Some women walk through life with an amazing energy and power swirling all around and through them. Some women dedicate themselves to sharing that remarkable gift. Oakland, California natives, Ashley and Christin Kelly-Brown are two of those women.
Together for fifteen years, the pair have always allowed “yes” to be their guide. They bravely started an on-location makeup and hair business during 2008’s incredibly dramatic economic downturn, and the gamble paid off. Perhaps not totally surprising since Christin is an accomplished hairstylist and Le Cordon Bleu chef, and Ashley is a consummate businesswoman and seasoned make-up artist. Now LunaBella Makeup and Hair is one of the most sought after companies for special events in the area.
Riding high on their success, in 2011, they opened up a salon that specializes solely in curly hair. It’s actually the only salon in Santa Barbara county of its kind. Not a small feat, and it has quickly become a big success.
But that would never have been enough for this pair because, although they were certainly making women happy with the fabulous looks they created, they want to give women even more than just skin deep beauty, they want to give them a holistic well-being from inside out.
With Ashley completing certification as an herbalist, medicine women, and womb wellness healer, their next move makes perfect sense – creating a space designed to serve all women in all their greatness, taking self-empowerment to a whole new level in the green wild of Costa Rica.
What do the two of you have in mind for your next endeavor?
Ashley: The creation of the Pura Luna Women’s Wholeness Center. Our intention is to create a safe, sacred space for women to come together in community to grow, heal, and reconnect. By providing retreats, courses, and trainings, we plan to create opportunities for women to expand in mind, body, and soul. Our #1 goal is to be of service to all women in need, bringing positive change that lasts a lifetime and beyond.
Christin: The heart and soul aspiration of the Pura Luna Women’s Wholeness Center is to be a hub for healing and renewal. To thrive in times of chaos, women must find time for themselves and each other.
Why do we need something like this now more than ever?
Ashley: Women have been deemed powerless and dispensable by a patriarchal, capitalist power structure. Our most recent election proved this very point. We are at a tipping point of radical change and we feel that that change will be mobilized by women organizing and coming together. We must first work on healing the injustices done to us and re-programing ourselves to be the dynamic individuals that we know we are. With more self-education, we can take our health and wellness back into our own hands.
We need to stop giving the power to doctors who mainly prescribe pills or surgeries to numb our problems instead of getting to the root of them. We need more self-love to block out the ever intrusive media, which is constantly telling us that we’re not good enough. We need more diversity in community building, as we are constantly fed that jealousy and competition are a social norm for all women. We see in reality shows from the Housewives to the Bachelor, that we are supposed to be at constant odds and never see eye to eye.
In every revolution in history, it is always the women that are at the front lines of radical changes. With so much turmoil to fix and repair in our world, we believe it will be women that will provide the solutions to bring things back in balance. The Women’s March on Washington, DC and all the marches around the world in January was phenomenal. So, now what? It is time for us to collectively support one another and make our voices heard. The way to do that is by creating space for women to heal themselves, grow together, and organize.
How long has it been brewing?
Ashley: This has been brewing for as long as I can remember. We met each other when we were 17 and 18 years old and fell in love shortly after. Christin recalls me telling her about my dream to open a wholeness center for women when I was still in high school. As we grew older and started our hair and makeup company, we always had the intention in mind that this first endeavor was a stepping stone for something greater. Because we worked in an industry of making women look and feel beautiful, we realized the sense of urgency that this vision possessed. So many women would pick themselves apart while sitting in our chairs, hoping that we could somehow paint on confidence and self-love.
In owning a salon, a stylist also becomes a therapist of sorts. Christin would come home day after day with more stories of what her clients were going through with no place for personal healing in sight. After years of witnessing this type of self-deprecation and the struggled dynamics of women in the salon or at weddings, we knew enough was enough. Something had to be done to build camaraderie and community amongst women. Something had to be done to promote healing for our minds, bodies, and souls.
Christin: When I met Ashley, I was in awe of this 17-year-old with this incredible vision to be of service to women. As we continued dating and building our relationship, she would continue to visualize and speak into existence this dream. The more she spoke of it, the more I too began to see a major need for such a place. In addition to healing myself from past trauma, this vision of helping other women heal themselves became my own. Especially with what’s happening to women all over the world, I feel that it is our destiny to continue to be of service to women and help pave the way for future generations of women to come.
What makes you feel like you are just the women for a project like this?
Ashley: Because we are smart, successful, powerful, lesbian women of color who are entrepreneurs, healers, and modern feminists. We have dedicated our lives to the betterment of women and feel that if anyone can take on the task of creating an international women only space, it’s us. We have been through so much together as a couple, as business partners and as individual women. The issues that plague women - like rape, infertility, sexism, cancer, etc. - we have either experienced them or helped women who have. We work with women every day, hearing their constant struggles with the adversity that they experience. We are ready to make tragedy into triumph and embolden women to take their power back.
With so many other projects and needs, why is funding this project so vital?
Christin: It is our belief that if you heal the women, you heal the world.
Our collective dollar as women is so powerful. We have the power to fund thousands of women-owned ventures if we could truly see each other. This project is so vital in transforming the way women see ourselves, our bodies, our world, and each other. Women who know and utilize their power are an unstoppable force. It is time for this to be birthed into the world, so it can grow into greatness creating universal change.
Anything else you want people to know?
Christin: We want for women to know that this is for them. For us. For all women. That there is a space to not only call your own, but a community that they have yet to discover. By having women from all over the country, even the world, travel to a destination to find a sisterhood like no other, is the greatest gift that we can give. This will be our biggest contribution yet.
We will find a place and make it the home of the Pura Luna Women's Collective. Be a part of our beginning.