With the busyness that can surround our days, health and wellness can sometimes feel difficult to prioritize and can be sacrificed due to our limited time and need for convenience. Fortunately what started as a light-bulb idea in 2011 for dancer turned entrepreneur Payal Kadakia in wanting to make exercise easy and accessible, has transformed into becoming one of the most influential businesses surrounding fitness today. We are talking about ClassPass: the startup that changed our outlook on working out.
Kadakia, currently serves as both Founder and as the Executive Chairman of this nearly half a billion dollar company. And as a family-centered, boss lady and once avid world-class dancer of a woman, Kadakia not only has shifted what feels like every millennial's lifestyle around fitness, she impressively exudes an overall passion for life beyond business. We got the chance to learn more about Kadakia and what it looks like for her to be fully be in.
Tell us, what is your daily ritual you can’t live without?
Drinking my green tea. I especially love the Ginger Lemon Green tea from Kusmi.
How do you balance work life and life-life?
I’ve used goal setting as a way to keep myself organized for years now. It helps me keep things in balance, especially when life and work get really busy.
What’s your biggest source of happiness?
I have a few. The people in my life and dance are both really important to me -- they bring me happiness in different ways. I also love helping other people live their best lives, that’s one of the biggest reasons I started ClassPass! I get so much out of helping other people achieve their goals.
Describe your perfect way to spend a free day:
If it’s a more typical free day, I love to work out, get some sun, enjoy a nice dinner with friends and family. But I’d also have to work at least a little, I really enjoy it! It helps my day feel complete. If it’s an actual vacation day though, I’d go to Disney World or Disneyland. I love a good amusement park day!
What makes you feel beautiful?
Dancing. My dance company Sa Dance had a show in New York a few weeks ago, and I felt like I was glowing for three days afterward!
Current top three go-to beauty products right now?
Your greatest life is on the other side of your greatest fear.
What was the most prominent reason for launching something like ClassPass?
I wanted to help others find what I found in dance. If ClassPass can help someone find their passion and keep at it, then I feel like I’ve succeeded.
What was the best business advice you’ve received and from whom?
My father said, “The only thing constant is change.” So, you have to learn to be adaptable and flexible. I revisit this advice in my personal and professional life all the time. It’s important to set goals but when you need to or you decide to, you can change them.
If you had to give your own, what would you advise to a budding entrepreneur?
Trust your instincts and get going!
As a woman who has achieved so much, how important has the support of other women been to your career?
It’s been paramount. My friends and the women I’ve surrounded myself with are all brave and amazing achievers that inspire me every day.
Who would you say is an inspirational mentor in your life?
Anjula Acharia. Anjula’s an entrepreneur, tech investor, and philanthropist and she’s one of my biggest role models. She’s so inspirational to me personally, because she is a South Asian woman who knew what she wanted and went after it fully. Her mentorship has helped me carve my own path.
There’s something about the lure of always “looking put together.” And though our daily beauty routines are valuable and necessary, we can’t deny our aesthetic is important and a perfectly curated outfit can go a long way. And when you can look as good as you strive to feel on the inside, why not shoot for the stars--and with style? Djuna Bel does just that. Known for commercial and editorial styling, Bel is not only a stylist but an image-bearer of what cool must have looked like both decades ago and simultaneously today. There’s a slight modern nostalgia to her personal style and work (see her IG if you don’t believe us) and it’s hard not to be left with a lasting impression when you come across anything she presents. And as she continues such an imprint in one world, she begins an entirely new one with motherhood. We got the chance to have a chat and ask some questions on all things health, beauty, pregnancy and well a little bit of fashion too, of course.
January Olds: What does taking care of yourself look like for you today?
Djuna Bel: Making sure I remember to eat things that aren't toast. Taking some time to meditate, rest or exercise so I don't let my mind or body become too stagnant.
JO: You are someone I know who values health and your well-being, what has been the biggest shift in your routine while pregnant?
DB: I think the biggest task has been not to shift things too much. I think it's healthy to keep living like you did pre-pregnancy (maybe a little more cautious about what you put in on or your body).
JO: What’s the strangest remedy or beauty advice you’ve been given recently? Any of them work?
DB: I will try just about any beauty remedy so this is not strange in comparison - but I have been taking collagen protein every morning and it's actually helped the elasticity of my skin. I am a huge steam and ice bath fan which I can't do now that i am pregnant. I make sure to see my lymphatic facialist (Anna at Ricari Salon in LA) on the regular - she does amazing body treatments that keep things flowing in my body so i don't swell. *total pregnancy tip!
JO: What are a few things in your beauty cabinet that will never ever leave your side?
JO: Diet can be tricky for women in general, and when you’re pregnant it seems different things may affect women differently--what has been something you’ve felt benefiting to your health diet wise while pregnant?
DB: I think a lot has to do with listening to your body. I have been feeling amazing - but I also have been seeing a nurtitionist who works with Standard Process vitamins and I have been taking flouradix iron (which I have taken off and on since I was a child). I've had a ton of energy and my vitals are great. I have also cooked a lot at home and make sure i have been using organic products as much as possible and trying to not eat too much sugar (but I am also big on moderation - and I love dessert).
JO: Also, weirdest craving you’ve had? (No judgement ;)
DB: I can't get enough bone broth or pickles. But there was also a big obsession with croissants for a second.
JO: What was the most interesting piece of information you’ve learned about health while pregnant that you would want other women to know?
DB: Don't stress too much. Women have been giving birth since the beginning of time. Enjoy yourself, listen to your body and everything will work out as it's meant to.
JO: Pregnancy is an actual shift both physically and emotionally, etc. What helps you feel beautiful?
DB: Honestly, having the support of an amazing partner and a strong community around me has given me tremendous confidence. It's totally bizarre to look in the mirror and not recognize your own body or to feel more sensitive, emotional or more helpless. I feel strong and beautiful because my loved ones remind me that I am strong, beautiful and powerful.
JO: I LOVE that!!!
JO: Favorite exercise to do currently? Why?
DB: I'm a big fan of Lagree pilates and hiking. Any excuse to go into nature never feels like exercise.
JO: What is one item in your closet that makes you feel like a million bucks?
DB: Right now I am way more interested in comfort. The more comfortable I am the sexier I feel. I have been in love with a few Doen pieces, Solid and Striped cover ups, slip dresses and Realisation Par wrap dresses.
JO: As a stylist, we have to ask, what’s one thing you can vow your babe will be definitely sporting?
DB: I have a drawer of vintage overalls and a friend just gave us the best mini LA Kings bomber which is pretty much the cutest thing ever.
JO: As a soon to be mama what excites you the most?
DB: The unknown. I'm super excited to get to know this little babe I am cooking. I also love watching my boyfriend turn into the best dad in the world.
When we encounter women who’ve succeeded in establishing a career they are proud to call their own, we want to know more. When we meet women who’ve created a life around two different paths—and successfully, we are in awe and need to know more.
Michele Ouellet is a model turned winemaker and when she is not found gracing the pages of J.Crew and Madewell, she is running a wine business—also known as Lorenza Wine Company with her business partner (and mom) up in Northern California. This Napa Valley native shares with us what it looks like to merge two artful passions into one very fascinating (and busy) life.
January Olds: How would you describe your personal style?
Michele Ouellet: Always changing. Rock n roll, 70s tomboy, sporty, classic, girly. I'm Gemini so you never know what you gonna get!
JO: What is a daily ritual that you can't live without?
JO: What are your must-have beauty products you keep on hand?
MO: January Labs day lotion is my newest and most favorite discovery lately! I love Clarins beauty balm for under eyes and glossier boy brow for a really low maintenance everyday look.
JO: Describe something you find beautiful.
MO: I'm so in love with nature. I love greenery of all kind. Succulents, palms, moss, ferns, weeping willows. Rainbows make me outrageously excited.
JO: What is the last city you visited that fascinated you?
MO: Siena! It's a gorgeous ancient Italian city with amazing churches. One even has the real head of St. Catherine enshrined. Each neighborhood there is signified by a different animal like dragons, panthers, unicorns etc! They have the famous Palio horse race there where the different neighborhoods race against each other.
JO: Do you live by any rules?
MO: I'm all about the power of positivity so as a rule I try to see the best of all situations.
JO: Do you have a personal mantra? If so, what is it?
MO: Stay fresh, be kind, keep learning, follow your heart and speak your truth!
JO: Most people would be surprised to know that ......
MO: I get my best ideas on the plane.
JO: What has been the most exciting part of your career so far?
MO: Launching Lorenza Rosé and watching it grow into a thriving business with a life of its own!
JO: As a woman who has achieved so much, how important has the support of other women been to your career?
MO: My mom has played a huge part in supporting me in all my ventures. And when we started Lorenza together that has gone to the next level! I work with so many incredible women in both of my careers
JO: Who has been most inspirational to you in your work and life?
MO: I have amazing strong women in my family who I am very close to. They inspire me to operate on a high level and to go for anything I want to achieve.
JO: What advice would you give to other women you wish someone would have told you?
MO: I think I actually took too much advice from people when I was younger. My advice to other women is to listen to yourself! Trust your gut, no one knows better.
JO: What is the biggest similarity between fashion and wine to you?
MO: Both fashion and wine have the ability to elevate an experience. They can both be basic and generic or transcend to a work of art that inspires and excites. Of course I'm more interested in the latter!
JO: When did you first realize the art of wine impacted you?
MO: Growing up in Napa, wine has always been a presence in my life. Something I took for granted at one point. Now it's something to learn about, explore and enjoy for the rest of my life! Working on Lorenza Rosé for the past 9 years has been a huge learning experience and I've grown up along with the brand. So grateful for the opportunity to work with such a beautiful medium.