Sara Elise: EXPLORING SELF-CARE& HEALING THROUGH PURPOSEFUL EXPERIENCES
While we have been dreaming of featuring the most inspiring humans on unfaded, stumble upon so much faith and passion in a single person has been an electroshock.
Sara Elise finds her purpose in taking care not only of people's bodies through her collaborative catering company Harvest & Revel , but also of their soul by organizing self-care and empowerment workshops and retreats.
We met her at the Sincerely Tommy store in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn to share a slice of her creative journey. And she also guided us on how to be more mindful towards the food we consume to positively influence our moods and feelings on a daily basis.
How did Harvest & Revel start for you?
Harvest and Revel was originally called Bed-Stuy Kitchen. I co-founded it with Tara Aura. We changed the name to Harvest and Revel because we were doing more events in Manhattan and all over Brooklyn so it just didn't make sense. I was using ingredients from Bed-Stuy gardens but we didn't want to capitalize on Bed-Stuy as a brand if we weren't serving the community in the same way that I was when I started. And we wanted to have a name that represented our expansiveness. It's a collaborative company. So everyone has a partnership and the success of a company. It's really exciting and we're just really open to all the ways people want to grow and develop their own projects.
Now we work all over Manhattan, upstate, Connecticut, we do a ton of weddings and corporate events, baby showers, Bar mitzvahs and basically any celebratory we love to be part of. We specialize in events of 40 to 120 people. These are our favorite events and we also do larger events like the monthly event with Etsy. We do a once a month lunch for all of their employees and it's great!
With Tara we've also co-founded Blindseed - a wellness creative organization where we organize a full weekend stay upstate with different workshops, healers etc. And we also set up some local ones for two to three hours on Thursdays and Fridays. Then with Harvest & Revel we do private event catering. Tara is awesome! She's really great. She's a yoga teacher and is also one of the founder of the brand Wtrmln Wtr.
Did you have a mentor ?
Yes I actually had a lot of mentors! Chef Elle is this phenomenal black woman Chef. It was really important for me to see another black woman who left her job successfully doing all these great things. She has a non-profit where she mentors other young chefs and she's just setting up on her own terms and doing really great.
Also Chef Roble who I originally reached out to to be a mentor. Now he has become a mentor slash friend. He is really great and inspiring and has always encouraged me to create my own brand. So it's not just about the work with the cooking, it's more about creating a purpose brand, creating myself as a brand and figuring out how I can bridge that so the people get interest in the work . And he's been really crucial to that process. And then I had different spiritual mentors like Maria Garcia, and the people all around me who are constantly doing wonderful things. I just want to be around them and learn from them all the time!
How do you handle down moments?
I just allowed myself to be in it, be really present and let those bad feelings in. I feel like everyone always tells us that we shouldn't be sad, we shouldn't feel bad that but certain days we actually do. Everyone does sometimes so when I'm feeling not great, I just allow myself to be in it and just keep reminding myself that it's going to pass.I find that the mood toward that feeling are able to move through me and then leave more clear.
How did you come up with that idea?
I started to pay attention to my consumption and to how it was impacting the way that I felt for the rest of the day or the rest of the week. And when it became a clear pattern for me, I started changing my eating habits and learning how to cook. And then I got super excited! I was emailing my friends and asking if they wanted to come for dinner parties. When I started hosting seasonal tastings, I started to send all my friends these emails saying "If I charge twelve dollars to cover the costs for the food, would you come over and have dinner with me?"
I really wanted to engage in a discussion about consumption and eating for the season. And talking about how they felt as they were eating different foods that I made, everyone loved it! So I started hosting more of those and people started coming up to me and asking "Would you host this event for my birthday?" or "Could you come over and cook dinner for a cocktail party?". I was trying to empower people to learn about food with a spin on it. And as I have a background in business, I thought it would be cool to just create a catering business around it!
How did you manage to handle both your work and this project at that time?
I founded that business when I was working in banking - it was the worst thing ever. And I just felt really sad, unhealthy and toxic and I was like pretty depressed. I just hated my life at that time and I remember being at my computer, sitting there and having these tears coming down my face and it was horrible. But when I wouldn't be at work I started to go to farmers markets and figure out how to use different ingredients from the gardens in the community to create food that felt good for me. So while I was cooking I was finally feeling stable.
Harvest & Revel was first a side project. Then it got to the point where I was like essentially working two full time jobs. Sometimes I had to go catering events until 1:00 in the morning and come back. It was horrible! But so much goes into that decision to live such a stable thing that everyone is telling you is a good job. So once it became profitable and sustainable I left my job.
If my body doesn't feel aligned, if I'm not responding well mentally, emotionally, physically to the world around me I know that something is off, and I felt so off. It didn't make sense with how I wanted to feel, with how I wanted to see my life. So I knew it wasn't a fit. So I feel it was less about courage and more just checking in with myself.
I feel it was less about courage and more ABOUT checking in with myself.
What would you advise someone willing to create his own creative business?
I would advise someone to be smart.I think it's really important to talk to as many people as you can to get advice on how to do things. And do a lot of research about the current brands in the market to figure out how to shape your brand. We have so many resources whether it's meeting with people or even Google!
For me it was about looking at all of the catering companies that we would be competing with and see where do they go. But what I thought and has proven to be great is to add a wellness focus to our brand. And that's what set us apart from a lot of the mainstream catering companies. So if you feel that you want to create a company that doesn't have anything specific to offer to the market, you're just going to be like any other business. Unless you have an edge or something niche.
Can you share some artists or accounts that inspire you on a daily basis?
- @mosaiceye because she uses her art to remind me of what's real
- And @GuidedbyBiet who also reminds me of what's important and how much I love her and myself with every post.
- @FKATwigs because she continues to be my fashion/life idol
- @ChaniNicholas who continues to read my life on pretty much a daily basis.
- @papermonday an incredible portrait series led by Bee Walker, who I had the pleasure of connecting with last year.
- Also @theartofplating satisfies my food porn needs.
Where can we usually find you in NYC?
Prospect Par, my apartment because things are bright and soft and green there, and Brooklyn Farmers Markets.
Jumpsuit: Mara Hoffman
Necklace: Sincerely Tommy
Pointer finger ring: Debris by Jessie Levandov
Middle finger ring: Aziza Handcrafted
Engagement ring: Vintage from Venice, Italy