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Rising Stars: Meet Alyssa & Toni Junious of Oceanside

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alyssa & Toni Junious.

Hi Alyssa & Toni, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
We started Soultry Sisters in 2019 holding monthly workshops in North County San Diego. We created this arts and wellness collective to address the lack of representation of diverse race and socioeconomic status in the wellness industry by providing affordable and accessible events for women of color in our community. We believe that arts and wellness is a birthright and should be accessible to all. We collaborate with female entrepreneurs, women-led businesses, and community-based organizations to increase visibility of the diverse women in our community and connect women of color to these necessary wellness resources. We strive to make wellness more equitable and empower women of color to live vibrant and creative lives. Through our events, we highlight the importance of holistic health and wellness and the connection of mind, body, soul and community. In 2020, we expanded our reach and started hosting virtual workshops, events, and community conversations to continue connecting with and supporting women of color in our community and throughout cities across the U.S. In 2021, we launched our membership-based virtual community, called Soultry Sanctuary. This online community gives our members a dedicated space for collective healing and personal growth. Soultry Sanctuary members have direct access to movement practices (such as pilates, yoga, dance), journaling prompts, meditations, and other soulcare activities to Embrace, Embody & Empower themselves wherever they are in their wellness journey. What started as two sisters wanting to create a space for women of color in their hometown has grown into a diverse collective of women merging arts and wellness.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
The most challenging aspect of running our business is keeping our offerings affordable, accessible, and sustainable. Although we are a mission-driven community organization, we are a for-profit business, which means most of our funding comes from the income we receive from hosting events and facilitating workshops. Collaborating with local businesses and organizations has been helpful to offset costs and expand our reach while we continue to apply for additional funding to support and expand our programs and offerings. Another challenge was having to pivot our programming in 2020 due to not being able to continue our in-person events and workshops. Shifting from in-person to virtual programs was not easy at first, but fortunately has allowed us to expand our community across the U.S. and continue to bring arts and wellness resources to women of color.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Soultry Sisters specializes in empowering women to live vibrant and shine bright through creative expression, conscious holistic living, and soulcare. We cultivate meaningful experiences to foster genuine connections and share, celebrate, and heal through sisterhood. Soultry Sisters is a reflection of not only our passions but both of our professions as well. Alyssa is a professional dancer, choreographer and pilates practitioner. Toni is a public health professional and yoga practitioner. We bring our professional backgrounds into the programs we offer for Soultry Sisters, as well as share the resources and activities that we are using in our personal healing journeys. Our collective is about celebrating every aspect of ourselves. The way we lead our community is unique as well. By facilitating open conversations with our community, everyone has the ability to offer their insight and wisdom to the various arts and wellness topics we discuss. We are proud to have created a space where we get to grow alongside our community. A space where we can develop our personal soulcare practices and find community and healing for our mind, body and soul.

What matters most to you?
Soultry Sisters’ mission is to empower women of color to live vibrant & shine bright through soulcare, collective healing, and sustainability. It’s important that our programs and workshops not only serve our community but also our own selves in our healing journeys. As Audre Lorde shared, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation.” We prioritize soulcare in our own routines which helps us show up authentically in the work we do in our community. As a women-led organization, it’s important we model taking care of ourselves so that we can create sustainable change in our communities.

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Image Credits
Xenia Mateiu

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