Posetta, Founder, Tonic Wellness Boutique
"When I started Tonic, the whole idea was about accepting who you are. Doing your best every day, but also understanding that afterwards you need to take care of yourself. Basically, it incorporates a modern hot and cold method with compression and lymphatic massage. My number one priority is that this is something you can always come and do. It’s not too pricey, because for me if someone comes and just does, say, the sauna, I’m the happiest — because I know how much this is going to benefit this person. It balances your hormones, releases endorphins, boosts your blood circulation. All things to help you ground yourself and relax.
Posetta wears the Balc in Black.
I grew up in Sierra Leone. At the age of ten, I dislocated my hip. That led to three surgeries and chronic pain. I lost my father at the same time. I see it as my blessing — who I am right now is because of everything that happened. But for a long time, you know what they call the smiling depression? When you’re working, doing activities, meeting with your friends, studying, smiling… but there is something that doesn’t feel right from the inside, and only you know it. I think that happened to me for a long time growing up. No one around me [in Sierra Leone] understood depression, chronic pain, or inflammation, anxiety, panic attacks. There weren’t words for those things. My mom would say, ‘maybe you dislocated your hip again, let’s go get an X-ray.’ And the doctor would be like, ‘I don’t know, she’s tired.’ Answers that really made no sense to me.
When I started walking again, I was like, ‘I’m going to be strong, I’m going to do everything by myself, eat right, exercise.’ And it became an obsession to be independent. I was sixteen. I became a gym rat and I was fixated on food and diets. Back then you were supposed to be really skinny and I had hips — it wasn’t ‘normal.’ I would hear people in the background: ‘Yeah, she’s beautiful but she needs to lose weight.’ Those kinds of comments really affected me. For a long time, I starved myself. Working out wasn’t going to help me. And then even later, when I was healthy, people would say, ‘I think she got filler in her butt.’ After twenty years, like why? But I’ve learned how to pick myself up. Lipstick always made me feel better. [Laughs]
Posetta wears the Scoop in Black.
At nineteen years old I lost my aunt to cancer, she was forty. I lived through her chemo, radiation, everything. There was a big moment after she died where I realized I was really unhappy, and I felt like there was something inside I needed to get out. I would take walks on the beach to clear my mind, and it helped. I started being more compassionate towards myself. Which was a big thing for me, because I hated myself for so long. I just came to a point where I said, ‘This is my life. I could die any day. I’m going to love myself from now on.’ It was very hard, honestly. But instead of staying obsessed with dieting, I fixated on being happy and healthy. I got lucky — I fell in love, got married, had kids, and kept the lifestyle going, but it wasn’t as much ‘me, me, me’ anymore. With all my beautiful kids, there was more love coming into my life, and I learned a lot from them. I got to the point where I thought, why don’t I talk to myself the way I talk to my kids? So, I decided anything I wouldn't say to my daughter I wouldn’t say to myself. I did courses in NLP — neuro linguistic therapy, the language your brain understands, your self talk — hypnotherapy and meditation. And that was really my victory.
I figured out that one conscious breath is all it took for me when I was anxious or angry or depressed to turn it around. I’d take a breath in from my nose for four seconds, hold it in for seven, and release from my mouth for eight. That would calm me down instantly. It was the answer for me — as simple as that. Music is also a huge gift, it instantly makes me feel better. And it’s amazing for the brain and the spirit. I feel very lucky and grateful that I know how to heal myself and balance out with simple stuff. I try to start my day just being grateful and calm. Morning routines are really important. I’m a very good cook, and I love being in the kitchen. So that’s also part of our morning routine, I make sure we have a healthy meal, and we all share that together [as a family]. We all need to heal, we all need to recover. We all need our inner space to have its time. It’s not always about go-go-go. The answer was finally recognizing that I needed to heal. The one thing I hold true all the time is ‘this is it.’ It’s not like you’re going to get another chance, you’re not going to get another body.
My mom has always been really supportive. She’s still working, she’s 64. She’s in Africa, she runs our family business with my brothers. That was a big thing for me growing up, knowing how strong she was. She had some health issues, she was overweight and she battled with that for a long time. She was always building me up, but she didn’t always know how to do it. So sometimes she would pressure me to lose weight faster or something because she didn’t want me to have her issues. But she wasn’t pushy. She helped me by loving me, and that was enough. But she also taught me that whatever is out there, does not define who you are. That helped me become who I am.
Posetta wears the Balc in Black.
My husband and I have been married for thirteen years now. It feels like not a long time. You know why? Because it changes. You live so many different lives. I’ve changed a lot since we got married, and he’s changed a lot. We have so much in common, we laugh a lot, we spend as much time as possible together. He’s a good listener. And it’s random, tiny, acts of kindness. Sometimes maybe a good hug, or he’ll come to bed early so we can talk. I feel like every single year with him has been like a day or two. If you work on the boundaries, knowing that he needs support, love, and someone to listen to him; and that I need support, love, and someone to listen to me, then the boat is going to float nicely. But the main thing is respecting who the other person is. They’re not going to come here to complete you, there is nothing they can do to complete you or fill your void. This is your void. You have to be the one to work on it. And then whatever that person is to you, has to be love, companionship, friendship. It takes a lot of work. It’s not easy. The minute you don't work, it’s going to feel dry. But when you put the work in, it’s beautiful."
Photos and interview by Anna Jube.