Sarah Iverson, the creative force behind Denver’s holistic wellness platform Curious Sunshine, founded her business, in 2018, under the premise of emphasizing the importance and benefits of play, mindfulness and curiosity for Black women and their mental health and well-being.
Recently, the business has published an activity book, Black In Color: A Melanated Activity Guide to Liberation, which features coloring pages, puzzles, mindfulness techniques and inspirational quotes — all related to the diaspora. It’s a tangible guide to mindfulness, creativity and liberation representing everything Curious Sunshine is all about.
From an early age, Iverson had always been pulled in the direction of holistic wellness. Whether it was her draw towards connecting with plants and animals through meditation or contemplating Eastern spiritual beliefs, each has shaped her perspective on wellness.
“I remember being a kid and going to the metaphysical shop with my mom and gravitating towards all the pretty crystals, buddha statues and books about dreamwork and Eastern spiritual modalities. I was all about it! I even think I told my parents I was Taoist at some point,” Iverson shared.
It wasn’t until graduate school that Iverson was reminded of how much she’d innately enjoyed exploring wellness on a holistic level. The initial idea for Curious Sunshine came about when she was writing her thesis on the importance of play, mindfulness and nature in Black communities while completing her M.A. in Environmental Leadership at Naropa University.
Iverson soon realized that each of these elements catalyzed the cultivation of liberation, joy and authenticity. Thus, helping bring sunshine back into one’s life. The curious in Curious Sunshine implies not only to be inquisitive towards the status quo, but also celebrating the quirky and unique aspects of ourselves.
“Embracing our quirky selves is ultimately seeing and celebrating our whole, true selves. That can look a myriad of ways, but above all, it is having a sense of genuinity, authenticity and fearlessness, albeit, always transforming and learning about who we are. Additionally, it is about embracing our shadows, the parts that we hide and ignore, our uniqueness, and seeing that that makes us us.”
As a community organizer, healer and nature enthusiast she’s been able to seamlessly bring the realms of nature, mindfulness and creative expression together. Her passion for strengthening and reconnecting communities of color to nature — through education and empowering experiences — allows people to embrace their authenticity and wonder about the world around them.
Iverson highlighted how the mindfulness and meditation industry is growing in popularity, however, play and transformation are neglected parts of life in the Black community.
In particular, Curious Sunshine’s Quirkshops — (quirky+workshops) — are where Black women are given the opportunity to let go, be free and dive deep into the inner workings of their minds. Adhering to the business’s three pillars, women are guided on how to use them as tools for releasing resistance, finding happiness and cultivating a more genuine lifestyle.
Participants are also encouraged to explore personal expression through various forms of meditation — such as walking, sitting, eating and breathing. Artistic prompts — like writing, poetry, drawing and playful fun — are also activities to be expected while engaging in a supportive community setting.
For Iverson what makes facilitating Quirkshops especially notable is, “witnessing the laughter and joy, but also catching the moments of group cohesion and collective buzz.” She also explained how, “knowing that someone will take this experience with them after the Quirkshop is over is an equally rewarding feeling.”
Creating a business that empowers Black women hugely motivates Iverson in her efforts to inspire and share the essence of what makes her spirit shine. Because she too is an empowered Black woman, it makes her work incredibly healing and fulfilling.
“There are a lot of shared experiences we go through but don’t necessarily have the time, space, or ‘bandwidth’ to work through. I am driven by bringing more joy, authenticity and innovative creativity through providing a platform for us to connect and share these experiences.”
With few platforms like Curious Sunshine available for Black women to come together and grow, Iverson has felt it vital to facilitate such experiences.
To Iverson, facing micro-aggressions, code-switching and unwanted attention simply because of how Black women live — on top of simply being a woman — are just some of the main reasons why communal empowerment is so important.
So, where exactly does Curious Sunshine see itself in five years? You can expect the platform to expand its Quirkshop offerings outside of Colorado, build solid relationships with other like-minded groups and ultimately host a retreat. Another Curious Sunshine book could also be on the way as well.
Aside from Quirkshops, Iverson also provides coaching and reiki services and products that seek to inspire marginalized and quirky people. She’s even created a wellness and lifestyle YouTube channel, called ThatSunshineBeat, which gives insight on how Iverson actually applies Curious Sunshine’s principles in her own life as a Black woman.
All photography courtesy of Curious Sunshine