Shayna Taylor is known for her health-forward recipes, delicious matcha, and premium CBD products through her companies Shayna’s Kitchen and Bottle & Stone. And though wellness may seem like Shayna’s middle name, her journey and approach to health are unique and genuine to her.
We talked to Shayna about her wellness philosophies, regenerative farming, and best advice on how just about anyone can jumpstart a healthy lifestyle.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am an owner of two wellness companies: Shayna’s Kitchen and Bottle & Stone. For most of my 20s, I was an organic personal chef, and then I kind of pivoted to focus totally on building my wellness platform, blog and Instagram.
I always loved helping people. I loved being a personal chef, where I could build personal relationships with people and help them build healthier lifestyles. But I decided that I wanted to do that work on a broader spectrum and really help more than just one person or one family. I really focused on my blog and developed recipes that could make any person feel as though he or she had a luxury personal chef. Many people feel as though they don’t have the skills to make those kinds of recipes, so I created a space that was not only educational about health and wellness and body and food, but also a place where people could come and find recipes that were very easy and accessible. They can start on their wellness journey, use food as medicine and heal their bodies and minds from the inside out.
As I was building the blog and a following and received my holistic wellness certification, I was also drinking a lot of matcha. I’ve been drinking matcha for over ten years now, and so, organically and naturally, I’ve found some really delicious blends. I traveled to Japan and conducted research on the different types of matcha drinking. I decided to create and sell my own brand under Shayna’s Kitchen.
One year after that, I launched my CBD company, Bottle & Stone, which is an organic, CBD-based remedy brand that includes ingestibles and skincare. We have our own farm in Vermont that does regenerative agriculture. Both my companies are growing, and I’m trying to do good for both the world and people in their holistic life journey.
What made you become interested in wellness? What all does your work in wellness entail?
When I was younger, I definitely wasn’t very healthy. I lived in an area where organic, fresh ingredients just weren’t really a thing, at least not to my parents specifically. I didn’t really get into health and wellness until I was a teenager, I would say like 16, when my mom married a fitness trainer. They, naturally, did a lot more working out, and with working out, kind of comes an awareness of which foods optimize your fitness routines.
When I was around 18, the wellness industry kind of started becoming a little bit more popular, and I became very interested in it. Gluten-free and vegan meals were like the first things to gain more attention, and I remember becoming really obsessed with making my body feel its best. I always struggled with acne, as well as other issues such as leaky gut. I took too many antibiotics as a kid. I was trying to make it in the modeling industry, and at the same time, going to culinary school and trying to pursue a career as a chef. Having your body look a specific way puts a lot of pressure on you. I just kind of became really obsessed with wanting to learn more and constantly educating myself about our bodies’ wants and needs. Our bodies are machines, and we have two to fuel them in the right way.
What does the term “wellness” mean to you?
This is a really good question because I feel like wellness is such a broad word that can mean many different things. But to me, I feel like living a healthy lifestyle is not just about fitness and working out. It’s not just about the food that you consume. It’s also about your mental health. It’s also about the way you speak to yourself. It’s also about how you’re spending your days and the routines you’re creating for yourself.
For me, I feel it’s a full lifestyle and full integration into feeling your best in all things. It’s focusing on mental health, as well as moving the body so that you don’t become stagnant. It’s feeding the nourishing things that it needs and creating healthy habits. There are so many different levels of it, and it’s definitely a combination of multiple things that lead to a lifestyle of wellness.
You say that you approach wellness with a “radically compassionate” approach. Define “radically compassionate.”
Because we’re human beings, I think everybody naturally can be a little judgmental. I came from a very difficult upbringing with my family and have been through a lot of hurdles and emotional abuse and other very difficult things. As I’ve worked in this industry, I’ve come to understand that we don’t know anybody’s journey and we don’t know anybody’s mental state. Everybody has their own emotional experience, no matter what they’re going through in their lives.
When I say I take a radically compassionate approach, I mean that I feel like everybody has an opportunity to be heard, and everybody has an opportunity to feel a certain way. I try to create a space where people come to feel inspired and not feel like somebody’s trying to tell them what to do. It’s a space where you can come feel inspired to make better choices in your life, but it’s not a place where somebody’s telling you that you’re doing anything wrong. And I feel like so many people, especially in the wellness space, are very strict in their opinions. I get frustrated, because it’s like, guys, living a healthy lifestyle isn’t about pointing fingers about whose way of living is better than others’. It’s about finding what is best for you personally. That could look completely different from person to person. It’s about really listening to what your body needs and what is best for you.
I say “radically compassionate” because I think that there’s not a lot of spaces where people really can feel like they’re held and not made feel bad for their lifestyle choices. I try to tell people that health is not about doing fad diets or waking up one morning and vowing to never do anything unhealthy again. No! Life is about figuring out balance, it’s about adding healthier things before you subtract them. It’s about setting yourself up for success instead of always trying to overdo it and then failing because you really don’t have the confidence to keep going on the journey. It’s a lifestyle that you’re trying to create. It’s not just like a small habit, or a two-week thing. It takes time to integrate full lifestyle changes, and it’s about being kind and compassionate, not only to other people around you but also to yourself.
How have your travels informed your practice?
I love to travel. I love to spend time in different countries and different cultures. It really gives you a perspective on so many things. When you travel and go to different places, not only are you getting cultured by food and history, but you’re also putting life into perspective. I’ve taken cooking classes in almost every country that I’ve traveled to because I feel like you could always learn something really special–a new spice, a new cooking technique. That’s helped inspire me to be able to create exciting and unique content on a consistent basis. It’s so good for your soul.
I didn’t travel much as a kid at all, at least not outside of California. It wasn’t until I was 19 that I really got to start exploring other places in the world. and ever since I got the bug, I haven’t stopped. Whenever I go and travel somewhere, I come home, and I feel so inspired to create differently. You meet new people. You see different styles. You see different restaurants. There’s just so much inspiration in the world, in so many different cultures and people. It’s a very big part of why I have the style and imagination and brain that I have.
What is your experience with gardening and growing?
I’ve spent a lot of time at my hemp farm and learned a lot about the right way to do farming and growing. We grow all kinds of vegetables, we have bees and we plant and grow hemp every year. I’ve learned a lot about how much care goes into growing. I became passionate about the quality of the soil, which is so important for growing hemp. Hemp plants pull every toxin, nuclear waste, anything, out of the soil, so it’s essential that the soil is clean before you grow a hemp plant so that you can extract oil and create a really good, non-toxic, mold-free product. We don’t talk about it enough in America, the importance of soil quality. So many farms over till everything. They’re not caring about the nutrients, they’re just over planting and overseeding. Eventually, we’re going to kill all our soil, and we’re not going to have places to grow crops because the soil is intended to properly.
At Gardenuity, you guys are promoting this education and inciting a real passion for people to have a relationship with the food that they’re growing. I think that there’s something so nurturing and grounding out the experience of planting your garden and being able to use your harvest in your food and caretaking for something that is alive and nourishing you. Being a chef, one of the top things that makes a difference between a good chef and a not-as-good chef is the quality of ingredients. It’s essential to have a relationship with the right farmers who actually care enough about the food and the soil. You can tell the difference in the food.
What advice would you give people just starting their wellness journey?
I asked this question quite a lot. I think my main piece of advice is to create healthy rituals for yourself. I love my morning and nighttime rituals and how much value is brought to my life through them. I do my journaling, my meditation, a little bit of stretching, drink my matcha and my green juice in the morning so that my body is alkaline so that the inside of my body is primed for a good day. I would tell people to add simple things to their routine and start to create healthy rituals.
And, by the way, like, everybody’s rituals are going to look different depending on what their lifestyle is. If you’re a mom, it’s going to look a little different. It depends on your work hours, what your job looks like. There are so many different things. But starting small, adding things in like waking up an hour earlier and going on a walk around the block, journaling for ten minutes, starting off your day with greens and a matcha, that’s not that much to try and implement. But it’s a ritual that will add so much value to your life because you’re doing something that’s healthy and that you look forward to in the morning.
Don’t forget to check out our Instagram Live with Sayna Monday, December 6th.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.