Be Well and Good
It’s nearly impossible to keep up with all of the health and lifestyle trends these days, and Alexia Brue ’95 understands this better than anyone. From underwater cycling classes to professional cuddling sessions to Marie Kondo-ing your sock drawer, people are looking for constant, structured improvement in their lives. The Joneses are long gone — we are keeping up with the Kardashians, people! The irony is, as we race through our lives, attempting to meet societal and Instagram influencer-imposed beauty and lifestyle standards, we gloss over what we really want: to be well.
Fortunately, Brue, co-founder of the media company Well+Good, is here to help us cut through the wellness noise. When Brue and co-founder Melisse Gelula started Well+Good in 2009, they recognized a void in media curated around wellness. In fact, the topic of wellness wasn’t a topic at all — not mainstream, at least.
“Publications around health and wellness at this time were either hippy-ish or vertical publications, like Runner’s World and Yoga Journal.” Brue explains. “And of course, no shortage of women’s body-shaming magazines.” Brue and Gelula sought to change the narrative and culture around wellness.
Well+Good flowed onto the scene with the aim of being a “trusted adviser for navigating the ever expanding — and sometimes confusing — world of wellness.” Brue and Gelula started by publishing New York City-specific wellness content. Healthy food spots, new yoga instructors, and reiki classes found their tiny homes as content on the Well+Good website. Today, the content has expanded in relevancy well beyond the tri-state area to produce accessible media for a national millennial audience.
Brue always knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur and credits Grinnell with enabling the exploration of those interests. “It was a place where it was relatively easy to get things off the ground,” she recalls. Brue and several classmates put their business skills to work by opening an on-campus café called Bob’s Underground.
“The College, and particularly the head of dining services at the time, was extraordinarily supportive in getting Bob’s off the ground,” Brue explains. The South Campus hot spot would go on to serve up caloric snacks and beverages and open-mic nights for 20 years. By the time Bob’s closed its doors in 2017, it was a full-fledged institution. Brue had a knack for building a business, and Grinnell provided the resources and flexibility to do so early on.
In addition to entrepreneurship, Brue’s love of the humanities has been a common thread — an interest that took hold at Grinnell where she was a classics major. In fact, before the conception of Well+Good, Brue became fascinated by public bathhouses. “I loved the communal aspects and for a time wanted to open my own bathhouse in the city.”
Working in publishing, Brue pitched a book. Bloomsbury Publishing liked the idea, provided a cash advance, and the rest is actual history — she spent the next nine months traveling and writing about the rich, global history of bathhouses. She went on to publish a book entitled, Cathedrals of the Flesh: My Search for the Perfect Bath.
At graduation, it wasn’t abundantly clear what path a classics major with a passion for entrepreneurship would take. But, like many Grinnellians, Brue pursued diverse interests and successfully charted her own way. Well+Good is a home run, producing 15–20 new articles every day as well as video and social media content, wellness retreats on a quarterly basis, a monthly talk series, and most recently, a cookbook. Most significantly, Brue’s media dynamo has achieved what it initially set out to do — transform the culture of wellness into a positive force in people’s lives.