How I Live Well: Catherine Choi, SoYoung

How I Live Well: Catherine Choi, SoYoung

Catherine Choi, Founder, SoYoung (All photos by Kieran Darcy)

This is the second feature in our new series, How I Live Well.  Through this series, we sneak a peek into the daily lives of creative and inspiring women who seem to have and do it all.  What seemingly small choices do they make throughout their day in order to live fully and with purpose?  How do they design their days with living well in mind? 

At All You Are, we believe that self-care shouldn't be another item on our to-do list.  Instead, we believe in committing to living well, every single day. 

Catherine Choi is the founder of SoYoung, a lifestyle company that creates modern, elevated lunch bags and accessories.  SoYoung can now be found in over 500 locations across North America, including Whole Foods, Nordstrom and Anthropologie.

Catherine is also my friend. Over the years I've not only admired her business and design aesthetic, but I've been inspired by her warmth, presence and grounding energy. 

Twenty years ago, Catherine was addicted to heroin. I can still remember the shock I felt when first hearing those words.  It was so hard to believe that this composed, thoughtful, beautiful woman sitting across from me over lunch had experienced that. But that's what makes her story all the more compelling and powerful (you can read it in detail here).

Catherine is someone that most of us can relate to. But as I've learned over and over again (and keep learning), you can't see on the surface what someone has really experienced in their lives (hence that wise saying, don't compare your insides to someone else's outsides.)  Catherine has been through the belly of the whale and through self-reflection and her unwavering commitment to living well she has emerged strong and radiant. We can all learn from her.

What does living well mean to you?

It means continually bringing myself back to the present moment and being in gratitude and acceptance of what is rather than what was or wasn't or might or might not be. 

What rituals support your quest to live well?

I have always found tremendous value in introspection and self-expression - even from when I was young. My childhood was somewhat traumatic, with a dad who drank and got physically and mentally abusive. Because I couldn't talk back without risking danger to myself, I remember scribbling away in my journal about my feelings - my anger, my frustration, and unhappiness. I really think this helped me survive my childhood.  This and having a tight group of friends who I could talk to. As I have matured (and healed) I continue with these rituals of introspection and self-expression through tools such as writing, meditation, yoga, exercise - and of course, maintaining relationships with close friends. 

How do you prioritize your professional goals vs your personal life?

This is my biggest challenge and I don't always do it well. I have a lot of mom guilt. I rarely do drop-offs or pickups or school outings. But there are some things that are non-negotiable - which is that five nights out of seven I make home cooked meals from scratch for my family - I am a vegetable nazi and no one's allowed to leave the table without eating their vegetables. One night out of the week we usually eat out, and the other I meet up with a friend and let my husband figure out dinner. Also before bedtime is always a cozy time for our family, where there's a lot of hanging around on our bed chatting (or arguing). Generally home is for family time and the office is for work - but not always. And I do spend a lot of evenings and weekends at the office between family times. 

Tell us about your morning routine.

My mornings start really early. I usually wake up at 5am and meditate for an hour. Then depending on the day I will either workout or do yoga. I then have 3 kids to feed, pack lunches for and send off. One new ritual that I've started lately that I love - which I know will make me sound crazy - is that I take a 5 minute freezing cold shower. I recently learned about this amazing man from the Netherlands called Wim Hof and how through cold therapy and breathing exercises, he's learned to tap into his autonomic nervous system. I was so amazed after watching a film about him that I decided to give it a try. All I can tell you is that after stepping into a cold shower for 5 minutes, the rest of the day seems totally doable and like you can take on the world. In terms of products, my skin care routine has completely switched over into an essential oil protocol - I love Living Libations and what they stand for and use a bunch of their products for my skin - and my teeth.

How do you wind down when your workday ends and transition to home?

I actually really enjoy making dinner while listening to an inspiring podcast or documentaries - my fave topics include entrepreneurial success stories, stories of human potential and healing, and alternative health and diet programs.

Tell us about your nighttime routine.

My nighttime routine often includes a hot bath and herbal tea. Sometimes if I'm feeling really wound up about something, I will do a short 20-minute sitting meditation before going to bed. After I say goodnight to the kids, I like to sit up in bed and read a really good book that has nothing to do with work until I'm practically asleep. I love that feeling of just drifting off and falling into a deep sleep. 

I think people often wonder how entrepreneurs balance it all? What they don’t realize is that nobody does it all on their own. What systems have you set up to support you so that you can focus on reaching all your goals?

I have an amazing mastermind group that I belong to and a strong network of support through consultants and just really smart friends who I can talk to. I've had to learn to ask for help and understand that no one does this alone, just like you said. 

What do you love to relax in?

My robe is just perfect. I've never been a robe person. I don't like feeling bulky and exposed. But my All You Are robe is a perfect layer and weight - the sleeves are exactly the right length and depth, I love the inner tie to keep the robe securely closed and it's also a great overall length. I feel stylish in it - and I love the two-tone grey and white. 

Do you know any creative, inspiring women we should feature? Email us at