When Danielle Massi, a holistic psychotherapist, started The Wellness Collective in 2019, she had plans for Philly’s first-ever wellness center that focused on holistic healing for both physical and mental maladies caused by stress. Opening up the center was personal project—a catalyst of what Massi learned after being diagnosed with cervical cancer the week of her 29th birthday.
About 79 million people, most in their late teens and early 20s, are currently infected with HPV, and an additional 14 million are estimated to be infected each year. However, the main causes of cervical cancer besides HPV are stress levels and poor diet. After being diagnosed, the young mother of two toddlers spent the end of 2018 and half of 2019 going through treatment for the disease. Being licensed in handling emotions didn’t exactly make handling them any easier, but the process of figuring out what helps the body and the mind is how Massi found her solution and her new business venture built on helping others as well.
“The Wellness Collective was founded after my battle with cancer, because I learned the hard way that finding health and wellness resources can be overwhelming (especially during a crisis),” Massi explains. “My goal with The Wellness Collective is to bring multiple health and wellness resources under one roof, to help support people holistically through whatever they may be facing.”
The Wellness Collective offers Philadelphians an array of healthy options—think of it as a menu of options to feed whatever it is that their 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.
Now, years after The Wellness Collective launched in the City of Brotherly Love, Massi wants to bring her knowledge and expertise to the women of Philadelphia through an event that calls for people to be just a little bit selfish.
“The SELF(ISH)philly Conference is a larger extension of that same idea. I wanted to take the city’s best health and wellness resources, including acupuncture, nutritionists, mental health professionals, spas, gyms, and eastern medicine practitioners and put them all in one location,” Massi continues. “My hope is that everyone attending the conference is introduced to the wealth of wellness opportunities that the City of Philadelphia has to offer so that they can act preventatively to take care of themselves, and to also know who to turn to in moments of need.”
In 2020, the conference went virtual for obvious reasons. Now, every woman in the city is invited to attend on Oct. 1 (the event takes place at VUE on 50 on the 50th floor) to kickstart a new wave of health and wellness through the vendors, events and keynote speakers. Attendees must buy a ticket and wear a mask while there to join the day of healthy fun.
“Transitioning the conference to a virtual one last year was tough, but rewarding. On the one hand, the health and safety of our community is my top priority, so with the pandemic we knew that it was in the best interest of our attendees to have the conference be online. On the other hand, I know how beneficial an experience like this can be when it’s done in person,” says Massi. “There’s nothing that can match the feeling of immersing yourself in a true wellness experience. That’s why I’m thrilled to bring the conference back to an in-person event this year, where all of our attendees can actually engage with wellness vendors on a very human level.”
Highlights include vendors Crown Jewel Esthetics (a medical-grade spa that provides skincare, eyelash, and waxing services located in Rittenhouse Square), Contour Body Studio (Philadelphia’s premier body contouring studio in Kensington, offering fat loss and aesthetic services), Nomadic Home & Co (specialty handmade candles, made to facilitate a healthy well being and mindfulness) and speakers ranging from Marissa Cottrill (a Shadow Work Coach speaking “How to Heal Toxic Patterns with Shadow Work”) Bailey Frumen (a licensed psychotherapist and certified life coach with “Self Care is a Mindset”) Brigitte Ayoub (a business coach speaking on “Owning Your Power and Greatness While Managing Life Events) and much more.
“The SELF(ISH)philly Conference is going to have a large number of free immersive treatments that attendees can undergo, including massages, acupuncture, and IV hydration treatments. There will also be 12 coaches that attendees can schedule follow-up sessions with after the conference who will help them take all of the momentum and healing that they experienced into their daily lives for the long term. This is something I’ve never seen another conference offer, and I think it’s truly special.”
For Messi, this event is not just about bringing awareness and a day of treating yourself to the city—it’s also about empowering the women of Philadelphia to look out for themselves.
“For centuries, women’s health has been neglected. As a former college professor of abnormal psychology at Penn State University, I would teach my students about hysteria, a disease that was historically exclusively diagnosed in women to demonize them and pathologize their emotions, and about how the rates of maternal mortality are markedly higher for women of color then they are for white women. As women, we need to be our own advocates, and be at the forefront of the battle to take our health into our own hands,” she says.
“After undergoing cancer treatment, I was determined to uncover the root cause of my cancer. And what I found is that chronic stress is the number one cause of all illnesses, both mental and physical,” finishes Massi. “It is of the utmost importance that we move away from the hustle mentality that society has driven into us, into the realization that our peace should be our number one priority. Take a mental health day and immerse yourself—your body and mind will thank you for it.”