It’s hard to believe that we’re in September already, with the final quarter of the year just two weeks away. In light of this, we sat down for a catch up with Hello Happiest. founder Christi Wasserman, to discuss how this year has been going, to look at trends in the wellness industry as a whole, and to get a sense for what 2020 may have in store for the brand.
How would you summarise the year Hello Happiest. has had so far?
Christi: Abundant! 2019 is our third year hosting events and retreats, and the Cape Town community has come to learn that our little hub is always here for their weekend wellness affairs. This year’s events and retreats have been gaining in numbers and festivity, which makes me very, very happy.
Your last two batches of events sold out very quickly. Why do you think people are gravitating towards these so much?
Christi: I actually asked recent guests this very question at one of our chockablock events this past weekend and have been thinking about it a lot. Most of the guests attended with friends or family as part of a birthday gift or bonding time, which gives me a better sense as to their motives. People are craving wholesome social experiences more than ever these days, and as a result, gifting experiences rather than physical items. It’s given me a lot to think about.
You’re hosting your first Cacao Retreat shortly. Are there any other retreat concepts on your bucket list for the future?
Christi: My goodness, I can’t wait to immerse in all kinds of cacao! I think it’s going to be our most exciting retreat to date, not only because of the concept, but because of the intention behind it too. Moving forward, my goal for retreats is to create experiences that combine common favourites and interesting global trends, hence why chocolate (my favourite) was a good place to start. A chakra retreat is in the making in Mauritius within the next year and I’d like to experiment with other avenues within retreats, like CBD therapies & massages, for instance. The possibilities are endless!
We’re curious to know more about the Weekend Wellness Sanctuary. How did this concept come about?
Christi: The Weekend Sanctuary evolved organically as guests started asking for a bit of a longer, fuller and yummier immersion than just a day retreat. When Hello Happiest. first started, we only hosted one day retreats roughly every two months. The most common question I got was “When is the next one and can we sleep over?”. I realised that people were craving and needing a deeper reset, but did not have time or budget to book themselves on a ten day yoga retreat somewhere exotic. That’s when a weekend escape popped into my head as a viable solution, providing just enough time to really relax, but not too much time to throw off the flow of your day-to-day life. These sentiments were echoed by EcoTraveller last year: “Ever so often you need to reboot, and wellness retreats offer the perfect excuse to leave the real world, slow down and reconnect with yourself. I would never have believed I could reboot in a weekend”. That pretty much sums it up for me.
Hosting an international retreat can be be described as a beast in itself. You have one on the cards for 2020. What are you hoping guests get out of the experience?
Christi: A trip of a lifetime! And life transformation! Our first international retreat will be a Chakra Retreat. We want to create an experience covering every aspect of the body, from feet to head, as well as tackling basic challenges most people face in everyday life. At this stage, we’re the first to offer a deeply designed, multi-layered, energetic and body transformation experience. Naturally, we’re also hoping to give guests an opportunity to travel to an untouched and beautiful place, soothing the soul just a little bit in the process too.
You’ve done a lot of travels this year to expand the Hello Happiest footprint. Which countries would you like to explore more opportunities in, in the next year?
Christi: Mauritius is a front runner as our Chakra Retreat will take place there. I’m also eager to go find the most beautiful spots in the Seychelles. We have world class beaches a quick flight away, and I’m going to find them!
What is one wellness trend you’ve got your eye on, heading into 2020?
Christi: Only one? Man. If so, seeing as travel has become the thing that brings me the most joy, it’s close to my heart to explore the increasing trend of traveling healthy and traveling well. I’d love to explore the wellness-on-the-go topic, and to give some insight into how I manage my health routine in the times I am halfway across the world.
Do you think that it is important for people to practice meditation, in conjunction with yoga?
Christi: Even though I religiously meditate every day and I do think it’s important for people to practice a form of mindfulness that uplifts them, it does not necessarily have to be meditation. It can be a daily walk, hike, swim or even painting. For me, anything that soothes the mind and uplifts the spirit is as good as a meditative practice.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned this past year?
Christi: Get settled, as this may be a long answer! I’ve been doing a whole lot of learning in one particular area this year; finding ways to feel good, both personally and professionally. I’ve been delving deeper into what brings joy to not only myself, but to other like-minded people as well. Don’t we often think, ‘When I get over there, I’ll be happy. When I have those retreats and those number of events, I’ll be happy’. But these goals we set for ourselves, whatever they are for us, aren’t ever going to be 100% done. “How can I earn more money... get a new partner... live in a nicer place... lose weight... how can I improve this or that area” - all questions that can plague the mind late at night. We want the better paying job, improved relationships, bigger home and a better body, as we believe it will lead us to happiness. To many people this is the ultimate goal, but what I’ve realised is that those are, in fact, not the actual fragments of happiness. They are the desires that show us what the goal really is, which is to experience joy, to feel good, and to live in a manner that is clear, energized and life abundant.
It doesn’t matter what we want to feel good about, our goal is to feel good. It doesn't matter what we want to feel excited about, our goal is to feel excitement. It doesn't matter who we love, the goal is to feel love and be loved. It’s being in tune, as well as experiencing these good feelings, that brings more joyful experiences our way. This year, I’ve learnt to relax a little, and accept my good feelings that are naturally always there for me to tune into. “When I get over there, I’ll be happy…” - No, I’ve learnt it’s the other way around. Get happy and I’ll get over there! Let happiness be the main focus. Feel first, it will lead to the things you want after.