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Inspiring Conversations with KJ Whitney of Prideful Wellness Self Care Center

Today we’d like to introduce you to KJ Whitney. 

Hi KJ, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
For nine or ten years I was living in [Washington] D.C. I worked at a job that was just a job. It wasn’t my career path or lit fires in me or something that I was passionate about. The commute alone felt soul-sucking. Eventually, I moved to Colorado with the intention of not doing anything less than what I loved. I had been passionless in my purpose of being for a very long time and I wanted to do something different. 

Prideful Wellness created a space that I needed as a transperson and a queer person to engage in myself care in a safe and affirming environment. That’s what I wanted and what I wanted to provide to our community. I had humble beginnings in Lyons. I worked out of a train caboose at the corner of 66th and 36th for almost a year. I grew out of Lyons and into Longmont. I moved the practice into my home for about seven years so that I could save money to open up a commercial location. I was finally able to open Prideful Wellness Self Care Center at its current location just before the pandemic in September 2019. We have three treatment rooms and a community space where we host events. 

The practice is a super fun, LGBTQ+ focused, warm environment. Silly but professional. What I believe we are building is not only a safe space for queer and transgender folx to come get body work, massage, coaching, etc, but also a community space. The groups, events, game nights, all of it. The intention is to help folx come together in a safe and nurturing environment to create community. When you support Prideful Wellness, you make a direct impact back to the community. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
My vision for Prideful Wellness is one where our employees, our massage therapists, our practitioners, and our instructors all make living wages. So, paying above industry standards is important but keeping the business stable and sustainable and just finding the balance in all of that is a challenge. 

I’m a little bit of an introvert so networking can be a challenge. Being the center of attention is not my favorite. Self-promotion is tough for me. I have a very entrepreneurial spirit. I am an ideas person. I am a doer. When it comes to schmoozing and rubbing elbows with folks, I don’t do surface-level conversation well. So, that’s been a learning curve for me. I’m glad Prideful Wellness has gotten to a place where we can hire out where I’m lacking. 

The other challenge that I was facing was big imposter syndrome. Not feeling queer enough to actually engage with my community. 

When I stepped away from being the main practitioner [at Prideful Wellness] a lot of my previous clientele also stepped away. The reality is that I have lived and breathed this for 10 years. So, anything that happens with the business is personal. It’s funny, you know I’ve been in Colorado for ten years and people ask me “have you been to blah blah blah springs?” or “have you been to this trail?” and it’s like, no. I’ve dedicated my life to this. And I don’t regret it. It is exactly what I wanted to do and I guess the challenge is that I also had the goal of growing it to a place where I didn’t have to be the main practitioner anymore. I’ve been a practitioner for 20 years. I want to grow into something different while being a practitioner part-time. I love that I’ve created all of these amazing personal relationships and connections with people as their practitioner. I wish they would come back and support the mission while still seeing a wonderful practitioner. 

The pandemic has not been nice to the touch industry because you couldn’t touch people. We literally couldn’t be in connection with our supports and that included personal services. That has been a huge challenge. 

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Prideful Wellness Self Care Center?
Prideful Wellness is an LGBTQ+ and allied-focused wellness center in Longmont, Colorado. We offer services such as massage therapy, reiki, and life coaching. We also host yoga, tai chi, and meditation classes each month as well as various community events including Queer and Nerdy Game Nights and Movie Nights. Our brand is all about safety and inclusivity. We are creating a safer and more affirming space for our LGBTQ+ community so that anyone who walks through our doors feels comfortable and supported to be their most authentic self. Through our Safer Space Initiative. We want to empower businesses and individuals to do the same by first questioning what is it to be a safer space, bringing awareness to the issues and insecurities the LGBTQ+ community often face, and getting the conversation started on what it means to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community. It starts with you, it starts with me, it starts with an open mind and a conversation. 

Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us?
1. When I feel stuck or lost or directionless…taking imperfect action will give me direction and an answer faster than doing nothing.

2. As a business owner, investing in the people that I choose to have around me is important. Relationships are everything. It takes pretty serious guts, courage, bravery to put yourself and your craft out there in public view because people are critical. It’s easy to judge when you are not the one doing the work. The lesson I keep learning and re-learning is that I can’t let the criticism of people who aren’t putting themselves out there affect me. I still have to live my values from alignment regardless of what people say who aren’t in it with me.

Pricing:

  • Free Life Coaching Consultation
  • $95/ 1-hour Massage or Reiki Session
  • $30/ month Memberships
  • $45 Tickets to our Self Care Health Fair

Contact Info:


Image Credits
Callie Mitchell

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