Entrepreneurs

Self-care leads to business success for Phenomenal She

First Kiarah Steele empowered herself to save her life. Now the budding entrepreneur has made it her job to help other women.

Kiarah Steele was only 24 years old when her doctor prescribed three different blood thinners to treat blood clots.

She couldn’t contemplate spending the rest of her life taking these medications, however, and began researching natural, holistic solutions.

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Among the alternatives she found to work is a unique kind of therapy that Steele, 27, thinks every woman should try. The Northside neighborhood native and entrepreneur is in business to make that possible.

Since she founded Phenomenal She LLC in June 2020, close to 100 women have sought out her services with 60 percent of those being return clients, she said.

Awareness is “spreading like wildfire” for pelvic steaming, also known as vaginal steaming, where a woman squats or sits over a receptacle of hot water infused with certain herbs, such as rosemary, basil or Mugwort. Other infusions include flower pedals or citrus rinds.

The procedure, which can last for between a half hour for a first visit to 45 minutes for subsequent visits, is said to open the pores of vaginal and vulvar skin and thus impart the medicinal benefits of the herbs or other ingredients. Proponents of the therapy say it reduces cramping, bloating, and heavy or irregular menstrual flow. It’s also said to increase fertility, among other benefits.

Although the alternative therapy has in recent years caught on in the United States, in part from social media posts from celebrities undergoing the procedure, the practice has been around for hundreds of years in Mayan and Central American cultures.

“When you are passionate, the customers will come,” she said. “It feels like I am doing something positive.”

Things were not always that way.

When Steele was a teenager, she was in and out of the Kalamazoo County Juvenile Home.

“I was hooked into the wrong people. I was headed in a different direction than now, a not-so-good direction.”

By the time she was 20, Steele had her hands full with three young kids. She worked different jobs to make ends meet before she opened a cleaning business, which she still operates.

The daughter of a busy single mother who had her own hands full with responsibilities, Steele never learned the ins and outs of running a business.

There was a moment when she thought about shuttering Phenomenal She, when the challenges of getting her business off the ground became a bit too much.

Then she was introduced to Black Wall Street Kalamazoo (BWSK), an organization that seeks to empower African American business owners through cooperation and collaboration with experts in their fields, and increase the visibility and awareness of Black-owned businesses in the community.

After a six-month BWSK program of mentorship by accountants and other business owners, she entered an entrepreneurs pitch competition at the Kalamazoo Black Business Expo this past August.

Steele stood before peers and already successful business people and explained that 90 percent of medication intended for women is actually tested on men, but her value proposition for women’s health is actually women-focused. Her business creates efficacious outcomes without pills or side effects, empowering women to seek out more natural remedies for issues experienced by them alone.

“We are under-represented in how the health care industry tests drugs,” Steele said. “We have been kind of thrown to the side when it comes to how medications affect us.”

Steele won the competition, and a $5,500 grant she wants to put toward a larger space than the second floor old Victorian house off South Street so she can increase the number of women she serves.

“You have to go out into the world with that confidence, that business mindset, if you want to be successful,” she said. “A lot of entrepreneurs quit because they never had someone believe in them.”

Currently, she has two specialized seats, separated by curtains, where the therapy is administered. She’d like to double that, and envisions creating a space for women to have a self-care day out with their friends.

“I meet a lot of women who are on their self-care journey,” Steele said. “I want to help more women who are looking at ways to help themselves naturally.”

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