After meeting at a support group and bonding during a season of grief, Ashley and Terra became quick friends. More than that, they found a mutual desire to turn their pain into purpose and help other people in their journey.
With backgrounds in boxing and business, they made the perfect pair. Gloves for Grief launched as a 501c3 nonprofit committed to providing a community of healing through body, mind, and soul care.
We sat down with both of them to learn more about their organization and impact and how they ended up at The Colab Space.
Here’s what they told us.
Colab Space: How did you meet and what started your partnership together?
Terra Picket: So we met in some unusual and difficult circumstances at a support group, We both connected in our pain over the grief of losing our sons. But we also realized that we wanted to be friends, too.
At the time, we didn’t know what each of us brought to the table, but we soon learned how we might be able to partner on that.
Ashley Guarrasi: When you meet in a support group, under the circumstances, you’re sharing within that safe space. We didn’t want the support group to end, and wanted to do something to help bring awareness to grief and help others as well—which is also healing for us, too. So, that’s why we started Gloves for Grief.
Can you tell us about your unique backgrounds and how you find common ground as a team?
Terra: I feel like Ashley and I probably couldn’t be more different. I’ve always been working in corporate America, kind of suited-up and always in a very professional office atmosphere. This gave me a skillset of being great with computers, writing emails, reaching out to people, and putting together comprehensive presentations. I’m the mathlete and Ashley’s the athlete!
Ashley: Terra is definitely the business side. She’s really organized and good at everything—she’s one of those super-humans that could do interior design and run a company, all the backend work.
I do more of the boxing and the fitness, putting together workouts at our events, and handling the music. It’s the body portion, because we focus on the mind, body, and soul at Gloves for Grief.
What is your overall mission with gloves for grief? What do your fitness and wellness events look like?
Terra: We’re definitely trying to provide a community for people who are going through loss. Grief is one of those things that you hope you’ll never experience, but unfortunately, it’s part of life. And when you hit that moment of darkness, it’s so important to know that there is a community out there that will be behind you to help you work through those really tough moments. That’s what our mission is.
We do a mind, body, soul approach because, while there’s nothing that will ever take away the pain or make it go away, there are things that you can do to help lessen it and make you feel better. And so we really provide events and support and our charity to help people work through their pain.
Ashley: As an example, one of our most recent events at Saddleback Church had 70 people come out. We had a singer there performing live music and sharing some of her story before moving into a really fun boxing workout.
There was also a mental health therapist leading through some breathing exercises and a pastor there for support, too. It was very special and healing for people—you’re in a safe place where you aren’t judged and everyone can connect through our grief.
Terra: Although each event is focused around this boxing workout, it’s really about exposing everyone to the mind, the body, and the soul. So we try to bring all those different elements to each event.
What are three words that describe Gloves for Grief’s core values?
Terra: Probably community, understanding, and acceptance. Just being able to come together as you are and whatever that looks like for you—whatever journey you’re on and how we can support you through it.
What are the lessons you’ve learned as a startup non-profit? What has been the key to your success so far?
Terra: We are still very much in startup mode—we only incorporated four months ago. Milestone one was just getting the approval to be a public charity, a 501c3 charity, which miraculously happened in a week instead of the nine months they told us it would take.
From there, we’ve been focusing on the story of why we started this charity, what it means to us, and sharing our personal story so that people feel a sense of connection. And I think they’re key to our success. I think people are resonating with this because grief isn’t something that’s talked about—it’s difficult. When people find us on social media, they’re loving it, and we’re being contacted by people all over the US.
There’s no such thing as a grief workout. Usually, it’s yoga and healing, which is nice, but what about when you’re angry and you just want to punch something? So providing that space for people to have a positive outlet for those really ugly and difficult feelings is important to us.
Fundraising and everything is difficult, but we feel really optimistic about the future.
Ashley: We had never imagined something like this happening to us and this being the next chapter in life, but it happened and we’re trying to “punch our pain into purpose” and try to find some light through all of this.
It’s really special when people come out to our events and they get emotional because we see it—we see you and we feel your pain. And it’s nice to feel like you’re not alone. We want to bring people together through the pain.
How do you maintain work-life balance?
Terra: That’s really hard. I think it’s always going to be a work in progress. For me, I try to have a schedule Monday to Thursday and then do something self-care related on Friday. I wear 100 hats because I work part-time at my husband’s business and am a mom of a fiver-year old as well, so finding work-life balance is hard, but it can be done.
We went recently to the yoga and paddleboarding class with Colab Space and it was an amazing opportunity for us to work on our community and work on our mental health and wellness.
Ashley: Going through everything in the last year and trying to manage getting back to work when I wasn’t mentally doing well was challenging. I felt like I lost so much, but I’ve also gained so much strength from this. Trying to find a balance with self-care and balancing work and a job is something you have to keep working at and navigating.
What keeps you motivated on those long hard days when you’re struggling with the challenges of a business and everything else?
Terra: It’s my sons. I see my son Wyatt every day, but I also just recently got a tattoo of my son Weston. And when I think about the difficult days—and I’ve been through the most difficult ones ever—I just think about making him proud and honoring him. Everything I do is to bring honor to who he is.
Ashley: I think about our sons up in heaven and how they would want us to keep going and are proud of us for doing this. A lot of people would give up in these kinds of circumstances, but we try to keep going and trying to connect with other people and being strong for them, too.
As a nonprofit, what attracted you to Colab Space and how does it align with your brand’s values?
Terra: Ashley was the one that actually told me about Colab Space after she did a mental health wellness event with Boxhaus (owner Vanessa is a Colab member) in Newport Beach. She thought it was an event space and we could do an event here.
But when I got here, I didn’t just want to do an event here—I wanted us to work here. It’s a pleasure to be here. There’s all this brightness and lightness and a focus on both being productive in your work but also having a sense of work-life balance. As two women that have been through some really difficult circumstances and are still grieving ourselves, this is a place that makes us feel good.
Ashley: It’s really just such a cool, unique space. I was so drawn to, obviously, the aesthetics of it, having done social media for the last 10 years. The people are really amazing and Jade really tries to bring people together. It’s so much about connecting and community and collaborating.
How do you use The Colab Space for your work?
Terra: We use just about all the amenities here. We do have a little private office where we answer emails, work on social media, and get back to people. But I also use the conference rooms a ton—I’ve had a lot of meetings and trainings in here. Having the ability as a charity to have a beautiful conference room set up to have a digital or physical meeting is incredible.
Ashley: It’s really just inspiring to work from here and be in our office—we decorated it cute! I find myself so much more inspired when I’m working next to Terra and being in this space.
Terra: We love the Wednesday happy hours too. Those are really fun.
What’s something people might not know about you?
Ashley: That we love coffee.
Terra: I love coffee. I have a coffee problem… after I coffee, I coffee. And I love home goods. Those places make you happy—you feel something. And when you’re going through difficult times, you want to be in a place that makes you happy.
Ashley: Sometimes it’s the little things. If I’m having a bad day, I’ll go get a nice cup of coffee by the beach and go jump in the ocean. For me, I love being by the beach—it’s just so healing for me, jumping in the ocean, or going for a walk or run and just being out in nature.
Besides boxing, obviously, I love being outside in the ocean and at the beach. It’s just the simple things in life I appreciate as I get older—especially going through stuff, we just have to truly appreciate each day and be thankful for this moment.
If you want to keep up with Terra and Ashley, visit their website at Gloves for Grief. There you can check out upcoming events, follow them on social media, or join the mailing list to get regular updates.
And if you’re looking for a workspace that immerses you in a community of incredible professionals like Terra and Ashley, book a tour of The Colab Space today.