After finding peace while practicing yoga in 2015, Christina Rice became an instructor the following year to further propel her own personal healing forward. She immediately noticed a lack of representation in the wellness industry. There were very few Black instructors and teachers, and Rice noticed more Black women gravitating towards her class looking for a relatable experience.
“I noticed a lack of representation in this space and as I chronicled my yoga journey on social media, more and more Black women would show up to my classes,” Rice said. “That was a light bulb moment for me that Black women and WOC desire to be led through their wellness journey by someone that looks like them, that identifies with the unique challenges they face in this world.”
That lightbulb sparked the initial inspiration for OMNoire Retreats Academy. Founded in 2016, OMNoire is an online marketplace connecting Black women and women of color with luxury retreat opportunities around the world. The brand gives women permission to define wellness on their terms and take full autonomy over their healing journey. Since being founded, the marketplace has established a network of over 70,000 worldwide.
OMNoire’s first retreat to Grenada in 2017 changed the lives of 53 men and women from around the world. The organization has also hosted retreats in Barbados, Ghana, Portugal, and Bali with retreats in Aruba, Jamaica, and the Netherlands happening this year. Rice understood that women of color were seeking out spaces where they could be their true, authentic selves while traveling and healing simultaneously.
“I firmly believe that wellness looks different for everyone and OMNoire provides that safe, non-judgmental space for you to explore many different modalities to find what works for you,” she said.
The OMNoire marketplace allows travelers to filter retreats based on what they are seeking. They can filter by location, theme, retreat speakers, and more to find the ideal experience they are searching for. OMNoire prides itself on being a unique experience, specially curated for the Black woman, that caters not only to the destination but to the guests in attendance.
“I always say that a retreat is a reflection of the retreat leader so, with me, I am an adventure junkie and certified scuba diver, so my retreats are always going to have an element of adventure, as well as helping you face your fears by doing something you never thought possible,” she said. “My personal belief is that honoring a fear and then facing it head-on is a version of emotional and mental wellness and growth.”
Realizing she realistically could only host two or three retreats a year, Rice created the Retreat’s Academy to expand its offerings to serve the wellness needs of a global community. The academy equips other retreat hosts with the tools they need to curate dynamic retreat experiences and unforgettable moments for guests. These academy students funnel retreat opportunities into the OMNoire marketplace for prospective guests to choose from based on their travel needs.
“As a result, we have dozens of retreats in 2022 and 2023,” she said. “I call the Retreats Academy the ‘Airbnb of luxury retreats for Black women and women of color.’ You can come on our website and choose the theme, the dates, the package rates, destination, and retreat leader that speaks to you.”
OMNoire believes that luxury is the birthright of the Black woman and stands on its belief with every retreat it hosts. With more than 18 million Black women in the world, Rice says there should be more safe havens for them to thrive, heal, and be heard free from judgment and surrounded by like-minded individuals.
“I am just grateful to be a vessel for Black women and WOC to heal, find community and explore the world together,” she said. “We are the mothers of the earth and when Black women are well, our communities and the world around us are well.”