I’m a spa junkie.
There’s nothing quite like being pampered + massaged.
It’s one of the few indulgences in life that I couldn’t do without.
Pure soul food.
Back in 2005 I worked at one of San Francisco’s premier day spa’s.
And it was there that I crossed paths with the lovely Denmo Ibrahim.
Denmo had a vision even then.
And a deep passion for healing. A true dedication to her art.
From this, Earthbody was born.
Part day spa. Part apothecary. Part sanctuary for the soul.
Denmo is a 1st generation Egyptian-American who grew up in NYC with her mom and brother. It was her early travels to Cairo, where she was steeped in community, culture and spirituality, that she discovered the power of ritual. And of creating things by hand with integrity and love.
As a young person, Denmo suffered a few physical injuries which required knee surgery at the age of 11 and foot surgery (on both feet) in her early twenties. She felt disconnected from her body at times, yet was still agile enough to receive a Masters degree in physical theater.
Her background in performance set the stage for a lifetime of creativity. But it wasn’t until stumbling upon a Thai massage course in San Francisco that her own body awoke to a new way of being.
Her quest to fully understand the body-mind connection led her to study with visionary thought leaders in the field at The School of Body Mind Centering, the World School of Holistic Healing and Mount Madonna.
I’m so excited to share Denmo’s wisdom and love with you.
Her spa is a deep reflection of her personal philosophy on love, healing, and holistic living.
I hope you enjoy getting to know her, as I have!
Denmo, I’m so excited to chat with you. Tell our readers – what is the origin of Earthbody? How did you get started?
Earthbody began as a one-room private practice in 2006. I saw clients 3 times a week and had a client base of 4 people – two of whom were my friends)!
Within 6 months, I was able to open my first one-room studio. Within another 6 months, I had waiting list.
I really didn’t expect this kind of demand.
In seven years of business, we’ve grown from a single therapist private practice to a sustainable company with fifteen employees. We’ve served over 8,000 people.
Though it was one of the biggest challenges I faced, the core of Earthbody always remained true – to offer exceptional treatments to heal the body and mind so that each person could walk away from a session more awake, alive, and whole.
What does beauty mean to you?
I believe beauty is the fruition of space.
I think it’s a surrendering of what we want to who we are.
This is often a very difficult process. We so much want to be or look or act a certain way – to have certain merits we can toss around to give ourselves worth. But as we experience more of life, we see that these are props.
I think that the process of letting go of ambition in a way allows us rest in something much more grounded and real.
click to tweet this!
We do not need to go anywhere to be who we are. We just need to slow down, stop and notice.
This is beauty.
This is why my work is so fulfilling.
Because self-care practices like coaching or body treatments are an invitation to slow down and look within.
Being half-Japanese, I’m fascinated with lineage and heritage and how it shapes us.
You have an interesting cultural background. Can you tell me a bit about that and how it has shaped your life + work?
My parents were born in Cairo. My brother and I were the first generation to be born in the U.S.
Visiting my family as a young person, gave me insight to community in a way I’d never really known.
The women spend their entire day preparing meals from the land. Locals don’t eat out. Families have access to their own gardens, livestock, and equipment to make meals. I think this impacted me in such a big way.
If you want the best, you make it with your own two hands.
I created Earthbody Organics, a full holistic body care line handcrafted by healers, using these principles. It started simple – I just wanted clean products to use in massage sessions. But it grew to formulating exquisite blends and creating a conscious manufacturing process.
The result is a concentrated formula free of cheap fillers like glycerin, wax, alcohol, and water. Our pure plant-based ingredients are nourishment for the body. They are crafted with integrity.
How do you stay inspired and motivated as a business owner?
I go into retreat for 3 weeks once per year.
I exercise 5 times a week.
I read. I get bodywork. I give up my job. And then rehire myself.
I don’t take things so seriously. I try to create space. I don’t lock myself into identifying solely as any one thing but remember that I’m also a lover and artist and writer and coach and sister and daughter and San Franciscan and soon to be wife.
And when I remember that my work is part of the whole, joy returns.
I personally believe that body treatments aren’t a luxury, they’re a necessity. What are your thoughts on this?
We have forgotten our true nature.
The mind is running the show for most of us. And sometimes we just need to cut it.
Spending an hour on the table isn’t really about the muscles (although they love the attention).
It’s about putting your body in front of your mind. This creates a shift. It’s a simple way to say I care enough about me to experience the world through my senses.
Regular treatment has an effect on the mind. Physically, you become more relaxed, agile, lighter.
Mentally you can experience balance, clarity, and ease.
And emotionally you can taste peace.
The result I think is embodied joy.
It’s really that simple.
So then I ask you is joy a luxury?
I don’t think so.
What does your creative process look like?
I often get the most creative in retreat when I’m not working. This is when the flood of ideas comes rushing through.
What’s your personal self-care philosophy + routine?
Wow – one of the lessons I learned the hard way was that I had to have a self care routine or else nothing worked.
So now I receive bodywork once a week.
I’m currently on a three week detox cleanse (which has been amazing).
I work with a personal trainer.
I have a nightly skincare ritual that makes my skin feel incredible but also smells amazing from Earthbody Organics.
I write each day.
And I cook once if not twice daily.
I go on dates with my fiancé.
The important thing is that I show up. I realized I can’t just be a walking to-do list.
There are things that maybe don’t have as much of a sense of accomplishment, like taking my vitamins, but it’s a long term vision of wellness.
For the first time I feel what balance can be like. And it takes a lot more effort than I realized, but its so possible and totally worth it!
You’re an Ayurvedic practitioner and holistic coach – how does that inform your work?
When people choose Earthbody, I think they choose us because of our integrated wellness philosophy.
We’re the only day spa in San Francisco owned and operated by Therapists – which says a lot about how the menu is designed, the experience of the clients, and the thoughtfulness of every treatment. The holistic education and practices that informed me are at the heart of Earthbody.
What is a quote that you love? One that guides your life.
“There are only two rules. Start and continue.”
~Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
Now for some fun tips! What are your Top 3 favorite spots in your ‘hood (San Francisco)?
Hayes and Kebab – owned by Kurdish brothers who still hold a real sense of hospitality.
Samovar Tea Lounge – the tea is overpriced but the ambiance makes way for wonderful conversations.
Patricia’s Green Park – a little secret haven of lush in the city with art, kids playground, garden, and picnic benches.
Why do you do what you do?
Because only by doing can I learn and transform. Because I am utterly compelled. Because I love you and I want you to have all of me.
As a fellow “girl who knows”, what do you absolutely know for sure?
You are perfect.
You hold all the answers for your life.
You are needed in this world.
I KNOW you have a purpose.
I know you can heal old wounds.
I know that love and truth and joy are not things that you and I just say would be nice. But that we’ve experienced it and have a right to it in every single moment.
I know that when we don’t have it, we will be heart broken. But I also know that this small death is the only way to wake up. That becomes the gateway to joy.
This I know.
Simply put, I absolutely adore Denmo. Her words, her work and her life are pure poetry.
I’m so honored to have been able to share a bit about her and Earthbody.
As a gift to you beautiful readers, Denmo is generously offering a 1-hour Holistic Coaching session by phone or Skype for $89 (regularly $225). The offer expires December 1, 2012.
I kid you not, BIG shifts can occur in 1-hour with her. BIG. And I say this from personal experience.
Click HERE for more info (and be sure to mention THE GIRL WHO KNOWS when booking to secure your special rate).
Head over to the Earthbody site to book your holistic coaching session with Denmo.
And if you’re in the Bay Area, I can’t recommend her face + body treatments highly enough. They are the absolute BEST!
What a great infusion of cultures! This is beautiful, thanks for sharing! ~Cathy
So happy you enjoyed it Cathy – thanks for stopping by!
I love Denmo’s statement, “I realized I can’t just be a walking to-do list.” That really resonated with me as it’s something I seem to have to keep learning again and again. It can be so easy to get caught up in what the head says needs to be done, but the best parts of life aren’t in pursuing progress and check marks. Thank you for sharing this, Stephanie!
I really resonated with that statement too Jessica! Definitely a good one to be mindful of. So glad you liked it ~ thanks for being here!
What a fabulous trip to the spa! I feel like I visited with this post. And the video is so relaxing and beautiful. I am going to SF at the end of the month and I will look them up if I can fit it in. I love spas and Thai massage!
Oooh yes, definitely look up Earthbody when you get to SF ~ you won’t be disappointed. 🙂
Lovely interview Stephanie. Denmo has incorporated all that she is into her spa, it is beautiful. Very inspiring!
Thanks Christie! It is inspiring, isn’t it? Lots of great lessons in bringing your whole, authentic self, to your business. Thanks ~ have a great week! 🙂
What an incredible space – I love the philosophy behind it. We should always be treating ourselves to self care, it’s so important. I’m a fellow spa junkie and wouldn’t have it any other way. Thanks for the beautiful interview! 🙂
So true Kimberley, self care really is paramount. Without that, we’re no good to anyone else (or ourselves). Yay for spa junkies! 🙂
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