This Friday, the a|dash team is honored to present Rhowena Adolfo Patel as one of the countless, empowered females that inspires us. Rhowena is an entrepreneur through and through, coming from a family of business owners. She is making a huge impact on women's health and childbirth through her brand, Healing Mama Co. Not only is Rhowena making her mark in the women's health space, but she also has significant insights into motherhood, family and education. Without further adieu, let's hear from Rhowena herself!
Rhowena Adolfo Patel is the CEO and Founder of Healing Mama Co. which was born out of her experience as a first-time mom. She has backpacked through 58 countries, and 7 of those were with an infant! Entrepreneurship is, quite literally, in her blood. She was born to immigrant parents that started business after business, not always successfully, but definitely planting the seeds since her childhood. She is an award-winning Financial Planner, she's spoken in Canada and internationally about the art of money and planning, she's literally worn different crowns, she's run a bed and breakfast, and now she and Healing Mama Co. are on a movement to bring Parental Care to the forefront of childbirth and postpartum.
Who are some women who inspire you daily, personally or professionally?
Very simply, I’m inspired by women! Even more so now than ever before, since becoming a mother. The sheer, innate, instinctual strength and resilience that lives in the female form is awe inspiring. Having built an organization that recognizes and applauds this, is a privilege that I am so honored to be a part of.
Who has been the most influential woman in your life, in becoming the person you are today, helping you discover and pursue your passions?
Hands down that is my MAMA! Growing up, she was NOT always the one I went to, she was not always the one I confided in, and she was not always around, especially when I wanted her to be. Influence does not exist in the realm of “good” or “bad” but in action or inaction. My mama’s influence on who I am today is based on her example of HOW TO move forward. How to KEEP moving forward. How to progress. How to challenge. And for what it’s worth, how I do NOT want to be. She is my greatest ally, my greatest cheerleader, and my original source of love. And being a mama now myself, I am conscious, I am aware, and I am fully committed to being all that my Mama was for me to our child AND to fill in the gaps that she was not able to for me.
Is there anything that you wish/hope will be different for girls growing up today than it was for you?
The conversation around the journey of being a female and what our bodies go through. Starting as early as the child’s awareness arises of their body. The reality of our bodies, NOT the archaic grade school version of it. Girls need to know how to access their strength, how to access the power of their breath, how to trust the magic of their bodies, and how to listen to the wisdom that is innately built into their bodies. Way TOO much time is spent on the parts of the body and not enough time is spent on learning ABOUT the body. I personally choose to wait to have a child until I was 34. I had gone through over a decade of self-work and it all came together the moment I went into labor. There was no “I” in the process, I simply put myself aside and gave this body as much space as I could to lead the way. Because “I” had no idea what I was doing but I trusted that my body knew exactly what to do and all “I” had to do was get out the way so that it could do the work. This level of trust needs to cultivate in every girl.
What has been your proudest moment personally or professionally?
Personally, the entire experience of childbirth is BY FAR the proudest moment in myself. Giving birth to our child with no intervention, squatting on a birth stool, in the comfort of our bedroom, was simply surreal! Following the directions that my body was telling me, going into position, speaking up, and ultimately birthing our child is both a physical and spiritual experience that I intentionally told myself to always remember. To this day, over 3 years postpartum, I can still feel the sensation of his little feet kicking inside of me or that last toe coming out.
Professionally, the moment Healing Mama Co. was able to support its first Mama was a magical and extremely proud moment. That first-time mama’s feedback was key in knowing that I was on the right track with what Healing Mama Co. was working towards. She originally thought she wouldn’t need all the products in the System we sent her, then we received a text message hours after she gave birth thanking me for equipping her with exactly what she needed! She even went on to say that she didn’t end up bringing everything to the hospital and had to have her mom go to the house and bring all the items she took out to the hospital! Knowing that the work that Healing Mama Co. does is literally transforming the level of care that birthing people and partners experience during labor & delivery and through to their postpartum healing & recovery is one of the greatest privileges in my life.
What has been your most challenging moment personally or professionally and how did you overcome that challenge?
Personally, my husband and I did NOT see eye to eye about how much work and money it would take to build Healing Mama Co. We set up our life so that we can care for our child full time and work full time. And this was pre-COVID. How you ask? My husband got a “weekend warrior” position, working Friday, Saturday, Sunday and by Monday afternoon he was on Daddy Duty. While I worked on building Healing Mama Co, Monday afternoon to Thursday night and then into full-time Mommy Duty while he worked. This gave us little to no time to “talk”. Before becoming parents, we would have what he called “discussions.” The way we communicate is one of the greatest parts of our union together. But now, as parents, we didn’t have the luxury of time to “discuss” what was not working. There was a point in February where we hit a standstill! It took a few days of being apart to find how we would navigate this. It was scary, it was lonely, it was defeating! But like I said before, communication is one of our strengths, and through this, we were able to find a new way to communicate with each other and our new crazy busy schedule.
It was this SAME TIME that Healing Mama Co. was on the verge of shutting down and closing its doors. We were not getting the sales to keep going and with ALL the start-up costs associated with a brand new business, everything was struggling. So, with my body literally paralyzed from this reality, the only thing I had the energy to do was record a video. I ended up calling it my “final plea” video. It was not a pity party about all the money or time or struggles I’ve put into the business, but it was about the appalling reality that people giving birth go through. It was about my plea for people to step up and do something about this if Healing Mama Co. was not going to be here anymore to do the work. I released that video at 1:30 AM on February 2nd, 2021. Since that day, I am relieved and deeply honored to say that Healing Mama Co. has received more orders and has had more funders show up in the 60 days following than we’ve received in the last 6 months combined!
What does wellness mean to you? And why is it important to you and your family?
Wellness is a basic human right. Unfortunately, this is not how we are raised in North America. The concept that “Stress Management” is even a thing? Who wants stress, let alone manage it? Wellness is having the ability to conduct your functions as you see fit, to fulfill the responsibilities of your day and life, and doing it ALL with the least amount of friction physically, energetically, emotionally, and spiritually. As a family with a toddler, he looks to us to manage all the new emotions and hormones that are happening within him. Now, more than ever in our lives, the practice of wellness is key! It keeps our family grounded, it gives us the space to explore and to expand. It brings the awareness of how we are to each other, how we are to ourselves and how are to the people around us, all of this is a reflection of the wellness we employ in our lives on a regular and ongoing basis.
What does your typical daily wellness routine look like?
As soon as my eyes wake up, I start my day with the deepest of gratitude. Thankful to have woken up, thankful to be with the Love of ALL my lives, thankful for our greatest gift, our son, thankful for this breath, this life, and this day. Then I usually spend a few minutes staring at our son or my husband, yeah, a bit creepy, in that silence, at that moment everything is serene, everything is sheer beauty!
I started my journey into yoga in 2007 and in 2017 my husband and I were inducted into a potent form of yoga and meditation. It is this meditation and yoga that I start my day off with. That is if our toddler (on the days it’s full-time mom duty) gives me the space to do my whole practice. Some days I can only get through the stretch and yoga, other days I can get through the whole practice, and others where none of it happens. For some reason our toddler gives my husband, on the other hand, the space to do his whole practice ALL.THE.TIME. It sucks but who he is with each of us is different. So I don’t get mad at him or annoyed at him for not giving me space to do my practice. I simply ask him, when he doesn’t want me to keep going, “Tomorrow, can mommy finish all her stretch and meditation?” Some days he says “No, play with me now,” other days he’ll say, “Yes mommy, later.”
Throughout the day, I remind myself to take deep conscious breaths and we make every effort to remind our son to breathe when he’s upset or annoyed. Remembering that we possess the power of life and death simply in our breath.
What drove you to become an entrepreneur? Do you see this as your only entrepreneurial endeavor, or do you have plans or goals to be a serial entrepreneur?
Being raised in a family of “family businesses,” I didn’t even know there was something different other than working for yourself. It wasn’t until I was in high school and I got my first job where I wasn’t working with the family that I realized what it was like to work for someone else. I quickly learned working for someone else how limited I was to how much I can earn and what I can do. Then I thought, what can I do that will make me money and directly benefit my family? Especially if I wasn’t going to continue working in the family business. I thought, well, we’ve always struggled with money so how about I work with it.
That internal inquiry led me to my first business. Starting and building my own financial planning practice, from scratch, with a large firm. I had my own struggles that I needed to work through. I was a young, 21-year-old, woman of color in a white male-dominated industry. That was the first challenge that I worked through. Then it was working on my self-worth, that I had the capacity and expertise to take care of the financial well-being of people from all walks of life and professions. Especially professions I viewed as “better” than mine, like doctors, lawyers, CEOs, etc. This was my first business, one that I lived and breathed for over 10 years before “retiring” from it. This experience and EVERYTHING I went through from my childhood up to this moment, laid the foundation of building what is Healing Mama Co. today.
I don’t envision another business after Healing Mama Co, BUT I do envision multiple evolutions of Healing Mama Co. The impact we are working towards, the movement we are leading, and the reality that one day we will be the catalyst to raising the standard of care for birthing people and birthing partners, I’d say is quite a lot of work for me to take on for the rest this lifetime.