KHarissa and Wesley Forte were once on the verge of divorce.
But after deciding to give their relationship one last boost, the two went to counseling. The experience was enlightening, they said, and found that ultimately led them to start their own online media company – Grace & Grind – to share lessons and their story with others.
“We learned that none of us had a solid understanding or relationship of self-care,” said Kharissa Forte, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, Grace & Grind. “But during this time we basically had to learn to reconcile our individuality with ourselves and what we are as a couple and to recognize the beauty and the limits in both areas.”
Wesley lost 100 pounds. Kharissa became a certified health coach. And Grace & Grind started.
A year later, the company focused its content on self-care through an online publication, a podcast and a shop. The Fortes also offer advertising and writing services for other wellness brands. Their content is aimed at a national audience, but it also focuses on Kansas City, they said.
“We just believe that self-care is the most selfless thing you can do, and our goal is to help our readers keep their cups full,” said Kharissa Forte, who has already built a successful career in journalism and the media Has.
click here to explore Grace & Grind.
The podcast (which includes both Kharissa and Wesley) and online publication discuss a wide variety of topics – from diet and fitness to healthy sleeping habits and mental health. For Grace & Grind’s advertising services, they offer four options: static advertising, podcast advertising, influencer marketing, and written articles.
The latest development: an online shop that sells products such as clothing and herbal blends.
Grace & Grind initially offered digital marketing services – including website design and social media content that helped keep their business going for the first few months – but is currently turning away from them.
As a black and women-run organization, the duo are committed to representing the black community, Forte said, noting that this doesn’t stop the brand from being a resource for others.
“It’s for the black community in general,” she said. “It’s for people who aren’t black but want to be allies and still benefit so much from the articles and content we create. It is for blacks who grew up in affluent communities and who also cannot relate to some of these things because of their socio-economic status. Grace & Grind definitely touches or appeals to a few different groups of people who all help uplift the Black community at the end of the day. “
As the pandemic puts a new focus on health, Grace & Grind’s focus on self-care and supporting the black community differs from other health media, Forte said.
“I realized that I had to make a decision to either display the same messages and the same stats everyone else was talking about – all important information – or Grace & Grind could be the platform people learn to search through,” called them.
The brand further differentiates itself by touching spirituality, a topic that Forte says isn’t a common feature of other healthcare companies and publications.
Such conversations can include topics such as mindfulness, meditation, and self-confidence.
“We believe that spirituality – which is different from religion – but spirituality in and of itself is part of our health and wellness journey,” she said.
For Grace & Grind writers Sydney Jones and Sophie Oswald, the Fortes created a work environment based on the stories they published about health and self-care.
“Kharissa and Wesley don’t expect us to just write these things,” Jones said. “They expect us to write these things and implement them in our own lifestyles. They really understand that we can only do our job like this if we do that. “
Oswald agrees with Grace & Grind’s commitment to representing the black community as well as the LGBTQ + community, she said.
“They care a lot about visibility … just to make sure everyone’s voices are heard and that everyone has access to improve their lives,” Oswald said.
In addition to expanding the online shop and developing a subscription model for Grace & Grind, Kharissa Forte hopes to start the quarterly print edition of the magazine in summer 2023.
Her previous work in journalism and digital marketing eventually enabled her to make Grace & Grind what it is today, she said.
“When I look back on all of my experiences – doing radio, the little bit of television I’ve done, working for newspapers, learning how to create websites and social media – I think, wow, everyone those jobs were really internships for Grace & Grind, ”said Forte.
The Fortes have been married for 10 years.
Working on the podcast with her husband is Forte’s favorite element of Grace & Grind – an ongoing project that has further improved their marriage.
“As I’m building this business, it’s no longer just a brand to me. I definitely feel like it’s my calling, ”said Forte.
This story is possible thanks to the support of Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, non-partisan foundation that works with education and entrepreneurship communities to develop unusual solutions and empower people to shape their future and thrive.
For more information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect at www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn