The Ethel’s Club Relaunch Offers More Affordable Curated On-Demand Wellness for People of Color

Photo: Ethel's Club
When Naj Austin launched Ethel's Club in late 2019, she had no idea that a global pandemic would shutter the doors mere months later. The club was a meeting place in Brooklyn for people of color seeking wellness and community. There were therapists available for walk-in chats, workshops focused on investing, reiki and meditation sessions, and more. But when March 2020 rolled around, Austin and her team were forced to rethink what community gatherings could look like amid the pandemic, and they ultimately shifted into a virtual space. Now, over a year later, Ethel's Club is relaunching with a more refined, hybrid approach for providing an affordable wellness community both online and in-person for people of color.

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According to Austin, "all of 2020 was basically reactionary," which meant the decision to move Ethel's Club to a virtual community from a brick-and-mortar wasn't by design so much as necessity. And while that virtual shift did work well, she says "we weren't doing the things that we wanted as a team and things that we thought could really help scale and grow Ethel's Club." With that in mind, since January 2021, Austin and the Ethel's Club team has been working on this new, just-relaunched platform that makes the community more accessible by price and location and allows members to pay-per-item for events and guided series that interest them, versus paying a flat monthly fee, as was the case before.

"Everyone we've been able to interact with over the last year has been a paying member of Ethel's Club," Austin says. "And there are hundreds of people who've reached out and said, 'I can't afford to pay for that.' That didn't go unnoticed by us. We weren't like, 'Oh, well too bad. When you figure it out, we're here.' We thought, 'Okay, what can we do where we can allow for people to tap into what we're doing in whatever way?' And so that's also been really exciting to work on."

Previously, Ethel's Club members paid $17 a month for unlimited access to daily virtual holistic wellness events and smaller themed clubs that functioned as chat rooms for people to gather around topics that interested them. The new Ethel's Club has three features, two of which are free: There's a section for free written content surrounding the mind-body connection, spirituality, sex, romance, and more. There's also free recorded content ranging from guided meditations to short films that play on a 24-hour channel. "You can just watch content, all by diverse body types, by diverse people, all in one place," says Austin, who is one of Well+Good's 2021 Changemakers. And the third feature, starting in fall 2021, is that Ethel's Club will bring back its paid guided series (both IRL and digital). For example, there might be a multi-week guided journaling course that you take with a group online. The price range for these series is still to be determined.

Photo: Ethel's Club

What sets the content Ethel's Club provides apart from say, watching a Youtube video or tuning into a practitioner's Instagram Live, is that it takes an end-to-end approach, putting everything the viewer needs in one place, says Austin. It makes your wellness journey feel more like a walk down a clear path rather than a scramble through a eucalyptus-scented maze.

"What the digital experience has taught us is that we have members everywhere and they're not necessarily concentrated in New York City anymore." —Naj Austin, Ethel's Club founder

"Let's say you go to Youtube and you find a yoga video. And you're like, 'I love this person, but now I have to go to their website, but they also have an Instagram, and they also have this, and they also have that,'" says Austin. "What we found over the last year is that people had the most rewarding experience in this controlled environment in which you can find all those things. The difference about Ethel's Club is you find the video and you're like, 'I love this video.' On the same platform, you can find their written content, you can see if they're having a live series coming up, maybe it's that day, then you can sign up and pay for that and join that. You could find other recorded videos [and podcasts] that they have."

As Austin solidifies the club's digital footprint, she's also excited to return to in-person events. But, they won't just happen in a Brooklyn clubhouse anymore. "What the digital experience has taught us is that we have members everywhere and they're not necessarily concentrated in New York City anymore," she says. "Now that we've learned so much, it's like, Is it pop up? Is it one-year-long experiences in different cities? We feel like everything's on the table. We plan on using this next iteration of Ethel's Club as testing for that." Ultimately, Austin hopes that this relaunch will allow more people to access Ethel's Club and feel guided as they navigate their own wellness journey.

Learn more about Ethel's Club:

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