As social isolation has kept us cooped inside, visual artist, yoga and meditation guide Tobi Ewing has encouraged the city to stay preoccupied with a space for healing—The Self Care Cafe. Previously starting creative platform Beyond the Clouds in 2016 while living in New York City, it served as a freelance portfolio for branding, painting commissions and design projects, but it was creating The Self Care Cafe with her partner, Jasmine, that made their intentions in wellness multi-purposeful.
“[The Self Care Cafe is] a pop-up smoothie bar and self care experience. We're available for private events as well as markets. The timing was powerful,” Ewing said about the platform, which launched during the wake of COVID-19 in March. “So excited for our future, despite the wildness
While Ewing formerly hosted yoga and meditation meet-ups in Goodale Park to ultimately receive her yoga certification, it was also a grounds for guests to become firmly rooted within a holistic approach. During quarantine, The Self Care Cafe continues to be an outlet for comunal zen, as the platform has gone digital through online guided wellness classes.
“It's a haven of safe, experimental and creative pause with your wellbeing in mind. We offer seven weekly online classes, five different class types and currently [have] three diverse, certified yoga guides. We are a people and narrative-centered wellness brand,” Ewing said. “Our programming is inspired by our community, we offer yoga and meditation, but are also open and will host other offerings that are out of the traditional wellness box. Wellness doesn't look like one thing and it's important that our programming meets that.”
As Ewing stayed quarantined during the pandemic, she was approached by The Washington Post for a virtual diary around the coping methods of social isolation. While she mentions that she’s “still floating” from the opportunity, the feature gravitated attention on The Self Care Cafe and the need for restorative meditation. She’s also been taking social-isolation in stride, considering this time to be a reset of her lifestyle, especially as she refrained from making New Year’s Resolutions at the top of the year.
“If you follow the seasons, the New Year starts in spring. My affirmation for March was ‘I am prepared and I am protected.’ Looking back, that was my resolution—to remember I am divinely guided through it all,” she said.
Inspired by the hues, bold contrasts and shape interaction of Black and queer people along with fashion, Ewing has embarked on lifestyle goods under the Beyond the Clouds brand. Made in-house with vegan, organic, cruelty-free and sustainable ingredients, Ewing’s ethical production of these goods values mindfulness.
“I love making body and face creams for fun, I use quality oils, cold pressed essential oils, shea butter and aloe vera. It's cooling, powerful and non-greasy. Essential oils are great for brightening and cleaning the skin as well as setting your space with a diffuser,” she said. “Last year, I did a fun project with Beyond The Clouds and created a non-toxic wellness line, you can still shop our products exclusively at Small Talk in the Short North and Clintonville.”
Though the world has become entirely plugged-in while social-isolating from home, Ewing believes that this is the best time to establish a new practice while also giving community servitude through healing. As the public still remains in quarantine, The Self Care Cafe honors the reality of our current lives, while staying committed to extending our path to wellness.
“Find what works for you and do just that—don't force something that's "ideal" or sounds good. Right now, wellness may look like weekly virtual dates with friends because you're craving connection, cooking 30-minute meals if you have the time, or simply resting because you're tired,” Ewing said. “I work with my clients to customize their toolbox of self care.”
While aiding clients through their restoration process during quarantine, the virtual weekly schedule of The Self Care Cafe is both convenient and accessible for those who remain at home, but Ewing remains optimistic of gathering with supporters once the pandemic subsides. Besides, with Ewing’s presence, clients shared that they “felt seen” under her gentle approach.
“I know that I won't be everything for everybody, but it means a lot to me to lead with inclusion and diversity in wellness and in the arts. I didn't feel seen in the wellness space, but thanks to projects like Black Girl In Om, I was able to show up fully. I want to be able to offer the same [access] with my work.”
Further grasping her connection with Columbus through The Self Care Cafe is also something that Ewing looks forward to, even if it means we’re all inside for just a while longer. For Ewing, it’s not about rushing the process of wellness, but uplifting community care. “Community care, to me, is practicing personal self care, preservation and radical honesty with the health of your community in mind. As we heal individually we're able to heal as a community,” she said. “When you show up for yourself, you show up for your community.”
For more information on the Self Care Cafe, visit beyondtheclouds.co.