Entrepreneur Spotlight: ReglaSOULSeptember 8, 2021
ReglaSOUL is a holistic wellness community project based in Regla, Havana. The company is dedicated to promoting a closer connection to nature, ancestral medicinal practice, land, self-care and wellness resources for Afro Cubans through workshops, events, courses and cultural exchanges.
To learn more about Afro Cuban culture and owning a private business in Cuba, we spoke with ReglaSOUL.
Cuba Candela: What inspired you to start your company?
"We were inspired to create a space on the island to remember not only where we want to go, but also where we came from."
ReglaSOUL: We thought about what makes the “soul” or the heart of a community. For us, that is how healthy it is, how connected its residents are to one another, and how able it is to provide its community with resources to be mentally, physically and spiritually well. We were inspired by the idea that reconnecting people both inside and outside of Cuba to healing practices and to nature could promote a healthier community of Regla in general. We were really driven by the idea of being able to create healthier ways to build solidarity projects in Cuba, from Cuba.
We also saw the necessity for more resources in mental health, wellness, sustainability, food access in our community, and how this relates to larger issues of environmental equity, pollution and climate change as it disproportionately and greater impacts African descendant people not only in Cuba but around the world. We were inspired to create a space on the island to remember not only where we want to go, but also where we came from.
What is the most rewarding part about starting a company in Cuba and why?
ReglaSOUL: The most rewarding part of starting a project in Cuba is that we have the opportunity to work every day with the people of Cuba. We are constantly grateful for the support that we receive from our neighbors, from our family and from visitors who have decided that they would like to work alongside us in Regla, whether it be in the form of hosting a workshop or a course free to the public or through volunteer work and other services. Our work with people is what we love the most.
What have been some of the biggest challenges of founding and growing your business and how have you overcome them?
ReglaSOUL: Some of the biggest challenges that we have are internet access and being able to better promote our work and connect with people both inside and outside of Cuba. It makes it more difficult for us to participate in events, many of which have become virtual due to the pandemic. To persevere, we have turned to more accessible platforms within Cuba, which are mostly social media platforms. This is how we have been able to create somewhat of an online community of support, which also has been very beautiful to experience, especially in the past couple of very difficult months for the island when the usual flow of travel to and within the island has for the most part been paused.
How Has American Travel to Cuba Impacted Reglasoul?
ReglaSOUL: Travelers have helped us to grow our project because we have been able to build and create relationships with people who want to have connections with people outside of their own communities and or countries. We have been able to hold events such as film screenings, meditation workshops, art workshops for youth, plant-based medicinal healing treatments and more with the collaboration of visitors who have brought their skills and resources to Regla. These kinds of exchanges create a very special kind of energy in our home where we hold many of our events, and on our block where outdoor events have been held as well.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs in Cuba?
ReglaSOUL: Our advice for inspiring entrepreneurs in Cuba right now, is to continue to reinvent and reimagine your objectives and goals. In these times of change and the pandemic, we have to be able to be flexible and creative. There are so many new paths that we are discovering to better connect to people and our mission, paths of which we could have never been able to predict but have been open to taking.
The founders of ReglaSOUL, Amberly Alene and Alexey ..el tipo este… are both artists and community organizers. The ties that they have had to communities within the diaspora of Africa are what have been the foundation of strength, even during challenging times. Our advice is to go back to the foundations of things- maybe you have begun to steer away from where things all started. We are learning that as the world shifts, as entrepreneurs we must adjust and constantly have our minds open to new ways to grow.
How do you celebrate Afro-Cuban heritage?
ReglaSOUL: We celebrate Afro Cuban heritage through always acknowledging and honoring the past, and what the ancestors and elders before us did to get us where we are today. Studying history, and the larger movements of African descendant people around the world for change and progress keeps us motivated. Understating our part in this ongoing struggle, and remembering its achievements is how we celebrate Afro Cuban heritage.
We celebrate Afro Cuban heritage in how we raise our children, and in how we love as a family, teaching them a love for themselves and who they are.
Connect with ReglaSOUL on Instagram by following @reglasoulcuba.