Ellen Stone, Miranda Berry and Arthur Wilcher all tell similar stories about life-changing diagnoses and their own personal, individual journeys towards wellness, journeys that involved traditional medicines that eventually led to more natural alternatives.
The trio of entrepreneurs recently held a grand opening for their three businesses located under a single roof at 202 Thomson Highway: S&K Mind Body and Soul, Berry Bomb Candle Co. And Tree of Eternal Life.
“Today we celebrate the grand opening of our holistic health business location. We are so thankful to everyone who has been a part of this process and are tremendously blessed that this day has finally come,” said Anita King, Stone’s daughter and partner at S&K Mind Body and Soul LLC during the grand opening of the three businesses. “Our mission is to educate and empower you to take control of your health in all aspects of your life, mind, body and soul. We believe that people with a purpose do not wait for opportunities, we create them. We want to create an opportunity for us to get healthy together as a community.”
Stone, a Gulf War veteran, said that her health troubles began in her early 20s and took her from Walter Reed Army Medical Center to the Medical College of Georgia where she was finally diagnosed with Sarcoidosis of the liver. For 26 years she struggled with one condition after another, some of which were caused by the medications that were saving her life.
“I was on chemo for 16 years straight,” Stone said. “I was taking 52 different medications a day to sustain my health. I lost my ability to walk, to talk, to use my hands, my memory.”
She was diagnosed with medication-induced diabetes, hypertension, fibro-myalgia, migraine headaches, neuropathy in my feet, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and more.
Then, in 2019, when COVID hit, the usual avenues she took to get treatments shut down. She could not see many of her regular doctors in person anymore.
“I cried out to God. Why me? What do you want me to do?,” Stone said. “I heard a voice that said ‘Why not you? I want you to walk by faith and not by sight. Before this medication came along, there were other medications on the earth. Try that.’”
That’s when she started exploring other avenues to wellness, changes in diet and other less traditional, non-western treatments.
“I ended up healing myself. Once I did that, I dedicated myself to helping others, healing others,” Stone said.
She went to school and became a holistic health practitioner and a master herbalist. She is also a medical assistant, phlebotomist, pharmacy technician, EKG tech and paramedical examiner.
At S&K, she said she focuses on the health of the mind, the body and the soul. Stone said that she serves as a spiritual coach and her daughter, King, who has a degree in behavior science, offers life coaching.
Services are offered in the office and in the home, Stone said.
Miranda Berry, of Wrens, was 36 years old when she started getting sick.
“I was in a lot of pain and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong at first,” Berry said.
She was eventually diagnosed with sarcoidosis as well.
“Things got worse and worse,” Berry said. “I was eventually referred to the Mayo Clinic and had to move to Jacksonville, Fla so that I could receive treatments and keep working.”
She got to the point where she could not walk. She was diagnosed with anemia, chronic kidney disease, fibromyalgia, lupus, sickle cell beta thalassemia, arthritis and is now a two-time cancer survivor. She has had chemotherapy, radiation and a bone marrow transplant.
At one point, about five years ago, she was too sick to work. While homebound, she began making her own aroma therapy candles.
“I love candles, but they can be so expensive,” Berry said. “So, I learned how to make them myself.”
Berry now makes all natural, eco-friendly soy candles and wax melts, incense, reed diffusers, body butters and bath salts.
“I found that a lot of candles have chemicals in them and so I base my candles on all natural, eco-friendly fragrances,” Berry said. “My products are soy wax only and eco-friendly. A lot of people who have problems with allergies can use these. Being local, you don’t have to wait season to season to get what you want, any fruity scent, any masculine scent, lilies, just about anything you want.”
Arthur Wilcher, another Wrens native, has been a truck driver most of his life.
“About 10 years ago, I was sitting up in the truck driving and living a lifestyle that wasn’t conducive to my health,” Wilcher said.
In 2013, he blacked out behind the wheel.
“I went to the doctor and my blood pressure was through the roof,” Wilcher said. “He wanted to put me on pills, but I didn’t want to do that.”
And so, with his doctor’s help, he started looking for more natural ways to lower his blood pressure and improve his health. He started by making changes to his diet and lifestyle.
“I started doing a lot of research on myself, on my body, on our bodies,” Wilcher said. “I found out that African Americans lead in like every category on the negative side of health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. I wasn’t exercising and didn’t realize how stressed I was until I blacked out. I realized I wasn’t getting what my black, melanated body needed. My doctors were very helpful. I changed my eating habits, changed my lifestyle and was able to defeat the blood pressure issues.”
Wilcher said that he started reading about and experimenting with medicinal herbs and botanicals, but they were hard to find locally.
“I either had to go a long way to get them or I had to pay a large shipping cost. That’s when I created The Tree of Eternal Life LLC and cut down on shipping by buying in bulk.”
For years he has sold these products from his home or the trunk of his car. But when he met Stone and Berry and realized how similar their own journeys had been and that they all wanted to offer these products locally, then they decided to work together at a single location.
Here we want to be able to provide these service to Jefferson County first so people can walk in and grab things they want to use.
Wilcher’s store offers a variety of health and wellness products, most of which he himself has used or is still currently using.
“I don’t give medical advice,” Wilcher said. “I’ll tell you what I did and what worked for me, but you need to do your own research and get with your doctor. I’m not a specialist in anything. This is just my life journey.”
His store offers a variety of medicinal herbs, like ashwagandha, burdock and dandelion.
“These are natural things from the earth that help you,” Wilcher said. “Those were the first things I started experimenting with and people started asking if I had elderberry or peppermint or whatever.
“I would say 90 percent of what I try to get is natural and organic. Here, we don’t have a lot of choices easily available. So, I have built business relationships with people and have some top-quality products. There are the herbs and natural soaps and oils. What we put on our skin is just as important as what we put inside our bodies. So I have oils for you hair or beard. I’m trying to have a one-stop shop for these items.”
Wilcher said that he uses about 80 percent of the items he carries in his store and has even started producing his own lines of teas, syrups and tonics.
“We all have the same interests in helping others get better, live a better lifestyle and break those chains of bondage that come with being sick,” Stone said. “We offer three different things in one location. People can come here, be seen, be assessed, and then pick up items here, the candles for serenity or those drops or tea.”
S&K Mind Body and Soul will be open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Berry Bomb will be open Thursday through Saturdays 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Tree of Eternal life will be open Thursdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
This article originally appeared on Augusta Chronicle: Trio open Wrens health and wellness businesses under one roof
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