City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Power of Positivity

Gina Barbara Channels Positive Energy in a Quest to Help Others Heal

It was a freak accident.

Gina Barbara was driving in Bernardsville when a cement truck flipped over and its barrel-like mixer rolled up and over her car, pinning her to a wall of rock.

Her injuries—a shattered pelvis and a broken femur and ribs—took a year and five surgeries to heal.

“It was,” she says, “a turning point for me.”

Barbara felt the shift as she learned to walk again, transitioning from a wheelchair to a walker to a cane to her own power.

“I started searching for therapies and wellness products that would help me,” says Barbara, who grew up in Bedminster and lives in Chester with her husband, Mike Rulle, and their 4-year-old daughter, Alba. “I started studying philosophy. I have a degree in psychology, and I began studying it more.”

To assuage the intense physical pain (she still has a screw in her hip), she strove to maintain a positive attitude. 

Although she had been working in the restaurant industry, she decided that once she recovered, she would help others who needed healing. 

She took a job at a VA hospice, where she provided recreational therapy.

Alba’s birth took her down a different path, and after staying at home to care for the newborn, a year ago, she opened Lupa Apothecary, a community wellness center in Bernardsville. “I always had a dream to open my own place, but the timing was not right. I decided to open the store after shopping local in Bernardsville and met Christina Gianni from B boutique, who gave me the opportunity to start Lupa small — as a pop-up in her store — and learn from other women who were doing the same thing,” she says. 

The shop—“Lupa” refers to the she-wolf of Roman mythology who raised the twin brothers Romulus and Remus, and the apothecary is a traditional place of healing—that sells everything from herbal supplements and lunar calendars to essential oils and spiritual-themed artwork.

“The products are an accumulation of ones that helped me while I was recovering from the accident,” Barbara says. “Most of them are from small, women-owned companies.”

The goal of Lupa Apothecary, which also holds yoga and Pilates events and manifestation classes, is to spread Barbara’s positive energy.

“Most of the people who walk in are stressed out,” she says. “And whether they buy skin-care products or jewelry made of powerful-energy crystals, they leave feeling good with things that help them.”

Describing the shop as “very me,” Barbara says that “it’s everything I love.”

At some point, Barbara hopes to expand Lupa Apothecary. She’s not entirely clear about what this will entail. It may mean renting a larger space or it may simply be adding more events and courses.

She talks about creating her own line of products that carry the Lupa brand name.

“Life is about chapters, and this one is just starting,” she says, adding that as a first-time business owner, she’s still in the learning phase. “I don’t know where this will take me and everybody.”

But she’s absolutely positive it will be a very good place.

Learn more about channeling your own positive energy at lupaapothecary.com.