How Jessica Alba, A Bad Breakup And Travel Inspired A New App
Mend calls itself “a personal trainer for heartbreak.” This newly launched app guides users through a breakup, day-by-day, with emotional support and community advice.
Mend is the brainchild of ex-Googler Ellen Huerta, who found herself up late one night, looking for online advice after a breakup. Frustrated by what she found, she built a website where she offered up science-based advice and curated content like a collection of city guides for beating the postbreakup blues around the world. This evolved into Mend, an iOS app that launched in April 2017 and is helping lonely hearts in over 190 countries.
But what really helped Huerta get over that broken heart? Travel.
“When you’re heartbroken and trying to move on, it can be difficult to be in the same physical place — everything is conceivably the same, and yet everything feels fundamentally different,” says Huerta. “I think that’s why we crave a change of scenery after a breakup.”
For Huerta, travel was the salve, helping her reconnect with herself. “Traveling also brings everything to the surface so that you can move through it,” she says. “One moment you might be sobbing, the next moment you might find yourself overwhelmed with joy.”
Another thing that helped along the way: entrepreneur and actress Jessica Alba. In July 2017, Huerta was featured on Apple Music’s Planet of the Apps, where Alba mentored Huerta on branding, hiring and product. Huerta went on to win funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners and close her $1m seed round. Huerta and Alba made a lasting connection from the show and Alba continues to offer Huerta valuable business advice.
Here, we asked Mend founder Ellen Huerta to share her top places to travel after a breakup:
1. Soak in Shangri-La: Ojai, California
Ojai, California is about an hour and a half north of L.A., but it feels like a world away and it’s the perfect post-breakup retreat. Nestled in a picturesque valley, this small town is known for its pink-moment sunsets, orange groves, hot springs, bike trails and peaceful community. I spend most weekends here because it’s a perfect place to slow down, focus on self-care and go for long, meandering hikes. What to do: Grab a coffee at Beacon
Coffee and get lost in the self-help section of Bart’s Books, Ojai’s famous outdoor bookstore. Try the elixirs and tonics at Food Harmonics. Get inspiration for post-breakup redecorating at deKor & Co. Watch the Pink Moment from the top of Meditation Mount. Treat yourself to a luxury spa
day at Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. Soak in the natural hot springs of Ecotopia.
2. Commune with Nature In Kauai
Nature is one of the best healers—the fresh air, the sun and the quiet all provide nourishing benefits for the heartbroken heart. The lush green backdrop of Kauai is a breathtaking destination, especially if you want to be active (hiking, canoeing, swimming, surfing) and boost your endorphins post-breakup. Less crowded than some of the larger islands, there’s an intimacy and community on this island that makes this a very welcoming place to solo travelers.
What to do: Spend a day at Angeline’s for a healing “lomi lomi” massage, hydrate with fresh coconut water every morning, sip coffee and read on the patio at Hanalei Bread Company, gorge on delicious fruit at the Hanalei farmer’s market, grab post-hike refreshments at Kauai Juice Company and don’t leave without trying the Buddha wrap at Fresh Bite Kauai.
3. Seek Spaciousness: Spirit Rock, California
I began meditating regularly after a breakup in my early twenties, and I found it to be an incredibly powerful tool for moving through the ups and downs of heartbreak and grief. If you can swing it, a more immersive meditation retreat is a great way to deepen your practice and reign in the postbreakup “monkey mind.” One world-renowned meditation community is Spirit Rock, a meditation center in the rolling hills of Northern California that offers longer retreats for quieting the mind and opening the heart. They also offer a daily schedule of silent sitting, walking, dharma talks and practice meetings with teachers. Everything is on a sliding scale, which makes it more affordable than some other centers.
4. Soak in Hot Springs: Esalen Institute
Breakups can be traumatic, and you might find that your body craves nature and quiet in the midst of heartbreak. If so, you can wind down at a retreat at Esalen Institute, an incredible center perched along 27 miles of rugged and breathtaking Pacific Coast in Big Sur, California. Their three- to fiveday workshops deeply nourish the mind, body and heart with healthy meals, daily yoga and movement classes, massages and hot springs visits. This could be great for you if you don’t like conventional retreats with organized schedules because many Esalen activities are unstructured and self-paced.
5. Reconnect with Yourself: A Yoga Retreat
I always go back to yoga when I’m working through difficult feelings. Yoga is an incredibly healing practice for the post-breakup body—it helps you release emotions, reconnect with your body and soothe your nervous system. Whether you’re a beginner or more advanced, yoga retreats are a great option to rejuvenate your body in a supportive environment. I recommend retreats hosted by Love Yoga (they have upcoming retreats in Costa Rica, Africa and the south of France) and Sky Ting Yoga (they have an upcoming one in Bali).
6. Book an Airbnb Experience: Paris
I recently took a trip to Paris and did my first Airbnb Experience (a bike and culinary tour through the Marais neighborhood), which I loved! I got to spend the afternoon with locals, meet people from all over the world and—bonus— didn’t have to plan a thing. Trip planning post-breakup can be overwhelming, so Immersions (multi-day) or experiences (2+ hours) are a great solution if you want to do something, but you don’t know where or what. For something more lowkey, I recommend filtering through Airbnb for Wellness and Nature experiences.
7. Take a Staycation: Anywhere!
You don’t always have to travel far to change scenery. If a trip isn’t in the cards for you right now, find a friend or family member you can stay with and go visit them for a few days. You can also plan a road trip or train ride to a nearby town that you’ve been wanting to explore. Last but not least, a staycation can be very mending if you create a vibe for yourself: cook a special meal you would normally not make, create a special playlist, plan activities you normally wouldn’t do, even change up your outfits. Break free of your normal routine and you can feel like you’re somewhere else.
Want to heal a broken heart? A tech founder worked with Jessica Alba to create a breakup app called Mend.