“Life is a continual process of having the rug pulled out from under your feet,” says Buddhist teacher, Pema Chodron. This has been particularly true in the past few months. Collectively, we are going through a prolonged and accelerated transformation that triggers major emotions for most of us.
As we grieve, adapt, and juggle various responsibilities, it can be easy to forget the soothing, transformative power of compassion, and of small gestures that help us stay in the flow of the everyday moment, balanced, and strong.
Growing a digital direct-to-consumer brand is not conducive to inner peace during the best of times. These are the worst of times for so many people. And yet, it is precisely now that we got to experience the greatest impact of compassionate gestures.
Even before we incorporated Mereltä, our hair care company, we were sitting down and talking with lots of people about the pain of hair loss. It’s not only about the hair. It’s about self-expression, and vitality, as well. Many women and men who lose hair struggle with self-confidence; they feel that they miss out on opportunities available to others; they want to be seen, and to feel great inside and out.
As a result of these heartfelt conversations, we set out to formulate a safe, and clean scalp treatment, free of sulfates and parabens, to support not only hair growth, but also our consumers’ overall health. Some of our consumers battle immune conditions responsible for hair loss and wanted to be sure that our scalp treatment was safe to use for the whole person.
When Covid-19 hit earlier this year, it seemed rather peculiar to continue to speak about hair. The world had just turned upside down. Did hair matter anymore?
It turns out that it does. We learned that as we started listening to our consumers for as long as needed, and as deeply as possible, just as we did in the beginning, now to better understand their Covid-19 stories, and priorities.
Some consumers lost their jobs; some others were overwhelmed by the lack of financial prospects; grand kids graduated, and some grandparents could not be there to celebrate them; people were anxious about the uncertainty looming ahead. Some consumers shared that, while in isolation and absent their social habits, they could barely recognize themselves in the mirror.
Consumers spoke to us about hair because even under dire circumstances, hair was an important part of who they were. Alas, stress is a major culprit for hair loss.
These conversations have evolved over the past months, yet three messages stood out for us, consistently:
1. Prioritize and develop meaningful relationships. Trust, connection, and better listening became essential for many of our consumers. That was true for us as a brand, too.
2. Return to the basics and focus on safety: consumers shared that now less was more— for instance in skincare and haircare they focused on health and maintenance over appearance. Less washing, and styling of hair, but more scalp care to address the root of hair loss. For us as a brand, it meant laser focus on consumer safety and intensified support to see consumers enjoy results. Any small win matters, and we wanted consumers to be happy.
3. Choose mindfulness and slow down: we learned from our consumers to not underestimate the power of small daily gestures to bring joy. We run a survey to ask consumers to share the one thing that they did consistently that made them relax and be more joyful during these difficult times. Some consumers did puzzles, others knitted or launched an art project; others made new recipes with their partners, and others, yet, took time for themselves, stretching, running, meditating, and pampering the body.
One consumer quoted Eleanor Brownn: ”Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
Just six months ago, while in pursuit of bigger and larger business accomplishments, these small gestures may have seemed irrelevant. In the past months, we’ve seen how slowing down, and listening can change one person’s day for the better, and how one kind word can turn a situation around. When we show up with presence and compassion, we adapt more easily to the challenges we face daily.
Self-care reinforces one’s trust in one’s own ability to recover and regenerate. When we feel better, we are more willing to be kind, and to see the world as manageable. The world may just return the favor and be friendlier.
And when life pulls the rug from underneath me, which happens often lately, I remember to slow down, get some perspective, and take a deep breath so that I can be more intentional and present.