Mavens | Missy Graff Ballone of Wellness for Makers

This is the first post in a month-long series called A Month of Mavens. Read the intro, here!

If you follow The Basic Goods on Instagram you might already be familiar with my good friend Missy, founder of Wellness for Makers. She is a gifted artist, licensed massage therapist, entrepreneur and 500 HR yoga teacher. We met while teaching at Yoga Mechanics and quickly bonded over our shared passion for wellness, community and well, we both have a really goofy sense of humor. There’s just nothing like someone who gets your weird jokes, guys. Treasure them. I sure do.

Fast forward to nearly a year later and Missy has become one of my biggest supporters and champions of The Basic Goods; always encouraging me to dream bigger and work smarter, not just harder. She is one of the most genuine and kindhearted people I know, who doesn’t see others as a threat or competition but invests in their growth and wellbeing. For that reason, I’ve experienced a shift in myself and had the guts to bring big projects to life such as, A Course in Calm and A Yogi’s Guide to Winter Wellness (thanks to her equally talented hubby, Jonathan at Scratch Work Labs) Not to mention, she and I have a retreat planned for this summer!

To experience some of that Missy magic for yourself, read on to hear all about this maven’s ongoing journey to bring wellness to the makers and the masses.

For those who don’t know you (yet!) and Wellness for Makers, can you tell us who you are and what you do?

Sure! I am an Artist, Licensed Massage Therapist, and a Yoga Instructor (RYT 500). I created Wellness for Makers™ to empower artists through education, mindful living, and movement.

Wellness for Makers™ makes self-care more accessible to artists everywhere. My workshops provide hands-on training in stretching, strengthening, ergonomics, and massage techniques that are easy to incorporate into an artist’s daily studio routine. These techniques are designed to help boost energy levels, alleviate pain, reduce the risk of injury, and improve posture.  Additionally, I strive to make it easy to find good resources, including interviews, articles, videos, and links to valuable organizations.

Melissa Ballone of Wellness for Makers talks about everyday wellness, starting your own business and how to thrive as a creative entrepreneur.

At first glance, some might think that the name implies this is *only* for makers, however, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Whether it’s computers, phones or just our modern sedentary lifestyle we all need an awareness of our bodies and tools for wellness. How do you open up your mission to everyone?

The word “maker” is very broad and all are welcome. To be a maker, you might use your hands a lot for work, a hobby, or a creative practice. Maybe you make things, type, or swipe. Whatever the pattern is, our hands are accustomed to working meticulously through repetitive tasks throughout the day. It’s no secret that engaging in the same action over and over again makes it more likely that you will develop a repetitive strain injury. The good news is that this outcome is not inevitable. Learning more about your most important tool, your body, can be incredibly empowering.

However, artists, craftsmen, and creatives are my target audience. It’s true that anyone can gain from what I have to offer, but the bulk of my workshops are geared directly towards artists. We discuss ergonomics in the studio, how they hold and handle their tools, how they set up their workspaces, and more. I help them deepen their understanding of what movement is and what it means to create new patterns in the body.

Melissa Ballone of Wellness for Makers talks about everyday wellness, starting your own business and how to thrive as a creative entrepreneur.

I am an artist/craftsmen myself, so I can connect to other makers (painters, weavers, jewelers, potters, etc.) on a deeper level. As an artist, I understand the physical toll that an active studio practice can take on the body. The strain of working long hours and the stress that comes along with the process can increase our risk of injury over time. I went through an MFA program, so I saw first hand that there is a huge gap in the education system for these types of resources. So I really do try to focus my energy on sharing this information through collaborations with universities, professional conferences, and events. It’s easier to create new habits early in the learning process than it is to change them once you have an established studio practice.

We sit a lot these days. How do you motivate people to move more?

I encourage my students to create more variety in their movements. This has a lot do with the way that their studio/office spaces are set up. I encourage them to organize their spaces so that they have to get up and move more, even if that just means extra trips across the room throughout the day.

I encourage practicing actions that create new patterns. Simple movements and reminders can cumulatively create big results. Making small changes is easier to commit to at first, which makes these strategies so successful. I think that people often get overwhelmed when they think they might have to change their entire daily routine to support themselves better, when there’s so much to gain from incorporating a little more variety and celebrating everytime you remember to adjust your posture!

Melissa Ballone of Wellness for Makers talks about everyday wellness, starting your own business and how to thrive as a creative entrepreneur.

My Wellness for Makers self-massage tools go everywhere with me. I keep them next to me at my desk to remedy tennis elbow and tight forearms, I bring the healthy hands kit in the car—they are my little wellness sidekicks! What are your tips for using the WFM tools in everyday life?

I am so happy to hear that the tools bring you so much joy! I certainly bring mine everywhere too and keeping them around is one of the best things you can do! The great thing about the Wellness for Makers tools is that you feel relief pretty quickly, which is empowering and reinforces the value of taking care of yourself. You can also collect them all for less than the price of one massage. It’s worth investing in your wellbeing. The tools help to increase blood flow and circulation and are really fun to use. They are inexpensive and designed to help you feel great in your body. I would say that, like anything else, be consistent in your practice and you will see more results. Carrying the tools with you will definitely help you remember to use them regularly.

Melissa Ballone of Wellness for Makers talks about everyday wellness, starting your own business and how to thrive as a creative entrepreneur.

I’m so excited to see your brand continue to grow. What’s on the horizon for Wellness for Makers?

Thank you! Wellness For Makers is having a growth spurt right now, which is awesome. There has been a lot of press recently, which has increased the amount of workshops, sales, and collaborations that are being planned. I love collaborating with other businesses/artists because there is something incredible to learn every time.

Additionally, I am preparing online programing, one on one programs, and remote sessions. I don’t want to give too much away, but I know that 2019 is going to be a great year!

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Green living and lifestyle writer. Blogger at The Basic Goods. People person.

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