HealHaus is a wellness-based café located in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant area. But the space offers much more than curated teas and gluten-free baked goods. Co-founder Darian Hall says it was created out of a need for people of color to have a space to heal, specifically men.
"It's been known in our community that something was wrong with someone if they sought therapy," Hall told Blavity, as part of our "Regarding" video series. "We need to really make sure that we start breaking down some of those stigmas and start to relearn and reprogram ourselves in a way that can really help us."
Hall says that he was once committed to a corporate lifestyle, but left his career in the medical industry to travel the world for six months. While traveling, he learned a lot about himself and became inspired to search for his father, whom he had never met. At the age of 36, he found his father online and traveled to California to meet him for the very first time. He shared his story on social media and with his male friends — he says the response was overwhelming.
"The reason why we opened it (HealHaus) was really from these conversations that had started with a lot of my close guy friends," Hall told Blavity. "Which made me question why we don't have spaces that felt welcoming to men as well. And why we didn't have spaces that incorporated therapy into the services that are offered."
Hall approached his long-time friend, Elisa Shankle, to see what they could do to help rectify this. HealHaus was launched in May 2018.
"We wanted to create something that not only felt inviting and accessible, but something where people could feel and see themselves reflected in the space," Hall said.
When a customer walks in to HealHaus, they could sample one of the cafe's curated caffeine-free powerhouse beverages. Perhaps a ginger turmeric elixir (a mixture of cinnamon, turmeric, coconut cream powder, and ginger) followed by a vegan baked good. Customers can also participate workshops that focus on healthy eating, anxiety and mental health, including therapy sessions, guided mentations and group discussions to help unpack the issues so many of us deal with.
"The Black experience is a very unique experience," Hall said. "I think what we're offering at this space really allows people to come in and start to unpack some of those things that they never even really knew existed, because they were just so used to suppressing this stuff within themselves, and also watching their family members and friends suppressing themselves as well."
The cafe just celebrated it's one-year anniversary and Hall and Shankle have big plans for the future.
"We have a short list of places that we would like to go, including Los Angeles, Atlanta and D.C.," he said. "It's kind of like a one-stop shop for healing."