Dr. Michelle Wiltshire, Psy.D., a young mother who grew up in St. Thomas “Rock City” in the U.S. Virgin Islands, is now the proud owner of a thriving wellness business for Black women in Miami.
Though she was never in the military, it may surprise most people that she lived in Japan for two years. Besides Japan, she has lived in Florida, Georgia, California, North Carolina, Illinois, New York, and Quebec.
Another surprising truth is that she didn’t want to go to college. “I was told I had to and made the best of it but with no pressure I would have opted for another route in life. I’m more than happy I leaned into my discomfort and pursued the life I have now,” said Wiltshire.
She states her family, especially her mother, as her greatest influence in life, particularly regarding college. Her mother encouraged her and reminded her that the discomfort was temporary, giving her the confidence to continue in her education here in the country. Other influences are dance as a form of therapy, and the community around her.
She knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur, and she also knew that she was not suited for corporate life as a career path. “As for an official start, I completed my doctorate, got licensed, got some work experience under my belt, and before I left New York, I started my own business in 2017. Once I got settled into Florida, I got my business re-established in the Fall of 2018,” she added.
After Wiltshire took approximately four months to secure office space in Miami and get her professional profile up on therapy directories, things got moving pretty fast for her company Wasabi and Well.
The next day, she got her first inquiry, followed by another one the following day. These clients, both Black women, became her first clients in January 2018. Wiltshire said the response has been rewarding on both sides.
“Having a therapist you can trust is a huge deal, and I can feel the positive impact it has had on their lives. I get to witness the way they think and the decisions they are making for themselves. And honestly, the community we serve has made me stronger and more confident,” she continued.
Wiltshire is a recipient of a grant from The Future Collective Black Business Program this year, and she is grateful for the experience. Online marketplace Fiverr created the program.
She credits the program for offering mentorship and business materials, which helped her and her team of Black therapists lay out the short and long term plans for the business.
The short term goal is to provide more services once the wellness courses already in place are well established. The long term goal is to be fully operational, emphasizing wellness for people of color by predominantly staffing and training POC wellness experts.
“Providing culturally aware and sensitive treatment is our way of filling the huge gap in holistic healthcare. We want this business to outlive us so being strategic and making decisions with expert insight is just smart business,” she stated.
According to Wiltshire, the greatest success thus far is being open, running and consistently growing. Financially and strategically, the business is in a better place, as a result of Wiltshire participating in The Future Collective Program.
Additionally, Wiltshire said, “Not only did they provide Fiverr credits to improve our social media presence, their generous cash grants allowed me, as the founder, to reduce my stress of paying staff and instead focus on being strategic about business development. The mentorship the program offered also meant that I’ve made intentional decisions like rebranding, hiring a VA, and starting a newsletter.”
Furthermore, she says a challenge to get ahead of is the cost of services. She sees too many Black/Brown women coming into our practice struggling not just with family issues but with society’s harsh treatment, which is why she emphasizes that people need to do the work of healing old wounds.
Regarding impact, Wiltshire wants Wasabi and Well to show strength in numbers within the Black community. “I want so many of us to feel deserving of love, respect, and rest that we can confidently rise up (peacefully) to disrupt the systematic source of these injustices,” stated Wiltshire.
Wiltshire wants people to know: The company’s courses/community make it less scary and more possible. “Your true self is just on the other side of being genuinely honest with yourself. It’s also the scariest thing you’ll ever do.”
She added, “Besides being a great mother — I want to see people who look like me do more than survive — I want to see them thrive. I watched my family ‘hustle’ hard just for basic things. I believe we deserve more than that in our lifetime.”