When Pittsburghers are looking for a place of mental and emotional refuge, Uzima is offering itself as a destination of choice.
Mayan Marshall is the co-owner of Uzima, a physical safe space for those in need of community and judgement-free zones where mental health concerns can be discussed openly.
As described on the website, Uzima’s vision, “is to provide healing to all walks of life and the first step in the healing process is awareness.”
Originally owners of Salud Juicery, a wellness bar offering products to help facilitate a strong health journey for Pittsburghers and their neighbors, they debuted Uzima in 2018.
“My wife and I always wanted to get in business for ourselves, it has always been an aspiration of ours and we wanted to do something different and that provided more health benefits,” said Marshall.
The Marshalls have not strayed far from their roots. With health being a major pillar in their business, the couple embarked on a journey to offer the Pittsburgh community an intimate place for necessary conversations.
“We really wanted to provide health benefits to the community, we wanted to be a safe haven and a shining light for the community,” said Marshall. “We’re still providing nutritional foods and benefits, but our focus now is going to be almost entirely on mental health.”
Much of the inspiration behind the business change came from employees and customers of Salud Juicery. After noticing the struggles faced by his community, and empathizing with their trials, Marshall decided to do his part in bringing some relief to Pittsburgh.
Marshall says he hopes Uzima will help combat some of the stigma surrounding mental health.
“A lot of people who truly battle with mental health illness don’t share what they’re going through and I think that just helps that stigma continue to thrive,” said Marshall. “We’re trying to bring more awareness and have people feel more comfortable to start talking about it.”
Guests will be met with an open and inviting space fit with interactive activities designed to get people talking about the instances that bother them the most. Along the walls inside Uzima are a Depression Cloud, Wall of Fame section, and Rose, Bud, and Thorn Board where patrons can open up about their journey, practice self-reflection, or see familiar faces of celebrities diagnosed with various mental health conditions.
Uzima is also working to give back to it’s community by building gardens in and around Pittsburgh that will increase community access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Interested community members can also volunteer to build a community garden with Uzima by visiting the website.