Alexandria Gilleo of ‘My Zen Den’: “Words of affirmation and mantras”

Words of affirmation and mantras. Over the summer, I wrote little love notes to myself and taped them all over the mirrors around the house. They are still there and nice little reminders to myself, I suggest everyone will do the same as a feel-good, pick me up. Chin up, stand tall and wear a posture […]

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Words of affirmation and mantras. Over the summer, I wrote little love notes to myself and taped them all over the mirrors around the house. They are still there and nice little reminders to myself, I suggest everyone will do the same as a feel-good, pick me up.

Chin up, stand tall and wear a posture belt. Own your confidence.

At times it feels like wellness or elevating one’s well being, is diametrically opposed to high achievement and high performance in one’s career. The stress, mental energy, long hours, lack of restful sleep and preoccupation that result from a high-achievement life seem to directly inhibit wellness. And yet, in order to sustain the creativity, flexibility, mental acuity and resilience that are necessary for high performance, wellness and wellbeing of the mind, body and soul are also mandatory. So how do we achieve both? This is the question I’m hoping to answer through conversations with high-achieving leaders and influencers who are practicing their own philosophies about how to maintain their wellbeing.

As part of our series about “Social Media Influencers Share Their Top Self Care, Wellness, and Beauty Tips, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alexandria Gilleo, a Global Campaign and Celebrity Makeup Artist, beauty and wellness expert, biohacker, content creator, entrepreneur and professional pivoter. After spending more than 10 years creating looks for celebrity clients, including Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris, and for global brand campaigns, her flourishing business came to a halt at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

During this time, Alexandria turned her attention to creating even more content on her social media accounts, where she shares her own beauty and wellness routines, along with tips, tricks and recommendations. In January 2021, Alexandria opened My Zen Den in Beacon, NY to offer her online community a IRL place to relax and rejuvenate focusing on mindfulness, beauty, and wellness.

Previously, Alexandria has worked with clients including Camila Coehlo, Sophia Roe, and Adriana Lima. She and her work have been featured on Well + Good, Vogue and Westchester Magazine. You can also find her signature fresh, radiant looks featured in brand campaigns at Sephora and Ulta.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory of how you came upon this career path and to where you are today?

Thank you for having me! Growing up, I never enjoyed school. I often skipped class, pulled pranks, and broke the rules. After getting kicked out of high school and dropping out of college after a few short days, I wanted to start working and I knew I wanted to be my own boss after getting fired from my first job as a telemarketer. Art and beauty always fascinated me. Since a young age, I’ve always admired the unique beauty in every person that I’ve encountered and I wanted to help others embrace their own. Picking up a makeup brush and painting looks was something I naturally gravitated toward. I fell in love with connecting with clients, hearing their stories, and helping them achieve their ultimate desired look to make them feel confident. I learned a lot about business fairly quickly. I was not just doing makeup, I was sending out invoices, networking, creating contracts, negotiating deals, commuting, marketing, building an artistry team, plus more. Over time I realized the profound interconnection between mindfulness, beauty and wellness. I began to shift my focus to wellness and discovered how beautiful we can feel when we start with taking care of our insides first. Eventually, that led me to opening up My Zen Den, a wellness studio for the community located in Beacon, NY.

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?

I’m super grateful for my family. Like most families, we have our differences and major ups and downs, yet they have continued to provide me with love and support along the way. I’m grateful that I grew up in a home that as a child where we were taught we could achieve any dream we set out to achieve.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

I arrive at a big production set to do makeup for a new client who happens to be an epic CEO at a very well known company. I forgot blotting papers, one of my main products for the job. I must have left them outside of my kit when I was packing the night before. I ran to the bathroom, have a two minute moment of panic as I’m staring at the toilet cover sheets above the toilet. LIGHT BULB MOMENT. I walk over to the toilet cover sheets and realize it’s the same material as blotting papers. Guess who cut them up and used them on Mister CEO? No one had any idea and it worked great, if not better. Everything is figure-out-able.

As an influencer, you have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. In fact perhaps most people who tried to follow a career path like yours did not succeed. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but know that their dreams might be dashed?

When you are dedicated to providing value for your audience, your tribe, your community and truly enjoy it, then you’re already successful. I recommend staying in your own lane. Don’t play the comparison game and only follow a few accounts that provide you some sort of value. Be cautious with the content you consume. I like to stick to one person for beauty, one for wellness, one for entertainment, one for my spirituality, etc. When you follow too many people, you can get caught up and end up scrolling instead of focusing on providing valuable information or entertainment for your community.

Can you share with our readers some of your strategies you’ve used to build an engaged, loyal, and large online community?

I don’t particularly focus on getting more “followers.” I focus on creating a platform that creates value and builds community through my experiences, my stories, and my knowledge. I engage with my tribe through DMs and comments. I’ve been able to turn some of these social media “followers” into friendships and bonds. These are people I can relate with and care about. When you’re authentic, people know, they sense it. They tell their friends, they share, they build for you. That’s how you build an engaged and loyal community.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview. In my work, I focus on how one can thrive and care for oneself in three areas: body, mind, and heart.

You are a busy person with a demanding schedule, can you share with our readers two self care routines, practices or treatments that help your body thrive? (Kindly share a story or an example for each.)

As busy as I am, I don’t skip my morning routines and rituals. Ya know, I am “known” as the girl with the 17 step morning routine. I won’t bore you with all the details but a non-negotiable for me is mediation. Meditation is my time to get still and ground me, interruption-free. Sometimes it’s breath-work, other times it’s a guided meditation (Insight timer is a great app that’s free), and at times it can be sitting outside in the silence of nature. Meditations can be 5 minutes and other days it can be an hour, all really depending on my schedule.

Another non-negotiable for me is my skincare routine. I find joy in beauty regimens. I apply my skincare products with love, care, and intention. Having these little moments are essential for me to connect and nourish my feminine energy and of course, add radiance to my skin. My favorite products are from Paula’s Choice.

Can you share with us two routines that you use to help your mind or heart to thrive? (Kindly share a story or example for each.)

Infrared sauna has profound healing benefits both physically and mentally. As soon as I step into the sauna, I immediately feel tranquil and feel myself sweat and melt away daily stress. I use the infrared sauna at least 5x a week.

Listening to podcasts have a major influence on my mental health. I enjoy being a student of life and constantly learning and growing. I often find myself asking, “how can I be better than the day before?” Podcasts really help educate, whether it’s in the entrepreneurship realm, the spiritual realm, health, beauty, or wellness world, I find a lot of value and joy listening to podcasts daily.

Can you share 3 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Words of affirmation and mantras. Over the summer, I wrote little love notes to myself and taped them all over the mirrors around the house. They are still there and nice little reminders to myself, I suggest everyone will do the same as a feel-good, pick me up.

Dancing and movement. There’s nothing more fun than to dance around and move your body. It pumps all the feel-good endorphins and is a fun way to feel free and beautiful.

Chin up, stand tall and wear a posture belt. Own your confidence.

Is there a particular resource, a practitioner, expert, book, or podcast that made a significant impact on you and helped you to thrive? Can you share a story about that with us?

Sah D’Simone has worked as my spiritual life coach in the past. His content on social media brings value, humor, and spiritually sassy joy.

A book I’d recommend is Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl. It’s a true story based on a psychiatrist’s experience surviving the concentration camps during World War II. It’s a fantastic read to learn how to cope with any kind of suffering, find meaning in every situation, and move forward in life. Highly recommend to anyone and everyone.

Do you have a story about the strangest, most bizarre or funniest wellness treatment that you’ve ever experienced?

In Tulum a few years back I signed up for a solo rebirthing ceremony at a well-known spa in the area. Imagine this to be half spa treatment/half ceremony. The practitioner wrapped me in mud and banana leaves and then (gently) hit me with a stick to get out all the negative energy. At the end of the ceremony, I was instructed to walk out into the ocean with a bowl of flowers that I had to set intentions into and then proceed to release them into the ocean waves. Well, I fell on coral and the bowl and the flowers flew up into the air and drifted away into the ocean without me finishing my intentions. The practitioner laughed. It wasn’t the exact spa experience I was expecting, to say the least.

As an influencer, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I feel passionate about several causes. One cause I feel super passionate about is eliminating plastic use and doing what we can to create a sustainable, organic world. Most plastic, even recycled will end up in a landfill site or in our oceans. Most plastic will become microscopic and end up in our food, water, soil, etc. causing endocrine disruption and pollution. I think it’s important to use your voice, pick up litter whenever you see it, and educate yourself on this topic. Switch to beeswax food wrap, bring your own water bottle places, shop at zero-waste supermarkets, switch to loose tea, switch to metal straws instead of plastic ones, buy less, there’s so much we can do to make a difference.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂

Anthony Kiedis from Red Hot Chili Peppers. His book Scar Tissue completely captivated me.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

I’m on Instagram @alexgill

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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