Author Spotlight Interview: Vanessa Cuccia
Today we interview author Vanessa Cuccia, the groundbreaking creator of Chakrubs and author of Crystal Healing and Sacred Pleasure. Featured in O – The Oprah Magazine, New York Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Elle and Allure, and appearing on notable digital platforms such as Buzzfeed and VICE, Chakrubs has also been featured on TV shows such as The Doctors and Conan. We were thrilled to chat with Vanessa and learn more about her unique book and company. (Author Photo: Daniel Murtagh)
HG: My first question is to tell me about the book! What is it about, and what inspired you to write it?
VC: I founded the company Chakrubs in 2012, and published my first book in 2018. In the early stages – when Chakrubs was just a concept – I had a notebook in which I’d scribble all my ideas. It wasn’t solely about the product, but the philosophy behind the product. I knew at that point that the idea of crystal sex toys would be “buzzworthy” and receive a lot of attention, if just from how shocking the idea was back then! But I also knew that there was more to it than that. It had a depth to it that expanded beyond trends – and I was developing what that meant even at that early stage.
In 2016 I was approached to write a book while working at a sexual health convention, and the book basically became the methods I’d been creating through Chakrubs, ever since I’d started writing in that notebook. The book goes into how to perceive sensuality as a gateway to self-love and understanding, while utilizing crystals as a support system. I do go into how crystals get their “power” – but I approach it in a very grounded manner, by acknowledging the point that we don’t necessarily need anything outside ourselves to create emotional healing, but that as humans we’ve always preferred tools. The energy system and crystals mentioned in the book are just that – tools, that we can employ to help us discover something about ourselves
HG: You mention how your book helps heal sexual trauma, and you also referenced trauma yourself. Was there a healing element to starting your business and writing your book?
VC: 100%.The products Chakrubs creates are made with the intention of assisting, facilitating and supporting the healing process one may go through after experiencing sexual or emotional trauma. I created this because I desired that healing for myself. The business is absolutely a major part of my healing process as well. The growth of Chakrubs as a brand is parallel to my personal growth.
HG: Every woman I’ve spoken to about Chakrubs feels that message resonates with them. Its daunting when you realize how many sisters, daughters, wives and mothers are survivors of some kind of sexual trauma and never speak of it.
VC: I know. So crazy.
HG: So, from the moment I initially became aware of Chakrubs, the purity of your brand and vision has been very on-point. Most small businesses flounder about at the beginning. How did that focus come together? Can I ask your business and creative background?
VC: My family is definitely a major part of my business success. My sister, Rachel (founder of Cuccia.co) was the first of my family I told about the idea and she immediately saw its potential. She watched it like a hawk from the beginning, imbuing her knowledge of marketing and design every step of the way. She got the ball rolling with social media influencers, directed photoshoots, helped with branding. Everyone in my family was supportive. My other sister, Marisa is the owner of a salon and is always talking to her clients about it. My father is the inventor of a non-surgical medical device made to straighten the spine for back and neck pain, and my mother is the CEO of the company that places it around the world in different medical centers. I’ve had the guidance and support of my family since the beginning and am so grateful for that. I do believe support systems are the most valuable asset anyone trying to make a dream come true can have.
HG: When did the idea of the book come into the mix?
VC: I think I always had the idea for the book – since those beginning days writing in the notebook. I always kind of had it in the back of my mind, but then I was approached and it became real.
HG: Had you written or published anything before? It’s a BEAUTIFUL book. The photography is incredible.
VC: Thank you! I had only written for blogs and things like that before. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but never did it on a professional level before Crystal Healing & Sacred Pleasure.
HG: So how did planning out the book go? Structuring etc.?
VC: Well, when I was first approached by the acquisitions editor of Fair Winds Press, I had to put together an initial Table of Contents and sample chapter. It took a while, but after a few months it was accepted.
HG: How did it go planning out the photos? It’s super complicated I guess, like having to figure out what you need and then taking them. What were the shoots like? The photos are amazing.
VC: The photos were taken by two photographers. All of the photos featuring me were taken by my sister Rachel. This was a beautiful process. We planned the shots based on the rituals in the book to illustrate them. We rented a house in Topanga Canyon in California.
HG: How long did it take you to write your book?
VC: The book really started around 2011. I would jot down certain thoughts I had about the philosophy surrounding my product. So, when I was approached to write the book in 2016, I already had a lot of the content. From there it was about a two-year process.
HG: Did you have a routine? A daily word count? How did you fit writing into your regular schedule?
VC: I had a routine for sure. Every day I would go for a walk or bicycle ride to clear my mind. I would do my best to get 500-1,000 words a day.
HG: It’s funny, one of the other authors we interviewed recently said physical exercise is a REALLY good kick-starter to the creative process. How do you write? Do you use a laptop/desktop? Do you have an office or writing space? Do you write on the move?
VC: I carry a notebook around just in case inspiration hits while I’m out so I can jot down notes. I also utilize the voice memo app on my phone to talk into ideas so I could later transcribe. But I have to type on my computer.
HG: Okay, so you mentioned getting out and about. Anything else motivate you to write? How else do you get into the ‘zone’? Music? Scents? Anything like that?
VC: I spend a lot of time…floating around? Like, doing something and doing nothing at the same time. I let my attention kind of go anywhere it wants. I play piano. I organize the kitchen. I spend a lot of time doing nothing important and my mind will hit on a thought. When it’s seemingly profound, I follow it. With this book, I write about energy systems and sensuality, and many of the exercises I wrote in the book birthed the actual text, if that makes sense.
HG: So, what was the biggest challenge you faced in getting words onto paper?
VC: Well, thank goodness I was writing a book on self-love! Because I had to embody what I was writing. I believe that the lessons we want to teach are the ones that are hardest to learn, and the biggest challenge was to overcome the self-doubt while writing the book. I recognized that my insecurities were there to help me make it the best I could possibly make it. I allowed my vulnerability to have a place in the project.
HG: What’s the best piece of advice about writing you’ve ever received? And what advice would YOU have for anybody thinking about writing?
VC: The best advice I’ve received about writing is to write no matter what. Just put words on paper. Don’t worry if it’s good. Get it out, and revise. The advice I’d give to writers is to read out loud. Hear your words and see if they make you feel something. A book that helped me is called You Are a Dream by Prof. G, and talks a lot about how creative projects are life-changing and if you focus on a project you will inevitably change.
HG: Finally, where can we find out more about you, and Chakrubs?