I used to own a chain of children’s designer clothing stores, but in 1979 I got really sick. I decided to change my own health by going back to school for a doctorate in preventive health care—and that was the birth of M’lis.
What’s one simple thing we could all be doing to boost our wellness?
I think there are four things: eat clean, drink pure water, exercise and control external stress. Sugar is the most abused drug in America, and it negatively impacts every single body system and organ. Keeping stress down is also important; anything that costs you your peace is too expensive.
How has wellness changed since you entered the industry decades ago?
The launch of M’lis in 1979 coincided with the downfall of American food sources. I remember thinking how fabulous it was that you could feed your family by going to a drive-through! At that time, people weren’t interested in what we were doing. We started with detoxification, which no one had heard of. We were lucky: we’d opened a spa in Hawaii, and a woman from Singapore came to visit. She’d had fibroids, and by the time she left a month later, her fibroids had reabsorbed and she’d lost 30 pounds. She took our concept back to Asia. Until 1990 we did 80 percent of our business there. In the 1990s people in the U.S. began to call us, so we came back into spas here. We had some pretty rough years—we were way ahead of the game. But we were so convinced that we were on the right track, and the last 5 to 10 years have been fabulous! Our company mantra is ‘We change lives,’ and that has been our impetus since day one.
Where do you see the future of wellness in this country?
I think it’s the future of healthcare. Not in my lifetime but maybe in my kids’. I’m excited that medical schools and practices are finally treating people with the modality that actually fits their health issues.
What’s your biggest fear?
Not being in control of my own life.
What’s in the pipeline for M’lis?
It’s an exciting year for us: We’re going through an incredible rebranding. Our packaging is prettier and more simple, and we’re also working to simplify our regimens so that more people can experience a lifechanging program without necessarily needing a daily mentor. We’re really proud of working with FDA’s certified labs and attorneys and making sure that the labels reflect exactly what’s in our products and that the ingredients work the way they say they will.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My age! It would’ve been great to have as much fun 30 years ago as I’m having today. I’d settle for being 15 years younger, so I’d have 15 more years to enjoy life. But the benefits of being healthy are huge: When I was 38 I was so sick. I’m now 75 and can do whatever I want.
Who inspires you?
Clients who take responsibility for their own health. It’s hard to be healthy. Those who embrace that challenge become better wives, sisters or teachers. They’re the ones who keep me doing what I’m doing.What’s on your bucket list?
Before my husband passed away two years ago, our goal was to visit every country in the world. He was an architect and we both love architecture. I also enjoy looking at the local healthcare systems and seeing how they take care of people. These days I go on trips with one of my six kids or 23 grandkids. We’ve been to most places except Iceland, New Zealand, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria.
What’s your favorite food?
Fresh veggies and fruit: things that still have live enzymes in them! Although I do believe in everything in moderation if you’re healthy.
What was the last good book you read?
The Orphan Keeper (Shadow Mountain, 2016) by Camron Wright. I read it on the way to India and loved it.
What’s your personal mantra?
It’s ‘One day she finally grasped that unexpected things were always going to happen in life. And with that she realized the only control she had was how she chose to handle them.
So she made the decision to survive using courage, humor and grace. She was the queen of her own life and the choice was hers.’ It’s attributed to Lupytha Hermin, and I’m grateful to her. I’ve absorbed it into my own life. Our lives are never really the way we envisioned them to be. We have to live the life we’re given. We can make it great or not so great.
How do you find a work-life balance?
I do better on some days than others. My children, M’lisa and Wallace, work with me; we also have lots of employees who aren’t family as such but have become family. Our policy is that when we walk out of the building we’re a family and we don’t talk about business because it makes everyone else uncomfortable. We’ve had to be mindful about it but it’s the best thing we’ve done. Also, I travel a lot when I feel I need to get away, and I do CrossFit, yoga and Pilates. Plus, I love massages—probably more than I should! Sometimes we get too busy we don’t take care of ourselves, but I always try to follow the advice I give other people.
Who would most like to meet?
Ghandi. I recently spent three weeks in India and toured his home. On display were pictures and mementos of his life. He tried so hard to bring about world peace, and wrote letters to Hitler and Roosevelt begging them to talk. I’d also like to meet the Dalai Lama, who exudes peace.
What can’t you leave the house without?
My ‘Mary Poppins’ bag—it has everything in it!