When Rachel DaCosta first launched Self Love Supply on Instagram back in June 2017, her singular goal was to create a corner of positivity in what could sometimes feel like a hostile environment.
Nearly four years later, the Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology student’s vision for the Self Love Supply brand has since grown and evolved beyond that of a mere social media safe space filled with motivational quotes and images.
In addition to her ever-inspiring Instagram presence, DaCosta has also established a Self Love Supply website, released an expanding series of educational ebooks, and will soon launch a line of merchandise – not to mention her dream of one day opening a bricks-and-mortar wellness centre.
“Self Love Supply has been so many different things in the past, so I don’t really like to put it in a box,” DaCosta said of the brand, which she currently describes as “a positive online space promoting mental health, self-love and body positivity.”
Whatever it is she’s doing, she seems to be doing it right – just ask the legions of supporters who, drawn to her positive messaging, have flocked to Self Love Supply Instagram page by the thousands during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It took years to grow Self Love Supply into what it is today. But then, last year, basically at the beginning of COVID, I went from, like, 25,000 to 80,000 followers. It was nuts,” DaCosta said of the brand’s Instagram account, which currently boasts more than 178,000 followers.
“I think COVID played a big part in it, with people being home and on their phones more. But I also think people just wanted more positivity in their lives – and I was already offering that.”
A Toronto native, DaCosta said her interest in psychology was one she developed in high school, but didn’t initially see as a future career. In fact, it wasn’t until after earning her bachelor’s degree in International Development and Environmental Science with the intention of pursuing a career in law, that she decided to transfer into an undergraduate Psychology program.
“I think psychology has always been what I wanted, but I just kind of explored other things to be certain of it,” she said, noting that she also worked for a brief stint at a PR firm and “absolutely hated it.”
“Psychology’s always been the thing that I know I truly do want to do with my life. I’m really passionate about and I can really see myself doing it every single day. I love working with people.”
Currently in the midst of doing her practicum placement at Relationship Therapy Mississauga, DaCosta said that, following her graduation from Yorkville University’s Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology program, she would like to specialize in eating disorder recovery.
In fact, it’s a topic she’s already explored through the second of Self Love Supply’s published ebooks, Improving Your Relationship with Food, which she helped write alongside her friends Taylor Efford, a certified holistic nutritionist, and Hannah Hersh, a communications specialist.
“Taylor took the reins in terms of the idea…and our focus really was on, ‘This is not a book about a diet, this is about you finding out what food makes your body and mind happy, and finding that balance,’” she explained, noting that the ebook takes readers on a 10-day journey of activities that will help them look deeper into themselves to see how they can use food to make them feel their best – both mentally and physically.
“Right now I’m really finding that I want to focus on the education space of Self Love Supply, especially as I am now going to be a qualified therapist pretty soon. I feel a bit more confident in my skills of educating.”
Together with Efford and Hersh, DaCosta has also published 14-Day Self Love + Gratitude Reset – a two-week e-workbook filled with 15-30-minute daily activities designed to help readers connect with themselves – and the trio also has plans in the works to write two more yet-to-be announced titles in the near future.
DaCosta’s other recent creative collaborator is Katya Romanova, a talented graphic designer and art director with whom she currently is working to develop a line of Self Love Supply merchandise – including hoodies and tote bags.
“We’re also hoping to donate some of the merch profits to charity,” she said, noting that Sistering – a multi-service agency for at-risk, socially isolated women and trans people in Toronto who are homeless or precariously housed – is an organization Self Love Supply has donated to in the past and would love to work with again.
As for her long-term goals, DaCosta said it is her ultimate goal to expand Self Love Supply out the digital realm and into the physical one with the establishment of a wellness centre.
“I conceive it, in the COVID-free world of the future, as a bricks-and-mortar space for people to actually come to to take care of their physical health, their mental health and their social wellbeing,” she said, noting the centre would offer everything from therapy and naturopathy, to acupuncture and yoga, to movement and meditation classes.
“I really do believe that if you do want to make changes in your life, therapy is a great place start, but it’s not everything. You have to take a holistic view to your wellness, so it would be super amazing to open an amazing wellness centre where people can access all those services. That’s my dream and my 10-year goal.”