f the pandemic taught us anything, it was the importance of resilience and investing in our wellness—two things that the owners of Pause Cincy, an alternative holistic health store, are no strangers to.
When Pause opened its doors on Valentine’s Day 2020, they, like the rest of the world, had no idea what was just around the corner. “We knew we had the perfect concept of being an alternative wellness space combined with three different businesses, and then the world changed. Pandemic, mandatory shutdown. We weren’t sure how we were going to survive—if we were going to survive,” says Erikka Gray, founder of District 78 and cofounder of Pause. But fear of the unknown did not stop Gray and her other cofounders from making the best of the situation. Within the business’s first year, they began contactless delivery, hosted virtual events such as candle making, and provided educational pieces online. “We needed to be resilient and keep our social media force going strong,” says Gray.
Now almost three years later, the wellness store remains open and thriving for all who want to come in and invest in their well-being. The storefront hosts three local business owners: Gray runs District 78, Diamyn Rembert owns Diamyn’s Crystal Bar, and Mansa Malik founded Matunda Juicery Co. When you combine the three, you get a beautiful variety of aromatherapy, plants, healing crystals, Reiki readings, freshly pressed juice, and other alternative health goods and services, all under one roof.
The three met through their shared relationship with MORTAR, an incubator program that “aims to create diverse communities by enabling historically marginalized entrepreneurs to access the resources needed to start and run successful businesses.” Gray graduated in 2016 and met Rembert and Malik. The three were brought back together when MORTAR started a collaborative effort centered around wellness. Gray knew she was interested in participating because of her love for candles and aromatherapy and the calming effect that scent has on people. When it came down to making a final decision, District 78, Diamyn’s Crystal Bar, and Mutunda Juicery Co. were the clear choices.