Amanda Chantal Bacon | Apiece Apart Woman
In 2011, Amanda Chantal Bacon started Moon Juice, an LA-based juice bar that quickly evolved into much more — a cult following-turned-national fascination. This wasn’t just Venice health food; Moon Juice’s cold-pressed juices and adaptogenic “moon dusts” (herbal powder blends claiming to support everything from glowing skin to a better sex life) personified a bigger transition toward a more mainstream acceptance of what it means to be “well.” It was a rebranding of the mind-body connection, with Amanda the face of the movement (and unsurprisingly a target of its criticism). And yet, while it’s easy for anyone to pick apart someone else’s lifestyle or daily routine, Amanda seems to always be one step ahead. It’s this sharp, self-aware sensibility that we admire in her: fearless and true to herself, unafraid to admit her own weaknessees while acknowledging the present with humility and a sense of humor. We spent the day with her at home in Los Angeles to discuss, among other ideas: the commodification of “wellness,” the luxury of slowing down, and the power that comes from an exchange of kindness.
As more and more people have become interested in wellness, that word has become synonymous with the idea of striving for a sort of perfection. What are the ways you think about wellness and how to open up that word to define a bigger picture of its meaning?
Good question. I think wellness itself is not a destination…Yes, it’s doing things to find homeostasis in your body, mind, and spirit. But within that, [recognizing that we are still] having an evolving human experience. Really, how many adaptogens can you take? How much meditation can you do? How much green juice can you drink? How “well” can you be? At a certain point, you have done a really good job of detoxing and nourishing your body, and calming your mind, and de-stressing, and doing all the diagnostics. You can always dig deeper, but for me — maybe it was 15 years later — I really did hit a plateau in what I was searching for.
We're always growing. They are always more ways to expand. I can always be better…but at a certain point, it’s just time to have a human experience.
Wellness seems to have a very “California” feel right now, even if the teachings are ancient. Do you think we're still riding this wave of the “health food” movement from back in the 60s or do you think this current interest in modern wellness is something new?
I think it has been happening all over the world, not location or date-specific; many of my favorite health food stores are in other countries, like in Germany, and India and China, in places where herbs and healing are an integral, historic part of daily life and culture. I think [what is new] is the lifestyle aspect we have adopted into wellness. I think some of the stuff we're talking about is actually wellness; it’s a means of being well. Then, there is another part that’s a stylistic trend…it’s materialism.
Right. I also appreciate how you’ve talked about all the things you can do for yourself that are totally free; there are so many different levels and definitions of what “well” can mean.
Things don't have to look a certain way to be meaningful and healing: You're not “well” just because you're dressed in spiritual garb. You're not “well” because you're on Instagram in a bikini and get 50,000 likes because you look so glowy and your stomach is flat. Some of the most “well” people I know I consider to be that way because of their emotional health, their happiness, and their lightheartedness. They are relaxed, they are quick to laugh, and kind. Some of these people eat sugar, wheat, and dairy, and they drink alcohol, and they're not caring about posting pictures of what a great job they are doing with their “wellness” on Instagram.
I think we're dealing with two things. The light and the positive is that there is a continued human interest in bettering ourselves. This is not a new phenomena. It has been around for thousands of years, but now we have new media outlets. It's en vogue right now. In the 90s, champagne and bling were really in. Now, crystals and meditation are in. That's great, but I would say the shadow side of that is that we are still dealing with materialism and showmanship. However, I do think it’s for something that at the core can be wonderful and inspiring.
What do you see as the future of wellness? What do you see the next place that it could permeate?
I see the future of wellness as something really beginning to settle down and normalize. I think in the last couple of years there has been so much energy around extremes: the weirdest things in wellness, the shocking things, what did she eat now, how expensive is this? I know so many people who are getting off of their prescription meds because they are shifting their lifestyle in this way, or starting to take adaptogens. That's real. You feel the effect. You talk to your family. You talk to your friends. They also try it…I think what’s next is just the normalizing.
What is one thing that you're learning now, either personally or professionally, or both?
I have started to relax into realizing what I don’t know. I'm not sure anybody knows anything, personally or professionally. And that really could also speak to everything we just touched upon in wellness, and the trends, and the fads, and the people coming out saying that they have all the answers. I’ve been there, on my own trip of thinking what I knew was right. I've been there in spiritual practices. I've been there personally, in thinking I knew how I was and what the trajectory of my life was going to look like. And really, I’ve just been so humbled in this last year.
Professionally, I am now in a position where I'm founder and CEO of a company that's rapidly growing and I have an executive team with really impressive resumes. I don't have any resume that should be brought into an office. I definitely wouldn't be hired for my own company. I don't have any degrees. But here I am, and I’m comfortable in what I don’t know…there is ebb and flow, I’m able to be adaptable. I’m able to just relax and know that anything I really need to know is inside of me in a cosmic sense…or if it’s not, I can just Google it and figure it out.
What do you wish more people were talking about? Is there something that you wish was more in conversation?
I love it when people can talk about the things they are afraid to talk about. Whether it's bodily stuff or shame or fear or guilt; I used to also want to hide those things. But there's actually something really freeing about realizing that when you start sharing shameful, uncomfortable, embarrassing things you take the shame right out of it. I think, especially with women, it’s so important to keep the conversation open and moving. There's a lot of talk about sisterhood and women supporting women, and all of that. That's great, but I think one of the biggest ways women can support each other is to not hide the things that you feel funny about.
I actually feel like being your realest self is going and touching someone with your whole heart, with your whole experience, with your good, bad, and ugly. It’s giving it to someone and trusting them with it. It’s an exchange of kindness.
What are some other interests, curiosities, or things you’ve recently found inspiring?
To be honest, I could follow up and give you a list of things that are inspiring. Or I could be really honest and say that I'm a mom and I'm working like crazy and I've not found a moment. And I've been re-inspired to enjoy alone time and unstructured silence, especially in the age of information overload.
It used to be you could read one book at a time, but there's the Internet now. And there are podcasts and there are doctors that are able to come out and explain things…I get so excited about how much I want to learn. But I’ve found that all of that has pushed me into this place of it being just as much of a requirement to put down the phone, put down the printouts, and sit with myself. I think in the past, pre-information age I would think: "Oh, wonderful. I've got an afternoon or a free hour, why don't I pick up an art book? Or why don't I go to an art show? Or why don't I go check out that new place I’ve been wanting to see?” But now, I’m like, "Why don't I check out this white wall?" Or I will just lay on the floor and watch dappled sunlight on a wall or a little sparkle that will come inside after light bounces of something metal. The way I can watch that and think into it…it’s next-level inspiration. I wish I could report to you on who my new favorite visual artist was. But I think slowing down has become the new extreme luxury for me. It is the grandest piece of art, the most stunning poem, the sweetest tune ever written. Really. Eyes open. Presence.