Nikisha Brunson Uncovers Gems to Turn Your Creative Space Into a Recharge Station

Interview by Chelcee Johns

Big curly hair, abundantly genuine laugh, vulnerable heart and powerful story Nikisha Brunson is the health and beauty guru who’s created a life of both flourishing creative success and wellness. The Urban Bush Babes co-founder and all-natural healer at Folie, her 100% natural apothecary line, reveals her journey to fine-tuning both her work and wellness and the wisdom is universal. Toronto born, Brooklyn brewed and Austin, Texas living the wife and mother knows just how important it is to create a physical space and tribe that brings a sense of calm (and fun) into our workspace.

But creating a space that supports both our work and wellness, is not always an easy feat. Nikisha’s journey of living with ADHD, depression and anxiety makes the need for a self-crafted space even more vital to her mental health and wellness. Dive into our conversation and prepare to expand your wellness tribe with this rebel woman.  As I speak with Nikisha, she is headed to pick up music in Austin to cover an event for South By Southwest, managing traffic, juggling laughs and taking me into her daily life.

This Women’s History Month here at BGIO we’re all about what it means to be a Rebel Woman. I believe your openness and honest vulnerability is one way we see you rebel in the mental health and wellness space, even with the launch of Folie. How does your physical space support this work?  

“I found I’ve been most creative since I bought a house with my husband in Austin. We have a lot of natural light and I made sure we purchased a home that had a kitchen connected to the living room. It’s very open and our whole house is painted white. I need a lot of white and neutral tones, because I deal with depression having all that sunlight coming in is amazing for me! Also, having plants around is a must.

I actually love working in my kitchen because it’s open to my living room. I can turn on Netflix and binge watch something I’ve looked forward to seeing while I’m working.

Or, I’ll put on music, it just depends on what my mood is. I love house music if I want to get up and moving, and sometimes that’s what I do. I get up and I start dancing. I dance to everything!” Nikisha laughs as joy is transmitted over the phone lines.

“Or, I’ll listen to rap music because I’m just like I have to get shit done.”

Nikisha goes into her personal hype woman voice. The one we all turn to when it’s go-time as she says, “Come on Nikisha, get shit done!” an octave lower than before.

“And sometimes I’m just in my little Sade vibe and I pour myself a glass of wine. I just love working in my kitchen, because I have a large space and the food is around. So, I’m constantly drinking tea and water throughout the day, snacking on something healthy. To have a clean, open space with lots of light is very important to me.”

I’m completely ready to join you in this space! There’s natural light, neutral tones, life-giving plants, mood music, healthy snacks, tea, some dancing – an arsenal for self-care aligned with your daily work. How did you learn that this is what you needed to bring along to your creative space? Did you try the wrongs things first?

“I guess living in New York and being raised in New York, I was kind of forced into this anxiety-ridden, fast-paced environment which is one of the worst things for people dealing with anxiety and ADHD, which I have both and I didn’t know at the time. Moving out of New York and into a slower paced environment and, also, changing my friends around me; getting rid of friends that would make me have panic attacks or who were very controlling and bullying to create a new tribe and space. A tribe that is very sensitive to who you are and they are not trying to change you and not trying to control you and they give you your space for what you need.

Photography by Katherine Squier.

Photography by Katherine Squier.

 In Austin, living here is what I needed. I needed friends that were okay if I didn’t talk to them for days or weeks, because sometimes I just get in those slumps where I feel overwhelmed. In those times, I just need them to be considerate of that. And also slowing down because I was doing a lot in New York.”

From Brooklyn, to a stint of living in the DMV area, to Austin -  I’m wondering if there are a few items you travel with or even routines that help you get into your zone of creative work and wellness?

“I love yerba mate (tea). I found out that caffeine really helps me focus because my job means I can be sitting a lot if I’m not making things. If I’m just packaging items I can get really tired, and I’m like ‘yeah, I need that yerba mate’ to give me that dose of caffeine.

I also make sure that I’m eating properly throughout the day because we tend to get more anxious or cannot properly focus if our blood sugar is dropping throughout the day. So that’s important for me too, that I eat and I take my supplements and vitamins. I also enjoy scents, so there’s typically palo santo burning.

“Ohhhhh and CBD (hemp) Oil, that’s my shiiitttt!” she says laughing.

“It’s my new thing! If I feel overwhelmed or anxious or I have a lot going on, I take a couple of drops of that under my tongue and I’m good.”

I saw you post about that after your speaking gig with Create & Cultivate and was like oh, I need to grab this.

“Yes! I’m mellow for hours, almost too chill. I do a lot of speaking engagements and collaborating and it can be a little stressful at times, and I now I must bring my CBD oil everywhere!”

On the flip-side of that question, we often read in various business and productivity magazines the top things that we’re supposed to do like making a to-do list, which a really long one actually gives me anxiety. Are there common tactics for creativity and productivity that you’ve found just don’t fit and what does fit better?

“I tried to do a big calendar and it worked for some time, but then I realized that I’m more of a little post-it note person, so I’ll have posts-its all over the house. I’m not conventional or traditional when it comes to that stuff and it’s another issue with my ADHD.

Here’s what does work for me:

·       Setting alarms and reminders, as well as sticky notes.

·       Writing stuff down and crossing things off as I go.

·       Allowing myself lots of breaks.

 These are really great for people with ADHD and people who are dealing with anxiety.

And after all the creative work is done for the day, what happens next? How do you continue a cool-down, so to speak, after a busy day?

Definitely working out and going to the gym; working out is a great way for me to get my endorphins going and feel more relaxed. And definitely music again, music is a huge factor and honestly a good healthy, home-cooked meal and Netflix… as well as asking my husband ‘Can you rub my feet?’ she squeals and chuckles.

Yes! Those things sound amazing, especially that meal and feet rub. Nikisha, you’ve shared so much about how you came into knowing what worked to bring both wellness and creativity to your physical space.  Where would you recommend others start on their own journey to figuring out what works for them?

They need to ask themselves a few questions and consider starting a little journal where you take note of these things:

·       When do you feel the most calm and productive?

·       Is the morning, evening, or mid-afternoon the best time for you?

·       Do you need more hours of sleep?

·       When do you feel like you’re starting to crash?

·       Who is around you that gives you anxiety?

·       Who are the people who energize and motivate you?

Nikisha, thank you so much. I already have a few things I want to do to revitalize my personal creative space!

As we do the inner-work our outer-spaces are just as important. Let us know one or two of your must-have items in your creative space in the comments.

P.s. Checkout Nikisha’s favorite music artists to work to below!

·       Kaytranada

·       SG Lewis

·       Drake’s More Life

·       Kid Cudi’s Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’

·       Travis Scott

·       Frank Ocean

·       The Chomatics