Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle Pellizzon.
Michelle, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My personal relationship with wellness began when I was diagnosed with epilepsy at 17. After years of medications that made me super sick, mysterious diagnoses, and brain damage as a side effect from seizures, I found a holistic wellness practitioner who helped me end my seizure episodes with a combination of energy work and somatic therapy.
Throughout my recovery, I’d worked in the tech and startup space, helping fledgling companies grow their audiences and scale their users.
I felt like there wasn’t a place for me to practically talk about my experiences with wellness from a holistic place — everything was too mystical unicorn-vibe or too caveman-paleo talk, or too centered on the experiences of rich white women who lived in beautiful aspiration houses in Topanga Canyon.
So, I started Holisticism with the mission to make wellness and well-being practices more accessible to more people — specifically those who weren’t centered in the Wellness Industry.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
To be honest, most people in wellness don’t want to address the systems of oppression that are alive and well within the industry.
Racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, classism — wellness has it all.
I was recently asked a question during a live masterclass about how I navigate running a wellness brand that takes a strong ethical and political stance. The question made me pause for a second because I don’t think you can possibly have an authentic apolitical wellness brand. Which is why I laugh (right after I cry, because #pisces) when I get emails from people who spew hate in my direction.
Wellness is inherently, innately, inextricably political because it has EVERYTHING to do with race, sexual orientation, gender identity, class, and ability. To pretend that these factors don’t affect our 1) need for well-being and 2) the ability to access well-being resources is delusional. Straight up.
It is currently a privilege to be able to make choices for yourself that serve your well-being. Although it should be a right, it’s a privilege to be “well” because of institutional systems of oppression that are set in place to prevent people from having the opportunity to achieve well-being.
To effectively do our work here at Holisticism of making well-being accessible to all, an important truth must be addressed: Well-being, and wellness, is not available to all people, in large part because the Wellness Industry thrives on white supremacy, heterosexism, and racism.
Part of our job at Holisticism, then, is to not just provide access to wellness and well-being practices through resources, educational materials, events, and more; part of our job is to dismantle the systems of oppression that exclude access to the opportunity to be “well.”
Interestingly enough, this means that sometimes, we must rail against the very industry in which we operate. Tricky!
I’m certainly not the first person to say that the Wellness Industrial complex can be incredibly harmful and marginalizing, nor do I hope to be the last. I hope that we can continue to address the collective Shadow of the wellness industry — that it’s racist and problematic AF.
Please tell us about Holisticism.
Holisticism bridges the gap between the Ordinary and Special Worlds by making wellness more accessible.
How does one “make wellness more accessible?” Great question:
We provide free and affordable resources to our community. We tell stories about wellness for diverse populations. We elevate practitioners who we believe in and trust.
We’re here to support to any human on a journey to becoming more truly themselves — whether you’re a wellness newbie or an expert facilitator — and especially if you’ve ever felt like you just didn’t fit in in the “wellness” space.
Because we didn’t, either.
Here’s to the new inclusive, intersectional, ever-healing world.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I’ve been lucky enough to have some incredible mentors and guides during this process.
Being apart of two accelerator programs, Grid110 and Startup Boost taught me so much about how to focus my mission and gave me the confidence to continue moving.
My advisor and mentor Ivy Ross is also a rock for me — she leads me through her example and I am so honored to be able to rely on her.