By: Krysta Kearney
Who are the Sour Girlz? They are women on a mission to heal people through their own holistic expertise as well as share handmade remedies made by both themselves and other strong women.
Having already been selling products through their online store and at farmers markets since October of 2019, the soft opening of their brick and mortar storefront is in just a few short days, September 1st! The capital region of upstate, NY is gaining a resourceful place where all can go to seek a variety of healing methods while also feeling a sense of community that is warm and welcoming. Sour Girlz is a metaphysical supply store and a center focusing on the mind, body and spirit. Classes and workshops will be hosted on practices such as meditation, yoga and stress reduction and appointments can be set with massage therapists and reiki certified practitioners. Retail items are sold that entail all things mind, body and spirit as well as herbal apothecary and CBD products.
The center is a combined force of powerhouse, business woman and professional life organizer Luciana Zimmer and certified natural healer, life coach and yoga instructor (amongst many other things), Jamie Pawlinga. The two together have created a mecca attracting seekers of enlightenment, mindset growth, holistic healing and awareness of a healthy mind and healthy body. Little did they both know, through all their journey’s in life that their merged skills would lead them here, to a place where their knowledge and experience can help others.
“We always say we’re each other's missing puzzle piece, we are totally the Yin and yang of each other.”
Moxxi had the opportunity to sit down with Co-Owner, Jamie Pawlinga. From the first moment her mannerisms and attitude held feelings of prosperity and excitement. Luciana Zimmer was unable to join, but she spoke on behalf of both of them, since them together are the makeup of the Sour Girlz and all the company stands for. Going into the interview, we knew that Pawlinga had struggled with health issues throughout life but we had no idea of all that she has overcome, until she willingly and humbly opened up about both the good and the bad and how she is grateful for both. She states she wouldn’t be who she is today had she not experienced all of it.
“I was a really sick kid which is probably what drove me to being a healer as a way of life. From the time I was four to twelve I was really really sick.”
She had a malformation of her kidneys, they both weren’t filtering and were incredibly inflamed which in turn was making her extremely sick. The doctor told her mother that her daughter wasn’t going to make it very long and there wasn’t much they could do. At that very moment, her mother looked up at everyone in the room and said, ‘I need another doctor.’ It took them years to figure out what was causing all of her issues and pain. Doctors were enthusiastic with high hopes that some of the health issues would go away on their own but they eventually lost that hope and knew that surgery needed to happen.
When she was twelve, her doctors found an experimental surgery that was only being practiced in Long Island and had yet to be performed on a child. Everyone knew this surgery was her only hope, so her parents second mortgaged their home to enable it to happen. Thankfully, she took to the surgery well. She continued to have health issues but nowhere near what she had once had, she was on the road to recovery. For the most part, she was pretty healthy.
Pawlinga’s first experience with holistic medicine was when she was twelve. She was experiencing extremely bad headaches. Having already tried everything and not wanting to add more pharmaceuticals to her child's daily routine, her mother started taking her to meditation, biofeedback and healing touch classes. It helped immensely with her headaches. Through all of her own healing and education, at twelve years old she became certified as a healer.
“Since all I knew was the hospital I started doing things like volunteering at a dental clinic when I was 13, then I got my first job in medical records at Ellis Hospital when I was 17…that’s kinda how I got into the medical field in general. Then I became a nurse's aid and I liked that.”
She also had an internship in high school with an herbalist for just under two years. Once graduating she opened her own store selling holistic remedies in a small space behind a locals favorite, a store known as Fo’Castle Farmstore. Funny enough, it was a much smaller version of what Sour Girlz is today. During this time, she was still a nurse's aid and was continually finding more ways to get involved in healthcare.
“Then someone told me if you join your local fire department they pay for you to get your EMT. Which then you can work in the emergency room, which paid more at the time.”
She went to the local fire department and little did she know how much she would become infatuated with firefighting. She was nineteen and had found love and lust, a new passion. She was helping others, was part of a strong and supportive team and was living a proactive and healthy lifestyle.
East Glenville happened to have a female chief at the time, so it wasn’t odd for her to be there and people respected her from the beginning. She notes at times, when she would go to places like the firefighters academy, men would make her do things that no one else would be required to do. This didn't stop her, it only encouraged her to prove herself more. Whatever the guys were lifting in the gym she would go in after and make sure to lift the same. She is the kind of person where if you tell her not to do something, she is going to make sure to get it done, and excel beyond what would be expected.
“If everyone was dragging a 150 lb dummy across the room they would make me drag the 220 lb dummy across the room.”
Sadly during this time, her best friend passed away. Pawlinga wasn’t someone who had a lot of friends either, the ones that were near and dear she held very close. Interestingly enough, this heartbreaking experience led her to travel overseas to India and Bangladesh. Her friend's family was originally from Bangladesh and Pawlinga was asked to go there to build and design her memorial. She shut down her store and took time away from the fire department. While overseas, she fell in love with the culture and all she experienced. She took back with her new values and an awakened outlook on life. Not only did she resonate with the cultures she also gained appreciation for her own country and became very grateful for all the things the United States takes for granted, like running water. Once home, she continued to be a firefighter for a total of five years and was well on her way to making her dreams a reality. She had hopes and ambitions of becoming a career firefighter until her health took a turn once again.
“I ended up with bronchitis in the hospital. I was about 23 at this point, they gave me an IV Steroid and apparently people can have (it’s very very very rare but leave it to me to get the weird crap) a very bad reaction to it! I came in healthy, a 125 LB firefighter, an EMT and I left there in a wheelchair not even being able to feed myself. In one week.”
Eventually she got a little better but never completely recovered. She did go back to firefighting for a little while but didn’t do any laborious work, nor go inside buildings that were on fire. Eventually, the disease ate away at her joints and she needed surgery for both her hips. Avascular Necrosis is a disease where the blood supply that goes to the hips and knees cuts itself off and then the bone dies. She ended up in a wheelchair again.
“I had to fight for hip replacements because I was 25 at that point and nobody wanted to replace the hips.”
After a lot of convincing, the doctors performed the surgery and replaced her hips. Most doctors were extremely hesitant, as after ten to twelve years you typically need to get hip replacements again, then after three terms you can’t have another surgery. That was their fear, that she would find herself in her sixties not being able to walk. She didn’t care, she wanted to have children, she wanted to live in the now, she wanted a life. Today, it’s still in her knees, at some point she will have to get them replaced as well. Her hips are starting to fail again but she remains positive.
“Luckily (knock on wood) I'm still on my first hip replacement, I got them at 25 and I am now 43.”
Avascular Necrosis is not the only health problem that she has, the list is long and some of it remains unknown. One being Ehlers-Danlos syndrome which affects your skin, joints and blood vessels. About six years ago she became very depressed from all of the pain. Who wouldn’t? There were times where she was unable to walk on her own and got around with a cane. It was hard to get out of bed, she wanted to be able to do more with her family, to be healthy. She had become extremely depressed and with being immobile that she went from 125 lbs to 325 lbs within a decade. From the time she was 25 to her early 30’s. She didn’t have many friends, was a loner and no support group of people going through similar things as she was. Of course she had the love and support from her husband and children but she found herself in a place where she didn’t know where to go or how to lift herself up.
At the time, she had been taking her kids to wrestling practice at Burnt Hills Ballston Lake Youth Wrestling. When parents would show up, the coaches would say how much they needed help. Eventually, she spoke up and said that she had no experience in wrestling but she was really great with kids, and without hesitation they brought her on and were extremely grateful and happy for the help! She started volunteering, helping the coaches and fell in love with the sport. Up until then any type of exercise hurt, even walking on the sidewalk. Her joints couldn’t take the hard surfaces.
“For one hour a day I could get on this squishy wrestling mat and I could ditch my walker and slowly I started to do more and more, I started to lose a bunch of weight.”
Taking up wrestling gave her the extra push of confidence to pull herself out of depression. Her body felt better, she became mobile, it gave her another sense of purpose and she was part of a supportive community. She wanted to learn everything she could about wrestling and took online classes to get a variety of coaching certifications. There weren’t any adult wrestling classes offered in the area so she sought out a Judo dojo that is ran by a local former Olympian, Jason Mooris and is called Jason Morris Judo Center.
“I saw this shirt that said, ‘I not only wrestle on the mat, I wrestle my demons, I wrestle my bad days, I wrestle….I was like, yes!! That's why I love wrestling and judo.”
At first, he was like, ‘You want to learn Judo?!?’ Pawlinga was persistent and not only showed up consistently but exhibited her willingness to learn. Moore took to this and they eventually became very close. Through this physical training she continued to obtain wrestling certifications online. Not only did her son wrestle but her daughter did as well. At the age of 10, she became number one in the states and became fourth in the nation, at the national championships which gave her an accolade of 'All American' honors! She doesn’t wrestle any longer but is still an avid athlete, a runner. Wrestling truly shaped her character from a young age and taught her discipline. Her son to this day wrestles at Burnt Hills Ballston Lake Youth Wrestling and also does Judo at Jason Morris Judo Center.
“There had never been a mom that helped coach. There had been moms that would come in and help with fundraisers and things but never a coach.”
The coaches she worked directly with were absolutely wonderful and encouraging of Pawlinga. As a woman, she had so much support and her daughter was given a lot of encouragement as well. In NY, girls still wrestle with boys since there isn't a girls division. Pawlinga's fellow coaches would fight for her recognition to the other higher level coaches who weren’t giving her any credit and that looked down on her for being a woman. They would explain to them how she took it upon herself to get all of the coaching certificates and that she had been doing Judo for three years, that overtime she became more qualified than they were.
“Those two coaches were absolutely fundamental in my development because the higher up coaches at first were like what is with this female mom wanting to wrestle?!? (They are now, they love me and see I put in the work and time).”
Eventually while wrestling she broke her collarbone and her hips have gotten worse again, so it’s a bit scary for her these days to get on the mat. She says that maybe one day she will go back. Nowadays she wrestles every now and then but is extremely cautious. .
“I was so sick my whole life and fighting for my life that it was easy to translate that into firefighting and Judo. It was so easy to translate that mental mindset of, ‘Oh if I can fight to live then I can fight on the mat, I can fight the fire!”
During this time, she and her husband were incredibly busy managing and running his family medical practice while raising a young family. As a doctor, he would take patients all day and she was his medical assistant checking people in, filing paperwork and making sure everything was situated correctly. She would carry her children around the office with her all day, being the ultimate multitasking mother. When they had their second child two years later she told her husband there was no way she could keep doing this, that they needed a nanny. With a two year old running around the office and a newborn on her at all times she wasn’t able to perform all of the tasks at hand.
“So we put this ad out for a nanny and I did a whole bunch of interviews with people who were very well qualified, then the last one of the day, this girl comes in. The phone rings, I answer it…in that time, she took the baby from me, she straightened up my desk, she straightened up the strollers, she literally did all these amazing things in 15 minutes. I got off the phone and I said, ‘You're hired.’”
This woman was Luciana Zimmer, who is now the other half of Sour Girlz, her Ying to her Yang and everything in between. She didn’t have any nanny experience but as a single mother has raised five children, two of which have special needs, one of which is Autistic. Pawlinga needed to know nothing more once she saw what she was capable of in that fifteen minutes.
Zimmer eventually took on other roles at the practice too and became her patient coordinator, and personal assistant. Up until then, Zimmer was never able to keep a good stable job because of all the sacrifices she had to continually make for her kids. She needed a flexible schedule, never knowing what the day would hold with her children. It was very apparent from the beginning that she and her husband could trust Zimmer, she was organized and that she cared. The business relationship flourished quickly and they realized how well they worked with each other. Zimmer has a straightforward mind, is business oriented, thinks logistically, is organized and practical whereas Pawlinga is artistic, eccentric and thinks visually and spatially. Not only did they work well as a team, they eventually became best friends. Together, they can make anything happen.
“I’m the crafty, creative…very hippy-dippy one and she is like, REALITY!!, we are the perfect match together.”
Zimmer had a rough upbringing herself, she struggled as a child, was in and out of foster care and fended for herself. She makes sure to provide the best environment she can for her own children. She says that raising children with special needs has really impacted her and changed her way of thinking and how she approaches and reacts to other people. It really opened her eyes up and has forced her to be agile in her thinking and to look at the world from all angles and perspectives.
“Being a mom to five definitely wasn’t easy but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It has taught me many things such as how to be strong, multitask, be understanding and most importantly how to love unconditionally.” - Zimmer
Having lived a life where nothing was handed to her and she has had to support her own way, she has a very cut and dry life mentality. She has an ability to be soft and approachable while also being honest and telling the truth, sometimes assisting people in realizing their own harsh realities. Pawlinga says she is one of the most supportive people. With helping her children with special needs she turned to alternative health products. Once she did, the results have been amazing and she has continued to use these practices both for herself and her children. Zimmer herself suffers from chronic migraines and neck pain and treats symptoms using medical grade CBD products and holistic pain management.
Two years ago, Pawlinga was experiencing very bad vertigo, fluid was building up in her spinal cord and she had severe headaches and dizziness. She would be in bed for days on end. Since selling the family practice many years ago, her husband now has a different job and travels for work. Much of the time, she is on her own raising the kids. There is no time or space to be be ridden when he is gone. Zimmer has taken on a lot of personal assistant roles since they sold the practice. Pawlinga became incredibly depressed and could no longer forsee how to get out of the slump she was in. There came a day, where Zimmer basically said you aren’t going to like this but i’m going to tell it to yo straight. She told her that she needed to turn her life around, otherwise there really wasn’t any hope for the future.
“You need to get out of bed and you need to go back to all the stuff you used to do with your herbs and making stuff for people and your crafting and all that and you need to make it a business, you need to do it for you.” - Zimmer
Pawlinga, scared and unwilling to make any type of effort said she wasn't capable of doing herself, that she wouldn’t be able to do such things. So Zimmer told her that if she couldn’t do it by herself then she doesn’t have to and that they can create together. Basically she didn't give her a choice and was being the best friend that she could be. She knew this was the only thing that would turn Pawlinga’s life around, that together they could make eachothers lives stronger. Hence, Sour Girlz began. So why the name Sour Girlz? Both have lived some hard lives, battled many of life's struggles and are realistic to both the measures of life and the nuances that it throws at you. They are strong willed, and stand out from the rest of the crowd. Both have been loners most of their lives and have balanced on the ledge of being outcasts in society. There is nothing wrong with this, being the odd one out has made both of them who they are; straightforward women who do what they want.
With opening the retail space, it has been a conscious decision to create an environment for women alike, women who might not fit in, are unique and aren’t ‘normal.’ Which basically means all are welcome, because there is no such thing as normal, am i right? They offer handmade goods from an eclectic mix of vendors and artisans, supporting local, small, women owned businesses. They knew they could go anywhere and get a variety of goods to fill the space but they wanted to create an environment where each space and every object has a meaning that’s deeper than just what the eye can see.
“I want people to know who these women are behind the soap, or behind the jewelry, because they deserve it, it's somebody’s story.”
The plan is to create a community, to build up a network of women to help eachother out and support one another. Slowly it has taken on a nature of it's own, a wellness boutique, a mind body spirit center. Sour Girlz is in Point Plaza in East Glenville, NY. The space was formerly used as a gym which oddly enough is perfect for all their needs. The front area hosts all of the goods made both by themselves and other artisans and the back area, where gym classes used to be held is now where they host their classes and workshops. Not local to the capital region? You can find all of their homemade remedies on their website as well.
"We are doing a soft opening with limited summer hours until sept first where we will then expand our fall hours, add our yoga classes, workshops, spiritual gatherings like drum circles, Kirtan, full moon circles, fun craft Fridays, kids events, meditation, Reiki, massage and then we will be doing a grand opening event on Sunday Oct 17th 10am-6pm."
Pawlinga and Zimmer separately have both lived hard yet fulfilling lives. They have taken these lessons and are inspiring others. Together, they are incredibly strong and not only make a better world for themselves and their families but also for those that are around them. By creating Sour Girlz they have been able to share their passions while also providing a space for others to do the same. We are so excited here at Moxxi that there is now a store like this in the capital region! It is truly unique and is a place that is accessible to everyone. It is a non judgmental, open minded environment where all should feel welcome and encouraged to go to and learn more about holistic healing. These fearless females are making a difference. Although it may appear to be small, the impact is large. This safe space will continue to only spread hope and love to all who enter.
As for Pawlinga, we thank her for sitting down with Moxxi and sharing her story. Considering all that she has overcome in life it is so impressive how she continues to put others first and strives to be the best version of herself. She is a true mentor, an amazing mother and a fearless female, indeed!
Q + A
What words of advice do you have for people struggling with illnesses?
“I believe that, What you think...you become. If you look around at literally everything around us, it was somebody else’s thought. It started out in somebody else’s brain. Everything around us is literally from somebody’s thoughts. ‘What you think, you become.’ If I just lay around thinking about the fact that I'm laying around all the time, that’s what I'm going to become but if I fill my head with manifestation, with goals and good thoughts, I will become that instead.”
"I teach my kids that every emotion, happiness, sadness, or anything in between is only temporary and we have to realize that there is a flow (like the ocean) of emotion. We can’t help having those feelings because that’s part of being human. The human experience is feeling emotions…but you can help what you do with those emotions, maybe I can’t help feeling angry about something but I can help punching the person I'm angry at.” Depression is temporary. Everything is, even emotion is temporary.”
If you could change anything from your past, would you?
“Of all the bad things that have happened in my life I wouldn't change any of it, and my ex-husband was very very abusive, I wouldn’t change it because it's all a part of my story and it all makes me who I am.
A bit of a background here, she got married very young to a man who would consistently abuse her. She ended up having to go live at the women’s YWCA to get away from him. One day, when she had ran home after he beat her, her mother who was very supportive of her said, ‘Look, he is going to keep doing this to you. When he does this again, you can’t come home.’
“It was the best thing she could have ever done, because of course he did it again and when he did I couldn’t go running home to my mom and do the whole back and forth which made me go to the women’s YWCA which really helped because they helped with my mindset.”
During this time is when she met her current husband, he worked in the same building as her and would walk her to her car at night for safety.
What does the word Moxxi mean to you?
“Not giving up, having that gumption to be courageous enough to do the things you want to do in life without anyone telling you that you can’t. You can’t do this, you can’t do that. Oh really? Watch this?! That's moxxi! That’s courage, and courage to me is not being afraid, or being afraid but still doing it anyways, sometimes you have to and I think that is Moxxi. Sometimes being afraid to do things and going out and going and getting it.”
Do you have words of advice for women?
“I think every girl should learn Judo because it's a great confidence builder that lays a foundation for so many things we have to do in life as fearless women and is also great protection.”