What We're Loving This Week: Luxe Linens to Fire Relief

Vegan Travel

Welcome to our well links for the week. Each Friday, we’ll round up our favorite stories, products and friends of Well + Away. This week, we’re inspired by how much our hometown community of Los Angeles has come together to support each other through the blazing fires and mass shooting. After voluntarily evacuating and then glueing ourselves to the news all last weekend, we got out and ventured back into the world this week: celebrated the launch of a good friend’s company, visited our new favorite salon and took a crash course in color.

Here are our favorites from the week:

First, WE MADE IT INTO THE NYTIMES:

Read Nora Walsh’s wonderful story on all of the ways vegan and vegetarian travel is getting easier and more accessible, and how Well + Away’s VitalGuides and new VitalKits are part of the sea change. And then share that shit and tag us @wellandaway.

Local businesses who donated to relief efforts:

Local LA eateries Pizza Cookery and Trejo’s Tacos donated vegan dinners to the Red Cross team in Woodland Hills, who were all working overtime and without lunch breaks. They dropped everything to support those on the front lines. Additionally, Manhattan Beach-based Tone It Up donated 15,000 boxes of their Tone It Up nutrition bars to evacuees. We know there are so many others out there who also contributed. We’d love to hear about them.

Parachute opens in SF:

We’ve lusted after these organic, sustainably and locally produced linens since the e-commerce site first launched. And as of November 14, the San Francisco retail shop is open for business. An interactive lounge space covered in Parachute fabrics seats 10, sooo grab a kombucha and meet us there.

Farrow & Ball opens in LA:

Farrow & Ball are makers of low VOC, gorgeous, pigment-rich, premium paints and wallpapers (and a seriously inspiring Instagram feed @farrowandball). They’re a heritage English brand that’s been around since 1930, and just opened a super experiential new showroom in West Hollywood that’s both DIY-er and designer-friendly. Our new dream is to collab on a future VitalGuide cover in a Farrow & Ball color. Going on the vision board this weekend. Until then, you can find us at the new LA showroom dreaming up how we can drench the new W+A HQ in Farrow & Ball colors from tip to toe.

The Dopple launches in LA:

Well + Away friend Chao Wang is a co-founder at new San Francisco kids startup The Dopple, which just had their official launch party in LA last night with a gathering of serious boss mamas. The brand curate monthly ‘Dopple Drops’ of curated, cool kids clothing for parents to look through each drop and keep what they like and return what they don’t. Clothing is up to 80% off of retail and guarantees any Dopple-dressed kid will be the best-dressed in their playgroup.

We just discovered Sunday Forever:

How did we only just find out about this charming purveyor of ‘nice things’ and ‘magic’ as they put it? We just received their Witch Kit as a gift, and are using it to jumpstart a meditation space at the new HQ.



How to Be Vegan at Family Thanksgiving, According to some of our Favorite Vegans

 Source: @thecuriouschickpea

Source: @thecuriouschickpea

I don’t know of a single vegan who, when heading home to family Thanksgiving dinner, finds a fully plant-based tablescape. Well, outside of the Seventh Day Adventist community (hi, Adventist friends, here to help you with that empty seat at your next holiday gathering). We suck it up in the name of being a good sport for the sake of enjoying time with family, and maybe a yummy side or two.

But when it comes to brass tacks - what is the actual best way to handle dinner? Do you bring something vegan or give your host a head’s up? Do you try to duck out early to hit the vegan spot in town offering Thanksgiving-themed dinner or just load up on sides? There is of course no easy or right answer to the question, but here is how a few of our favorite vegans tackle the question.

 Source: @nativefoodscafe

Source: @nativefoodscafe

Jolinda Hacket from TheSpruceEats.com recommends to “prepare in advance” and to communicate dietary restrictions to your host in addition to bringing something to feed yourself and enough for others. “If you're preparing food for yourself, be sure to bring along a bit extra, as everyone else is certain to be curious and want to taste. Most hosts would be more than happy to have you help share in the work of preparing the meal. And, if you prepare a dish or two on your own, it will also fill your plate up and divert attention from what you're eating and not eating. Any vegan who has spent an entire meal defending their dietary choices and dodging hunting jokes knows that sometimes, you just want to eat in peace, rather than hop up on the vegan soapbox.”

Or, if you’re time pinched and would rather grab and go, Jolinda reminds us that, “Whole Foods offers a pre-cooked vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner, as do many larger health food stores and plenty of vegetarian restaurants such as Native Foods. You can also order vegetarian and vegan Thanksgiving side dishes a la carte from Whole Foods as well.”

 Source: @Lane_Gold

Source: @Lane_Gold

Lane Gold, author of the new Vegan Junk Food, Expanded Edition: 200+ Vegan Recipes for the Foods You Crave -- Minus the Ingredients You Don’t, has a different approach. She shares with us that, “To my mind, the holidays are about enjoying people and traditions and one of those traditions is definitely food but it doesn’t have to be a point of contention. I tend not to overwhelm a host by announcing that I’m vegan before I arrive because I don’t want anyone to do extra work to accommodate me. If it’s a potluck I’ll definitely bring something vegan so that I know I’ll have something other than carrot sticks to eat. Most vegans going to events knowing there might be limited options will eat a PB&J before they arrive, or at least I do. In general, I go to have fun and enjoy the company of friends and family, I don’t arrive with any kind of food agenda or expectation; increasingly I’m happily surprised that vegan options are already there.”

Or try a sneak attack. Vegan handbag designer and Filbert Founder Bridget Brown likes to, “Take Thanksgiving as an opportunity to push some subtle vegan propaganda in the form of a delicious vegan baked good. The keyword is DELICIOUS. Now’s not the time to peddle some dry and boring holiday desserts, so peruse some vegan baking cookbooks and go ham (see what I did there) on a beautiful berry cobbler, chocolate molten cake, or apple pie with coconut ice cream. I highly recommend The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau or Vegan Holiday Cooking by Joy Pierson. 

Everyone will be so shocked when you tell them it was made without eggs or dairy, and hopefully will make them consider how easy it is to move to a plant based diet!”  

And, above all else, Matt Frazier of No Meat Athlete reminds us to, “Remember that the food isn’t the real point. One of the great things about vegan Thanksgiving is that it’s not quite as easy to eat so much that you’re disgustingly, uncomfortably stuffed and needing to immediately unbuckle your jeans and collapse into a food coma the instant the meal is over. Use the energy and attention you would have spent destroying your plate to instead be mindful and grateful that you have food on it, and that you have friends and family to share it with.” So true.




Our Favorite LA Salon Is Coming To A City Near You

Spoke&Weal

Spoke & Weal salon's cult following and swift expansion across the country testify to the effectiveness of of co-founder Jon Reyman's dry-cutting technique. So is his ability to somehow style my unruly mass of mane into something manageable. The man works miracles. Working to evolve the salon industry's traditional methodology of cutting hair while wet, Reyman and team are going against the grain and cutting hair while dry, as it falls. Which he feels is just a more logical, evolved way of cutting. Spoke & Weal cuts often take less than 45 minutes and Reyman is upfront about how he trains his team not to act as a client's therapist, but to give them 'the best haircut of their life.' Which, as I sort of mentioned above, is the truth. I had a chance to connect with him, while he chopped into my previously untamable locks, about his approach, the current expansion into new markets and how they've grown such a dedicated clientele. Read on for our discussion, below.

You started Spoke & Weal in San Francisco. Who is your clientele there, and why that city to start?

San Francisco was a good jumping-off point. We opened fresh without any roots or name in a city that none of us lived in. Christy Dylo, our master stylist and trainer, moved from Minneapolis on faith that we could do what I said we could. This happened pretty quickly. We did not, and have not, done "studies" or SWAT analysis. Its been more a Field of Dreams situation: if we build it, they will come.

I first heard about Spoke + Weal through a few influencer friends in the wellness space. What is it about the brand that is attracting so many beauty and wellness influencers, especially in Los Angeles? How does this ‘insider favorite’ status take form in other markets?

We don't “go after people” we let our work speak for itself. We want guests who genuinely want to see us and appreciate our work. I think our relaxed relationships (meaning no formal trade or sponsorships), but definitely appreciating the support influencers and social media provides for spreading our work and the word, helps create more intimate relationships with all our guests and especially those who have established themselves as influencers. We work hard to make it easy for people.

We are also not celebrity-driven. We just want to do excellent work for people who want it. We always want to understand our success and exposure comes from our talent and drive and not from a once-removed resource. Our attitude is try us, if you love us great, if you love another place better, great, we want you to be happy.

We are the go-to for people who are looking for alternatives in every market we are in.

Tell us about your dry cutting technique? Why haven’t other salons been doing this? Is this part of why you think you’ve been able to so successfully enter other markets

We believe wet haircutting is antiquated and inferior. I can spend fifteen minutes cutting hair dry and it will be better than a four hour wet haircut. Better meaning, the length and density of hair is managed more carefully, clearly and refined. Hair will be softer and more modern looking.

Wet cutting is the least important part of the haircut. It’s the gross-moves part. The initial chopping of the block. The actual refinement and definition takes place in the dry cutting.

Other salons have been trained under older methods. They are stuck in the past cutting small sections and blunt lines. They cut length to manage density (enter heavy layers). Cutting dry we can cut blunt lines, layers, manage length and density more perfectly.

Yes, we are successful because we give better haircuts in less time. Our haircuts “grow in” not out, they last longer. We have created a language that is simple, that helps us deliver what our guests are asking for. We are driven by giving guests the best haircuts in the world.

You started Spoke + Weal after working for years as a master trainer at Aveda. How have you woven clean beauty into your own brand and how are you still working with Aveda products?

We use Aveda in our salons. We want natural eco-concious products that still deliver the results we are looking for. We want performance, results, and environmental awareness to be embedded in our services.

As the ‘talent’ how have you so successfully been able to map out this beautiful growth strategy? Did you find and MBA to help you on a consulting basis, or take on a co-founder who has grown brands in the past?

I do not want to be the most important person in the room. The business is not built on my success but built on the success of the team and our ability to collaborate. We have created clear cutting, color, styling, and culture systems. We stay flexible and strong. I surround myself with people who are capable. My business partners compliment me, and one another, perfectly. Our master team members and educators, Dell Miller, Lindsay Victoria, Jay Braff to name a few have contributed in ways we would have a hard time quantifying. Building Spoke & Weal has always and will continue to depend on the entire teams commitment and sacrifice.

Does technique remain the same, regardless of place, or are your stylists taking different approaches in places like Los Angeles and Nashville, or New York and Chicago?

Everyone is trained on and required to master our techniques. How they use these is up to their individual creative process and consultation. Our pro’s have brands within our brand. We believe the diversity of what we offer, and our collaborative culture, makes us collectively the technically-strongest salon in the world. We are enormously committed to culture. We fail forward. We are constantly striving to challenge ourselves and each other. We communicate clearly and invest heavily in protecting and cultivating our culture. This is what our company retreats and monthly meetings are about. In our organization, culture is everything. Hence our mission.

For those without a Spoke + weal in their city yet, how do you advise customers ensure their stylists are taking the best care of their hair and giving them the best cut possible?

I would ask if the hairdresser is able to cut dry. Find a hairdresser that has committed to continued education. Communicate clearly and bring in pictures. We hope to be in your city soon!


Outdoor Voices Collabs with HOKA ONE ONE On a New, Eye-Catching Running Shoe

Hoka One and Outdoor Voices new Running Collab

High-growth activewear label Outdoor Voices is doubling down on its commitment to life in the great outdoors with the launch of its first official collaboration with Goleta-based running shoe brand HOKA ONE ONE. The partnership is a revamping of HOKA’s  award-winning Clifton 4 running shoe. The springy, cushion-focused and lightweight style has become a popular alternative to previous years’ low profile shoe trend. The new Clifton 4 release is available a unisex shade of lemon chrome and goji berry, as well as two women’s colorways of powder blue and goji berry and pale pink and blush.

 On the new launch, Vice President of Product at HOKA Gretchen Weimer shares that,”HOKA ONE ONE and Outdoor voices are both bold brands that turn heads. The new colorways in our OV Clifton are unexpected, and they’ll catch your attention, but they work, and they’ll add the right kind of pop to your run, workout, or everyday life.” She continues that, “We are thrilled to partner with Outdoor Voices to introduce a special edition Clifton 4 collection that will tie together performance-based and active lifestyle brands,” said Gretchen Weimer, Vice President of Product at HOKA ONE ONE. “The HOKA and Outdoor Voices collection reflects the growing popularity of versatile footwear that blends athletic performance with everyday lifestyle.”

As far as offering a person reason for venturing into running, Outdoor Voices’ Founder and CEO Tyler Haney shares that, “Running is a key part of my daily routine.” “HOKA makes my favorite shoe to run in, and it’s been exciting to work together to bring our first collaboration to life — and to give our customers their first opportunity to wear head-to-toe OV.”

The new Clifton 4 running shoe is available in select Outdoor Voices retail store and online at OutdoorVoices.com.


How To Pack For An Alaskan Adventure


Heliyoga

I’ve just returned from Many of Alaska’s 2.07m visitors each year are there to explore the state's great outdoors, whether they are planning to hike through Denali National Park, kayak through Kachemak Bay or practice yoga on a glacier. And many, I’ve learned from local outdoors experts, come unprepared for the elements. I visited this past month to do all of the above activities, and learned some lessons on which gear was an absolute must and which just weighed me down and went totally unused.

While packing for my own visit to Denali National Park after winning the annual road lottery, I polled a number of Alaska residents and local guides to get some real advice on what to pack for an outdoor Alaskan adventure. Here is what they shared:

Baboon

Lighter the better

Float planes might be required to reach destinations too remote for cars, and have a strict 50lb limit when it comes to luggage. Lighter weight duffels made from technical fabrics like those from Osprey or Baboon can shave off a bit of weight and be durable enough to withstand rain, ice and being tossed from truck to boat. Streamlining gear so that at least a few pieces can do double-duty is also helpful. For instance, hiking boot-sneaker hybrids like those from Forsake can be worn on the flight over to save luggage space, and cleverly disguised hiking pants like the cult-favorite Meme pant from PrAna are comfortable and polished enough to go from plane to trek to dinner. Lululemon’s technical-chic Swing Trench jacket is a city slicker-friendly top layer that transitions nicely to semi-chilly nights out in Alaska.

Cotopaxi wmns Libre.jpg

Merino Wool

Outdoor enthusiasts anywhere will recommend this lowest fidelity of performance fabrics for base and mid-layers. The reason? It's hydrophilic so in the cold, it keeps heat close to the body, and in the heat it keeps cool air close to the body. Additionally, the fabric is said to have antimicrobial properties and subsequently does not smell. For this reason, it's been an outdoors person favorite for a very long time. Entire brands revolve around the fabric, like New Zealand-based Icebreaker whose finely crafted Merino wool gear is treasured by international hikers, skiiers and lodge loafers. Younger New Zealand brand Cotopaxi offers a similarly natural line of llama wool-based gear, including a gender-neutral and colorful Libre sweater that can do triple duty from trail to social gatherings to campfires.

patagoniavest.jpg

Vests

Alaska has a seemingly large swing in weather patterns, especially in the summer. So if you have no idea if or when the morning rain and fog will clear, or how warm you might be at the end of a five mile trail, a packable vest can be a real savior. Down vests such as Mammut’s packable Alvra Light down vest can be stored into a pocket on the vest itself or a small bag and easily tossed in to a daypack. And at the end of a day of chilly trekking, if you don’t want to wear a stiff, crunchy-sounding rain jacket to dinner at the lodge, this same vest can act as a sort of Alaskan dinner jacket.

Trail Weight Rain Jacket Backcountry.jpg

Rain gear

The outdoor experts I’ve spoken with who take tourists out on active excursions on a daily basis all insisted on one key piece of advice, to bring waterproof gear. They all advised inbound Alaska visitors to bring with a waterproof jacket, waterproof pants and waterproof shoes. Jeans, I learned, and any other garments made from hard-to-dry cotton, are the single worst item to wear in the often wet Alaskan outdoor. Waterproof gear by California-based Marmot is favorite of Karyn Murphy, scientist-in-residence and naturalist guide at Kachemak Bay luxury lodge Tutka Bay Lodge. Their new EVODry rain jacket line is waterproof for up to 24 hours and highly breathable. Mammut’s waterproof Runje hiking pants are a nicely tailored take on traditional hiking pants, and North Face’s fleece-lined Impendor Warm Hybrid tights are a nice choice for those preferring a slim leg look and a touch more warmth. For more playful patterns, Backcountry’s splashy Trail Weight jacket is a long-cut and lightweight jacket with a paint splash pattern. And when combining a trek with a cold plunge, I found that my surf-inspired swimsuit from Sensi Graves was a godsend at being movement-friendly and quick-drying.

Snacks

As important as gear is, for any dietary restrictions - packing some shelf-stable sustenance can be the difference between a pleasurable and a painful road trip between outdoor destinations. Due to Alaska’s scale, it is twice the size of Texas, many stops are four hours or more from one another with no eateries in between. Easy, lightweight healthy snacks might include the new mug muffins from Health Warrior, clean protein bars like those made by Navitas Organics or Tone It Up and oatmeal packets for when it’s cool outside.

Wanderlust's New Passport Program and the Rise of Mindful Fitness with CEO Sean Hoess

Wanderlust 108

The Wanderlust brand of four-day retreats and one-day festival turns ten next year, its evolution paralleling greater trends in the mindful fitness space. Sixty-five full-time employees and thousands of local and temporary employees now execute 60 events annually, including the new Wellspring conference in Palm Springs. Below, CEO and Co-founder Sean Hoess describes how the festival has evolved in their 10 year history, what’s next and why the work they are doing matters not just to personal wellness but cultural wellness, too.

How broad has the scope of Wanderlust events become?

"We’re at over 60 events annually. We did 25 one-day events in the US and six festivals this past year, the rest were international. We originally started with Wanderlust Festival, our four-day retreats that combine large-scale yoga retreat with a music and arts festival. Around 2013, we thought it would be fantastic to be able to reach people where they live and not require them to travel 500 miles to the mountains. So we dreamed up a simpler version called Wanderlust 108, which sometimes I think of as Wanderlust 101. It’s an accessible, linear event in contrast to our larger festivals, where you have over 200 events to choose from. The 108 events are beginner-friendly mindful triathlons, created to get people together and being active in their local park. We now have four-day festivals in Australia and New Zealand, most of our growth has been with the one-day Wanderlust 108 events, which are now happening everywhere from Russia and Japan to Western Europe and Chile.

With our new Wellspring event taking place this October in Palm Springs, we wanted to work to redefine wellness, in a broader sense than personal wellness. It’s a cross between an ideas conference and wellness festival. The new event lets us focus on on environmental wellness and societal wellness, too, which we’re really excited for."

How has the ethos and offering of the festival evolved?

"Yoga has and will continue to sit at the center of our vision of a mindful life. Your personal practice might be yoga or meditation or another form, but we do think that ‘practice’ more generally is part of the process of finding one’s true north. We were very deep into yoga in the beginning, but even in 2009 and 2010 we were offering a wide-range of other outdoor activity like meditation and hikes and stand-up paddleboard. For our audience, while yoga might have been the be-all-end-all for them in our earlier days, now it is still an important part of their wellness regime but a lot of them have started cycling and exploring more outdoor activities.

As far as the other part of the festivals, our music, art, food and wine have and continue to be a big interest of our community. We work to make that piece of the offering feel fresh and exciting each year."

How has having Adidas as a title sponsor changed the evolution of the festival?

"When I think of mindful fitness, there is fitness-fitness like HIIT or Crossfit, but mindful fitness would encompass yoga, Pilates, SoulCycle. It’s fitness that has a component of personal empowerment. Yoga is a forced digital detox, and a lot of other modalities have picked this up, which has fragmented the market a bit. ClassPass has helped with this. Our goal is get everyone into developing a meditation practice in one form, wherever it sits on this spectrum.

As far as Adidas goes, they have a strong interest in reaching women. They work with athletes, and started out with core sport and competitive sport. We’ve seen athletes adopt yoga as part of their physical and mental health programs, and Adidas wanted to understand it better and get more involved in it. They saw an opportunity with us to access our expertise. We are Wanderlust - we are this global container for a community that is out there already. It’s hard as a small company to do this expansion ourselves. Our partnership with Adidas has made it a lot easier for us to grow internationally."

I hear there are more changes to come! What is next for Wanderlust?

"We are always focused on our events and what they represent. I would like to see Wanderlust be more of a global lifestyle community, rather than a series of people who attend an event or buy a piece of apparel. I’ve always seen it as representative of a lifestyle, but it is a sort of container that brings people together. Everyone has the ability to bond through social networks and shared interest. We are in a position to offer this globally. This is the mission statement, expressing this. And to that end, we are launching a Wanderlust Passport. We will sell a pass that lets you go to any Wanderlust event in the world for an entire year. You could stay within your country or travel internationally. This would extend to our studios, too, and services and products that support the lifestyle of the wandering, conscious yogi and joining a global community. We really want to bring the community together in-person.

In addition to that, we are going to bring the Wanderlust festival experience to new cities for the first time. It’s also our 10th anniversary next year. Instead of four-day festivals on mountain resorts, we will bring a two-day version of this to cities and public parks. It will be done in lieu of the 108 version in that city - and really create a festival in a park, very much aligned with what we do on the mountainside. We want to a. raise the visibility and accessibility of the deeper experience of what Wanderlust offers and b. increase the awareness among people who can’t really travel to the destinations. Stay tuned."


A Fall Wellness Weekend in Northern California's Tri-Valley

 Photo Credit: @VisitTriValley

Photo Credit: @VisitTriValley

The perfect weekend away for me means hassle-free city access, garden-to-table dining and gorgeous scenery fit for a proper unplug. According to the Wine Spectator and local, anonymous wine loving philanthropists, the next great Northern California wine destination is the East Bay's Tri-Valley area. The trip takes about an hour from SF and most area airports: 45 miles east of San Francisco, 35 miles from OAK, 54 miles from SFO and 100 miles from SMF. For visiting New Yorkers sans driver's license and anyone else preferring not to get behind the wheel, it’s the only wine region accessible by public transit - take BART to the Pleasanton/Dublin stop and Lyft or Uber from there.

Tri-Valley’s main wine hub, Livermore, has been growing wine since the 1840s but it wasn't until recently that notable restauranteurs started moving, turning it into a favorite weekend destination for the urban wine set. With a kind invitation from the Tri-Valley tourist board, I packed up a bottle of green juice and a coffee for the 50 minute ‘road trip’ to learn how to turn a wine getaway into a wellness weekend.

Settling In

As adventurous wine drinkers are discovering the region’s tasting rooms, the Tri-Valley area is planning to open its first branded full service hotels in the next few years. At the moment, the area’s best charming and independently owned properties include The Rose in Pleasanton and the Purple Orchid Inn in Livermore. If staying close to the wineries in modern home or rustic coolcabin digs are more your style, check out local listings on Airbnb. Once you drop your bags, head into one of the Trivalley’s towns for a welcome glass of the area’s finest.

Clean Eating

Pop into Double Barrel in Livermore, Coco Cabana wine bar in Dublin, or the Vine in Danville for a glass of local goodness to get into the weekend state of mind. Healthy dining in the area is plentiful, from white tablecloth dinner on a winery at The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards to hip expat city chefs doing their wine country thing at Sabio in Pleasanton. The best way to find plant-based, gluten-free fare is at one of the local eateries specializing in local produce - they are more often than not happy to whip something up. I dined at The Restaurant at Wente and they prepared a wonderful vegan, gluten-free meal. Daytime eats are easy to find - for Livermore’s best espresso check out the new Rosetta Espresso. For quick, healthy lunchtime bits try Ofelia’s in Livermore and local favorite vegan dining spot Blossom.

Getting Up, Working Out

You want your tush whooped by a creatively sequenced flow class? Dragonfly Yoga in downtown Livermore offers a range of class styles and levels. Owners Stacy and Suzannah both teach wonderful classes for a full mind/body recharge from sweaty vinyasa with inversions to restorative yin classes. Crossfit classes abound in the Tri-Valley area, and local boxes include Crossfit LivermoreSchubox in Pleasanton and I Will Crossfit in Dublin. Barre is picking up popularity, and the newly opened Pure Barre in Pleasanton teaches their signature method mostly to local young, fit professionals. Other studios worth checking out include Absolute Barre at The Quad and Livermore’s Mindful Movements Pilates studio that just started teaching a barre class a few times a week.

If SUP, hiking, kayaking, or anything on a lake with 360 views of the surrounding nature is more your speed, check out the Del Valle Regional Park - a 15 minute drive up the mountain.

Hitting the Spa

Check out Elegant Alchemist at the Three Palm co-op space to see Leah for amazing bodywork and facial treatments. The space is a gorgeous pre-war home owned by a hair stylist who wanted to create a space for herself and her over 15 colleagues to be able to offer spa and salon services to the area. Other spa spots include Lavandu and Drift in Pleasanton, and Blush! in Dublin.

Yoga in the Vineyard

My favorite healthy activity that Livermore offers that its wine country neighbors to the north do not is a regularly scheduled yoga on the vineyard. Throughout the spring and summer season, Dragonfly Yoga partners with a local winery - last year Wente, this year Concannon - and teaches a sunset, mixed level class followed by wine and bites. Each class is $25, BYO mat. 

Small Production Wines

Most of the wineries in the area are family owned, and many of these are being run by fourth and fifth generation. During my stay, I loved the wines and tasting room at Steven Kent. In addition to their tasting room they have a reserve room for members, in which they offer vertical tastings of their famed Lineage and Premier labels as well as small group seminars with their winemaker and other top wine personalities in the Tri-Valley. Other must-do Livermore wineries include Nottingham Cellars3 StevesLas Positas Vineyards and McGrail Vineyards.

Shopping

The largest outlet mall in California is located a stone’s throw from downtown Livermore, San Francisco Premium Outlets. There are few lines you can’t find here. On the activewear end - they have an Under Armour, Nike and New Balance. And as for post-gym: there’s a Bloomingdales, Saks Off 5th, Prada, Bally, Rag and Bone, Jimmy Choo, Theory, Maxmara, Bruno Cucinelli. It’s endless - pack plenty of water and snacks.

Checking Out

Pack up your wine, your local olive oils and any local spa goodies you may have purchased and head to Rosetta for an espresso for the road.

What to Pack

Don’t bring too much if you’re planning on hitting the outlets. You can find a season’s worth of essentials here. Days are warm, nights are chillier. As with any wine country, bring layers! And extra bags for shopping and wine to bring home as gifts.

The Future of Food is Vegan: How One Superfood Company is Getting Us Hooked on Plants

HealthWarrior.jpg

Health Warrior is a seven-year-old, high-growth and plant-based superfood company based in Richmond, Virginia that might be best known for popularizing chia seeds in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) space. But they are best known in my kitchen as the makers of my new favorite travel meal: vegan mug muffins. The co-founders behind Health Warrior have done some major heavy lifting when it comes to popularizing sustainable, healthful superfood ingredients and getting them into snack foods. They see the future as plant-based and to see this mission-driven company grow as quickly as they have is so inspiring.

Cofounded by college roommates Shane Emmett and Dan Gluck, along with friend Nick Morris, after reading the Omnivore’s Dilemma and Born to Run and realizing how much the food industry was hurting consumers, they aimed to start a food company based on real nutrition. Shane and Dan's words, “When we started the company we realized that Americans were overfed and undernourished.” Just 12 months after launching nationally in Whole Foods Market, the brand’s signature chia-based became the top-selling bar across Whole Foods’ stores. Currently, Shane is CEO of Health Warrior, and Dan is Health Warrior's board director and managing partner at Power Plant Ventures. Here, these two co-founders discuss the plant-based and vegan movement today and where healthy foods are headed next.

Why did you go the plant-based direction and why do you think it’s important to the market today?

Shane: What we are doing is really celebrating the biodiversity of heroic superfoods and making them more convenient. In modern grocery stores, most of the food you are surrounded with is not good for you. Even food that is considered ‘better for you’ isn’t ‘good for you’. We wanted to make food that is 'good’ for you. Superfoods are just foods that are nutrient dense, and we felt we could use them in an accessible way to make people healthy.

Dan: Something that helps us and guides the thesis at Power Plant Ventures is that the food system is broken and that it is unhealthy and unsustainable and inhumane. We believe that plant-based foods are one of the best ways to solve this.

How is Health Warrior different from other vegan snack brands?

Shane: I didn’t know much about CPG going in, and I realized that most packaged food is unhealthy not to make it taste good but instead to make it cheap. We use an exceptionally low amount of sugar and always use superfoods as our first ingredient. It’s worth noting that some bars will promote chia as an ingredient, writing it really large on their packaging, but chia will be the last ingredient on the list meaning it’s the smallest amount of any ingredient in that product.

There are around 300,000 edible plant species - and just three of them make up almost 60% of our American calories: corn, rice and wheat. There are so many other nutrient-dense superfoods out there that don’t get used. We started with chia, but we’ve always intended to explore different hero ingredients from the plant world. We also look to aid in sustainability and thoughtful land use with our supply chain.

Dan: You also see companies who advertise ‘no sugar’ but use sugar alcohols or other synthetics to sweeten their products. There are a bunch of white papers coming out now that talk about how your body can’t digest these. Some of these sugar substitutes are like the new Olestra.

Superfoods and vegan foods are becoming household names with mainstream shoppers. Is this a trend and what is the next vanguard in this space?

Shane: Eighteen months after we launched nationally with Whole Foods, we launched in Target. We thought we would have to educate everyone on what chia seeds were. But now I look at our Amazon orders and you will see them all over the country, not just metropolitan areas. We think that fixing food will fix the problems in our healthcare system with people suffering from diabetes and obesity. If we can fix food, we can fix healthcare. It’s amazing to see the awareness of plant ingredients that we use like chia seed and pumpkin seeds. Our pumpkin seed bars went straight to Costco. The awareness happened really quickly - and not just in New York and Los Angeles.

Dan: Something that we talk a lot about at Health Warrior and Power Plant Ventures is that we are in the early innings of the food revolution. We are seeing buy-in from consumers and we’ve read statistics about how there is a 600% increase in consumers who identify as plant-based. Facebook just opened up an office in San Francisco whose office is totally plant-based. Corporates are also buying in. There was $42b in M&A deals in 2017: large strategic food acquisitions are focused on plant-based foods. Tyson just bought a big stake in Beyond Meat. And beyond the US, China last year sent new dietary guidelines to help cut meat consumption by 50%. Buy-in as far as plant-based and better-for-you is really happening and is so important in being able to effect change.

You are evolving the Health Warrior brand beyond bars - what is next and why are you moving in that direction?

Shane: We are in every Whole Foods in the country and are one of the top ranking bars on Amazon. The rise in direct-to-consumer sales in food has been really exciting. It’s given us the opportunity to innovate more quickly. We can try new things and see what our consumers love before taking something into retail. We have two new product lines: a superfood protein powder that is unique in that it is vegan and paleo, it’s sourced from pumpkin and chia and flax, with no added sugars or sweeteners. We heard a tremendous amount of noise about ‘couldn’t these protein powders have less ingredients and be less refined and have less artificial flavors’ and so we are doing it. The second one is a protein mug muffin launching at Wegman’s. It's a warm, spoonable muffin with two times the amount of protein as sugar. Mug muffins and mug cakes have become so popular on social media, so we thought we could make this and have it be a great source of fiber, have really little sugar, have so much protein with few ingredients. As far as what’s next, I read a book called The Third Plate and the author talks about how fine dining restaurants created the quinoa trend years ago. Fine dining is still doing a lot to show us new foods and food forms, and now, if you look there and listen carefully and see what people are doing in digital media, we can pay attention to what is happening now and next.

Due to this listening and watching, we lowered the sugar content of our chia food bars by 40% this year and I think this will be demanded by other brands, too. The microwavable mug came from this. The mug muffins we hope will tap a major trend in the industry right now: lots of products are being built for small meals. Not a full 500-600 calorie burrito type of item but a smaller meal that is more than a snack. It’s a major social media trend, and a great format for delivering real food and real nutrition and a way that Americans are starting to eat. For this and all of our new products, it must fit our guard rails: superfood as first ingredient, low sugar and no fake ingredients that you wouldn’t have in your pantry.

Who are the brands that you both are paying attention to now, who are creating exciting vegan products or have made a traditional vegan product more appealing to a broad audience?

Shane: There is a brand new one that just launched called A Dozen Cousinsthat is a gourmet, ready-to-eat bean company. This company has a really great story about making beans delicious and gourmet again. One we have been eating a lot is Beanfield’s chip company. Beans as a platform will be a really big one.

Dan: We are investors in Beyond Meat and they have created a healthier product that mimics the consistency and flavor of meat. What is really unique about Beyond Meat from a marketing perspective is that they asked retailers put their products in cold case next to meat. We didn’t want to be next to vegan brands. If you need any validation more than Beyond Burger now being on every TGI Fridays menu, I don’t know what you need.  

What is next for the industry at large?

Dan: If you look at healthy food trade show Expo West as an example, 10 years ago it was made up of hardcore products. Now, the quality of the new brands that are joining is just transformative. Particularly as it applies to vegan eating. We’ve really seen the industry grow in terms of sophistication. In last Y Combinator class seven companies are in the innovative food sector. It’s encouraging to see some of the brightest minds out of Stanford and MIT go into this space instead of finance and traditional tech sectors.

Dan: Many larger brands don’t have resources to innovate or can’t do it with the speed that is necessary in the fast-paced market today. In the past couple of years, the strategics when looking to acquire - especially when a company is doing $50m or more - are now looking more downstream at companies who are doing $25m in sales. Earlier stage investors now have a much higher probability of exit earlier on. These large corporations are catching on to how quickly this industry is moving and how consumers are looking for mission-driven brands. Today, everyone wants to go to the ‘about’ section because people want to see the founder story and it has to be authentic. Large companies have a hard time making new products authentic. It’s really encouraging to see some of these large strategics embrace some of these brands - you see Chobani launching incubators and Nestle and Pepsi embracing working with smaller brands in concert.

In terms of sustainability, it’s becoming more known that eight times more land to produce one pound of protein for meat as plants, and four times as much water for the same. You also look at the majority of land in the US and global basis and the consumer is beginning to wake up to realize that to have a more sustainable food system there has to be more emphasis on plant-based diet.

Shane: this is intertwined with healthcare. The money is starting to follow the value of the food system changing. This industrialized, monoculture food system has only been around about 50 years. Like smoking, when something gets dangerous we begin to course-correct. We might see meat and sugar treated similarly to smoking in the near future. We see celebrities talking about the benefits of plant-based for the land and performance. James Cameron is now co-producing a movie called Game Changes about athletes and veganism, Serena Williams is talking about it for her performance. Maintaining the genuine whole food nutrition is really the key as we inevitably move to a plant-powered future.

What is next for you, at Health Warrior and at Power Plant Ventures?

Shane: In the bar category, there are no other bars with nationwide distribution who have a superfood as first ingredient. We eventually want to be able to transcend the retail shelf as Nike and Patagonia do. Movement is something of lifestyle, so we are working with emerging fitness and wellness brands as well as SoulCycle and Barry’s so we can really connect with our customer outside of traditional brick and mortar locations.

I wanted to stay that we would be running a plant-powered ad at the NFL. But in 10 years the women’s national team will be bigger and that is where we will be running ads. When you are starting a company and read about starting one, you have to work like a crazy lunatic for five to eight years and you can’t do anything else. At some point, I look forward to writing a book about the food industry.

Dan: We are investors in Thrive Market and they’ve let us know that plant-based is one of their highest searched terms. Power Plant will invest a billion dollars in plant-based food companies. I’m looking forward to an upcoming Spartan race with my three year old son.

How A Former Banker Built AnAdult Summer Camp For Gourmands and Outdoor Novices

How A Former Banker Built AnAdult Summer Camp For Gourmands and Outdoor Novices

Adult summer camps, complete with expert guides, gourmet meals and happy hours, are the next big wellness trend. Here’s how Pursuit Series Co-founder Julia Stamps-Mallon turned her idea into a sold-out outdoors festival.

The California Road Trip Adventure We’re Tripping on This Fall

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Friend of Well + Away and inspiring outdoor adventurer Veronica Baas recently visited California for a long weekend of healthy road tripping to explore her favorite outdoor destinations along the 101 and Route 1. Below, she shares her trip notes, from the most stunning national parks and vegan eateries along the way, to the tourist attractions that really are worth a pit-stop.

by Guest Contributor Veronica Baas

As a native Coloradan and newly branded Arizonan, I love getting out of the desert to visit the west coast. And as a technical marketer and burgeoning engineer I need to switch up screen time for outdoor green time to feel balanced. And when I say outdoors, I mean outside in the woods running, hiking or swimming. Basically, what meditation does for some of my friends, a hike does for me. A non-rushed, multi-day drive down the 101 freeway, stopping to explore  national and state parks along the way, is one of my favorite self-care, slow-living rituals.

Driving from the top of California, like, say, in Redwood country, to the tip, say in San Diego for margaritas, takes roughly 14 hours. To give myself enough time to enjoy it and soak in as much nature as I can, I give myself a period of three or four nights for the drive, depending on how much PTO I have to spare. I’ll pick one or two major cities I want to hit along the way, as well as stops for hot springs and can’t miss trailheads. All of this gets mapped along a paper map to ensure I don’t get overexcited by any far-flung trails and stray too far from my route.

Read on for one of my favorite routes down the 101, with stops along the way to get out and explore some of the most beautiful Northern California outdoors.


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1. Redwood National and State Parks

If you’re flying in, the adventure begins at the small California Redwood Coast-Humboldt County Airport, just 30 minutes from the national forest visitor center. There’s something magical about seeing the country’s tallest trees tower over a horizon of full-on ocean..

The redwood protected area is made up of four state parks: Redwood national park, Del Norte Coast, Jedediah Smith, and Prairie Creek Redwoods state parks. The entire territory lies within two counties, Del Norte and Humboldt. One of my favorite places to explore within the state parks is Fern Canyon. Or, if you’re strapped for time, the Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail is a solid option for shorter hikes. It’s not too steep, and the trees are gorgeous. You’ll see tons of full-grown redwoods as well as old, hollowed-out trees.

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2. Russian Gulch State Park

After nearly four hours of driving, stop off at Corners of the Mouth organic grocery store in Mendocino to grab healthy picnic items for a hike up to the Russian Gulch State Park waterfall. Skip the heavily trafficked loop and find a shorter hike only one mile or so each way off of Road 409. Park where the pavement ends and go behind the horse camp gates to find this trailhead. The hiking itself should only take you 30 or so minutes round trip but the majestic atmosphere is a nice place to stop and take a few deep breaths.  You can also camp, bike, hike, kayak, or dive elsewhere in the park. Anyone who has plenty of time should stop and stay for a few days, but at the very least the falls are a must-see.

If you do take the Google-recommended route, remember to bring cash for an $8 admission fee that goes to maintain the park. This area was easy for me to fall in love with, so I ended up sticking nearby and heading to the Mendocino Headlands state park next, conveniently located in the same county. The headlands trail is a fun 4-mile hike with cliffside ocean views and gorgeous wildflowers to marvel at. Dogs are welcome here, too.

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3. Lands End Labyrinth

Hop back in the car and head south for three more hours to San Francisco. I like to stop by one major city on these drives, to  treat myself to a great meal and just a touch of hustle bustle (though I still try to keep myself from looking at my inbox). Here, I’ll often find myself headed to dinner at healthy restaurants such as vegan sushi spot Shizen or raw-friendly but not totally raw Nourish Cafe. And for an afternoon of slow-paced exploring, I love visiting the deYoung, San Francisco’s contemporary museum that’s surrounded by Golden Gate Park. Or Lands End Labyrinth, a locals’ favorite hike that sits on the northern tip of town.

If you do make it out to Land’s End, you’ll find one of my favorite San Francisco secrets: an oceanside labyrinth, at the literal land’s end. In the mornings and at sunset you might catch a few visitors meditating or practicing yoga here, I’ve yet to find a time of day where it’s not completely stunning. Though of course sunrise and sunset are peak prettiness. While in town, don’t forget to check out Well + Away’s favorite vegan meals in San Francisco, as well as some of my own favorite tasty vegan restaurants.

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4. The Mystery Spot

The next morning, time to hit the road again, this time for a two hour drive south of San Francisco to the Mystery Spot, a mysterious site riddled with gravity phenomenon just north of Santa Cruz. The museum is hidden in the mountains though each time I visit it seems more and more people are discovering this little natural wonder. Fun fact: a few years back California native Lorin Ashton, aka Bassnectar, made a track called The Mystery Spot.

Within the gravitational anomaly you can lean fully forward without falling over or watch lighter objects hang in mid-air.

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5. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

Head south for another two and a half hours until you hit Big Sur State Park. This stop might be a household name around the world, and for good reason. It’s too beautiful to skip if you’re passing by. Visiting this luxe, coastal town is a nice way to slow down and relax after a busy visit to SF. The town is home to less than 1,000 people, but the plant-based bites at the Big Sur Bakery compete with vegan hot spots in the city. I recommend the veggie saute with baby zucchini, green beans, tomatoes, and fennel confit or the creamy vegan risotto.

After an energizing meal it’s time to hit the trail again. This park boasts six popular trails ranging in length from a half mile to the most advanced, eight-mile Mt. Manuel Trail. For a good middle point in difficulty and a local favorite try the Valley View and Pfeiffer Falls trail. It’s an intermediate hike, three miles long that brings you to a 60-foot waterfall.

The state park itself is famous for its misty views, steep cliffs, and rocky shorelines. It is also formally known as the longest undeveloped coastline in the U.S, which should not come as a surprise with such endless vistas on hiking trails and from campgrounds. Before packing up, be sure to spend an hour or two sunbathing and swimming at Pfeiffer Beach.

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6. Hearst Castle

Worth a slight detour off of the 101, and three hours south of Big Sur, is Hearst Castle, one of my favorite architectural landmarks in the state. If time allows, be sure to take a scenic detour via CA-1 and stop at Slates Hot Springs while en route. The mansion itself is notable for its extravagant decor, both ocean and mountain views, and its iconic indoor and outdoor pools. Both pools are gorgeous but the indoor pool reminds me of something you’d find in a European castle. The Hearst Castle attract millions of visitors every year, so brave the crowds and you’ll be rewarded with a pretty mind-blowing architectural experience.

If you’re feeling peckish after your visit, pop down to Centrally Grown in downtown San Simeon for a wide variety of organic and vegan options. If you do choose to splurge on a meal onsite at the castle, know that most ingredients used are organic and locally-sourced. Plant-based options include a sweet and sour tofu, roasted artichoke, roasted butternut organic squash, and more.
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Please let me know what you think about my favorite road trip here. Taking time to get out and explore the outdoors and breathe in non-city air has such a big impact on my stress levels and happiness, and I hope you find it helps you, too.. For more details on route and drive time, check out the map!




Our London VitalGuide is HERE!!

Our London VitalGuide is HERE!!

Our first London VitalGuide is here, and ready to revolutionize the way you see hip, healthy London. Check out our chat with City Curator Emily Warburton-Adams on how she curated the best vegan-friendly restaurants, coolest fitness studios, wellness-focused escapes and more.

This LA Esthetician Turned her Home Spa Business into Downtown's Biggest Spa

I met up with DESUAR Spa owner Deisy Suarez to learn how this former home-spa esthetician transformed a grassroots operation into downtown Los Angeles' largest day spa. On the day we met, downtown LA's busy farmers' market had DESUAR's block sectioned off to cars, so I hopped out of my Lyft, grabbed a green juice and organic berries along the way, and followed signs for the spa into a commercial building. I wandered down a flight of stairs and after turning a corner discovered what felt like a massive spa-speakeasy.

High, exposed and metallic ceilings, gently lit candles and Moroccan Thuya wood appeared throughout. I met up with Deisy in the relaxation room, where they serve tea and sparkling wine, where she handed me off to one of her colleagues for a massage on Deisy's favorite amenity - DESUAR's Himalayan Salt Bed. It was a dreamy treatment, in a gorgeous space that felt both totally urban and a million miles away. 

Here is how Deisy built her dream spa:

Tell us about DESUAR Spa and how you came to the spa world?

"DESUAR Spa is a 4,400 square foot day spa located in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. We have eight treatment rooms, one of which includes a Himalayan salt bed, in which we offer massages, facials, scrubs, wraps, slimming treatments, waxing, spray tanning and soaks. Our style is speakeasy-meets-industrial with a Moroccan twist. Our goal is to provide the best relaxation and also cater to the diverse community of Downtown Los Angeles.

I completed my massage program certificate at the National Holistic Institute in 2010, then attended Marinello School of Beauty acquiring my esthetician license in 2011. I opened a “home spa” offering facials, skin treatments and other beauty services out of a room in my home. In 2015, the home version of DESUAR Spa grew too big to operate out of a small space, and I started looking for commercial space."  

How did you know you were ready to make the jump into opening your own space?

"It was tough to find the right space and a landlord that was willing to take the risk and lease to me. My home business was flourishing and that’s when I began scouting for a bigger location, but I couldn’t find a landlord in Downtown LA who was willing to lease a space to a single, female Latina who had this dream of opening a spa. All they hear when I said 'spa' was 'massage parlor' and they just did not have interest in knowing more about it. It was around this time that I got married, and though he doesn’t have knowledge of the spa industry, with him in the picture, landlords were more receptive of renting to me. To some degree, at least with regard to obtaining a lease, my husband legitimized my business."

 

Did you raise money, or take it on solo?

"This has been a solo venture. I wanted to build my first spa without outside investors. My husband helped me build the spa, carrying wood and drywall up 12 flights of stairs, adding air conditioners, and finding water supplies. He secured business loans that he personally guaranteed, along with his pension and car to help get us the amount of capital we needed.  We worked seven days a week, 12 or more hours a day to secure our new location and cover the crazy buildout costs. We were denied by the city three times for permits thus making the process more grueling and more expensive, but we did it."  

How did you develop your clientele?

"From opening my home spa until now, I’ve always used the best products, found the best training, and have a true passion for what I do. I also posted ads in every local newspaper, dropped my menu to every Downtown LA building, attended and participated in every local networking event. We got our vehicle wrapped to advertise the spa, and I then spent many evenings driving around the local area, parking in strategic locations as a way to advertise. I encouraged my clients to leave reviews for me on every site; took advantage of any technology. Creating strategic partnerships with local businesses has also really served me well to this day. Relationships are very important. It is a challenge to get clients in the door but once I do, it is my goal to make sure they leave with the most positive impression."

How did you come up with the treatments?

"Coming up with spa treatments was the fun part! I traveled South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa to soak in all that I could. I looked into everything, including a 700-year-old Turkish Spa in Downtown Istanbul with the 5" water bugs,  to learn about spa culture across every culture. My dream was to offer the most effective healing treatments, no matter how far I had to go to find them."

What is your next goal for the spa?

"We have been blessed with an incredible therapist team, who we recruited using online posts and social media, who meet strictest standards of spa education and service. Now, with the team in place, I’m excited to soon introduce our own product line and open more locations nationwide and worldwide."

What advice would you have to any current therapists or spa managers looking to open their own facility?

"My number one piece of advice is to dedicate yourself to your craft by constantly studying and improving yourself. You must be dedicated and always learning. Our business evolves and grows so much every day and the only way to stay ahead is to be ahead. Surround yourself with good people who will encourage you and help you grow."