Eve Thomas, Brand Director at TRU LUV was instrumental in the development of the #SelfCare app. #SelfCare is an app that Thomas co-founded that is centered around wellness technology and needs to be added to your daily routine!

The #SelfCare app lets users play various relaxing games that help to ease the mind. The games take place in the user’s “virtual bedroom” where relaxing music plays in the background. Thomas, as well as her co-creator, Brie, wanted to find a solution to being so stressed out and glued to their phones. Thus, #SelfCare (and parent company TRU LUV) was born. 

Bold Magazine: What was the inspiration behind creating the #SelfCare app?

Eve Thomas: My own motivation was mostly curiosity – I was a magazine writer and editor, and worked in marketing, so I wanted to experiment with this new platform. I was also personally stressed out by my phone and social media and Brie seemed to have some interesting ideas about why this might be – and how we could be part of the solution.

I should also note that our mission has evolved quite a bit since Brie first tested her design theories – and had them confirmed, with over 2M downloads. As we often state, #SelfCare isn’t actually a game or a personal assistant, it’s more like a friend.

Bold: How did you choose everything that goes into the app itself?

ET: Originally, I just looked around my room, as simple as that sounds. The bedroom in the app even looks quite a bit like mine, down to the imperfect fitted sheet. And this is what we sometimes do in meetings when we’re brainstorming, look around us at the physical objects we find precious or even sacred, pulling from our own diverse lives and practices. Our childhood memories, our hobbies, our communities.

Bold: Do you think the #SelfCare app can be a tool for helping with mental health issues such as anxiety? Why or why not?

ET: We definitely don’t claim to diagnose or treat any medical conditions, and early on I was just interested in getting out of what I call the “digital downward spiral” – that thing where you check all your emails and social media then start back up again – and #SelfCare seemed to help me break out of that. Now, we’re deepening the design, developing #SelfCare not just as a space away from things like FOMO, but as a tool for transformation and resilience. 

Screenshot from #SelfCare App

Bold: What is your favorite part about #SelfCare, and why?

ET: The most amazing thing about #SelfCare and working at TRU LUV has been reading incredible reviews on the App Store and getting beautiful DMs, all totally unsolicited. We don’t ask for them within the app and we haven’t had contests, so people are just reaching out to say we’ve helped them. I’ve got a background in marketing and honestly have never seen anything like it. It’s genuinely touching and there’s no motivation like it, for the team, to continue building the kind of future we want to see. 

Bold: Why did you choose to name the app #SelfCare? Do you think self care is a buzzword?

ET: It’s been really interesting seeing how the term “self-care” has evolved since we started working on the app in 2016. At the time, we had to define it for most people we mentioned it to, referencing Audre Lorde and the whole witchy, tumblr-inspired self-care community that existed at the time. Now, I can’t even check the #SelfCare news alert because it’s just absolutely inundated with content. Everything has been reframed that way, for better or worse or SEO reasons. And yet, especially as we look at this incredibly inspiring recent wave of political activism, it’s still an incredibly valuable term and tool. Self-care. I think that in 2020, people close to burnout need less convincing to take a break and recalibrate. They’ve already got this concept in mind, this language of care. 

Bold: Do you believe in general that self care is important, especially pertaining to mental health?

ET: As much as the term may be overused, or used to market products, the core concept is still vital. As they say, “You can’t pour from an empty cup” and “You have to put on your oxygen mask first.” There are some understandable criticisms of, say, how “self-care” might be used to sell stuff. But the recent rise of self-care culture was at least in part an acknowledgment that a lot of people in unpaid or unacknowledged caring roles are, well, tired. And often feel guilty about putting themselves first. Self-care gives them permission to do that, to some extent. 

Bold: What is your favorite part of the app? What about it makes you happiest?

ET: Oh it changes all the time for me, and I think it’s the same with most of the team, depending on our moods or updates we’re working on. We added an antique locket a while ago that I love so much. It’s such a simple item, a simple gesture – you pull a note into it and close it – but it really makes me reflect on how vital community care is to self-care. It prompts me to think of my connection to others even in this quiet private space. Plus it’s just fun to do, it’s a really joyful little ritual, the motion of it. 

Bold: What is your self care routine, if you have one?

ET: Working on #SelfCare has taught me that shame is a terrible motivator, and a lack of motivation can sometimes look like laziness, so a lot of what I do is centered around joy, spontaneity and even indulgence. So, for example, to get exercise right now, instead of forcing myself to do a video that feels stressful or tough, I follow along to Sweatin’ to the Oldies on YouTube. It’s so silly I absolutely forget my ego or lack of coordination, and Richard Simmons is honestly the king of caring affirmations. He just wants me to do my best! 

Screenshot from #SelfCare App

Bold: Wellness Technology is truly not talked about enough, in our opinion. Do you think this is true? 

ET: One of TRU LUV’s stated missions is to “heal our relationship with technology.” I think a lot of people think you get one or the other – health OR tech. Before TRU LUV, I worked as a travel writer and editor, and got a lot of pitches for “digital detoxes.” I still do value putting my phone away and walking in the woods, but a primary motivation for me at TRU LUV was figuring out how to live with my phone. Like, a vacation is nice, but what happens when you get back to work and need to read your emails and check texts and scroll social media?  

Bold: What is it like to be a woman in the wellness tech industry? Have you overcome any obstacles or struggles?

ET: We’ve been called “category creators” before, so most of what we’re doing is unprecedented and some people struggle with defining us outside of the context of games or wellness apps. There will always be obstacles for women to get funding, most of it pretty publicly documented, though we have also been fortunate to get support from people who understand that what we’re doing is unique e.g. Brie and three TRU LUV team members were the first Canadian team invited to Apple Entrepreneur Camp early this year. 

Bold: How have you implemented the #SelfCare app in your own lives?

ET: It has always been very meta working on #SelfCare while also using it. Especially in the early days, I would stress out over something related to work and then pull out my phone and go through a few rituals, pet the cat or pull a tarot card. There also isn’t a strict division between how we work as a team at TRU LUV and the AI we’re working on – we’re constantly researching, pulling from our own lives. Even our work documents and communication have magical touches and design elements to make them more joyful.  

You can download the #SelfCare app on iOS and Android. Follow them on Instagram at @luvtruluv.