Name: Alexia Brue and Melisse Gelula
Age: “Old enough to be coy about it.”
Location: NYC. Our office is in West SoHo.
Education: Alexia, Bachelor’s from Grinnell College, Iowa and M.A. from Columbia Journalism School; Melisse, Bachelor’s from University of Iowa, M.A. from University of Toronto and training as psychoanalyst in New York.
Job title: Co-founders of Well+Good
What they do: Fitness has come a long way since the days when people simply went to the gym, hopped on the treadmill and threw around a few weights. Now, there are dozens – even hundreds – of spin studios, ballet barre classes and juice cleanses to keep urbanites fit, healthy and happy. Alexia Brue and Melisse Gelula are the founders of Well+Good, a website that covers the wellness scene – “and it is a scene!” as they say – in New York City: “The wellness community in NYC has gone from being niche to being very robust and, well, almost mainstream,” the two say. “Our mission is to cover the boutique studio culture, the superstar yoga teachers, the best green juices, indie fitness fashion, where to get excellent acupuncture, etc.” Alexia and Melisse also host monthly reader events at some of the best fitness and wellness venues in the city, where their readers can get to know them and literally work out with them! “Well+Good is a community, and not just in the online sense of the word.”
How they got their gig: As health and fitness aficionados, Alexia and Melisse felt that in-depth reporting in the city on the wellness space was lacking. “There were publications and websites that reviewed restaurants and theater, and none on spin studios and juice cleanses,” says the duo. And when the economy took a turn for the worse, the two journalists were faced with the many challenges that came with the times. “I guess we’re a Great Recession success story. The life of a print magazine journalist changed fundamentally during the Recession,” they say. But, as any successful entrepreneur will tell you, seeing a hole in the market and finding an innovative way to fill it is a surefire way to successfully set out on your own. “Rather than being bummed out about it, we decided to create our own dream outlet – an online publication that we wished existed.”
The rush from recognition: Alexia and Melisse recall their most memorable career moment as the time when New York Magazine linked to one of their stories. “The site was still in Beta, we were on a single WordPress blog, and we broke a funny story about how the yogis at Kula Yoga Project were stealing the studio’s pricey loaner mats. We were teeny tiny so to have NY Mag link to us was a very big adrenaline rush,” says Alexia.
Sweating out the stress: As business owners, Alexia and Melisse are no strangers to stress. But, as women who have made a career out promoting the betterment of body and soul, they know that taking care of themselves is a priority. “We make a point to work out, especially during heavy workload periods. I think everyone struggles with work-life balance,” the girls say. “We half-jokingly call it “living the brand” when we prioritize our sanity and fitness – and dash to a noon boot camp or a day-time spin class. The work will always be there.”
This job’s for you if: you’re willing, at least for awhile, to become completely engrossed in your project. “I think anytime you’re starting a small business you have to be single-mindedly obsessed with it. Melisse and I have a great partnership because we both share a sense of mission and purpose,” says Alexia. The key, however, is to keep the obsession to a healthy level – and always make time for a yoga class and replenishing green juice in the process.