“Wellness has become another way to display wealth,” holistic healer Rachelle Robinett recently wrote. In the piece, Robinett wryly points out the aspirational nature of the health trend, where stylized breakfast bowls “are the new handbags” and “instead of planning fashion shows, we produce cacao ceremonies at Saks Fifth Avenue.” The golden ticket? “An ayahuasca experience in a Soho loft.” A few weeks after her health world takedown was published, she opened the doors for her wellness cafe Supernatural, at the Woom Center, an “avant-garde yoga studio” on Bowery offering “4-D multi-sensory yoga” and sound healing sessions.
In a city where people have personal relationships with their baristas and therapists are a defining part of their week, Supernatural falls somewhere in between; it’s part cafe and part pharmacy, with a little magic maca powder on top. Robinett offers new customers a free 15-minute session to determine their needs and suitable beverages, and she’s happy to customize. Feeling a little anxious? A Green-Multi tea infusion of oat tops and nettle leaf, perhaps. She keeps all prescriptions on file.
You don’t have to examine the wellness trend in New York too closely to see that behind the green juice lies a darker shade of commodification, commercialized spirituality, and hollowness. Robinett is the first to point this out. So what motivated her to open a wellness cafe that offers elixirs, plant prescriptions and medicinal mylks?
Robinett grew up on a farm near Seattle with a dietician mom and an anesthesiologist dad. It was an earthy and organic childhood, and she was desperate to get out. She moved to New York and began working in fashion. Although she loved her job, she couldn’t quite shake her upbringing. “I was always interested in health and the relationship between mind, body and spirit,” she told me. It became her side project, and she double-timed as a fashionista by day and potion maker by night.
Turning a room of her Bed-Stuy apartment into her own apothecary, she would mix elixirs for herself and friends while scouring bodybuilding forums and witch websites for information. Eventually her side project took over, and she switched full time to holistic healing and brand consulting. This is when she invented some of the menu items at Supernatural, such as the “Supernatural CBD.” Mixed with hemp milk and honey, the cannabidiol is said to help with calmness, pain relief and overall well being.
Now she refers to herself as part of a group she calls “ex-fashion,” those who used to work in fashion but have now jumped on the wellness trend. But for Robinett, wellness is more than the latest collection; it’s her deepest passion, and she takes a scientific approach to it. She prefers to understand the chemistry of how something affects the body rather than blindly subscribe to a craze. Speaking about her “Nerve Less” skullcap brew, Robinett says the skullcap flower contains properties that bind to the same receptors that Benzodiazepines (read: Xanax) do, giving a calming effect similar to that of everyone’s favorite little pill.
Supernatural is not yet another matcha bar. Thankfully there’s no matcha or millennial pink cups in sight. In fact the only thing with caffeine on the menu is the “Wake Up” tea infusion. It can be found right above the “Medicinal Mylks,” some with eight medicinal mushrooms and some with CBD oil (spoiler: both are safe to drink before a meeting.)
“I wouldn’t offer dandelion root and say it’s going to change everything to someone who needs to make serious lifestyle changes,” Robinett says. For her it’s not about trying to bypass self care with miracle fixes.
Robinett also offers workshops in the space; her next one, on February 25, is on Supernatural Herbalism. She’s also planning one on the 15th for “Self care through herbalism,” focused on using herbal remedies to deal with stress. “We’re raised to be always on, we’ve become disconnected from our bodies and what they’re actually asking for,” says Robinett. The cure might just be something Supernatural.
I’m hosting an herbal elixir bar at a meditation studio’s opening party. The mixers are made with Amazonian plant extracts intended to open chakras and beautify. There’s a red carpet (except it’s green), a plant wall, and scheduled celebrity appearances, though, rather than models, they’re personal trainers, gurus under 30, and a shaman on leave from a rainforest.