It started with a simple idea. A young nutritionist burrowed inside the kitchenette of her modest studio apartment in New York City, blended some fruits, vegetables and other ingredients together, creating a vibrant green concoction, and decided not to keep it to herself. Naming it her “Glowing Green Smoothie,” she published it to her blog and blasted it out to her modest readership, void of agenda or expectation. Five shares soon turned into 5,000 shares and, before long, wellness-seekers were migrating from all corners of the internet to try it, syndicate it to their followers, and post pictures of themselves enjoying it for breakfast. People were intrigued by this girl who created such inventive recipes and delivered wisdom in a uniquely empowering way. They wondered, Who is this Kimberly Snyder? They craved more from her and, soon, they would get it.

In the years that followed, Snyder found herself stepping onto the sets of Dr. Oz, Good Morning America and Ellen, doling out her expertise, smiling for millions of viewers. Editors and entertainment managers were lighting up her phone and landing in her email inbox, inviting her onto the pages of Elle and Vogue, and behind the scenes of prestigious Hollywood film sets and red carpets. She began working intimately with the likes of Kerry Washington, Reese Witherspoon, and Channing Tatum. Meanwhile, the book offers continued rolling out.

Today, she has authored four of them, all of which have become bestsellers, three of which landed on the prestigious New York Times lists and one of which she co-authored with Deepak Chopra. She currently has a fifth on the way, Recipes for Your Perfectly Imperfect Life, scheduled to release in February 2019. Earlier this year, she launched her global brand Solluna, her most passionate project to date, not long after she opened up her juice bar at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles in Beverly Hills. But Snyder says it’s the first time in her career where she is no longer existing behind a mirage of celebrity, but committed to only what is real.

Photo by Victoria Wall Harris

Solluna is a brand built upon authenticity, health, wholeness, self-acceptance and healing for all,” says Snyder. “There is the product sector, which is popular, but our whole mantra is that we are about a lifestyle that promotes true wellness and embraces uniqueness—not just the picture of it.”

Snyder admits she hasn’t always been the picture of wholeness, however. She hasn’t always been a mentor of radiance and wellness for the rich and the famous, nor has she always felt well within herself.

For much of her life, she suffered with various eating disorders—mostly the kinds that called for restrictive eating and provoked self-punishing thoughts surrounding her meals. She was a chronic yo-yo dieter—experimenting with various fad diets and modes of calorie- and carbohydrate-counting. But when she was in college, she sort of rebelled against the restrictions she had long shackled herself with, letting the pendulum swing to binge eating and partying, causing her to gain weight and feel even worse.

After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., she watched all of her friends rush off to job fairs and apply for lofty positions in major cities across the U.S. But she didn’t feel aligned with their aspirations. Rather, she longed to explore. Something was tugging at her sleeve, inviting her into an unfamiliar realm of possibility and transcendence. So, against the urging of her parents, she worked for a year and saved all of her earnings so that she could travel to wherever her curiosity lured her. Originally, she intended that her travels only last a few weeks or months, but one journey led to the next, eventually stretching on for three years and taking her to more than 50 countries across multiple continents.

She camped under the stars in Africa. She spent 18 months in Asia, exploring China and Japan, and learning to meditate in an ashram in India. There was also a season of living in South America, hiking across its landscapes and adding gems of wisdom to her spiritual arsenal. Along the way, she met extraordinary teachers and lightworkers in unexpected places, and became possessed with absorbing everything she could from them. “Even though it was always scary and even though I never knew what my next step would be, I knew that there was going to come a day when I would bring back what I was learning to my life in the Western world,” says Snyder.

While immersed in life on the road, she noticed that women in different cultures around the world had relationships with their bodies she had never considered having. They weren’t obsessing over calories or portions; they were healing themselves with whole foods, and so effortlessly in tune with themselves. She decided that her obsessive behavior with eating was something she needed to lay down—perhaps onto an alter of self-compassion. “I learned to sit with myself and quiet all of the anxious thoughts. For the first time in my life, I felt happy, free and relaxed,” she says.

When she returned home to the states, she was financially drained and had few professional connections, but was rich with knowledge—also equally determined to share it. “I had learned all of these amazing mind, body and eating concepts from these brilliant women in Mongolia, Japan and other places. I had no plan and didn’t know what I was doing, but I had so much passion and needed to share everything I had learned,” says Snyder.

She secured jobs teaching yoga and working at a cafe´ in New York City’s East Village. She enrolled in nutrition school and launched a blog. She spent her evenings crafting and publishing content from the vault of her diverse experiences and educational toolbox—with zero expectations of monetizing it.

“It didn’t take too long before people started reading it, and I think it’s because everything is energy, and it was just my way of putting genuine love and caring out into the world.” says Snyder. Before long, unfathomable opportunities were drawn to her like a magnet.

Photo by John M. Pisani

The publishing contracts and television offers began landing in her orbit. The ratings and bestseller lists fell in love with her. Her devotees multiplied, her books began vanishing from store shelves, and her platform grew in a way she never expected it would.

Then, in March 2017, it was as though the spotlight froze, the cameras stopped rolling and she was hurled into the most intensely grueling period of her life. Her mother had been diagnosed with cancer on Valentine’s Day, and passed away exactly six weeks later. She hadn’t even had time to digest the shock of her mother’s diagnosis, let alone her passing. Three days after staring into the finality of such a life-crushing blow, she was putting on a brave face to celebrate her son’s first birthday. To add to her overwhelm, the career and personal demands continued racing toward her, no matter how much her heart needed a break from them all.

It is often true that when one enters a grievous period in their life, they suppress their emotions and armor themselves with a fighting spirit, determined to show onlookers how mightily they’re surviving it. But some do what Snyder did: “I shut everything out, and decided to turn inward and search for what was most real. It was the only option for me,” she says.

She realized that when looking at her list of credentials and all of the notoriety and prestige that came with it, none of it resonated with the truth of why she had devoted herself to wellness in the first place. Suddenly, it all felt like a facade. She didn’t care about the red carpets, or the glamorous titles, or the spotlights shining over her. Her heart was aching, and she needed to do something proactive and useful with its red-hot pain. She flew to Mexico in search of clarity and quietude, spending her days under the sun and meditating by the water. Once, she sat in meditation for 12 hours in the darkness as her son slept nearby. “While sitting with myself, I asked, ‘What, God? What do you want me to do?’ That’s when everything poured in—the idea for Solluna and the Feel Good movement and all of the language surrounding it,” says Snyder.

Stunned by the power within her pain, it was then that she decided to create something new—something that would extend an invitation for others to see the power within their pain, too.

“The death of my mother brought the death of all of the parts of my life that were just my public persona. It forced me to look at what I wanted my work to be about and the kind of impact I wanted to have on the world,” she says. “It was a death, but it also became the birth of, ‘OK, here is what is real. Here is what does matter,’ and it was then that Solluna was born.”

Photo by Victoria Wall Harris

Snyder made the decision to take her highly successful brand out of her own name and make it universal for everyone. She explored several possibilities, but chose Solluna because her mind was constantly drawn back to the relationship between the sun and the moon. Life is not sunny all of the time, and it is by the moon, she believes, that we begin to stare into the darkness of ourselves and perhaps see things for what they are.

“In the Celtic tradition, which I’m very interested in, the day actually starts when the sun goes down. It doesn’t start in the morning when the sun comes up, but at the onset of darkness. Sitting in the darkness of our shadow, that’s where those power bombs release. I wanted to give exposure to both the lightness and the darkness in our lives—that’s what I wanted Solluna to say to the world,” she says.

Snyder says many customers are drawn to her brand for the products. There are probiotics, digestive enzymes, adaptogenic blends, recipe collections, yoga DVDs, digital courses for meditation, sleep and weight loss, and a skincare line launching in 2019. But the Feel Good Circle is what she calls her “passion project” and “an opportunity for clients to go deeper and find radical transformation.”

The Feel Good Circle is something Snyder was determined to make accessible and affordable. At only $5.00 a month for a membership, there is a specific theme to explore every month, and subscribers receive weekly audios and journal prompts in their email inbox, as well as a monthly video in support of the theme. It’s all about going into the cobwebbed corners of its members, inciting them for authentic exploration and sweeping the old to the side so that light and transformation can pour in. There is also a private Facebook group where members can pose interesting questions, spark conversations, exchange epiphanies and cheer one another on.

Photo by Victoria Wall Harris

“The most courageous act in the world is showing up vulnerably and authentically as ourselves,” says Snyder. “There are so many different ways of filtering ourselves and hiding out; that’s why it’s so courageous when we get real.”

Snyder’s stance is that wellness transcends a mug of hot lemon water and a vitamin in the morning. Anyone can eat the salads, and blend the smoothies, and perform the yoga poses, and run the miles, but if they are allowing ourselves to remain stuck in dysfunctional relational patterns or self-sabotaging thought patterns year after year, that isn’t wellness. This whole mode of holistic awareness is what her entire business is based upon.

In Recipes for Your Perfectly Imperfect Life, Snyder says she gives plenty of “life recipes to accompany the food recipes.” She candidly shares private tales plucked from her own life—from grieving her mother to her failed home birth plan with her son, revealing her personal revelations through those experiences. She includes a harvest of research about common bodily concerns—from inflammation to bloating—and how those physical ailments often have mental and emotional roots. “Everything in the book is in line with what I’m doing with Solluna. It’s really about the connection between the mind, the emotions, and the body, and how things manifest,” she says.

Firm in her vow that everything she has done has always been from the heart, Snyder says her career has never been about fame or ego, but about service, and she believes that’s why she has experienced the success she has. With Solluna, she has taken her vast range of knowledge and experiences—from serving up healing concoctions to her internet fans to working on the bodies of the most idolized people in the world—and created something inclusive, transparent and universal.

“Solluna is for everyone, no matter where you are at physically or what you do personally or professionally, to find healing and wholeness within our perfectly imperfect lives,” says Snyder. “And, here is the part that we often don’t consider: it really just starts with feeling good.”

This exclusive feature is available in The Connect’s Holiday 2018 issue. You may purchase the full issue here, or download the digital version here.