We had the good fortune of connecting with Maya Howard and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Maya, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
As a young leader whose soul mission is to empower and teach BIPOC communities to embrace holistic wellness practices, self-care, and joyful living, the most important factor that has led to success (as I define it) lies in practicing radical self-care myself! It’s amazing to so present in a time when people are realizing that self-care extends beyond physical comforts. For me, self-care looks like establishing boundaries within my professional relationships that allow me to feel safe enough to live and work honestly, vulnerably, and authentically. My self-care practice includes prioritizing my mental health and being aware of anxiety triggers, such as overloading my project load by saying “Yes!” to every opportunity out of fear that another one may not come back around. Most importantly, spiritual self-care & wellness has become a significant contributor to my daily success. Making time to meditate, breathe, ground myself, journal, and be supported by an abundance of spiritual tools allows me to show up for my workday feeling grounded, joyful and divinely guided!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My younger self would be so surprised at me acknowledging myself as an artist or creative, but it truly is the best way to describe the work I do now!
In 2021 I published my first book, a work of art that empowers people of all ethnic and dietary backgrounds to embrace the power of plant foods for deep nourishment. What sets me and this work apart from others is that I create from a place of passion, intuition, meditation, divine guidance, and play as opposed to relying on formal training or education to guide me. My journey as an herbalist, nutritionist, and holistic wellness leader began as a five year old child who loved exploring her family’s urban garden. I learned how to identify vegetables and herbs using all of my senses and can remember feeling the magic of having my bare hands and feet in rich soil.
From there, I arrived to the work I do now of empowering BIPOC communities to embrace holistic wellness practices by having to do the work of healing my own physical body and spirit. Although I have formally studied nutrition, kinesiology, human biology, and currently dietetics, my lived experiences as a Black woman from a single-parent/low-income household and breaking cycles of trauma and poor health within my own ancestral line have informed my work more than anything else. I think that’s what I want the world to know most about me and my evolving wellness brand — that I create from a place of genuinely wanting to stimulate deep healing within a single individual that ultimate creates a ripple effect of healing amongst humanity.
Without being aware of it, I started writing High-Protein Plant-Based Cookbook for Beginners in 2014. The insight of what to write in this book came from my own need to change my diet and lifestyle after learning that I was pre-diabetic. And although I’ve always lived in a thin body, I had to learn that appearance is not a reliable indicator of health, especially for people of color. Taking control of my health outcomes led me into a career as a personal trainer, yoga teacher, food content creator, and ultimately an author.
The journey to arrive here was not easy because I had to live my private life in alignment with the messages of nutritional health, mental health, physical movement, and spiritual wellbeing that I was sharing publicly with my online community. I had to overcome my own anxiety and fear of vulnerability time and time again in order to build a brand that felt like a friend or sister rather than a coach. Through all of that, I learned that the magic of life is truly in the journey. Yes, I have big goals and visions I want to bring to life, but I’ve also learned to slow down and express gratitude for my courageous transformation and growth that allows me to empower others.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My favorite way to spend a day in LA? A whole lot of great food, amazing company, and culture. First off, grab your laptop and head to Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen for a warm chai tea latte and a little morning work session. Getting hungry? Stay on Market Street and stroll over to Stuff I Eat, a high-vibrational vegan restaurant led by inspiring queen Chef Babette. My mom is a huge fan of the tacos but I’ve gotta recommend the Organic Soul Food Platter. Before you leave Inglewood, grab an apple fritter from Randy’s Donuts and take a drive to what I grew up calling the Great Western Forum, the original home of the L.A. Lakers. Next, head to Simply Wholesome on Slauson for a smoothie, great conversation with the locals, and of course shopping for new books and products to add to your wellness routines. Take a little drive to Marina Del Rey next. Park your car and take a slow stroll around the marina, taking moments to close your eyes, breathe in the fresh air, and maybe catch the most beautiful LA sunset. The perfect day in LA ends in Little Ethiopia on Fairfax sitting at the large corner table at popular restaurant Messob, sharing honey wine and vibrant Ethiopian food with friends and family.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The acknowledgements page in my recently published plant-based cookbook was undoubtedly one of my favorite parts to write! I can remember being so emotional thinking about all of the people who supported me not only in creating that work, but who also encouraged me to keep finding my career path when self-doubt and fear would make me second guess my creative projects. In those acknowledgements I recognized my incredible girlfriends and family who always saw my potential and helped me keep my internal flame lit. I recognized my team at Penguin Random House who had a vision of uplifting voices of women of color in wellness and saw it through. Beyond them, I truly want to shoutout the teachers, professors, coworkers, business mentors, etc who saw my potential and invested their time and energy to help me grow into the woman I am today. So much gratitude!
Woven Lens Photography by Kyra Glover