Interview with DWF Inaugural Big Idea Grant Recipient Jasmine Marie

Photo by Gerald Carter

Photo by Gerald Carter

As part of its mission to foster opportunities for a unified community, the Dream Warriors Foundation provides funding mechanisms, such as grants, to support those in the Metro Atlanta Area. This year kicks off the first allocation of DWF’s Big Idea Grants, which are awarded to qualified individuals or groups seeking startup funds for new ventures. In addition to being awarded up to $15,000, recipients of the Big Idea Grant also receive mentorship, marketing support and networking, to ensure a sustainable startup.

After years in the corporate world — as a brand marketer, dancer and entrepreneur — Jasmine Marie found herself called to something more. That meant a return to breath, as her consultant business, adulting with ease, morphed into a resource for breathwork healing and mindfulness with other black women. These tools had themselves helped Marie achieve healing and growth, so she went on to found black girls breathing.

In less than a year’s time, Marie has seen her business grow leaps and bounds; her passion and authenticity is impossible to ignore, and seems to effortlessly create a community around her work. However, Marie would be quick to correct any false assumptions, as it’s taken months and years of hard work — and a few giant leaps of blind faith — to move forward.

Now, thanks to the Dream Warriors Foundation first ever Big Idea Grant, Jasmine Marie is ready to take her business to the next level. After stumbling upon the grant info on Facebook, Marie felt as though DWF would truly value the work of black girls breathing. “Rarely have I come across grants of this nature, so I attended the information session and told myself I was going to give my all in applying,” Marie says. “I knew how much of a difference, at this critical point in our growth, the grant would make in our foundational successes in 2019 and beyond.”

Jasmine Marie — along with other Big Idea Grant recipient Alejandra Luaces, of Hell Yeah! Gluten Free — is ready to take her business to the next level.  I sat down with Marie to talk all things entrepreneurship, mindfulness and being bold enough to move past fear and live a life you created.

Introducing Jasmine Marie: black girls breathing

What events in your own life led you to mindfulness, and why do you think it’s important to incorporate and share the healing of breathwork and mindfulness with other women, femme-identifying and non-binary individuals?

Breathwork has been a practice that has helped me heal through toxic and abusive relationships, and generational patterns and narratives that did not suit the fullness of who I know I am and my potential. My offerings have morphed since the launch of adulting with ease in 2017, from being focused on coaching and guidance for students, to me feeling the urge to start teaching the personal practice of breathwork that helped me through the ebbs and flows of my own personal journey.

Once I added breathwork as the core service and focus of my business — whether one-on-one or corporate mindfulness sessions — I got the inspiration to be able to provide this powerful tool specifically to black women in a way that was accessible, both economically and geographically. Black women are more likely to be affected by heart disease, cervical cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety and depression than white women. If you look at the health disparities within my community, these are all illnesses that have been linked to chronic stress.

What has your journey with black girls breathing been like so far?

I've applied what I’ve learned from other businesses to how I’m building black girls breathing. With intention, passion and strategy, I'm focused on scaling our efforts so that black womxn have access to this work that's focused on nurturing their unique experience in their bodies as a black womxn, in addition to their spiritual nature. At first, I never thought it would turn into the vision it has. I reached out to several yoga studios to partner with me, to no avail. In true form, I decided that I'd take matters in my own hands and build a community from scratch myself. I got scrappy in doing that and set some intentions on doing a tour, even though I had no idea where the money would come from at the time.

This is the first ever Big Idea Grant; what does it mean to you to have been the recipient of it?

I feel so honored to receive this as a native Atlantan, and to feel the support for my work within my community. While breathwork is common in Los Angeles and New York, it’s not very common in Atlanta; to have Dream Warriors Foundation sow this seed alongside me means the world. At first, I wondered if Atlanta was a good place to practice my business, and then all the signs showed up that I'm right where I'm supposed to be.

How will you use the Big Idea Grant to expand black girls breathing and take it from Atlanta to the rest of the world?

I'm so excited about my strategic plans for this year with the grant. I've seen the growth we've had organically, so being able to invest in marketing to accelerate that growth will be pivotal. It’ll allow us to connect with all of our meet up cities, outside of Atlanta, with our tour — through New York, LA, Detroit, D.C., Dallas, Houston, Chicago and Boston — this spring and summer. On top of that, having the budget to attend necessary B2B conferences, to grow our corporate partnerships, will be a game changer for our efforts. Last but not least, this vote of confidence in our work by DWF is only the beginning of gathering support from other funding methods.

With the Big Idea Grant, where do you hope to see yourself and black girls breathing in a year? What can we do to help support black girls breathing?

In a year, black girls breathing will have made good on investments, with significant return. We'll have monthly in-person breathwork circles in our top meet-up cities, and thousands of black womxn tuning in via our virtual breathwork circle per month. We'll be able to train and hire other black womxn interested in breathwork to lead circles in their hometowns (in our bgb cities) and continue making an impact on mental health. I look forward to reconnecting in a year with amazing updates.

Luci Turner