The Origin of Herbalya
The name Herablya (er-bahl-yah) comes from a combination of two ayurvedic terms that resonated with our founder as she began to develop her vision around the company. The first word is "Balya." Balya originally stands for all those actions that enhance the "Bala." The word "Bala" refers to the strength and ability of the body to cope with various physical stressors, something our founder has a wealth of knowledge around. After discovering this, she was curious what the term was for "hair," and wouldn't you know it?...It's "her."
And so, Herbalya was born.
Jennifer first began to dip her toes into the hair industry during her senior year of high school, where she participated in a school-to-work program that allowed her to work in her desired post-high school career field. She was a receptionist by hire, but her main focus in participating in the program was to soak up as much knowledge as she could from the stylists, as she had already made the decision to pursue a career as a cosmetologist. She graduated in 2007, and went immediately to cosmetology school in July of the same year. She completed the required 2500 hours to obtain her license in her state within 15 months, and was welcomed back to her salon she'd worked at in high school to return as a stylist. Jen remained there for 4 years as she built her client base and started her family. In 2012, at 23 years young, she made the decision to open a studio and work as an independent contractor.
To understand the strength of Herbalya's founder, Jen, you must first read of her struggles. In 2015, Jen was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. MS is a progressive, non-curable, auto-immune disease that has been strongly linked to environmental influence. MS is a complex neurological condition that effects the brain, spinal cord and eyes. (ya know, your control centers!) The myelin sheath (outer coating) of your nerves gets eaten away causing scar tissue and interrupting the communication between your nerves and whatever message they are trying to get to their destination. The symptoms are complex and vast, but one of the most prominent symptoms is extreme fatigue, and one of the most important things for any MSer to do is get adequate (and then some!) sleep/rest. MSer's bodies fight very hard to complete everyday tasks, like making your muscles activate to hold you upright! Because their bodies have to work so much harder for everyday functions, their fatigue is often more intense than that of a mother in her first trimester of pregnancy, causing them to need frequent rest periods for both physical and cognitive function.
The earliest signs she can remember are from back-to-school shopping as a child and experiencing extreme heaviness and fatigue in her legs while waiting in line to check out, wondering if everyone around her was experiencing the same sensation. If they were, they weren't complaining...why should she?
Her symptoms, though seemingly unrelated, started to ramp up when she was in cosmetology school. It was a full-time, forty hour week with much more standing than she was used to. She was experiencing numbness and tingling in her feet accompanied by an electric shock down her spine anytime she would look to her feet. This continued for some time, but was not painful or alarming. It was not the first time she had experienced strange sensations in her body, after all.
After beauty school, she began to experience numbness and tingling in her inner thighs after her evening walks that would last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. She then developed extreme restrictive pain in her right inner thigh. It was time to see a doctor.
After explaining her symptoms, an MRI of her lumbar spine was completed and it was discovered she had a disk herniation at L5-S1. She was 19 years old. After multiple rounds of physical therapy and managing with medications and chiropractic care, Jen experienced no relief from her pain and ended up having her first laminectomy (spinal surgery) at 21 years old.
When she woke up from surgery, she expected to have much anticipated relief, but she awoke to the same discomfort she'd entered the procedure with. As her recovery advanced, her original discomfort remained, with no explanation. Life carried on and she dealt with the pain when it came.
Within one year of her surgery, she was expecting her first child, Cash. Her pregnancy was normal and healthy. Post pregnancy, Jennifer was not welcomed to motherhood with a calm infant who awoke every two hours to eat and then slept through the night by 8 weeks. Unfortunately, Cash had a record breaking case of Colic that lasted 9 months and he rarely slept, which meant his mama didn't either. In fact, Cash was 5 years old before he consistently slept through the night! When Cash was 18 months old, Jennifer and Cash's dad decided to part ways and Jen took on a second, fulltime job at a retail store (requiring more standing). She worked 65-70 hours each week between being behind the chair and at the retail store, lived close to two hours round trip from work, and rarely slept more than 5 hours each night.
After 14 months of sustaining this schedule, she began to experience more symptoms she couldn't explain. Of course, the pain in her leg had become a staple of the end of her day by this point, but beyond that she began experiencing random episodes of overheating, vertigo and nauseousness at her retail job where she would have to run off of the floor, rest for a bit and then come back to it. (her body's signs that she has overdone it.) In Spring of 2015, she began experiencing different episodes with her vision. At first it was blurry spots, but it continued to worsen until she woke up in July and had vertical double vision. (Transverse myelitis) She was treated with IV steroids and then and oral taper of steroids.
Jennifer had started dating someone and they planned to get married in October. The Sunday before the wedding, Jen awoke in the morning to bilateral numbness in her legs from her knees down to her toes. Over the next 48 hours, the paralysis continued to elevate up her body and finally settled at her T2 vertebrae (high chest). the only normal feeling that remained was in her hands, arms and head.
She went to the emergency room, where she asserted to the staff her suspicions of Multiple Sclerosis. Many, many hours of MRI's later, it was overwhelmingly confirmed that she did, in fact, have MS... and a wedding in 3 days, people! Years after this, her neurologist confided in her that the only reason he did not admit her for treatment that very moment and allowed her to have her wedding was because he had never seen an initial exacerbation so severe, and he did not think she would survive.
She underwent two weeks of intensive treatments to "wash her blood" and rid it of the antibodies that were causing her body to attack her brain and spinal cord. Her immune system had to be completely shut off, wiped out and reset. The night before she was to be discharged, Jen suffered a life threatening pulmonary embolism from the site of her treatment port, post removal. She continued on an oral steroid treatment for two and a half months, with an added bonus of blood thinners. The paralysis resolution took close to an entire year, but with much dedication to her healing and treatments, it did resolve.
In 2017, during her pregnancy with daughter, Charlie, Jen began to experience excruciating sciatic pain that never resolved post pregnancy. Unfortunately, even with her history of back surgery, she was not given an MRI, but was sent to physical therapy and a pain management clinic, where she was prescribed opiates for pain control. Rather than imaging her, they continued to increase her dosage of her opiates. Jennifer became painfully aware that the medication was hurting her more than it was helping her and made the decision to stop taking them. She went through opiate detox at home, completely medically unassisted, and she had no idea what she was in for. Her sciatica was increasingly more excruciating, even with physical therapy, and ended up becoming 100% compressed at the origin of insertion at her spine. She, again, had total and complete paralysis of that leg and was sent for her second, emergency laminectomy. Fast forward 13 months, when the sciatic pain returned again with a vengeance. She needed surgery, again. This time she was fused on 3 levels. She has two rods and six screws back there, and that thing isn't movin'!
The strength and ability this woman possesses to cope with all of the physical stressors this season of her life put on her path is unmatched. She is the "her" in "Herbalya."