The Heal Room in Pawtucket, Rhode Island is an inspiring marriage of wellness and sustainability. Co-Owners and good friends Ana and Karen have truly found their niche and their passion in this fun, interesting shop. Ana and Karen have only been in their shop for two months, but you’d never know! It’s brimming with life and has a beautiful presence on the outside. Inside feels cozy, warm, and unique; much like its owners. Ana and Karen wanted to “get back to something simple” when they both moved back to their hometown of Pawtucket and kind of fell into business together. These good friends have known each other since High School and it seems almost like fate that they traveled both to California and then back to Rhode Island at the same times--as if their paths were meant to cross again, in a bigger way. There’s one thing they are both clearly in agreement on and that is the idea of mindfulness.
“We work overtime, all week,” Ana says.
“We quit our nine to five, to work twenty-four hours.”
“It’s all about mindfulness,” they both say when describing what connects their interests. Both Ana and Karen started with their own separate businesses before coming back together to create The Heal Room; something they see as eventually being a “one-stop-shop.” Ana describes the business as “its own entity...one that evolves over time.” Both women really wanted to create The Heal Room as a way of giving back to Pawtucket and getting back to their roots in a way that they felt their community was truly missing. They noticed an overwhelming lack of accessibility to wellness and sustainability in their hometown.
Ana and Karen just had their first pop-up and have other fun goals for 2021. Top on their list is starting a podcast! “We always have dope, intentional conversations,” Ana says, “and every time we say we should have recorded that!” Both women have a wealth of knowledge and really want to teach and share their insight with their community. “It matters because you’re teaching something,” Karen says. Karen enjoys giving a tour to visitors who come in and explaining the things they sell. These women want to provide different “channels of information,” making the podcast they are close to starting, a welcome addition. On their way to evolving into a one-stop-shop for sustainable products and wellness goodies, these women are always on the lookout to supply the things that their clients are asking for. They strive to keep the connection strong and provide the opportunity to teach the lucky people that wander into their shop; especially Pawtucket natives. Ana and Karen both feel very strongly about Pawtucket, giving back, and “bettering their own community.” A podcast will be yet another way to share their knowledge and experiences, and they are so excited to reach a wider audience with these conversations that have previously been kept between the two of them.
“We all could heal one another right now...sometimes just talking with strangers is healing enough.”
“One of our goals is to kind of connect with people we grew up with” Ana explains; “People are doing different things, they are doing awesome things!” Karen adds. She explains that during this tumultuous time in the world, “We all could heal one another right now...sometimes just talking with strangers is healing enough.” In addition to their podcast goals, they also want to have events at the shop, like workshops.
“It’s all about being more mindful in your day-to-day life.”
The women laughed when I started asking about the best and worst parts of owning a small business. Ana never imagined that she would be a small business owner. Her favorite thing is that she feels like she still gets to teach (like she used to) and that she’s doing her part. She jokes that she feels like, when it comes to business, she “doesn’t know what (she’s) doing.” At the end of the day, they both agree that it’s cool, even with its challenges, that they are doing something for themselves. Karen is glad to be doing something that she truly loves, and is passionate about. We took this opportunity to commiserate about how people often think owning a small business is easy. “We work overtime, all week,” Ana says. “We quit our nine to five, to work twenty-four hours.” With all three of us being small business owners, we had a blast discussing the misconceptions behind being a small business owner.
Something that’s unique for them? They don’t know The Heal Room without Covid-19. “We are making the best of the situation,” they say. They are an amazing example of what can be done even in the harshest of climates and have even sectioned off Tuesdays to be by appointment only for guests that are compromised or want to feel safer shopping for goodies that you really can’t find elsewhere in Pawtucket. Ana and Karen love that they are contributing to society through things they are each truly, truly passionate about through The Heal Room. “It makes sense to work together,” Karen explains, “sometimes people are surprised that we are working together.” But they both agree that it’s all about vibes. They want to break the stigmas about both healing/wellness and living sustainably. “It’s all about being more mindful in your day-to-day life.”
From Left to Right: Kaylee Bashaw, Lexus R. S. Fernandez, Ana Duque, Karen Mejias.
With so many things to browse in the stunning store, it’s hard to pick and choose which items are the most fun to sell. But you can bet I made them think about it! Karen’s favorite thing she sells is the ginger shots! “It’s just fun, we get to take the shots altogether,” she says, lighting up. I can vouch for this; we took one during our interview and it was truly delicious. The shots are good for digestion, antiviral, and boost your energy too. Ana feels very passionately about the deodorant she sells because she makes it herself! She also loves to sell organic cotton menstrual pads, explaining that she’s all about “woman power.” “My life changed,” she says about when she made the switch to using them herself, “and I was doing something beneficial for the environment.” Karen agrees, adding: “It’s that feel-good thing we keep coming back to.” Both of them just want to help people feel good, which is such an amazing contribution to the world. “Life is made up of these beautiful moments,” Karen says, “That’s what it’s all about.”
Check out their website or visit them on 574 Smithfield Ave in Pawtucket, Rhode Island!