I’ve gone for a fashion career my whole life, I remember even before Clueless was a thing, I made a press on dress machine where you can mix and match, I made it out of a shoe box kind of a like a diorama in school type of thing. And it’s much like the beginning of Clueless where she picks her clothes. I’ve been into fashion since the very beginning. Since High School, I knew I wanted to get into retail, I worked at kitschy tween stores you may remember, then worked at Nordstrom for a period of time which rooted me in customer service, visual merchandising, and familiarity with brands. I went to school for retail, a specialized business major at the University of Arizona and studied retail and the business behind it and set my sights to work at the best internship, so I interned for in San Francisco for a large specialty retailer between my Junior and Senior year and loved it! I fell in love with the city, my now husband, and spent 8 years with my company which was amazing!
Unfortunately, the time I worked there, I was sick the entire time. I can’t pinpoint the time the pin dropped, but the summer after I graduated college, that’s when I started noticing weird stuff. I became allergenic to most things I ate, was losing my hair, had cystic acne, and my moods suffered greatly to where I was crying on my way to work every day. I was in my dream job in my dream city, I just had no idea what was going on.
It would take me two hours to get ready for work where I would change my outfits, my hair felt lifeless and thin, and I felt a lot of pressure to perform the way I wanted to. I felt like I was failing because I felt so miserable. It was tough. My parents and I went from doctor to doctor to doctor, and we just couldn’t figure it out. This was around 2007 when gluten-free started to become cool and you would start to see those types of foods pop up, that’s when I realized there is this whole other world a lot of people don’t know much about or aren’t talking about.
That’s when I made it a point and owned my own health. No one could tell me what was wrong, people were trying to give me drugs or people would tell me it was all in my head. So I had to figure it out. I would spend all my free time researching and studying and I would find answers from time to time from holistic doctors who would practice alternative medicine, talking about our digestive system in a really unique way and it was very different from what other doctors were telling me. I made key lifestyle and diet shifts and I became obsessed with cooking allergey free dinners, while my friends would be out to the best restaurants in SF. I became so fixated in getting my life back. And because of that, it really took me out of my life and took me away from trusting my body and total happiness. Instead of being in my mid-20’s out and about, I was telling my online date at the time I couldn’t drink. It was tough navigating through that time, but the great part is with the lifestyle and diet shifts, I did start to see results.
I met a few really great holistic doctors I worked with for an extended period of time, but the most exciting part was during my research period, I read this book called Not Just a Pretty Face by Stacey Malkin, it exposed this nasty truth to the beauty industry and the products we were using not only for beauty but for skin care, hair care, and all personal care items. I learned we absorb 65% of what we put on our body and it didn’t occur to me that here I was putting all of the amazing things in my body with the foods I was eating, but then I was slathering chemicals on my skin. So I started to slowly shift my products.
I remember mornings where I decided to forgo my MAC foundation and try out natural products — I realized that my eyes wouldn’t burn or I wouldn’t feel lethargic that morning. Most people wouldn’t notice this great of a difference, but for me, I felt relief, it was an eye-opening moment for me and I became passionate about still being able to wear makeup, especially because I’m a red lipstick junkie.
Between my food, my diet and lifestyle, and my products, I realized I was reading more about wellness and clean products than fashion at the time. And I had an opportunity to move to San Diego, where my husband grew up in Poway.
I left and I went back to school to be a certified holistic health coach and launched GOOD LIFE right away when I graduated. GOOD LIFE started as a one on one health coaching resource for women and modern women like you and me who are trying to balance healthy living with their fast paced busy lives. Because that’s what I learned to do the hard way, I learned how to live this 20-something fashion merchandiser in the city life and balance it with healthy living, and it wasn’t easy. And now that I know that you can have both, that’s our saying – you can live the life of your dreams while still placing your health as your priority. I just think there is a way to do both and honor your body at the same time and that’s what I intend to support women with.
In my 6-month health coaching programs with my clients, I realized I would always make product recommendations to better my client’s overall wellness and lifestyle. Then I thought to myself, “why am I sending my clients elsewhere when I know how to do this? I’ve done merchandising and I know retail!” So the next organic thing to do was to open up an online shop. We opened SHOP GOOD, which was initially our online beauty boutique only 8 months after we launched. And it flip flopped to where it was 10 percent of my business to now being 90 percent of my business.
I love my clients and love supporting women one-on-one, but retail has always been my blood, it really does light my fire. And I can touch more women’s lives in that way of bringing a product to the consumer to where they can use it every day. That is what took us to the shop. It was crazy that it came full circle back to retail. Two months ago, I didn’t even think about opening up a shop. Everyone would always suggest opening up a brick and mortar, but I always wanted to compete with the online brands.
What I realized, is this market is incredibly deserving to open up a space that is inspirational and also educational. What we’re trying to create is a space where you walk in and you know everything is healing and not harmful, and a one-stop-shop where you can grab your daily essentials in one place in a really fun and fashionable and enjoyable environment. Instead of picking up deli meat then sunscreen in a different aisle at a shop like Whole Foods.
Building that and offering a place for education for workshops and events as a place to gather and honor our bodies and learn tips and tricks from experts, whether that’s around skin care, beauty, Taekwondo, Reiki, crystal healing, the sky’s the limit with the partnerships we want to create and the ability to provide educational space in the community.
The final pillar of the shop is going to be our treatment room where we have in-house facials and brow services and have a way for our guests to have some self-care action. We are excited to partner with a renowned San Francisco esthetician who owns a line we are announcing in a few weeks. She is helping with the hiring, setting the treatment room up, and training our estheticians, which isn’t my realm, which is why I’m so grateful to be surrounded by supportive and talented people to get this up and running!
When asked about what challenges have come up with GOOD LIFE, Leah responded:
The challenges that lead to this next chapter are you don’t know what entity your business will take on, and if you plan it, it would probably look a lot different. Not only are you answering your consumers’ needs and the changes within your industry, you can never predict what will happen. I think the biggest challenge is, and I’ve heard this time and time again in podcasts and blogs I’ve read on entrepreneurship, but I really don’t think you know and understand the emotional turmoil you endure until you’re in it. It’s really hard, especially for the first few years. I’m my worst critic, I expect a lot, and I can push myself a lot. Everything on the day to day level can be the highest highs and the absolute lowest lows.
It’s incredibly stressful! We didn’t know if GOOD LIFE would even work, and we don’t consider ourselves to have “made it” or we’re never going to have “made it.” But the stress it takes on effects our relationships, our personal relationship with ourself, our health, our balance in life, it can be incredibly wearing. Doubting yourself every day, it happens. Especially in the digital lifestyle we have today, that comparison piece can kill you, it can be a sword and it can stab you in the heart, it’s that dangerous. What I learned from that is really being clear in your unique value, and as I told my story, that no one has the specific story I have. Already, I win. Already, I beat out everyone I look up to (hypothetically speaking, in the most loving way). And already, I have something really unique to share. Just really believing in my story and my unique value, adding to the world, has been very helpful in pushing me ahead and getting past those bumps.
Leah Kirpalani is a wellness and health coach who shares her vision through her business GOOD LIFE, a business to help inspire others through balancing their busy lives and healthy living, which launched in March of 2015. Her journey has not been an easy one, and she reminds us that following your dreams does come with it’s own challenges, but they are all worth it.
After successfully funding her IndieGoGo Campaign, we’re looking forward to her opening up the GOOD LIFE space this Fall in North Park that’ll offer skin care, hair care, beauty food, beauty products, makeup, indigestible’s, all the way to lifestyle – cook books, candles, home goods. The sky’s the limit with what she’s creating and we cannot wait!! Here’s to improving lives in a fun and effortless way!