Today, we are spotlighting Vanya, Francis, founder of Cherished Life + Wellness which is a boutique yoga and wellness company located in Atlanta. Cherished Life offers holistic wellness services during pre-conception, pregnancy, postpartum and beyond. You can now access Vanya’s classes online (yay!) and if you are in Atlanta look out for her amazing tea (delicious and healthy - my kids are all about it). Read about how Vanya supports other women in the community, how COVID has amplified her parenting style and what inspires her to keep going.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am the founder of Cherished Life, which is a boutique yoga and wellness company. We offer compassionate care and holistic wellness during pre-conception, pregnancy, postpartum and beyond. My primary services include Pre and Postnatal Yoga, Holistic Birth Doula support and Holistic Health Coaching. My signature wellness product, Cherished Tea, is an herbal organic ready-made iced tea to support women at all phases of their reproductive cycle. In addition to my work at Cherished Life, I’ve served as an instructor at Spelman College (my alma mater) where I introduce students to yoga and meditation techniques with the goal of helping them understand the relationship between the mind and body, promote mindfulness and health, and reduce stress.
Above all else I am a mother. My children, ages 13 and 4 are my greatest teachers and serve as the inspiration for everything I do.
What path led you to start Cherished Life?
I worked in marketing and business development for Cartoon Network Enterprises at Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta for seven years before the company downsized and I was laid off. I always say that the lay off was a gift from the Universe because without it, I don’t know if I ever would have tested the waters of entrepreneurship. It took me a year and a half to determine my next move. I launched my first yoga and wellness company, Om Point Yoga, with a friend and business partner in 2013. Cherished Life emerged in 2016 when my business partner and I went separate ways and my vision evolved to focus on pregnancy and birth.
What are holistic birth practices?
Holistic birth practices include the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of preparing birthing people and families to welcome their baby. Community is a critical component of a mother’s toolkit. Ancient wisdom and practices point to how important community is from generational rituals that prepare one to bear a child as well as the nourishment, care and support needed once the baby is born. Yet, community is something that eludes us in western society and is responsible for a host of maternal issues like postpartum mood disorders. Cherished Life is working to bridge the gap by providing support via education, ancient wisdom, proven practices and modern resources.
What’s your “why?”
I continue to refine it. But for now: to build a legacy and generational wealth for my children and future generations, while intentionally creating a life I love that serves my highest destiny and leaves this world better than I found it.
Who is part of your community and how have they enriched your life?
My community includes my family, close friends and chosen spaces that provide some level of reciprocity. My family is my anchor - parents, sisters and aunts have all helped to support my dreams in various ways throughout the years. However, none of my family lives in Atlanta, which means my close friends, many of whom are entrepreneurs and mothers, have become my chosen family. We support each other with the daily tasks of caring for our children while also sharing our hopes, dreams and resources for our businesses. Lastly, staying connected to spaces that advocate for and actively provide multi-level support for both my personal and professional development like The Lola, a womxn’s club and community, and my spiritual community at Ile Ori African Cultural Center.
Has COVID changed how you parent?
As a single parent, COVID has allowed me to be more present for my children and find ways to simply, yet consistently connect with them as individuals. Because we have spent so much time together, I was able to slow down and pay attention to what speaks to them as individuals, and find ways to support and amplify their natural interests, talents and gifts. While this has traditionally been my parenting style, COVID afforded me the opportunity to engage with that aspect of parenting more fully.
What about 2021 excites you?
Surprisingly, COVID has been an unexpected gift with regard to how I operate my business. I used to teach only in-person classes and meet with all of my clients face-to-face. Now, my entire business is online! For a nominal monthly fee, you can join my membership-based platform here and take advantage of online weekly classes, workshops and special events designed to help you live a Cherished Life. I’m also excited about growing awareness and expanding distribution nationwide for Cherished Teas, which is currently only local to Atlanta.
Is there a quote or book that inspires you?
The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo is one of my favorite books and is prominently displayed on the coffee table in my living room. The story is “an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts”. One of my favorite quotes from that book: “The Universe is always conspiring in your favor.”