A Woman Who Does: Jessica Dahl of the Wholeness Journey
Ever want to dance on top of a mountain (ain’t no mountain high enough, amirite)? Well, count Jessica Dahl in. In fact, she’ll dance anytime, anywhere. This incredible woman’s passion to live in the fullness of who she is, whether dancing on a mountain peak, leading boot camps, or co-founding The Beyond Project, fuels every aspect of her life.
As a Seattle, Washington native, Jess adores hiking the Pacific Northwest, engaging in all board sports (longboarding, snowboarding, surfing - you name it), and exploring the unknown, from new coffee shops to forgotten trails. Along with a love for collaborating and brainstorming with like-minded people, one of her core missions remains to inspire, empower, and equip people into the fullness of who they are, particularly through wellness and beauty.
Along with a love for collaborating and brainstorming with like-minded people, one of her core missions remains to inspire, empower, and equip people into the fullness of who they are, particularly through wellness and beauty.
Growing up, Jessica always felt drawn to beauty. Her natural talents often led her to style others’ hair and makeup for events, including prom and the occasional wedding. Thus after receiving her AA degree, Jess made the decision to enroll in beauty school, a decision that introduced her to one of her greatest mentors, Marv Smith. Marv became a catalyst for Jess to latch onto the unique gifts she embodied. Because of her mentor’s constant encouragement, she now emphasizes, “If you see something good in someone, speak it out because you never know how this might affect their lives and allow someone to believe in themselves when they had no idea that they could.”
With the encouragement she encountered in beauty school, Jess took a leap and moved to California. While working with hair and leading boot camps on the beach, she felt something stir within her. Before she knew it, her backpack was slung over her shoulders for a year-long trip to volunteer overseas with an organization called Adventures in Missions. Though little did she know how much this trip would change her entire life. “I was cutting hair for people all over the world, and I realized it was such a gift that transforms lives,” she says. During this time, Jessica also made valuable connections that would continue to breathe life into Jess’ dreams for bringing healing and wholeness. One of these was a friend who led yoga classes to help bring healing inside and out for trafficked girls in Thailand. Inspired by yoga’s healing elements, Jessica decided to pursue yoga certification when she returned home.
“I was cutting hair for people all over the world, and I realized it was such a gift that transforms lives.”
Continuously motivated by this trip, Jessica further connected many aspects of holistic health. Plus, her heart never ceased to realize the importance of beauty and loving every intricate aspect of oneself exactly as one is. So with Jess’ desire to bring healing and empowerment through wellness and beauty, all the pieces of holistic health began fitting together as she formed something really beautiful.
This was the birth of The Beyond Project. Jessica and her friend, Rachel, both banded together over a mutual desire to provide beauty services to those in need so that each individual could feel loved. With this goal in mind, these two entrepreneur babes launched The Beyond Project in 2015. Since its launch, The Beyond Project has expanded rapidly. Within a few years, The Beyond Project has built a large network of beauty professionals and volunteers to bring beauty services to many locations, including Seattle, LA, Chicago, and Lebanon.
Along with Jessica’s excitement for The Beyond Project’s immense growth over the past three years, she also recently recognized the importance of taking time to step back and attune to her own self-care. “When you’re so involved in what you’re doing, it’s hard to hear or think clearly. So, I felt in my heart I really had to take two months to reflect and go back to my personal why.” Due to Jessica’s go-getter spirit, she mentions that the process of stepping back honestly felt difficult and humbling. After months of listening, meditating, praying, being still, and seeking counsel from mentors, Jess acknowledged something deep inside her prompting her to pass on The Beyond Project to her co-founder, Rachel.
“When you’re so involved in what you’re doing, it’s hard to hear or think clearly. So, I felt in my heart I really had to take two months to reflect and go back to my personal why.”
“My word for the year is ‘brave,’ and even though this was the hardest decision of my life, it was probably the bravest thing I’ve ever had to do. It’s like your dream or a piece of you that you’re passing off. And I’ll always be a part of The Beyond Project because I created it. But I did feel a complete sense of freedom and peace and lightness once I made that decision, so I definitely knew it was right,” says Jess.
While Jessica transitions, she continues to invest in and develop another wonderful project she co-founded two years ago with Christina Barnes, called the Wholeness Journey. The Wholeness Journey brings a group of volunteers on yoga retreats and mission trips overseas. On their most recent trip to Thailand, the Wholeness Journey partnered with Shear Love International. This organization reaches out to men and women whom have been trafficked in Pattaya, Thailand and offers them accessibility and resources through their educational beauty program. Jess also mentions that Pattaya, Thailand remains one of the top cities in the world for sex tourism. On one stretch of ten blocks, their volunteer group counted 250 women being sold and 350 men purchasing.
“It stirs something in you so deep to not sit still but to do something. Our team was able to love, build relationships, and give little gifts. We talked with those being trafficked about their families, their hopes, and dreams, about what they really want to be doing, and we offered some resources,” Jessica says.
In partnership with Shear Love International, the group of volunteers also delved into workshops on identity, healing, worth, value, purpose, and wholeness. After these transformational workshops, each volunteer proceeded to teach what they had learned to men and women transitioning out of trafficking through yoga, art therapy, and an emphasis on seeing one’s personal beauty and worth no matter what.
Throughout these trips, Jessica additionally partners with each volunteer to create tangible action plans to accomplish their own personal goals and dreams. As a result of this, their group is currently creating a campaign to raise funds to build a school where they volunteered. In the future, Jessica also hopes to form local retreats for those whom ache to dive deep into personal wholeness and serving others yet may not be able to travel.
After hearing about all these incredible projects and Jess’ heart for healing and wholeness, I can’t tell you how much this lady inspires me. I mean, not only has she pursued holistic health, co-founded several companies, and led volunteer groups centered around wholeness and empowerment, but she bravely practices what she teaches. This means taking time to honor her own heart and self-care even when it may seem like one of the hardest decisions. I truly admire the strength and vulnerability this takes. What a world changer.
"There’s no time to sit around. There’s so much need out there, so many dreams, and everybody has amazing things to offer this world. I really believe that if you’re not doing your part, we’re missing out on you."
At the end of our chat (and perhaps after sidetracking to gush about our fav Washington hikes...), Jess left us with this inspiring tidbit, “If there’s something so deep in your heart, discover what your passions are, discover what you want to do, and just go and do it and find like-minded people. You don’t have to have all the answers right away, but once you take action, you will figure it out along the way, and you really do impact and influence. There’s no time to sit around. There’s so much need out there, so many dreams, and everybody has amazing things to offer this world. I really believe that if you’re not doing your part, we’re missing out on you."
If you're interested in participating in the Wholeness Journey but can't swing a trip abroad, consider joining one of their US retreats! Their next retreat is September 28th - October 1st in beautiful Suncadia, Washington. Join up with like-minded individuals for a weekend of yoga/exercise, art, hiking, reflection, storytelling and workshops/practical tools you can take home with you. You can find out more and book your tickets here.
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About the Author
Lauren Farris is a recent graduate from the University of Washington with a degree in Creative Writing and Sociology, and she's excited to partner with Dressember in the fight to end slavery. She also adores corgis, messy paint, mud, hiking in wildflowers, reading, traveling, and a good Lord of the Rings marathon.