What happens when you throw nearly 500 superfood-loving wellness enthusiasts in the room with some of the biggest influencers in the field? The third annual W.E.L.L. Summit spanned two days and included panels as well as over a dozen breakout sessions, all with a focus on providing a “360 degree view of wellness and natural lifestyle.”
Wellness is a bit of a buzzword lately and it seems like you can’t turn a corner without seeing a turmeric latte or infrared sauna here in New York City. The W.E.L.L. Summit seeks to connect wellness warriors with the newest and greatest brands and innovations, while exposing them to many aspects of the field. The first day of the summit consisted of speakers and panels, while the second day was fully “choose your own adventure” of smaller breakout workshops.
There were a couple of themes that strung through out every session I attended: authenticity and determining your core values. Every panelist and speaker stressed the importance of being genuine with your communities as an influencer, pursuing topics and trends that are meaningful to you— if you do so, the influencers argue, then the right people will be attracted to you and your following will grow. After all, “your vibe attracts your tribe,” is the slogan of the summit! The same is true, they argued, about pursuing wellness trends— follow those that work for you and your body, mind, and soul, not those that work for others. To get there, many panelists and speakers explained to turn inwards towards your core values, and what fulfills you. That is how you can narrow down your focus in the field, but also your focus in life so that you can pursue a life that serves you.
The “Live WELL Panel” focused on trends in the wellness industry. Moderated by yoga teacher and author Sara DiVello, the panel featured Latham Thomas of Mama Glow, health coach and yoga instructor Koya Webb, and Josh Rosebrook of his namesake skincare line. The panel focused heavily on the mental and emotional side of wellness rather than the materialistic items needed to live “well.” When discussing what wellness trends work for the panelists, DiVello shared, “yoga is about being flexible in your thinking, not just your asanas.” It is easy, she explained, to get caught up in the yoga culture seen online. On that note, Rosebrook shared that comparison will be the death of us. Thomas explained that you do not need an extensive pantry to live “well,” you need to look inward and see what serves you. That’s where true wellness comes from.
Perhaps the most illuminating of the sessions I went to was with Ksenia Avdulova, social media expert and the creative and soulful personality behind the viral Instagram account @breakfastcriminals. Avdulova’s breakout session focused on the her six pillars of social media— including ‘starting with why,’ consistency, and being genuine in your interactions on social media. It’s not a one-way street, she argued— you can’t just throw up pictures and hope to become insta-famous. Instead, she urged people to focus on the unique message you are trying to bring and truly connecting to your community.
Avdulova was one of several influencers who attended the summit who have built businesses using the power of social media. It was interesting to hear the balance of using social media but also living mindfully. While there can be enormous social pressure due to social media, many influencers turn within to make decisions. “My intuition is my CEO,” explained Cassandra Bodzak, Holistic Lifestyle Expert & Best Selling Author of Eating with Intention, shared in the breakout session, “The Business of W.E.L.L.ness: Building a wellness brand with integrity and heart.” She also stressed the importance of authenticity when building your brand. “Be you and stay in your own lane,” she shared. In the same panel, Caleb Dean, Chief of Staff and Co-Owner of Cambridge Naturals, spoke about narrowing in on how big you even want your brand to be and on what scale you can operate with your values and integrity.
Additional speakers included Cyndie Spiegel, Kathryn Budig, Nitika Chopra, Ruby Warrington, Phoebe Lepine, and Agapi Stassinopoulos, amongst others.
Overall, the summit was filled with high energy and individuals unifying over their love of wellness (and often green juice). The W.E.L.L. Summit energy continues well pass the weekend itself— it has a rather robust online community (which they call their “tribe”) that continues to connect in-between annual gatherings, and at intermittent events in NYC and Boston (where the summit first launched).