When holistic therapist Danielle Massi discovered she had cervical cancer right before she turned 30, the experience changed her life.
At the time, Massi was working long hours and putting more emphasis on getting work done—or as some like to call it “the grind”—before her own health. And that resulted in her body shutting down, and Massi linked stress as the cause. That’s when the idea for The Wellness Collective and eventually, The Self(Ish) Philly conference came to be.
“Whomever I asked, whether it was my doctors, my care team, or other therapists, no one really had resources for me,” explains Massi. “So as I went through my cancer journey, I was accumulating all these resources and I thought to myself, it would be so nice for anybody who’s going through anything medical—or any hardship—if there was just a place that they could go to where all of these things could exist.”
And that’s exactly what The Wellness Collective provides, an array of healthy options. Think of it as a menu of opportunities to feed whatever it is that your body and mind needs. In a world where Massi says the message is to “work hard until you burn out,” the cancer survivor wants to combat that notion with one that puts the emphasis on nourishing your emotional, physical and mental well-being at all costs.
Taking that notion even further, Massi went on to create the Self(Ish) Philly Conference— a day filled with some of Philadelphia’s top vendors, sponsors, and speakers all showcasing ways that women can show themselves self-care and be part of a like-minded community.
“Women don’t prioritize their self-care at all, and I think part of the reason why that is, is because women are always taught to be the givers. They have to always take care of other people, they have to be the nurturers,” says Massi. The WC founder also went on to note a stat she saw recently that cited way less than half of the population of women take care of their mental, physical, and emotional health
“When we really start to prioritize our health and our wellness as women, we can take care of everyone around us more and we feel better. We live longer. The benefits are just outstanding,” she continues. “It’s just this whole idea that women aren’t supposed to take care of [themselves]. That’s the battle that we have to fight right now.”
Self(Ish) Philly has been around since 2020. The first round of this now-annual activation ended up being virtual (for obvious reasons). But since then, the event has garnered a strong reputation of in-person activations, keynote speakers, and introductions to different health vendors, most of which are local—and that’s part of what makes it all so special, according to Massi.
“I’m a native New Yorker, I moved here just shy of 20 years ago to go to Temple University,” she explains. “So coming from New York and seeing the stark contrast between how we view wellness here in Philly versus how they do it in New York City is insane. In Philly, I think there’s so much more emphasis on really wanting to help people and to make sure that they’re getting better. Whereas in other places like LA and Manhattan, it’s really about monetizing it.”
So, for those who attend the conference this year, expect to see many health and wellness activations being offered for free, or on a sliding scale. Self(Ish) Philly 2023 will also feature vendors like Double Wood Supplements, Immunocologie Skincare, Modern Sanctuary, Restore Hyper Wellness, Yoga6 Rittenhouse, Physique57 Philly, and many more on the docket.
And what you do doing your conference day is totally up to you—because everyone can have a vastly different experience.
“I always call it a choose-your-own-journey day because everybody does different things and self-care doesn’t have to look the same to anyone,” says Massi. That could mean that you spend your day checking out speakers, like Brianna Rose, a Kundalini business mentor and a traditional Chinese medicine expert, or, Karen Vallow, founder of the national skincare line, Immunocologie.
Perhaps it means doing something unique, like checking out Philly Fashion Week’s activation with Project Runway All Stars designer Prajjé O Jean-Baptiste. Or, it could mean that you spend the day getting your sweat on with Yoga6 Rittenhouse and renowned breathwork instructor Aubrey Howard, or maybe trying out a new procedure, like acupuncture, IV therapy, or even lymphatic drainage boots.
“Every attendee can try out experiences for the first time and figure out whether they like it or not before they have to go through the headache of seeing if their insurance will cover it, or if it’s something that they can work into their budget,” says Massi. “And a lot of the time, women will find things they’ve never considered before that they completely fall in love with.”
All ticket holders will receive swag bags full of wellness items, a gourmet lunch catered by The W Hotel, full access to speakers and exercise classes, and so much more. Whereas with the VIP option, ticket holders will have access to the VIP Wing where they can enjoy facials, massages, acupuncture, gluten-free treats, conscious cocktails, and more, according to a release.
“I want people to experience things hands-on, because you don’t know whether or not you’d like something until you try it. One of my favorite examples of this is something like acupuncture where people think it’s needles and it sounds scary…But if they gave it a shot, they might find out that it’s the only thing that will remove their back pain or will remedy some hormonal issues that they’ve had,” says Massi.
The day of wellness also has a charitable incentive, and this year, the conference has chosen to partner with ResearcHERS: Women Fighting Cancer in support of women-led cancer research.
Self(Ish) Philly 2023 will take place Sunday, Sept. 17, beginning at 9 a.m. (8:30 a.m. for VIPs), and tickets run for $175 for GA and $250 for VIP. Though, the site might also be offering a sale at your time of purchase, so it’s better to get them sooner rather than later.
“The thing that sort of makes this year stand out a little bit more is that we switched locations over to the W Hotel and with the W, we are able to do so much more than we’ve ever been able to do before,” finishes Massi. “The conference is going to be over two floors of the hotel. So, this is the year to really try out something new.”
For more information on this year’s Self(Ish) Philly Conference at the W Hotel (1439 Chestnut St.), visit selfishphilly.com