Stillness and silence are something many of us don’t allow ourselves to experience often — if at all. Whether it’s driving to and from work, putting Netflix on for background noise or always talking and having something to say, silence is uncomfortable for many of us and being still can drive people mad.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chantel Robertson.
Chantel is the Founder and CEO of Upful Blends, where she creates and provides potent alkaline blends, herbs, and supplements for the connection of the mind and body, inspired by indigenous and ancient wisdom. Through her work, Chantel also supports men and women throughout the process of healing from disease within the alkaline embodiment and transforming trauma to empower their process of remembering who they truly are.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
My story begins in the small town of Reading, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia. I was the first born to my mother and second born to my father, who were middle class, hardworking, independent parents. My mother always told me that I came out of the womb letting my voice be felt because I started screaming as soon as I came out into the world; and, from what the nurses said, I was the loudest they ever heard!
My family moved to Florida in 2004, and almost immediately I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety. Desperate for insight and treatment, my parents enrolled me in therapy sessions with a psychologist, then into a psychiatric hospital and an all-girl’s program, as I was unable to attend public school. All of this occurred by the time I was 12 years old.
For the next decade, I experienced several diseases and ailments that took hold of my mental health and physical aptitude. At the age of 20, I began studying alternative healing modalities, plant-based lifestyles and herbal teas to take back my health. I dove into radical action, firsthand learning and deepened spirituality to support myself in navigating these challenging times. The actions that I chose daily supported me in creating an unbreakable spirit and undying vision that continues to be the foundation of my actions today.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
With my family lineage rooting back to Africa, I’ve held this deepened desire to give back to the people there. Even when I wasn’t clear on how, it was clear in my heart.
I connected with one of my coaches whose wife founded a non-profit organization committed to bringing safe, clean drinking water to rural villages in Tanzania, Africa. I had a call with her team where we decided I would actively be there initiating this change, experiencing how those in the village live and determining what more we can do for the 785 million people who do not have access to clean water. Without thinking of the finances or how my business was going to run without me, the next thing I knew, I was on a flight to Africa.
Once there, I was offered the opportunity to build clean water wells and a library for a school. This led to a speaking opportunity at the local university on the topic of Growing a Thriving Business with the Power of Our Unique Experience.
This experience revealed to me the most powerful lessons and reflections of my life. The amount of laughter, joy, and playfulness that I experienced rolling in the dirt and holding hands with my fellow sisters was unmatched! These women walk three hours one-way to bring home a bucket of water, and they do it with a smile on their face. The sense of gratitude that we hold the ability to tune into at any given moment is here NOW. Looking into the eyes of the people I got to connect with, without knowing how to communicate in the native language, immediately guided me to be fully present and vulnerable.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
During the initial building phase of Upful Blends, I was also in the very early stages of my own personal healing. I was working a temp job at the time and when I told my family and friends my goal to create the biggest movement of plant medicine healing and consciousness embodiment, they began to tease me and told me not to quit my job for this new path.
This led to old feelings of self-doubt and uncertainty. I already felt like a completely different person; but now, with no support — what to do from here? So, I went to the park, cried and prayed for guidance and conviction to be born through me. The next day, I communicated with my family what I was going to do and how it made me feel to not have their support. I entered that dialogue with no expectation to convince or to receive anything in return, but to allow my voice to be heard.
The experience of having those around me not believe in me or support my dream was the catalyst for a new boundary boss to emerge and a new authentic self to reveal herself that wasn’t focused on people-pleasing anyone. This taught me to honor my truth, love embodying my most authentic self and to set clear and straightforward boundaries. Those that honored it, deserved to be in my life; and those who didn’t honor it, I lovingly cut ties with. I deserved to have a circle of people around me who also embodied compassion, love, and openness — even if it wasn’t for them.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
About 3–4 months after starting Upful Blends, I was feeling overwhelmed and burned out from the massive amounts of growth that was happening. I was unable to find the support I needed from an employee or assistant. I had cut ties with many of my old support systems and didn’t know who to turn to. I decided to reach out to an old friend, CJ, who was experienced in management and operations, and expressed to him the challenges that I was coming up against. He immediately began offering me different ideas and strategies that he could implement using Microsoft Excel that would save me a lot of time and support productivity. With CJ, I was able to express my most out-of-the-box thoughts and eccentric visions of structure and processes within the company while he dutifully chose to spend time — after his full-time job — building it out…and without pay! We call him the Excel Wizard!
For months I would also say to him, “CJ, you’re going to work at my company full time and I’m going to pay you what you bring to the table and even more!” He would laugh. Less than a year later, he was laid off from his job and I excitedly said, “Now you can work with me!” He booked a flight from Texas to Fort Lauderdale a few days later and has been working with me ever since.
CJ is now the Operations Manager for Upful Blends’ Warehouse and Customer Service Department where he continues to support me in all things operations and team management for our team of 20. Upful Blends would not be where it is today if it weren’t for his authentic and personable leadership, undying patience, and powerful critical thinking ability.
Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
Upful Blends has supported thousands of people in experiencing an unstoppable life of radical health and inner transformation through plant based and herbal healing. So many individuals are stagnant with uncertainty and fear when it comes to health, which has created further weakened immune systems and increased mental health challenges. At Upful Blends we’re providing detailed information in a high-spirited way and creating a movement grounded in love and inner development. By doing this, it gives others permission to operate from a space that’s nourishing to their body, mind, and spirit.
With sustainability and purpose at the core of our mission, Upful Blends also gives back to rural villages in Africa by planting water wells in Tanzania and offsetting our carbon footprint with each order by planting mangroves in Madagascar, which supplies jobs for the people in the community. We also work alongside the people of the Amazon with reforestation projects, where, so far, we’ve planted over 400 trees in 2021 alone.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
- Moments of stillness
Stillness and silence are something many of us don’t allow ourselves to experience often — if at all. Whether it’s driving to and from work, putting Netflix on for background noise or always talking and having something to say, silence is uncomfortable for many of us and being still can drive people mad. When we allow for our body and mind to be fully present in the now without focusing on doing, we allow for awareness to reveal itself and emotional intelligence to expand. We learn ourselves in an even deeper and more intimate way versus draining our thoughts and emotions based off fear.
Emotion is energy in motion and as we engage with people on social media, work in team environments, hang out with friends, and connect with the world, other people’s energy will add to your body’s memory and lower or raise your body’s frequency. Whether you keep a circle of people who are solid or not, we get to move our bodies in breaking up stagnant Chi in the body, releasing any thoughts or beliefs that aren’t ours, and somatically heal the body. Movement can look like dancing, hitting a soft object like a pillow, yoga, surfing, whatever nourishes your spirit and gets your body moving in ways you don’t normally. Your body will thank you a hundred times over!
3. Journaling/Voice Record
Journaling is a powerful way to lay out the thoughts, reflections, observations and desires that you hold and make them tangible. If you’re not one to enjoy writing, then try expressing your thoughts verbally using your phone’s voice note app. I have about 300+ voice memos from whenever I’m in deep thought or have a desire to express my feelings. I name each one based on what’s being expressed and tune back into them later, if needed.
4. Intermittent fasting
Implementing periods of fasting allows the body to shift from exerting energy in digesting to nourishing our cells, speeding up our metabolism, supporting oxygen flow and more. There are several ways to fast (make sure it’s approved by your doctor), but the way I currently do it is by eating my last meal before 8pm and eating the next day’s first meal at 12pm. That meal typically consists of fruit and spring water or fresh pressed juice.
5. Consume alkaline food
Replace hybrid or acidic foods with natural alkaline alternatives. Many hybrid foods create mucus in the body which leads to inflammation that turns to illness. For example, replacing all-purpose flour with an alkaline alternative flour like spelt or teff, or choosing wild rice over white rice are easy, healthy swaps.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
It would be the Upful Movement, where we activate remembrance of who we truly are within alkalinity and conscious embodiment. Each of our bodies are different, and the way we connect with a plant may have a different response from the next person. It’s important that we all get to learn ourselves in this intimate way of saying, “Okay, what truly serves my cells and my soul?”
We will support those in somatically stepping into exercises and environments to dissolve the mental and bodily limitations that restrict us from fully experiencing a life we deserve! A movement for me is when a collective vision and state of awareness can be held by all and for the greatest good of all those involved. It’s what we’re actively working towards now within Upful Blends, and we’re already in the beginning phase of this vision.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- Get a financial advisor! Whether you’re making 2,000 dollars a month or 100,000 dollars, the amount of money does not dictate the support that’s needed to be on top of your finances. Doing this from the very beginning allows you more knowledge and aptitude in making more sound decisions when it comes to liabilities and assets. It supports you in staying on top of taxes, and anything owed to the government. It’s about the tools and the support you create around you that makes navigating these times a piece of watermelon (we’ll leave the cake out, haha.)
- Leading your internal team is just as important (if not more) than leading the world. Your team is the backbone and foundation of how big your company will grow. If your turnover rate is high, then training new people takes away from profits and integrity for team appreciation and culture could be compromised. Your team desires to be heard, understood and cared about. If they do not feel that from leaders within the organization, then that is a recipe for disaster. Take out the time to connect with your team, even if your day is booked out and there’s a million things to complete.
- Create your company culture NOW. It’s better to build a house on an already laid foundation, than to attempt to build the foundation with an already laid top. If you began from the beginning of your business with envisioning the values you want your employees to hold, the behaviors that you want to allow in, the decisions you want them to make and clear guidance to camaraderie, along with communicating this and any changes repetitively to your team, then you have a powerful space for your team to grow into leadership roles and expand a level of loyalty and trust. Culture is an integral give-and-receive between you and those that are helping you in growing your business.
- Rest and play every day! Burnout is real no matter how in love with your passion you are. We were not created to be in front of artificial blue light, sitting in a chair and limiting our range of motion every day. We are created to be creative beings activating into play and rest consistently to give from the overflow of our inner cup. When we work consistently on our passion, our passion can become a job that feels more habitual and robotic than fun. Set aside 5 minutes of every hour to dance, hula-hoop or do something you loved to do as a child to bring out that inner goofiness and play. Whatever it is, aim to disconnect for a moment from the controlling and restricted state of vibration to a state of receptivity and play. Also, honor your intuitive guidance when it’s calling to pause and be still. As often as I can during the workday, I step outside to breathe in that divine prana energy, touch a tree to connect with nature and just be still.
- SOPs will save you hundreds of hours and even more headaches for you and your team. SOP’s are Standard Operating Procedures, which are put in place for any task or responsibility you have for your team. They provide step by step processes on how things are expected to be and hold the team member accountable for doing those things correctly. The more you grow, the more SOPs there will be and if you haven’t begun writing them as you go along, you’ll be left with a SOP To-Do List five pages long and a sense of overwhelm. SOP’s will not be the same forever, so don’t get attached to it. Begin them early and adjust them along your journey of growth.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
I would have to say mental health is dearest to me. Mental health is the very state of our perception and experience in life. The health and electricity of our minds birth a level of self-awareness that heals ancestral trauma, heals oneself from trauma embedded in the memory of our cells, mental limitations and fear states of identification. As a by-product, this self-awareness extends into our youth from generation to generation.
Mental health activates compassion for our animals which can deepen our receptivity to the conversation of veganism, plant-based products and preservation of the different species of animals that are becoming extinct.
In addition, it further allows us to be receptive to the transmitting wisdom from nature that is happening in each moment, whether it be to ground our feet barefoot to the earth to rid of inflammation, recycle or take sustainable actions in our day-to-day.
Mental health is all encompassing and our inter mental state holds a direct correlation to what the human experience will be at this moment in this lifetime.
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This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!