Michell Brookins walks through the door and instantly lights up the room. Brookins is the one being interviewed, but the first question comes from her. She asks the journalist, “How is everything with you and what’s going on in your life?” She immediately slips into her role of life coach.
Brookins is from Indianapolis, where she got her start in fashion design and customer service. She held a position in management in a luxury high-rise, then moved on to selling insurance. In 1996 she moved to Chicago and later began working as an executive manager for Karen Calabrese, the owner of a vegan restaurant that is the city’s longest-standing raw food restaurant and also an “inner beauty center.”
Brookins observed the day-to-day operations, including detoxing and other inner-cleansing. “I realized I was a people person when I was 15 years old, but working for Karen was the turning point in my life,” she said. “By witnessing these people come in to receive treatment after they were sick, I cared, I wanted to know what was going on then apply that research to my actual life.”
After her mother became ill from a blood transfusion where she contracted Hepatitis C, Brookins was devastated. This was a wake-up call for her and added fuel to her fire, to help herself and others.
She noticed that a lack of financial literacy prevents people, especially African-Americans, from achieving their goals. And finances can also be a barrier when it comes to keeping a well-balanced diet.
“They weren’t eating right and part of that problem was because of finances,” she noted of friends and community members. Many poor families can’t afford to eat healthy, she pointed out. The food that is not healthy and of less quality is readily accessible.
This revelation helped Brookins develop her target market: poverty-stricken individuals. “I want to give people a way to bear life.” To do this she shares her theory for living life to the fullest — “a continuing journey from glory to glory.” This consists of 10 steps.
Step 1: Become prepared for your journey.
Step 2: Meet people who are going to help you on your journey.
Step 3: Apply what you have learned to your journey.
Step 4: Your foundation should be built.
Step 5: Start to see manifestation of your works.
Step 6: Begin to share.
Step 7: Start building a spiritual awareness.
Step 8: Start to see materialization of your journey.
Step 9: Purge what you don’t need
Step 10: You have reached the end of your journey; you should be where you want to be, ready to start a new journey.
Brookins is a prominent leader throughout the West Side community, where she has touched many lives. Gwendolyn Barnes was introduced to Brookins about a year ago. “Brookins is highly driven, passionate and motivated about her work. She is fair-minded and conscientious about global affairs in the world. This includes an outlook on approaches to lack of nutrition in American diets. She is determined to have input and be part of the solution.”
Brookins’ motto is “you can’t have wealth without health.” And she also has plenty of advice on the wealth front.
Jaz Ellison, executive director of a local nonprofit AIDS awareness organization and a longtime friend of Brookins, said, “She goes over and beyond the call of duty. If she doesn’t have the answer she’s going to find it for you. She sees those weak points in financial planning, she’s just good at what she does. I went in the bank needing assistance on an account. She educated me about the smart savings program”
Among her various hats, Brookins works as a life coach for Healthy World Euphoria Development, a company she founded. She also aims to be a community developer helping people access quality resources and sustainable jobs. “I have to inspire people,” she said. “Eating better, you become clearer in the mind and you gain more vitality.”
Brookins’ future plans include opening a neighborhood grocery store called Utopia that will be located at 314 N. Pulaski. The store will provide fresh organic grocery for a low price, and also a concierge who can enroll people in programs that help build healthy lifestyles. The grocery store is just another way Brookins will help people take control of their lives through taking control of their diets and their finances. And for her personally, it will be her latest venture “from glory to glory.”