La Holista has a lot on their plate. The holistic health and wellness company, operating out of Thao Dien and run by Chiara Squinzi and Pascale Fioretti, does a little bit of everything. They provide personal health consulting, educate school children on the importance of healthy lifestyle choices, and play an integral role in community organizing. This is all in addition to the distribution of their own food products, from Water Kefir to Protein Banana Bread to their Gluten-Free Bagels, all made in-house. Over a glass of Organic Kombucha in their production facility-turned-workspace, Chiara and Pascale discussed what motivates their work and La Holista’s upcoming Holistic Fair, an event that will bring together more than 30 local businesses offering organic food, wellness products, and services.
While the ambitious scope of La Holista’s work has led to a growing profile, they began modestly. “If we were in it for the money, the company probably would have closed right away”, recounted Chiara with a laugh. Over time, however, they have partnered with a number of local organizations and businesses. Still, it’s the partners’ personal passions for sustainability, wellness, and, above all else, community, that fuels them to keep expanding. Each member of the La Holista team brings their own perspective; Chiara Squinzi received formal training in health coaching and functional medicine and has a background in Yoga, working in Shanghai before moving to Saigon and starting La Holista in 2013, while Pascale came to La Holista after a career in hospitality. Another supporter of the company, Rob West, is a P.E. Teacher and swimming coach turned athlete.
“For me, especially in the London hospitality industry, it was often so difficult to continue to work in good conscience while I knew what was surrounding me: waste, unethical management practices, and a sole focus on profits. Working here, I strive to take the time to make sure our products and those retailers we work with are focused on concepts like sustainability and community empowerment”, described Pascale. La Holista’s mission of providing access and awareness to the masses is sometimes an uphill battle. Many aspects of a holistic lifestyle—from focussing on food sourcing to advocating for daily practices of mindfulness and mental health awareness—take time by nature. While time is for many an increasingly scarce resource, in the end, La Holista’s work shows that prioritizing the necessary time to eat well and make healthy lifestyle choices can make a profound, lasting impact. Another key factor, they point out, is having the right people around to make it possible.
Chiara, in working with a number of clients seeking to improve their health, sees this first-hand.“Most people come to me because they’ve already had some troubles with their health. I work to get them on the right track with diet, exercise, and more. But even those who aren’t sick, once they learn a bit about our practices, are really interested. It’s often as simple as awareness”. The Holistic Fair serves as a stepping stone toward awareness and gives a growing roster of vendors La Holista’s own stamp of legitimacy. Products, services and companies are carefully selected to ensure they are in line with the fair’s objectives: to showcase outstanding products that are single-use plastic-free, cruelty-free, and, above all, wholesome.
As Pascale noted, “even though we can’t see everything they do, most of the time a conversation with the producer tells us all we need to know. If they’re passionate, it really shines through”. And it’s the care that Pascale and Chiara put into their own work that helps them to recognize producers who aren’t taking shortcuts. The fair itself is 100% single-use plastic-free and establishes a network to further support local farmers and artisans. It will also feature classes on meditation and sound bathing in addition to booths promoting community outreach projects, acupuncturists and reflexologists, and clean-up initiatives. As the La Holista team is quick to note, health and wellness doesn’t end with food.
To learn more about La Holista and all they can do, check out their website.