Grant Recipient

June 19, 2024

May 2024 Startup Grant Awarded to Cedar + Branch

Cedar + Branch

Woman Entrepreneur:
Rachna Jethwani

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We’re excited to announce the $10,000 Startup Grant recipient for May 2024. Congratulations to Rachna Jethwani, founder of Cedar + Branch.

Recently, WomensNet Advisory Board member Jama Hernandez sat down with Rachna for an exclusive interview. You can listen to their conversation and view the transcript below.

Video Transcript

WomensNet: Hi, my name is Jama —I am with the WomensNet Advisory Board, and I’m so excited to introduce our May 2024 startup winner Rachna with Cedar and Branch. She’s doing some amazing things in the wellness space, really helping us to have a higher quality of life.

So, Rachna,  tell us what Cedar and Branch is about.

Rachna: Absolutely. Would love to. So I’m Rachna the founder of Cedar and Branch. We are a startup, and Cedar and Branch is a family forward wellness company. What that means is we create really thoughtful and meaningful wellness experiences in the city as well as retreats. Everything is designed and crafted specifically for parents, for the whole family, as well as parents to be since that really is the start of the family life.

Our goal and our mission really is in a time where stress and overwhelm seems to have become our baseline state of being… to help inspire to elevate the mental, emotional, holistic wellbeing of parents. And then that in itself has such a direct impact on the growth and development of the children. So we really want to help families thrive as individuals and together. That’s why I created Cedar and Branch.

WomensNet: Wonderful. I love that both of you’re are about connection. And so maybe Rachna, can you tell us a little bit about what sparked or inspired your business? Yes,

Rachna: So parenting today is harder than it has ever been. It just feels like parents are running around with schedules that are always too full. They’re expected to work, like they don’t have a family, and then they’re expected to raise a family. Like they don’t have really demanding careers.

We have all these external expectations and social media pressures, which while all of us are aware of it, it’s hard not to be influenced and do comparisons of what’s happening. And then we have all the nuances and intricacies of raising our kids in a digital world and having to work through things like technology addiction and keeping them safe in this digital environment.

So the combination of all of this with everything else is, most parents are facing parental burnout. The statistical number is over 66%, and there was a recent study done that almost 80% of working mothers are battling anxiety.

So that’s the state that we’re living in. And then when I look back to my personal journey, it sort of reflected a lot of those things where I had a very rocky and challenging start to parenting. And ultimately what started restoring joy and balance in my life is when I went back to my roots, having grown up in India, mindfulness meditation… wholesome food, Ayurvedic practices, all of that was very much a part of my upbringing. And so once I started including those practices in my life, as well as teaching them to our older son who just turned six, but he’s very receptive to these teachings, and it helps him as he works through his little life challenges. So that’s what started turning things around for us. And so that combination of all of us are in this boat.

So I really wanted to create Cedar and Branch as this heartfelt creation to move the needle on some of these statistics…to change the story of what parenting feels like sometimes just overwhelm and obligation and routines and build this community of like-minded families that can support each other, uplift each other so that we bring that joy. Because kids are so joyful. Like I have never experienced the joy that a 2-year-old and a 6-year-old fill your house with. But then we have all this other stuff that brings us down.

So that’s where I want to use Cedar Branch, as a part of that narrative that helps change things around and takes us from that chaos to calm and joy.

WomensNet: Oh, so wonderful. I love how you just remembered and recalled what are those things that had me in a joyful place, and returned back to them…they seem so simple, but with so much noise in the world, you’re absolutely right.

It’s something we have to be very intentional about and carve out in our time. And so wonderful. I love that you’re strengthening families.

Maybe you can tell us how Cedar and Ranch is unique from other businesses that are doing similar things?

Rachna: Yeah, absolutely. So when we look at what’s happening out there today, there’s a lot of increased focus on holistic wellness, which is absolutely wonderful. But when we look at offerings that are catered and created for parents and families, it is so limited. It is quite incredible actually.

So for example, if as a family you wanted to take a retreat, that option essentially does not exist in the US. Like all the resorts and spas are 18 and over, and all retreats are not inclusive of the whole family. So with Cedar and Branch, we have this very unique offering. I like to think of it as a wellbeing vacation where peace meets joy. So it’s a unique opportunity for parents to get a chance to rest, recharge, focus on their mental and emotional wellbeing while the children are in a children’s program, and also have the opportunity to learn these powerful mindfulness and wellness practices, taught to them from an early age in an age appropriate manner, of course.

And then the afternoons are all about everyone coming together and just lots of joy, fun, bonding those old school lawn games and everyone getting together and playing together. That’s an offering that does not exist. So that’s why I wanted to create this wellbeing getaway of vacation where you don’t come back and say, I need a vacation from that vacation. You come back with this sense of calm and peace that you can carry back into your life. You’ll have to keep working at it. Just one retreat is not going to solve it, but at least you experience and you find that place that is so much more restful than where we find ourselves in our day-to-day lives. So I think that’s one big important factor of what Cedar and Branch is doing.

And I think the other thing is we have a huge focus on connection. Because at the end of the day, one of the biggest drivers of our long-term health and happiness comes down to the quality of our relationships. And that’s something in a time where we are more connected than we’ve ever been… We are also more isolated than we’ve ever been, like that chance for real conversations. That’s why I loved everything Meghna was saying with her practice, like bringing people together, having real conversation and communication that’s so important. It’s so funny. It’s like, if I can share an anecdote from years ago, two decades ago when I moved to the US when I was 18, and there was a big move for me. I had never left India. And it was a couple weeks in, it was overall a great transition, but I was walking down and a person I did not know that well asked me, ‘Hey, how’s it going?’

And I did not realize how much I needed that question, but it felt so good. I was like, it’s so great. I don’t know this person so well, and they want to check in on me. And I was like trying to formulate my thoughts on the complex emotions. And by then they had already walked off and I was so confused. I was like, what just happened? I had just moved to the US. I did not realize back then that the expected answer to how is it going is just good. Doesn’t matter what’s happening in your life. The answer is good. Took me a couple of times to catch on, but I think that’s what I want to change. So when you come into a Cedar and Branch experience, whether it’s like a short one in the city or a longer one that’s a retreat, and we sit down and we talk, and there’s the question of how is it going? How are you doing? We really want to explore that and build those heartfelt connections because that is really what matters at the end of the day. So I think those are some of the things I’m trying to do differently with Cedar and Branch. So it’s meaningful, it’s heartfelt.

WomensNet: So wonderful. Wow. I know exactly what you mean. I caught myself the other day asking somebody, how are you doing? And I’m like, but do I really, did I really want to know? Did I really?

Rachna: I’ve explored that myself. I’ve fallen in that trap both ways now. I just say good without any intention of sharing. And when I ask, I do that, I’m not really most of the times asking, expecting them to share. So, yes, it is where we are. I would love to be part of part of the change where we get more authentic and vulnerable.

WomensNet: You know, Rachna, what I love about what you’ve just shared is we know that there’s so many family vacations where families go… maybe there’s a pool or there’s activities, and then it’s kind of separate and then you get together. It sounds like what families are walking out of Cedar and Branch with are skills and tools that they will use. You know, teaching young ones how to manage strong emotions or to stop and think and cope better. I mean, those are just all skills that are just amazing. So it’s not just a vacation; sometimes we take these vacations and you’re right, we need a vacation afterwards, or there’s chaos that happens and enduring it. And so you have those memories too. But it really sounds like a true vacation where it’s really restorative for the family.

Rachna: And it’s so powerful when children watch their parents engage in these mindfulness wellness practices. My dad always said meditation should be a state of being, and I would see him meditate anywhere and everywhere. And just the impact of that coupled with teaching children at a young age when they’re so receptive and so open, it’s just whatever we teach them, they want to learn. So I feel strongly about that, the combination of those two coming together.

WomensNet: Fascinating. Thank you so much Rachna for telling us a little bit about your business, telling us how you are transforming this world, making it a better place, and helping us to live healthier and more joyful lives. Thank you so much, and congratulation.

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