We’ve known Hershey Pascual for many many years now, from the glitz & glam of London where Hershey was the ever-glamorous Fashion Editor of a celebrity magazine, and our Founder Frankie the party-girl Fashion PR to now, both Hershey and Frankie living in Dubai searching for a more holistic, wholesome & genuinely happy life. From the Queen of celebrity, to holistic retreat founder; Hershey Pascual takes you on her journey.
At 16, I was asked at school to do two weeks work experience by our career advisor. It was a tough call for a 16 year old to be on a career path. I really didn’t want to think about being an adult working, but if I had to, I would want to do something I would enjoy. I knew I loved being around people, I enjoyed reading magazines and I had an interest in fashion and TV, so maybe working in the media industry would be a good option. I did a short internship at a TV channel and a publishing house in London; but by the time I was 19, I was a BA student reading anthropology and I felt even more confused about what to do next. I asked myself, what do I want to do every day? And the answer was all the things I loved doing: shopping, writing, reading and going to parties. Was there a job that would pay me to do all those things? Perhaps that may sound shallow to me now, but I was being true to the person I was at that time. It then became clear to me that I would suit being a Fashion Editor. I visualised sitting on the front row of catwalk shows in Milan, London, Paris and New York, styling fashion shoots for glossy magazines, hobnobbing with famous celebrities and walking on the red carpet at snazzy events around the world.
With all my focus, determination and dedication, I managed to do all those things. I worked for magazines such as Elle, W, Sunday Times Style, Star and OK!. I became a Fashion Editor at 23 years old, experienced FROW (fashion show front rows) during fashion week, partied with celebrities, attended fabulous parties in Monaco, Cannes, Paris, Rome, New York, Miami and London, and I even dated a few celebrities.
At the time, I loved it; until slowly I realised that being in the thick of the celebrity-fashion frenzy began to make me feel self conscious; it made me feel like I was losing my sense of purpose and sense of self. I saw how these mega stars may (on the surface) appear to have everything, but actually behind the scenes were some of the most insecure, unhappy people I’ve ever met. I witnessed how some famous people made their fame feed their egos, how money could lead to greed or abuse, how some role model celebrities were actually not very nice people or were terribly needy and unable to look after themselves. Many looked like they were surrounded by fair-weather friends that I doubt would stick around when the going gets tough. But they do say water finds its own level, and with all these discoveries I delved into searching to find my true happiness. During this time I thought happiness was something I needed to find in order to fulfil me, but in hindsight I realised that true happiness is something that comes from within, no matter where you are.
At this point, after 14 years working in magazines and TV, I began to feel like I wasn’t fitting into London’s media industry anymore. I felt like I was having some kind of identity crisis or mini breakdown. It’s not that anyone could see it and no one even knew about it, but I felt it, and I felt in my heart. I was changing. I was not the person I wanted to be and in order to find ‘her’ I needed to leave behind the person I was and try new things. At the time I was also experiencing a family tragedy and I felt a sense of wanting to escape from it all. For me, it was my perfect time to leave London and perhaps find my true sense of self. I had no serious reason to stay so I made a random decision to leave my family, friends, career and life behind and move to a country where I would at least be in the sunshine and by the sea.
I randomly applied for Editor positions in Sydney, Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai. I asked the universe to take me to a place where I was supposed to be, and sure enough the rejection letters came flooding in from Sydney, Singapore and Hong Kong, with two job offers in Dubai. And there it was a golden ticket to have a fresh start and go find myself.
It’s been over two years now and I love Dubai for many reasons. For expats, it’s a place where you work and live, not live to work. You have a proper lifestyle here; perhaps it’s the vitamin D, the sun, sand, beach, desert and sea? Or perhaps it’s the sense of wanderlust that comes from being so close to exotic parts of the world? Or maybe it’s because it feeds my adventurous spirit hiking on mountains in nearby emirates, or jumping on a surfboard to go SUP boarding on turquoise waters? Or it could be the beautiful sunsets I’m gifted to see daily? But actually it’s all these elements that have helped me ground myself, practice meditation daily, clear my past grievances and align myself with my true purpose and calling.
I suppose there are two sides to Dubai; as an expat you can experience the hedonistic underbelly if you wish to do so, but if you dig that little bit deeper there is a discrete holistic, health and wellness world; where vegan or healthy cafes are popping up, an abundant art world slowly progressing, along with inspiring new local talent in the fashion and art scene. It’s a hub of multicultural, ethnic nationalities where the third world meets the first world and this also opens your eyes to how other people live.
Throughout my years as an Editor in London, I slowly became interested in travel and health. Part of my job was to review hotels around the world and explore health retreats. And it was during this time that I began to want to learn more about mindfulness, yoga and meditation. My job took me to unforgettable places around the world on my own. It was at the point that I felt this part of me was opening up, like a sailor finally seeing their homeland after years away from home. I felt I was becoming more aware and opening up my consciousness. The deeper I delved into ‘self’ the more I grew as a being, and the more I began to recognise my soul. I learned how to have gratitude, meditate, be still, balance my chakras, observe and not react. I learned how to love myself, feel whole, safe and worthy. But most importantly, I learned how to open up my heart again. This steady transformation of mindfulness, consciousness and healing led me to launch a holistic wellness events company that would partner up with luxurious hotels. And so H Retreats was born in 2017. ‘H’ stands for holistic, health and happiness: H Retreats is therapy for the soul. More than just a relaxing holiday, it is a destination for physical, emotional and spiritual renewal, where we put together talented, gifted healers and therapist and create special programmes for clients to experience.
Currently we are working with Ritz-Carlton Dubai in JBR. Our first retreat with them starts in November. Certified healers, therapists, health and fitness experts are at hand for clients on a bespoke, healthy programme over a weekend stay. Try yoga, gong meditation, qigong, sound healing, reiki, craniosacral therapy, energy healing, and much more; as well as spa treatments, healthy delicious food and various workshops. You may be with us for just a few days, but the progress made with H Retreats will stay with you well beyond the time you go home. It’s about longevity; we aim to enhance your quality of life for years to come by stimulating your mind, emotions and body in a short, intense burst. Think of it as a shot of serenity for the soul.
To find out more or book a retreat visit www.hretreats.com