How I Thrive: Apothékary Founder Shizu Okusa

How I Thrive: Apothékary Founder Shizu Okusa

How I Thrive takes an inside look at founders, entrepreneurs and leaders and the behind-the-scenes self-care work they do to in order to live balanced, happy lives. Today's edition is with Apothekary Founder Shizu Okusa, who has a black belt in Japanese sword fighting (!) and has eight secret tattoos. 

Name: Shizu Okusa 

City: San Francisco, CA 

Company: Apothékary, an online herbal apothecary that offers food as medicine to heal our modern-day ailments.

Role: Founder & CEO 

Beyond the role: 
I love yoga, and fitness in general. But I also carry a black belt in Japanese sword fighting aka “Kendo”, have a few bee colonies in Vancouver BC, and also have a growing portfolio of personal investments in the CPG space.

Morning routine:

 I typically wake up really early, around 4 to 4:30 a.m., and I always start my day with an Apothékary-infused concoction, whether that be coffee and our Mind Over Matter blend, or Maca and our Slay the Day blend, or a simple You Dew You sparkling water tonic. Whatever my body is feeling that morning!

Next, I always try to move my body, even if just for 10 or 15 minutes. It's such a vital step in releasing those early morning thoughts of anxiety or stress. It really doesn’t have to be intense, a long walk or calming yoga session will do the trick. Lately, I’ve been really into [solidcore's] at home workouts. Next, I always make sure to have a fresh-pressed celery juice (my first company was called JRINK, which got acquired in late 2019), and just sit for a moment, kind of as a meditation. I like to sit on the floor and just ground myself and write out my to-do list for the day ahead. After all that’s done, I’ll hop in the shower and get ready for the day.

The first thing I do after work:  

The first thing I do after work is take a walk outside. I often find myself regretting that I stayed indoors the whole day, and even if it’s just for 10 minutes while on a call with my team or friends, I like to get some vitamin D in with a leisurely stroll to decompress from the day. Given I start my day around 4:30 a.m. PST every day (yes even on weekends!), I like to wind down around 3pm PST and check my email / Slack sporadically until evening. In a non-COVID world, I’d probably be out with friends at a park, a happy hour, a workout class, or at an event meeting with other like minded female entrepreneurs.

Dinner ritual: 

 I love to cook dinner at the end of the day. It's a great way to do something that requires most (if not all) of your focus, and its a great self-care practice when you’re making healthy, plant-based meals that fuel your body. But I’m human, and sometimes I just need someone to bring me dinner! On those days, I love to support local small restaurants and in particular Japanese food because it reminds me of my heritage and Mom’s cooking. When I can’t have the actual thing, I’ll take it to-go!

Nighttime routine:  

First things first, I take off all of my makeup off (if I’m wearing any), then I’ll do a face mask if I feel like I need one. I’ve been using an Apothékary one (launching in April/May of this year), it's our first foray into topical skincare and I’m so happy with how it turned out!
You’ll notice I do a lot of things that bring the mind back to the self—I love to end my day with a slow skincare routine, with a thoughtful application process (facial massaging, patting in the product). It’s such a relaxing way to end your day and treat yourself. A few clean beauty products I love to use right now are the Drunk Elephant Night Serum, the Tatcha Eye Serum Stick, and the Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil—and bring all of the products down to the neck. I also want to point out that my daily routine changes throughout the year, depending on what my body needs. Our Dosha, or Ayurvedic mind-body constitution, changes season by season and depends on where you live. Wellness isn't always a rigid routine!

Self-care guilty pleasure:

I'm a sucker for beautifully packaged clean beauty products and jewelry. I’ve been on Etsy far more than I’d (or my wallet would) like in the past year. There’s something about skincare and fine jewelry that makes me feel feminine, which is important because as a startup founder I often find myself to be more in my masculine. I also really like tattoos. I have eight to date—mostly hidden.

Workday self-care hack:

My mom gave me this Japanese backstrap that helps you maintain good posture throughout the day. I find that I can get so focused on my work, while sitting at my desk on the computer, that I will forget to focus on my posture.

How do you define self-care?

Self-care is an intuitive practice. It's a combination of taking care of yourself with healthy foods, exercise, skincare … but it's also about listening to what your mind and body need. Do you need a chill day of relaxation, or do you need to move around and shake it out? Do you need to talk to a loved one, or do you need some alone time with your favorite book or movie? Learning to listen is the first step to a meaningful and impactful self-care system. And it's important to note that self-care is not a one-size-fits-all thing, what works for your favorite wellness guru might work for you, but it also might not! And that’s totally fine.

Favorite childhood toy or hobby:

I like flow—things without a lot of lines or instructions. To me, instructions are kind of like rules meant to be broken. To this day, I prefer things like sketching and painting without any guidelines and just doing whatever my heart vs head desires at that moment (i.e. less “cerebral”).

State of your (email) inbox: 

My inbox is always a busy place, but my team and I use a few tools that help keep the inbox organized and less noisy. One tool that is great for internal team communications, especially while we’re all working from home, is Slack: it is so helpful for chatting back and forth without clogging your inbox while keeping the conversations organized with categorized channels.

We also use it as a bonding tool, with a channel for gratitude (#gratitudegym), where we share what we’re grateful for that day. Two tools that really keeps me organized are Boomerang, an extension for gmail that helps me control my inbox, and Clockwise, an app to manage my calendar—both are Godsend apps to help me with work-life integration.

Want to kick your self-care game up a notch? Subscribe to Silk + Sonder today.

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