How Nicole Cardoza, Founder of Wellemental, Brings Calm and Self Care Into Her Everyday Life

Neutral palettes, wind-down activities, and a streamlined beauty routine get this entrepreneur from one day to the next.

portrait of nicole cardoza
Photo: Sanetra Longno

As a child, Nicole Cardoza had "a million different ideas" about what she was going to be when she grew up. "Fashion designer, cab driver, marine biologist—every day it was different," recalls the preternaturally poised multi-hyphenate. That restless curiosity still colors everything she does, from her work as the founder of Wellemental, an app providing mindfulness training to schools, to her leadership of Reclamation Ventures, a studio she created to incubate initiatives working toward health and racial equity. Two years ago, at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests, Cardoza launched Anti-Racism Daily, an activist newsletter that has more than 250,000 subscribers. And yet with so much going on, she manages to radiate calm, something she chalks up to yoga and meditation. Plus, "I keep my look simple," she says. "I stick to monochromatic clothing and natural beauty." Her graceful presence is on display in her latest passion project, too: stage magic. Performing illusions before an audience was one of her childhood fantasies—and it relates to well-being, she adds. "Believing in something greater than ourselves is a healing practice."

Nicole's Top Picks

01 of 17

Cropped Top

Kaarem Wind Chi Raised-Collar Cropped Top in Black Blue
Courtesy of Kaarem

"I'm drawn to its minimal bell shape. I stick to a pared-down palette and tailored cuts."

Shop Now: Kaarem Wind Chi Raised-Collar Cropped Top in Black Blue, $145,

02 of 17

Playing Cards

Bicycle Standard Decks
Peter Ardito

"These build magical moments on the go. I carry one with me and literally have a trick up my sleeve."

Shop Now: Bicycle Standard Decks, $3,

03 of 17

Pothos Plant

The Sill Marble Queen Pothos Plant
Courtesy of The Sill

"I have one that's at least six feet long. I've propagated my pothos plant many times to give as gifts. I love how it grows, like a friendship."

Shop Now: The Sill Marble Queen Pothos Plant, from $41,

04 of 17

Hoop Earrings

Third Crown Marcy Hoops
Courtesy of Third Crown

"Earrings are where I like to play. These are so architectural."

Shop Now: Third Crown Marcy Hoops, $320,

05 of 17

Mindful Moves

Mindful Moves by Nicole Cardoza
Courtesy of Amazon

"I wrote it for kids, but parents tell me the breathing exercises and meditation practices have changed their lives, too."

Shop Now: Mindful Moves by Nicole Cardoza, $8.99,

06 of 17

Gentle Cleanser

Botnia Gentle Cleanser
Courtesy of Botnia

"Natural and soothing. I'm trying to be more intentional with my skin care."

Shop Now: Botnia Gentle Cleanser, $42,

07 of 17

Wide-Leg Pants

Kaarem Flute Wide-Leg Pants in Beige
Courtesy of Kaarem

"The silhouette suits my style. Pockets are a must. A sleight-of-hand magician always needs good ones!"

Shop Now: Kaarem Flute Wide-Leg Pants in Beige, $280,

08 of 17

Take-Everywhere Tote

Telfar Medium Black Shopping Bag
Courtesy of Telfar

"I love how this Black-owned brand has been thriving! The tote holds my laptop and everything else."

Shop Now: Telfar Medium Black Shopping Bag, $202,

09 of 17

Neutral Nail Polish

Pear Nova Polish in Frida Be Free Nail
Courtesy of Pear Nova

"I've recently become obsessed with doing my own nails. This beigey neutral is perfect with my skin tone."

Shop Now: Pear Nova Polish in Frida Be Free Nail, $14,

10 of 17

Throw Pillows

K-Apostrophe Spiral Throw Pillows
Courtesy of K-Apostrophe

"I'm settling into a new house and love how these are inspired by landscapes."

Shop Now: K-Apostrophe Spiral Throw Pillows, $132,

11 of 17

Lace Bra

Liberté Lingerie Bowery Lace Demi Bra
Peter Ardito

"Super-comfortable! It's got a nice blend of support and sexiness."

Shop Now: Liberté Lingerie Bowery Lace Demi Bra, $118,

12 of 17

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch
Courtesy of Nintendo

"I play to unwind. I still love all the classics, like Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros."

Shop Now: Nintendo Switch, $300,

13 of 17

Illuminating Moisturizer

Tata Harper Illuminating Moisturizer
Courtesy of Tata Harper

"I dab it on my cheeks, eyelids, nose, and collarbone when I want to look more awake than I feel."

Shop Now: Tata Harper Illuminating Moisturizer, $130,

14 of 17


blooming Ranunculus flower
Getty Images

"The blossoms are so delicate. They're my favorite."

15 of 17


Nike Air Max 90 Sneakers
Courtesy of Nike

"They go with everything from dresses to jeans."

Shop Now: Nike Air Max 90 Sneakers, $130,

16 of 17

An Unkindness of Ghosts

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon
Courtesy of Amazon

"Amazing speculative fiction from a marginalized perspective. The intergalactic sci-fi adventure carried me through Covid."

Shop Now: An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon, $12.60,

17 of 17

Old Fashioned Cocktail

Old Fashioned Cocktail

"Wellness is about moderation, not deprivation. It's my go-to drink, made with bourbon."

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