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Meet Trailblazer Serena Kumara

Today we’d like to introduce you to Serena Kumara.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Serena. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I started my self-discovery journey about eight years ago. I was not pleased with the state of my career and relationships so I slowly started the work to figure out how I had contributed to my unhappiness and how I could “fixit”. Over the years, this journey has taken turns and gone through several phases, I’ve tried a bunch of techniques, approaches, and practices and each phase has contributed to my life in a unique and special way.

From 2016-around August of last year, I knew intuitively that I was supposed to be doing more than I had been, but I wasn’t getting my usual signs. In the past, if there was a move I was supposed to make, the signs would be unignorable. However, during those two years, I had the urge to do something creative but also felt my creativity was completely blocked. I felt I was supposed to use my fashion degree, but none of the usual avenues resonated with me.

Then, in the fall of 2018, I had an experience that forced me to recognize how much I had been limiting myself and I began my “Year of Whatever I Feel Like”, which ultimately birthed The Milk & Honey Project. For one year, I gave myself permission to explore things I thought I would enjoy or had enjoyed previously but lost touch of – without limiting myself. I found myself actively fashion styling again. I also did some silly things like having a photoshoot with my dog, I went to film festivals and poetry slams, and, of course, tried a bunch of new self-enrichment activities including Reiki and a stress breathing class. I essentially made self-care and self-discovery a part-time job. During one of my conferences, I felt a clear pull to create a space where I could share my experiences with other women. This was so outside of what I thought I would be doing, but this call was confirmed on so many occasions in so many ways. I hosted a Vision Board Party at the top of this year and began hosting my “Sacred Series”, a series of workshops that explore different self-love topics like boundaries and vulnerability and how they affect your overall quality of life. And I’ve recently launched private parties that combine image consulting with doing your inner work.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
In some ways, the road has been smooth. The initial creation, vision, and name for my business just came to me. I’ve made some amazing connections and received so much support.

However, I would say that my biggest challenge has been trusting myself and the process, particularly when things don’t go as planned. Because The Milk & Honey Project is such a labor of love, each part of every event, email, social media post, conversation with an attendee feels very personal. I have had to work to accept that not everything will go to plan and use any mishaps as a lesson to move forward.

Another challenge has just been getting comfortable with being in a unique space. The Milk & Honey Project combines developing inner beauty and outer beauty in our own way. Even explaining what I do has taken some practice, because I had never heard anyone else describe an identical business. However, not having blueprints forces you to stretch your creativity and faith and the results can be greater than you imagined.

My advice to young women starting their journey would be to truly get connected to yourself, your inner voice, and your “why” before you start anything. That “why” is what’s going to keep you going when you feel like giving up. Knowing yourself & being connected to your intuition is going to be what helps steer you when you’re lost and will help you identify the people and opportunities that are beneficial to you and those that are not.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about the Milk & Honey Project – what should we know?
I create experiences that help women discover their highest selves, represent that version of themselves outwardly, and use that development to create a life they love. This can look a few different ways, which includes hosting workshops centered around self-development topics like boundaries, self-care, and vulnerability. There’s an educational portion where I introduce the topic and examples of how it can affect our overall quality of life. Then, there are exercises to prompt the women to be honest with themselves about how boundaries, vulnerability, etc are currently affecting their lives. We think outside the box during this part and some of the activities utilize song lyrics, oracle cards, formulas, etc. The workshops end with attendees completing & committing to a plan for continuing their work in their everyday lives.

Another thing I do is one-on-one Image Consulting. In these sessions, I work with women to help them recognize how their perception of themselves shows up in their appearance and ultimately affects other parts of their lives. We work together to discover what she wants her style to say about her. These sessions can become emotional because we identify what was blocking her from seeing her true beauty and worth. In the end, my client has learned what she loves about her body, gotten closer to accepting the things she doesn’t, and learned what works for her body & lifestyle.

I also just launched my Glow & Grow private parties. Right now, I’m most excited about this because it combines my love for self-development & style development. Women book the party for 5 or more of their friends and I come to them with activities centered around a self-love topic and I do mini style consults with the attendees. I’m extremely excited about these because it creates a safe sharing space, as the attendees will already know each other and bonds can be deepened. I think of it as the ultimate girls’ night in.

I am most proud when I hear from previous clients about how our styling session or workshop has changed their way of thinking and improved their life in some way.

Do you feel like there was something about the experiences you had growing up that played an outsized role in setting you up for success later in life?
My childhood played a huge role in setting me up for success. I say that I lived in the best of both worlds… literally. I grew up in a two-family home with my mom & my sister and my grandparents. My mom, sister, and I shared the upstairs apartment and my grandparents lived downstairs. The “upstairs experience”, as I call it taught me the importance of hard work, sacrifice, and perseverance because I watched my single mom carry the entire financial load, complete her degree all while healing her own emotional trauma. I watched her work tirelessly to build a life she and my sisters could be proud of while still being extremely kind & loving.

Downstairs, my grandparents were living a more comfortable life. I heard the stories of their struggles while they were building their lives, but what I saw was my grandmother enjoying the best things life has to offer & prioritizing her self care. She taught me that treating myself well was essential to being the best version of myself and ultimately would help me treat others better. Both households were filled with love and joy, but I believe the unique circumstances I grew up in taught me that I am worth investing in and should have amazing experiences, but I was not entitled to handouts. I also learned to relate to people at various points of life’s journey because we are all here to learn from & share with each other.

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Image Credit:
I’sha Gaines, Jo’el Barnes

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