“We are all connected and need each other to survive,” says Grace Cotton. “The sooner we understand this, the better.”
Never has that been more true than today.
The onetime Australian track and field star first began to embrace ancient healing practices like ayurveda after a yoga teacher training course in Kerala, India. That concept of natural healing—and humanity’s deep connection to Mother Nature and the elements—led her to launch The Soul Market, a consciously curated destination for green beauty and wellness with a rigorous review process for every single plant-based, organic, vegan, toxin-free and sustainably packaged product she touts. Her goal is to have the consumer actually feel better about herself after checkout.
Here, Cotton talks about how she lives her process—with lots of chocolate in tow:
LIVE THE PROCESS: Have you always been interested in wellness? What led you to enroll in that fateful yoga teacher training, which proved so impactful?
GRACE COTTON: Growing up in Australia, from ages 8 to 18, I was a full-time track and field athlete. Heptathlon was my specialty, so wellness, fitness and health have always been a significant part of my life.
As part of my track and field training, my coach put a heavy focus on integrating yoga and even gymnastics into my training schedule to ensure flexibility, mobility and focus. So, I have always had an affinity for yoga and its various health benefits.
My decision to partake in the one-month yoga teacher training was a more personal and spur-of-the-moment decision, which led to me the beautiful discovery of ayurveda and Eastern philosophies—a totally different way of life than we find in the Western World.
LTP: What did you specifically experience and learn during that training?
GC: On the first day of the yoga teacher training, we jumped straight into yoga philosophy and the science of ayurveda (which, in Sanskrit, translates to “the knowledge of life and longevity”). I learned many things about myself and this holistic approach to life, ranging from what foods to put into my body to various meditation and breathing techniques to the facets of rigorous physical exercise (ashtanga, vinyasa and hatha yoga). Ayurvedic doctors consider physical existence, mental existence and personality as their own units, with each element influencing the others.
What really caught my attention in learning about these practices was that they use natural, plant-based treatments to heal and prevent ailments in the body—using anything from roots, leaves and fruits to barks, herbs and seeds. Ancient Ayurvedic books also mention the use of cannabis as an aphrodisiac and a pain reliever.
LTP: How did that awakening translate into you opening The Soul Market? What do you carry there and what separates you from the pack?
GC: Thus, an idea was born—The Soul Market! The new destination for all your green beauty and natural wellness needs. Eventually, I want it to become the home for all your eco-conscious needs, carrying anything from sustainable fashion, jewelry and green beauty/wellness staples to home/cookware and furniture. It’s a hub where you’re purchasing from beautiful brands that care about your well-being and health, but also the health of our beautiful Mother Earth.
Right now, at The Soul Market, we carry an array of different green beauty, skincare and wellness products such as cleansers, masks, body scrubs, CBD tinctures, teas and herbal tonics and aromatherapy products such as Amazonian resins and candles.
Before stocking any product on our website, we have a trial and testing period of one month to fully assess the product and see if it’s worth our guests’ time and money. We only stock products that are plant-based, natural/organic, vegan or vegetarian, cruelty-free, paraben-free, sulphate-free, phthalate-free and sustainably packaged and sourced.
In starting The Soul Market, I really wanted to put an emphasis on the design aspect and functionality of the website. Coming from a fashion background, I found it important for the design to be super clean and have a bit of sex appeal to garner attention from a wide range of people. I’d seen other platforms with similar ideas to mine, but the design seemed very generic. I want my marketing to include imagery that makes our souls sing—art, positive quotes, symbolic use of colors, images that spark emotional responses. You can find examples of this on our Instagram @thesoulmarketny.
LTP: Why is taking care of your physical health—keeping your skin fit with natural products, for example—so important, especially right now?
GC: I read a Forbes article recently that explained the inextricable link between fitness and success. The premise of the article was that regular exercise enhances not only your physical, but also mental, state, which in turn lifts up all other areas of your life. In addition, it explained that fitness builds a fundamental knowledge base of the mindset you must cultivate in order to achieve anything that seems out of reach.
Just as I learned in India, the mind and body are so connected; we must never forget this. The same goes for the ingredients and substances you put on your skin or even inside your body. Being conscious of these things, especially during a worldwide pandemic, could prevent future illness or ailments. You are what you eat, after all!
LTP: Why is taking care of our planet so essential in this pivotal moment in time?
GC: Just like us, Mother Earth is a living entity. Taking care of her is paramount to the survival of us humans. She nourishes us, provides us with food, water, shelter, air and literally everything we need to survive. She is our home and without her we would not exist. In order to keep her alive, we have to live and work in harmony with her—this means no more polluting our home or destroying natural environments and making sure to keep our air and water clean for our neighbors like animals and plants. We are all connected and need each other to survive. The sooner we understand this, the better.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
GC: Happiness to me is seeing my friends and family laughing, connecting with people to serve a greater purpose in this life and spreading joy and positivity wherever I go. Also, chocolate. Lots of chocolate.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?
GC: To “Live The Process” to me means practicing what you preach. Living and breathing your passions and embodying your higher self, yet also being patient and gentle with yourself and remembering that this life comes in waves, ups and downs—but the most important thing is to enjoy the journey.