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.
1. 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. The best way to get away from it all, is to literally get away.
Pura Luna in Costa Rica aims to be the most profound destination for women to heal themselves and gain new perspectives on how to mindfully choose to live. With innovative retreats and collaborative healing endeavors, our wholeness center will be a catalyst for change both for individuals and, by extension, for the world through collective vibration, healing, and organizing.
With the understanding that not all women will be able to make a trip to Costa Rica, we also intend to have webinars, online courses, and an extensive online library for women the world over to access.
2. 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.
3. Where did this idea come from?
Ashley: This idea actually started from my mom. When I was a child, she would always talk about owning a spa or wellness center of sorts. I remember her getting blueprints done to support her vision and she would always say she wanted it to be in Arizona. I now think that’s why I subconsciously wanted to go to college there, only to realize that I hated desert living. As I grew up, I too realized a need for sacred space for healing and made it my mission to one day open up my own center for women.
4. 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.
5. How did you come to find the property?
Christin: We traveled to Costa Rica for vacation three years ago and happened to stay at this exact property for a week. We rented the recycled container guest home through a vacation rental website. Upon arrival, we both felt this incredibly spiritual resonance that was indescribable. After we spoke with the owners, we found out that the property was actually for sale. We both looked at each other and said, “This is it!” This was the exact place that we had been dreaming about to host the wholeness center we envisioned.
We spent the rest of our “vacation” trying to figure out how to buy it. From writing a business plan to creating a website for it, we were incredibly determined. Unfortunately, we were unable to come up with the means to purchase it at that time, but always kept the hope alive that someday it would be ours to share. Fast forward to this past December. We just happened to check an old email account that we had forgotten about and saw that the property was back on the market, but this time up for auction in an absolute sale. We both took this as a sign that the time to pursue our vision
was now and we have been doing all we can to make this a reality ever since.
6. Why Costa Rica?
The beauty and abundance of nature and the relaxed attitudes of the people. The nation has a wonderful mantra: Pura vida. The Ticos (as they call themselves) say this phrase at every opportunity. Directly, it translates to “pure life”, but can be used to express many things.
Pura vida means being completely present in your surroundings. Pura vida is all about accepting the beauty in the world no matter what may be happening around you. Pura vida is all about seeing every experience in life as a gift. Pura vida means choosing the path of happiness regardless of your circumstances
They have women-only banks, with all female employees. They also have a very strong medicine women’s community that we intend to collaborate with to encourage cross cultural exchange of knowledge. From our travels to this incredible country, we have made friendships and built relationships with Ticas and their women’s communities. We look forward to hosting local women in addition to international women to create a diverse all- inclusive setting for women to learn from each other.
7. 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.
8. 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. We are at major risk of losing the land at the end of March. Without the support and collective funds from the women’s community, this vision and intentional community could be put on hold indefinitely.
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.
9. 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 this destination to find a sisterhood like no other, is the greatest gift that we can give. This will be our biggest contribution yet. We invite women to be a part of this international revolution. We encourage them to not only imagine themselves in our space, but to manifest it into a reality. their reality. This is for them. This is for all women.