­tic— it was like cre­at­ing the recipes that I loved dream­ing up as a chef. This led me to start Graydon Skin­care. I strug­gled with leav­ing my pros­per­ing yoga prac­tice, and with small-busi­ness chal­lenges like a lack of work/ life bal­ance, but my busi­ness gives me in­cred­i­ble pride. I have a real pas­sion for nu­tri­ent-dense su­per­foods grown and cold-pressed in Canada, such as rasp­ber­ries, kale and maple wa­ter. I’ve been nick­named an “in­gre­di­ent an­thro­pol­o­gist,” so I’d like to live up to that name by sourc­ing in­gre­di­ents from around the world. I’m on my way to Peru to re­search su­per­foods for a new serum—I can’t wait to meet the medicine woman in the vil­lage. A jour­ney to well­ness can take time, but it just takes one change to open the door to other healthy de­ci­sions.” DAL SUMAL, 43, DELTA, B.C. Yoga in­struc­tor, meditation and holis­tic nutri­tion stu­dent, for­mer pa­role of­fi­cer “Most yoga teach­ers can’t say they got their start in Cor­rec­tional Ser­vice Canada. But that’s where I worked for 16 years as a com­mu­nity-based pa­role of­fi­cer in the Vancouver area. The job had many re­wards, but work­loads were heavy and job-re­lated stress was a daily re­al­ity. I also had two chil­dren at home, and I of­ten found I had lit­tle flex­i­bil­ity to spend qual­ity time with them.

Shortly after be­ing hired, I was di­ag­nosed with ul­cer­a­tive col­i­tis, which isn’t sur­pris­ing given that I had suf­fered many stom­ach ail­ments as a teenager, and had a new highly stress­ful job. I also had anx­i­ety is­sues that reared their ugly head now and again. I was proud of the ser­vice I pro­vided to a pop­u­la­tion that is of­ten treated as a lost cause, but work­ing with trou­bled, high-needs clients took its toll, and I even­tu­ally de­cided I needed to make a change. I wanted to fig­ure out how to make my­self more phys­i­cally and men­tally well.

I had no idea what ca­reer path to take, but I had al­ways ad­mired my yoga teach­ers. Yoga had shifted so many things for me in my life, and I de­cided that shar­ing these gifts with oth­ers would be an honour.

For two years, I wor­ried about whether I had made the right choice be­cause I viewed my old job as be­ing so ‘ im­por­tant.’ I ques­tioned whether I was help­ing peo­ple enough by teach­ing them yoga. But over time, I re­al­ized I was. My stu­dents’ re­laxed, smil­ing faces and words of grat­i­tude were proof enough.

As women, I think we of­ten strug­gle with how to have a pur­pose out­side of fam­ily re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. We give so much of our­selves, of­ten to the detri­ment of our phys­i­cal, spir­i­tual and men­tal well­be­ing. But if we are not well, noth­ing mat­ters.”

SASHA TONG, 38, TORONTO Founder of nat­u­ral fra­grance brand Lost & Found Apothe­cary, se­nior fash­ion pro­ducer on eTalk and lainey­gos­ colum­nist

“About three years ago, I was in a lot of pain and dis­com­fort. My dry, burn­ing eyes were start­ing to wave the white flag. I went to spe­cial­ists and they ba­si­cally shrugged their shoul­ders and told me to deal with it. That turned into a full-body melt­down—I wasn’t sleep­ing, my hor­mones were out of whack. I was down in the dumps, too, hav­ing un­suc­cess­fully tried to get preg­nant for years.

It’s been a bat­tle to get back to feel­ing bet­ter. I don’t want to dis­credit the med­i­cal com­mu­nity, but my ex­pe­ri­ence with naturopaths and spirit heal­ers showed me the value of ex­plor­ing a holis­tic ap­proach. I learned tran­scen­den­tal meditation and I prac­tise mind­ful­ness. I’ve learned that there are many dif­fer­ent av­enues to heal­ing.

Start­ing Lost & Found Apothe­cary has been a big part of my heal­ing process, too. I launched it when I was truly lost and I made a few scents based on how I was feel­ing. While I was mak­ing Breakup, a com­pli­cated sex­pot kind of scent, I was lis­ten­ing to “I Feel it All” by Feist, and I re­ally was feel­ing it all—all those in­tensely sad feel­ings you get at the end of a re­la­tion­ship, with the flip­side of want­ing to feel de­sir­able again. Burn is a combo of my favourite in­censes for when I need a mo­ment of calm. I’m a onewoman show, so it takes some time for me to make each bot­tle with pa­tience, a per­sonal touch and love. Cur­rently I bal­ance my pro­ducer and writer jobs with

Lost & Found, but while there is a lot of work in­volved, it feels lib­er­at­ing. This ven­ture started from a pas­sion to find some joy in my life again, so the fact that it has turned into some­thing more means it doesn’t feel like work at all.”

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