Since the start of Autumn, the New York Gal community has made it our mission to speak with some of the most influential voices in wellness. As we’ve mentioned in every interview thus far, the Autumn brings new energy; and it’s with these interviews that we have tried to help make this transition smoother for our readers. From holistic healers and nutritionists, to spiritualists and mineral specialists, we hope that these interviews have become a source of guidance for you.
As of right now we’ve only spoken to the people in front of the camera; people whose name and face is directly tied to their brand; but what about the people who have taken a step back and let their work speak for itself? In the age of social media, it’s very easy to find solace with the words, thoughts, and feelings of those who you can see yourself in, even if you’ve never met; but the same is true for pages that have no face, and in today’s interview we got the opportunity to speak with someone who’s done just that.
Sabrina Abdalla, known for her calming & warm-hearted energy, is the founder of rising creative wellness brand [The] Cirri. Started in 2019, Cirri has quickly become a staple for upcoming creatives, specifically those in the Black community. Since its launch, Cirri has provided resources, workshops, and ultimately, a safe haven for creators, and these are all topics we got the chance to speak with Ms. Abdalla today!
Full interview below.
Before we begin, would you like to introduce yourself?
Hello! My name is Sabrina Abdalla, I am a multifaceted spirit who loves digital art-making, education, tech, and cultivating creative spheres. I’m the founder of Cirri, a creative wellness platform that magnifies the essence of Black girls, women, & femmes.
In 2019, you created a [creative] wellness platform named ‘Cirri’ and since its launch, the platform has showcased the talents of Black women through art, cultural programming and community engagement. Can you explain the backstory of The Cirri? What influenced you to create this platform?
What influenced me to create Cirri was recognizing that there was a lack of space for creative wellness, especially for Black womxn. I believe that creativity should be an integral part of our everyday process; and it has lots of benefits such as building self-esteem, healing past traumas, and grounding individuals in their authenticity.
Having a community for Black girls, women, & femmes to explore themselves through creative practices is essential for the advancement of our community. Another aspect of Cirri, is also supporting creatives/artists by supplementing them with resources to develop their practice. In retrospect, I realize that I never had that opportunity nor was given support in any of my creative endeavors, so Cirri was initially a way for me to reclaim my creative pursuits, and it flourished to something bigger than myself.
I discovered The Cirri, in the midst of the global pandemic and largest civil rights movement in the United States. With your platform rooted in the Black experience, how did you go about posting content? How intentional did your posts become?
Such a good question! I stopped. Well, I realized that there was an influx of people following Cirri and people reposting it, which at first seemed great. I was doing IGTV’s and posting the same content, more relevant to how creativity/art is an essential part of social movements, but still I was making sure to post excessively to ride the wave with the algorithm.
People like Sophia Bush, who had a gazillion followers were following us and I was like oh shit! But then, I felt a sense of sadness and exhaustion come from it. I didn’t know what Cirri was. To me, it felt like a mood board and a bunch of feel good, look good content. It was an important time to be intentional about my platform and to isolate myself & Cirri from the world to truly understand the foundation of Cirri and what it needed to offer the world. The whole movement inspired me to think deeper and bigger about my platform. The movement validated the space and its mission, but it also inspired me to think about ways to scale Cirri as a business and to not underestimate the power of our community so we can obtain ownership and have economic power.
To discover more Black artists be sure to look through our article Top Outstanding Black Women to Know
Around this time, you released posts like Amplifying Black Voices and Storytelling As Resistance, Creative Rest & finding balance. Do you think it was because of these situations people really began to understand the importance of personal wellness?
When you wake up everyday in isolation, you’re confronted with your demons and your insecurities. You wake up to yourself, you sleep with yourself, you talk to a computer, and all sense of normalcy is thrown out of the window. What you have is just your thoughts and a space to think about them. I think during that time, people were forced to see themselves and be confronted with the state of their wellbeing. We can busy ourselves at work or in school, but during the pandemic there was nowhere to run to. We couldn’t hide from ourselves. When I started posting again, it was to promote wellness, rest, and ease because we were all in isolation pondering about thoughts that could’ve been intrusive. I believe we collectively struggled and the only way up was to be more invested in our overall wellness.
You’ve created a series called ‘Secrets to an Authentic Month’ . In the series, you release a handful of journal prompts, affirmations, and tips & tricks for getting through daily life. Before starting The Cirri, were these the types of things you regularly did? In a way, does this platform reflect your personal journey with wellness?
Omg, I wish! Haha, Cirri inspires me to walk it like I talk it. It holds me accountable. I’ve always been a writer and have used my ways with words to write affirmations and prompts, but not as much as I tell other people to. I forget to go back to Cirri’s guide on IG when I need it, I forget to read my affirmations every day, I forget to rest, and sometimes push push push myself to do something. It’s not linear, it’s cyclical and random so I give myself grace, and when I feel like I want to ground myself in something I know that I can.
Outside of The Cirri, you have also engaged with wellness gatherings and support groups around New York City. When it comes to wellness, do you think that having a strong community is a necessity?
Your community is everything! You come up together, you gravitate towards each other for a reason! It’s so important to cultivate a community that supports and uplifts you. It’s necessary because your community is a reflection of you and your potential.
To discover more support groups in NYC, check out our list: The Top Feminist Groups in NYC You Should Be Getting With.
I know that one way you’ve been focusing on building up a community [with Cirri] is through workshops and events. Obviously, the past year forced you to pause; but as we reintegrate back into ‘normal’ life, have you thought about bringing these events back?
I CANNOT WAIT! I love people, I am always BLOWN away by the number of people who show up. Sometimes the engagement on social media can be trash and I be like damn, no one is seeing anything or engaging. Then I check our Eventbrite and we have so many RSVPs, it makes me happy. I have lots of IRL events that I don’t really see happening and I can’t wait to be in person with everyone again.
We’re about two weeks into Autumn & it’s during this time that a lot of people’s wellness is tested. Are there any recommendations or tips you could provide for maintaining a healthy mental & emotional mindset during these times?
Please take vitamin D supplements. Transitions are hard because it means we have to let go of something to make space for new beginnings.
Even transitioning into fall can be hard and having less sunlight can make us sad [so] check-in with yourself as often as you need and hold space for your mental wellbeing. It’s finding a rhythm and maintaining it. I love taking walks while the sun is out! I lowkey love getting into fall festivities and baking pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, making candles, and sprinkling hella cinnamon on my latte. So I’d say find the joy in your routine! Show up for yourself by making a list of things you want to do, explore, and experience and do them! I learned this from some workshop, but they had us write down someone we wanted to emulate and channel for the month! I thought that was dope to explore the patterns that make another person great and to try to emulate them in your own way. Another thing I love is having dance parties in your living room! Haha, just anything that can remind you that you’re good and you’ll be alright.
Before we end this interview, is there anything you would like to say to your supporters?
Just trust in your divine path. What is meant for you will be yours.