At Kurami, we strongly believe that beauty must first be discovered from within. Through nourishing and nurturing our mind, body, and soul, we are able to become the best version of ourselves, and not only develop the love that we have for who we are, but also grow the amount of love that we are able to share to the people around us.
Kurami is a premium delivery service that offers nutritionist-approved and chef-crafted meals to doors around London. Each meal is made with love, and backed with the latest research. Our mission, however, goes beyond providing nutritiously delicious meals to our beloved customers. We are passionate about advocating for the importance of balance and self care in all aspects of life, and we work hard to ensure that all of our products, services, and content are able to present this message clearly.
We are delighted to be joined by Elena Todary , founder of The Collaborative Store, to explore what self love means to her. Elena explores how she is able to practice it, or more-so, the reality of the ebbs and flows that she experiences whilst practicing it, as a business owner, as well as a mother of two. In conversation with our founder, Camilla.
1. What is The Collaborative store?
E: The Collaborative Store launched in 2015 as a lifestyle concept featuring beautiful modern, functional and mindful design across fashion, accessories, homeware & art as well as self care. We work with independent brands, makers and artists who place great value into quality, ethical practices as well as the design itself, make products and artwork with meaning! Basically, it is all more about culture and slow lifestyle rather than fashion trends, for people who are curious about stories behind products they buy.
2. At The Collaborative Store you focus on selling a range of ethical products with consciousness at the core of what you do. Would you like to tell us more about your mission?
E: It is all about appreciating good design and the incredibly hard work behind developing a product mindfully. We focus on design that is beautiful, functional, ethical, and made to last. We also focus on quality by avoiding synthetics and the usual “nasties” when it comes to formulating high-performance products that we consume or apply to our skin.
We want to support and enrich the creators who put their soul and love into making these products in a respectable and sustainable way, therefore we think of every person in the supply chain as well as the end consumer.
3. At Kurami, we focus on self care by promoting the incorporation of balance into one’s lifestyle through our nutritionist-approved meal paths, as well as our online content. What does self care mean to both of you as people, and how do you convey this through your businesses?
E: To me, self care is really anything that I deliberately do (or refrain from doing) with my own well-being in mind, with the intention of nourishing and recharging my mind, body and soul. My rule of thumb is by looking after yourself physically and mentally, you feel better, and the better you feel, the more positive and confident you will be in all areas of your life, including taking better care of others.
It is often easier said than done. We all have different circumstances, but generally, we all lead a busy life and it is easy to forget to put yourself first. I think it is important to be mindful of your own needs and not to put pressure on yourself as your own version of self-care may look different to others. Taking life one step at a time and allowing yourself to introduce an act of self-care daily. This can be just 15 minutes of yoga, reading a book, or taking a relaxing bath. At The Collaborative Store, we focus on mindfulness, slowing down, bringing attention to detail in not only our daily practices, but also the products & services we offer to our clients.
C: Self care for me is taking the time to better myself by finding balance. To me, self care looks different every single day. One day it may be reading a book, calling my family, or indulging in a long bath while masking.
What is important to remember is that self-care is a ritual, and not an additional job that you need to tick off of your to do list. I agree with you, Elena, when you say that it is important to remember to take it day by day, and not to force others' iterations of self care on yourself.
However, I do think that sometimes we need to remind ourselves to take those ten minutes to ourselves. This is especially true during lockdown, in which professional and personal boundaries are becoming harder and harder to identify.
It is also important to remember that self care is key in becoming the best version of yourself: both for yourself and others around you.
4. We understand that the changes in how we work has impacted all of us in many different ways. What has lockdown life looked like for you, and are you able to incorporate self care into your daily routine to ensure you maintain a healthy work-life balance?
E: We are a family of four, with two daughters. With homeschooling and both myself and my husband working from home, finding a healthy work-life balance seems somewhat difficult at times. We try to get out of the house daily and have long walks during the weekend which have become our weekend highlights! Getting out regularly is what truly helps my mind refocus, significantly lifting my mood. I try to squeeze in exercise (besides walking) at least twice a week to boost my endorphins and energy levels. It is often difficult to find time or space for a lengthy session, which is why I love my 7M Workout app; it is short, effective and only 7 minutes long. You can do several sessions if you feel adventurous and have the time.
C: I have not been blessed with children just yet, so I can only imagine how busy you have been!
What I am doing is taking my dog for a long walk everyday, rain or shine, as I believe that being outdoors has many benefits: both the mind and the body benefit from being outside, and I am grateful that we are still able to go out as long as we are safe.
What has also helped has been eating nourishing foods, that help me find balance from within. After a week of eating nutritionally dense meals I feel like the best version of myself. This has a direct effect on my self esteem and mood.
Also, learning to establish boundaries between my professional and personal life has been quite challenging - it is a work in progress!
5. What are your favourite self care rituals?
E: I enjoy activities such as spending time outdoors and breathing in the fresh air; truly taking in my surroundings really centres me, as well as provides room for creative thoughts to flow.
At home, my surroundings play a vital part in how I feel and function. That is why I try to keep my space organised and free from clutter, adding elements that bring pleasure to satisfy all human senses as well as functional items that help me either stay focused or at ease.
I love beautifully-scented candles. I choose different scents based on the time of day and whether I aim to boost energy or calm my mind. Having learnt a lot about candle making and materials used, I would always advise to go for the ones made using natural wax and fragrances like essential oils as burning conventional synthetic ingredients may have various health implications. When I do get time for myself, a face or body massage using aromatherapy oil blends would be one of my favourite indulgent go-to rituals.
C: I enjoy many different rituals. I think we both agree that moving and getting some fresh air can be highly beneficial.
I also love to light a candle while I work. This helps me build a serene atmosphere at home, and it truly soothes my mind. My favourite is the ylang ylang luxury candle from the Collaborative Store. It is hand poured, and has a cotton wick, which makes it burn evenly and gently throughout the day.
I also indulge in face and hair masks weekly. I love to make my own hair masks, so I have been experimenting with mixing different oils! Especially now that my ends are quite dry due to all of the time that we have been spending indoors and my overdue haircut.
Lastly, I love to try and develop different recipes. I have probably purchased too many recipe books from all around the world this lockdown! I am grateful that I get to express my passion through my work at Kurami.
6. Can eating nourishing meals be a part of self care?
E: Absolutely. I believe the best way to incorporate self-care into a routine is to start with your plate. Combining nutrition and a balanced diet does wonders for the body and for the mind. We live in the times of a global pandemic with a prominent threat to our health. A nourishing and healthy diet is one of the main ways to boost the immune system that helps fight infection and keep us in good shape.
Sometimes, it may feel like a daunting task to prepare a nutrient rich meal and that is where Kurami comes in as a saviour. I had the pleasure of trying Kurami dishes and was amazed at how delicious and satisfying they were, especially knowing that the ingredients are packed with superfoods and nutri-goodness.
C: 100% Thank you, Elena, for your kind words. That is exactly how we want to be seen by our clients: a nurturing cuddle, that is there for you when you need it most! We want to do the work for you so that you do not have to add to your already overdue, and too-long-of-a-to-do-list with errands that include grocery shopping, prepping and cleaning up.
Another key thing to remember is that nourishing meals do not need to be boring, nor dissatisfying. It is possible to enjoy a burger while you are trying to eat in a balanced way: as long as you work to make it nutritionally balanced and dense!
I find a lot of pleasure in food (obviously!), and I find that after many Kurami deliveries, I still feel very excited to receive my box!
7. What are a few of your favourite go-to meals or ingredients that you use when creating a conscious, caring and nourishing meal for yourself?
E: I am mindful and conscious about our eating habits as a family, the social and environmental impact they have as well as providing nutrition. The main change we have made a while back is reducing our consumption of animal-based ingredients, especially meat. I try to ensure that my home-cooked meals are rich in fibre as dietary fibre has various health benefits. You will always find plenty of seasonal vegetables on our plates. I try to include nuts in our diet too!
When I am short of time, I reach out to my all time favourite recipe: a veggie wholemeal noodle stir-fry. It truly is a winner in our household with adults and children alike. I’d normally add 4-5 kinds of vegetables or fresh herbs. During these winter months, I like exploring and playing with flavours using sweet potatoes, cauliflower and butternut squash as main ingredients. Butternut squash risotto, cauliflower steaks and sweet potato fries are regulars at our home.
C: I absolutely love that Elena - and it is fantastic that your kids are learning to love and appreciate plant based meals! I always advise to try to combine cauliflower rice into your normal rice, to seamlessly increase the volume of veggies involved without the kids noticing! It is the little things that make a huge difference.
My go to meal is oven baked aubergine with Rose Harissa, paprika, and thyme. It is so warming, comforting and easy to make!
Just slice your aubergine lengthwise, marinate with Rose Harissa, and put in the oven! When it is close to being done, add the fresh thyme. I absolutely love this dish, and hope to bring it to Kurami with the new season! You can also add some tofu for added protein, and some buckwheat.
Although self care may seem difficult to prioritise for many due to hectic schedules or heavy to-do lists, as Elena states, even just 15 minutes of mindfulness, whether in the form of yoga or a calming bath, can go a long way.
Self care looks different for everyone. Start by becoming more conscious of the ingredients that you are using, the kind of thoughts that uplift you, and the habits that make you feel your best, and begin to incorporate these more and more into your life.