Whether you call it your clan, your crew, your tribe or your circle, most health experts say gathering supportive, like-minded friends and family to join you on your quest for wellness will optimize your efforts. Julie Hovsepian agrees, so much so that when it came time to name her company, she and co-founder Candice Yusim Maskell chose to focus on this idea of community by naming their collective Birds of a Feather. Hovsepian, a former music industry executive, has built her business by curating a line-up of the most innovative, inspiring wellness experts in the field to lead a diverse slew of retreats, whether it be for a day in California or a week elsewhere. How did the Los Angeles native (who is now in the midst of earning a 500-hour yoga certification!) go from the hectic corporate world to helping others explore mindful living? SBS finds out.
SBS: You transitioned from a high-paced job as a marketing executive at Interscope Records to founding the mindful living collective Birds of a Feather. How did that happen?!
Julie Hovsepian: I was at Interscope for 13 years and had amazing experiences working with artists and seeing the world. But after that long period, I was ready to make a change: I traveled, volunteered…and got massively into yoga and meditation. It changed my life. When I was starting to look into what was next, I thought it would be in the music world again. But a friend introduced me to the founder of Beaming, a superfood café. It all shifted then, and the world of wellness became my new home. I helped them launch three locations, and there was no turning back. So, when Candice, who I knew from the music world, approached me about this type of collective, it made so much sense.
It’s all about finding community: The way you grow is to find the right people who support and encourage you—and who are on the same path as you. So Birds of a Feather is all about that new type of adventure: creating a wellness collective that’s about mindful living by working with people who inspire growth while curating meaningful experiences. Since Candice and I have over 15 years of marketing and client development, too, we are able to work on that end, as well. We call it the wheel of wellness, and it just ends up feeding into each other. We meet incredible people, so we figure out how to collaborate with them at BoaF or help them collaborate with other people.
SBS: What makes a teacher or expert interesting to you and BoaF?
JH: We choose people who do their work out of passion. Yes, everyone needs to make money, but what makes it special is finding people who really feel it in their core. Whether it’s nutrition or meditation or movement, it’s all healing, and we find those people that have a certain spark in their eye. Those ‘birds of a feather’ get together and get excited about creating spaces that help people. We have people come to events and cry afterward because of the shift our teachers catalyze.
SBS: How can someone get the most out of a retreat?
JH: The good news is, I think it’s difficult to go to a retreat where you’ll have an unpleasant experience. If you go with the right intention, you are bound to get what you’re supposed to get out of it.
SBS: What are aspects of BoaF that are unique?
JH: Our day retreats in Los Angeles definitely differentiate us. Of course you can go to longer yoga and wellness retreats, but we’ve found that our day series—prenatal or nutrition of beauty of age—are so helpful for people with families or who work long weeks and can’t realistically leave for a weekend. These options are in incredibly beautiful, private homes that feel like an experience away even if it’s just for one day. You still get the benefits of the experience, but you don’t have to leave for a week.
Then, of course, when you can actually get away and disconnect for a longer bit of time, you can reap tons of benefits. We’re especially excited about our concept behind the Flock You retreat: It stems from my background in music and entertainment and knowing how stressful that can be. But, you don’t have to say ‘F You’ to your job and quit. All you need to do is come get some mindful, simple practices to go back to your job so you can handle it without being as overwhelmed. All of these tools would have been so helpful at Interscope!
SBS: How have the sessions affected you in your own life?
JH: It’s sometimes as simple as the benefits of drinking warm water with lemon every morning: That can make a huge difference! I’ve also learned the power of meditation. Just three minutes at minimum in the morning can change your day. I’ve heard people talking about it for years, but you must start to do it to see how it affects your nervous system and the amount of clarity it gives you in your day. You start to be less reactive with everything. It makes a difference to feel that calm and to be able to carry that with you in everyday life.
SBS: Tell us about your partnership with Candice: What’s it like to be co-founders in a brand new company?
JH: It has definitely been an interesting learning experience because I came from working with a massive company and had never done anything on my own…just like Candice! Then, on top of creating the company, when it’s just you and one other person doing everything, it’s so important to nurture that relationship. We deal with everything together, and we make a point of talking through things to ensure we can move forward. It’s our own small flock, and trust is key!
JULIE’S LIST OF INSPIRING WELLNESS GURUS:
- Lori Bregman: pregnancy coach/Rooted for Life founder, Rootedforlife.com (Check out the SBS profile)
- Elissa Goodman, holistic nutritionist, Elissagoodman.com
- Julie Diamond, trainer and fitness expert, Juliediamondfitness.com
- Janice Cadwell, yoga, Jaiyogahollywood.com
- Cheryl Moss, yoga, godayoga.com
- Kate Duyn Cariati, yoga, Kateduyncariati.com
- Chad Dennis, yoga and meditation, Director of Yoga at Wanderlust, wanderlusthollywood.com
- Megan Monahan, meditation, Meganmonahan.com
- Lena George, meditation, Unplugmeditation.com
- Deena Robertson, yoga, los-angeles.modoyoga.com
JULIE’S SBS MANTRA:
I choose Be Grateful: The power of gratitude affects everything in your life. Realizing you are grateful for everything that comes your way, whether positive or negative, is so important. Realize why it’s coming, embrace it and be grateful.