Interview by Lauren Ash. Photography by Kim Li.
I love mantras, affirming messages, and check-ins that boost my wellbeing. So, when I was introduced to Marah Lidey and Naomi Hirabayashi, co-founders of Shine Text, a few months ago, I was so overjoyed! It seems simple, right? Daily text messages to your phone that provide you with affirmations geared at helping you thrive. I didn't realize that it would be something that I would sincerely look forward to each morning, and something that would be a powerful, mindful supplement to my new daily meditation practice. In this BGIO Beauty Feature, I chat with Marah Lidey about the origins of Shine Text, how she connects with BGIO's mission, and the hilarious way she finds self-care in her own life. Be sure to download the Shine Text app (sign-up here), and follow along both Shine and Marah's journeys: @ShineText on Instagram and Twitter and @Marahml on Instagram and Twitter.
Lauren Ash: First question. Who are you?
Marah Lidey: I’m a friend, partner to an amazing man, daughter, cat mom, big sister—and as of April 23rd—a brand new auntie.
I’m also the cofounder of Shine: making wellbeing more accessible for everyday people. My cofounder and I are two women of color who met at work six years ago and found ourselves acting as peer mentors; we supported each other on everything from career growth to personal finance to our passion projects and realized that there was no product or service that helped everyday people navigate their highs and lows in the way we helped one another.
We wanted to create something to normalize the things that people struggle with and to provide personalized insights on how you can accomplish your goals. So we created Shine (more on that later).
Lauren: Congratulations on the new addition to your family! And I absolutely love that Shine was birthed first and foremost out of a powerful relationship that you found with another woman of color. There’s so much strength and possibility that happens when we come together. Deun and I spoke about this recently with Fran (aka Hey Fran Hey) in our latest podcast episode!
So before we get more into your amazing platform Shine, I’d love to know: what does Black Girl In Om mean to you?
Marah: It’s indicative of a movement away from the singular-branded approaches we used to apply to take care of ourselves—i.e., that you only need your faith or your family to take care of your mental wellbeing and you’re all set.
It’s so empowering to me to see brilliant women of color taking a stand and demanding a more diverse combination of tools to help them find their calm and practice self-care.
Lauren: And it's empowering to be living during a time where, because of the digital space, we're able to witness more and more women of color taking stands together! How do you identify with Black Girl In Om’s mission?
Marah: No matter what generation we grew up in, every woman of color has some set of stories of how she was made to feel bad because she was different. Whether because of our hair, our skin, our traditions, our routines, our families, our interests, etc.—we can all remember a time we’ve felt shame for not fitting into a box.
The idea of a community of WOC focused on wellness is so beautiful to me—not only because those who have been oppressed are in greater need of a communal bond but because through our struggles we can find even greater strength.
Self-care and self-love has to be intersectional for it to uniquely serve the needs of those in search of it. Black Girl in Om not only recognizes that, but celebrates it, and feels like safe place that women of color can call home.
Lauren: I’m so happy to hear how you interpret and identify with the value of Black Girl In Om! Every time we come together for Self-Care Sunday here in Chicago, what you shared above is so deeply felt: “through our struggles we can find even greater strength.”
So, you’re clearly a huge advocate for wellness, Marah. What are your self-care & self-love practices?
Marah: I make it a point to aggressively dance (literally like nobody’s watching with very over-the-top, average dance moves) in my living room at least once a week. I highly recommend spending some QT with an Alexa and picking your favorite decade. She’s great for that.
I always have a good book on hand—one that has nothing to do with my company. While I love to read for professional development, there’s something so relaxing to me about escaping into a dramatic murder-mystery.
And I get outside. I love to bike and go on neighborhood walks through Bedstuy with my partner.
Lauren: I love aggressive dancing too, ha! I dance monthly at Party Noire, and I also love slight dancing while taking a warm shower, even though it gets a little slippery!
Reading for pleasure and curiosity is also a love of mine. I’ve been reading about the chakras all throughout May, and am almost done with Shonda Rhimes' Year of Yes!
What’s one ritual you recommend more women of color adopt to cultivate inner beauty and wellness?
Marah: Double down on the things that make you feel like you and stop feeling guilty about it. Whether it’s Netflix, a bubble bath, gossip mags, a glass of red wine a night, etc. The moment we start to find calm in something we enjoy, we’re often tempted to snap ourselves out of it, in hopes of making sure we’re alert enough not to miss anything important. Truth is? We’re all working way harder than we realize. Take a guilt-free 10 minutes (at least!) here and then to rejuvenate. Those emails will still be there, promise.
Lauren: You're speaking so much truth. We work so hard, as women of color, and often take others' burdens on, as well. It's so important to really ease in and soak up rest and rejuvenation FULLY.
What’s one wellness product you cannot live without?
Marah: I have to take a sec here to share more about Shine. Not only did we start the company because we didn’t see an easy, accessible way for people to take care of themselves - but we didn’t see ourselves represented in traditional wellness content. If you sign up for Shine, you’ll get daily texts with research-backed tools you can use to practice self-love and self-care—and in a way that speaks to you personally.
Lauren: Ever since connecting with you and Naomi a couple of months ago, I downloaded Shine. Every morning at 9:01 a.m., I’ve been encouraged with messages customized just for me. Sometimes the message is eerily spot on: how do y’all know my life?! But seriously: I’m grateful for these daily pick-me-ups and perspective checks. It’s been supplementing my more consistent daily meditation practice, too! Thank you so much for developing this digital holistic homie! Thanks so much for this chat, Marah!
Anyone reading this: click here to sign-up for free Shine love!