Interview by Lauren Ash. Photos courtesy of Thoughtfully Magazine.
It's always empowering to connect with other women of color leading the charge for more representation of women of color in wellness, media, and publishing. Brandie Gilliam is just that woman for me. As founder and creative director of Thoughtfully Magazine, she leads the charge in not only showcasing how we may all live thoughtfully through actions like eco-conscious consumerism and non-toxic beauty practices, but also in standing confidently in her own skin as a proud woman of color committed to holistic wellness. That's a statement in and of itself, my friends, as we still live in a world where we're told that wellness and self-care aren't within our reach.
I applaud Brandie for intentionally bringing other young women of color wellness thought leaders into her fold; for example, former BGIO Art Director Zakkiyyah Najeebah and I were highlighted in Issue 7, our latest BGIO podcast guest Dr. Tiffany Lester shares her wisdom as an integrative wellness professional, and you may now get Issue 8 featuring Raw Cells founder Natasha James! You may have been inspired by Brandie's conversation during season one of the BGIO podcast; well—lucky you, here's more! Enjoy our chat, and be sure to follow Brandie through Thoughtfully Magazine's journey on Instagram @ThoughtfullyMagazine, Twitter @ThoughtfullyMag, and on Facebook.
Lauren Ash: Who is Brandie Gilliam?
Brandie Gilliam: I'm a woman of color who lives to love, create and inspire. I dream big, aspire to total wellness and believe life is best lived passionately, beautifully and thoughtfully every day.
Lauren Ash: Beautifully put! And this is illuminated so strongly through Thoughtfully Magazine! What does Black Girl In Om mean to you?
Brandie Gilliam: Creating space for black women to breathe easier and sit in our sacred space...to be at total ease with ourselves so that we can be at ease with others, and loving every bit of our black girl magic.
Lauren Ash: I really appreciate you calling attention to ease. In my yoga practice, I consider ease a lot. Am I breathing to bring ease to what would otherwise present struggle? Am I overcomplicating certain postures, when a little relaxation and gentle self-talk might help? Ease just might be my keyword of the summer! Brandie, how do you identify with Black Girl In Om's mission?
Brandie Gilliam: As a woman of color, I see the world and experience it differently. As a magazine editor and creative director, I naturally see the world in photos and layouts but I'm also acutely aware of all of its glorious color and diversity. I naturally see the beauty in all shades, shapes and textures and want those stories to be authentically told and represented. My goal at Thoughtfully Magazine is to inspire women to be more of who they really are and support their purpose in this world through wellness and self-care.
Lauren Ash: You know I love that you focus so much on women! And we have a lot to learn from you. Share with us: what are your self-care and self-love practices?
Brandie Gilliam: From the foods I eat and the products I put on my skin to the words I say to myself and how I move my body, I do it from a place of love. I eat well so I can live well and have the energy and nutrients I need to show up daily for myself and my family. You know the saying: "You can pay the farmer now or the doctor later." I eat as many whole foods and plant-based meals as possible...not as a restriction but because it resonates with me to feed my body what it was originally intended and made to eat. I don't eat out a lot and when I do, I support businesses that have taken the time to source locally and use organic ingredients. With the growing demand of consumption and consumerism in our culture today, pesticides and processed foods are at an all-time high. The more I learn about the way our bodies are constructed and best thrive, the more I want to do better for myself and the planet. I always want to know exactly what I'm putting in and on my body.
I've been using non-toxic beauty products and studying their ingredients for over 16 years because it makes sense to me to use products that not only perform and provide the results I want, but are also good for me and the environment. I love cleansing and moisturizing my skin with high-quality, organic, botanical ingredients. It's a complete sensory experience for me and my skin constantly thanks me with its radiating glow.
Lauren Ash: Brandie, I don't know if you know just HOW much you have inspired by near year-long journey of committing to non-toxic beauty and household products. I am pretty obsessed with finding how how clean I can get in my space and with products I put on my body. Hearing you speak about this at W.E.L.L. Summit did a number on my soul, as we spoke about in our podcast chat together. What else do you advocate as a self-love practice?
Brandie Gilliam: I'm also really into speaking words of purpose, affirmation, intention and faith over my life. I tell myself regularly that I'm more than enough, loved deeply and am more than capable and worthy. I haven't always felt completely confident in being me and it's been hard navigating this world as a women of color, but I've found so much healing in facing the insecurities, fears and hurts, and turning them around with the loving power of my words.
Lauren Ash: Thank you for calling attention to the power of our words, Brandie. You know I'm so about this and I share a new monthly mantra every single month! Your affirmation will undoubtedly speak to our readers, as much as they have spoken to me. Now, what's one ritual you recommend more women of color adopt to cultivate inner beauty and wellness?
Brandie Gilliam: Drinking a green beauty smoothie daily (blend together a handful of organic spinach and/or kale greens, your favorite organic frozen fruit, water and a little raw honey to taste...have fun playing with and exploring ingredients) and telling yourself one thing that you're grateful for and another thing that you love about yourself.
Lauren Ash: What's one wellness product you can't live without?
Brandie Gilliam: Oils! I can't live without my botanical based face, body and hair oils. I also can't live without my yoga mat, essential oils and diffuser, kombuchas, and of course Thoughtfully Magazine!
Lauren Ash: Yes! We're going to have to swap favorite oil combinations later! Aromatherapy is such an incredible and immediate game-changer.
I appreciate you for sharing with us!