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 laineygossip.com 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.”