“A huge part of my self-care is laughter,” says Nikisha Brunson, Owner of Folie Apothecary (an all natural skincare and haircare brand) and health and wellness influencer, “I’m a clown. I’m the person that makes people laugh. I don’t take myself seriously, which became a huge part of letting go of being a perfectionist a few years ago. I can laugh by myself. Family, friends, a stranger — I love making people and myself laugh, it’s huge for me.”
This infectious positivity is something that radiates from Nikisha. Her ability to laugh and her determination to stay true to herself are nothing new, however.
“Like most women my age, I had a parent that was like ‘Get a 9-5, become a nurse (my mom was a nurse) because they make good money, it’s stable,’” says Nikisha, “I was actually in nursing school for a year in undergrad and ended up failing out with one class. I had the option to retake class and go back, but I hated it and wasn’t doing it for me, it was for my mom.”
She realized that she loved psychology and was naturally good at it, so she switched to that program and ended up graduating magna cum laude with her Bachelors in Psychology with a minor in Biology. Shortly after she gave acting a try. When she was younger, she was actually on Broadway. She was a part of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as well as A Christmas Carol in Madison Square Garden. She grew up singing and dancing, and ars have always been her passion. But for Nikisha, acting didn’t work out.
“I hate the industry,” she says, “I didn’t want to do it anymore. I didn’t want to be the token black girl that has to be sexy and corny. It wasn’t me.”
She then decided she wanted to be a teacher because she loved kids. She got her Masters in teaching and did that on the Lower East Side and in Harlem and Virginia for a year. But she didn’t agree with the public school system in America and the way things were run.
“I did better on a volunteer level than teaching a public school curriculum. All the while, I was still searching and asking people I trusted what I should do for a living. In 2011 I started the blog, started to explore more and realized that I was an artist. Not in the traditional sense of what I thought artists were, but in the sense that I love cooking, I love dancing, I love music, I love creating things. I love the art of things. things, clothing, sculptures, etc. So, I kept delving into that with blogging and decided to blog about the stuff that turned me on about life. It was a work in progress, an exploration. I was going back to the things I would do without anyone asking me to do them. It ended up being holistic to do things on a physical, mental and spiritual level.”
When she’s not busy working, Nikisha loves eating. She enjoys trying new foods and new restaurants. She loves reading psychology articles, listening to podcasts on holistic health and anything homeopathic. She also spends time in the gym, experimenting with DIYs and more. (When we talked, she was getting ready to make her own kombucha with her son.) Oh, and she loves watching horror movies.
“Honestly, what I do from my job isn’t separate from what I do in my free time. I wanted it to be like that because I didn’t want to wait for the weekends anymore. I wanted it to be all-encompassing of ‘If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.’”
As far as making time for friends and family, that’s something Nikisha actively works on.
“I really make more time now to hang out with girlfriends,” she says, “Sometimes I just want to go out dancing and grab dinner, while sometimes I just want to listen to my girlfriends vent and talk about their lives to get out of my own world — I love listening.”
With family, she works to pull them into her world. If she’s shooting something during the day, she’ll be sure that her and her husband hang out after. She regularly makes time to make things some scratch and practice healthy living with her son so that he has that exposure and those skills when he’s an adult.
The Daily Grind
“In the mornings, I love music,” says Nikisha, “I give myself time in the mornings and take advantage of it. If I feel like sleeping in after I drop my son off at school, I do so. I work at home now, so I can make my own schedule and I’ll do that if I need the sleep.” For Nikisha, it’s a welcomed change after she used to wake up at 5 a.m. to teach in Harlem.
After waking up, she’ll make a smoothie and turn on music because it makes her super happy.
“I dance, I sing, I rap — that’s my thing in the mornings,” she says.
“I don’t spend too much time messing with myself by doing my hair or beating my face — I want it simple so I can get up and go. After my smoothie, usually I’ll get ready. I use Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint bar soap to wash my face, followed by Thayer’s witch hazel toner, Folie Prickly Pear face oil, then SPF — I love Supergoop, which has this amazing setting spray.”
For makeup, Nikisha keeps it simple with mascara and a lip — orange is one of her favorite lip colors. She’s huge on SPF and being healthy, so everything she uses is nontoxic. Throughout the day, she often applies the Agave Lip Mask by Bite Beauty.
“If I start to feel tired, I’ll have Yurba Mate tea or organic coffee with almond milk and coconut sugar,” she says, “Even for someone with ADHD, caffeine works for some of us. It helps me stay focused.”
If that doesn’t work, she’ll go for a workout in her gym. It gets the serotonin and endorphins going to keep her motivated and on task.
At night, Nikisha follows the same skincare routine from the morning (without the SPF). She also applies African Botanics Marula Résurrection eye cream.
“Then i have chamomile tea or a cherry and pineapple smoothie if I didn’t have one that because cherries help with sleep,” Nikisha says, “I’ll play relaxing music, something like Sade, or I’ll just watch scary movies in the dark.”
In all aspects of her life, Nikisha focuses on being very intentional with what she’s thinking about.
“The first thing I when I wake up or if something goes wrong is remember how powerful our brains are and that we have the ability through meditation and through daily thoughts to change the neurological connections going on in our brain to produce more serotonin or more stress hormones,” she says. “I’m very intentional about what I’m thinking. Let’s say something goes wrong, I allow myself to feel those feelings and then i quickly shift to focusing on the positive. I find something, because I don’t want to waste my time being worried, anxious, stressed, angry or sad. I feel like I’ve wasted so many years doing that, but I don’t have time for it anymore. You have to figure out a way. You can’t stay here, you’ve got to keep it moving and be positive. I’m intentional beginning first thing in the morning and throughout the day.
Recently, Nikisha has been able to incorporate those she loves into her career. She was just in an Eileen Fisher campaign for Mother’s Day where she got to shoot with her mom, which was really special for her. She is signed with Wilhelmina LA, and is excited to do more of what she’s doing but on an even bigger level.