Everyday, alongside the normal stresses of American life, Black men face racism, inequality, and economic oppression. CNTRD., a Black male wellness brand, is on a mission to help Black men stay calm, healthy, and make themselves a priority.
When it comes to self-care, Black women have a number of communities to engage with on social media, a dizzying number of products available to buy, and typically, in-person social networks and connections that allow and encourage vulnerability and mental health.
But despite greater awareness of the importance of mental health and self care, Black men still have few places to turn when they feel burnout, overwhelm, and exhaustion.
In response to this vacuum of support, Atlanta-based videographer Marc Aaron launched CNTRD., in the hopes of building the community and resources he so deeply needed for himself.
“As Black men in America, we’re faced with a lot of different challenges on a daily basis. And it’s not a conversation that we have too often about how to take care of ourselves to be our best selves,” Aaron said. “I was looking for resources for men to talk about wellness. I didn’t find it so I created it.”
CNTRD. is something Aaron has been working on for two years. He has enjoyed a successful career (his work has been featured in Essence and he’s worked with entertainment industry giants like Tyler Perry), but with business booming and a daughter on the way, he still felt like something was missing.
So, he poured his heart and soul into building a comprehensive, media-first wellness brand. CNTRD. has social media accounts, podcasts, blog posts, and newsletters, all aimed at stoking conversations around wellness.
“Care work for men is a modern man’s initiative. Perhaps it’s a result of social media, but it’s more seen and understood that Black men don’t need to just suck it up and do the work. CNTRD is one of those brands that addresses that success is a lot easier when you’re not operating on fuel fumes,” reads one blog post on the brand’s website.
CNTRD.’s signature product offering is a suite of luxurious scented candles, featuring all natural coconut wax and wood wicks, encased in laser-etched glass that can be converted into a whiskey glass once the candle wax has finished burning. The convertible candle provides a glimpse into Aaron’s own self care routine.
“I’m still on this journey,” Aaron says when talking about his current self care practices. “Now
What I do to feel centered is spend time with my daughter … with music playing the background, colored lights in the house, just hanging out watching cartoons. I feel the most peace and the most calm when I’m doing things like that. And other than that just being alone with a candle burning and maybe something to drink. I really enjoy my routines and my alone time as well.”
Since launching the brand, Aaron says he has received an overwhelming outpouring of support and positive feedback from strangers.
“I didn’t know that so many other men felt the way that I felt. It’s okay to not be okay.”
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