This Leadership major decides there’s no more putting off her dream to start a wellness and self-care business


Headshot of Ronell Smith

Ronell Smith ’21 knew starting and operating a small business would be a challenge at any time, let alone during a pandemic. But she also had an idea that seemed suited to this very moment. “One of the main objectives of my passion project is to be able to help people handle themselves when things get tough,” says Ronell. “My company is all about providing comfort for your soul.”

With a focus on encouraging customers to engage in self-care, R&R Leisure and Wellness (the R&R refers to “rest” and “refine”) offers those who shop on the store’s website and at the monthly pop-ups in Ronell’s hometown of Lansdowne, Pa., comfy leisurewear, candles, pillows with inspirational sayings, and wellness services like life coaching and marriage therapy.

Since launching R&R in December 2020, Ronell has taken the leadership skills she’s learned while pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Leadership at Villanova’s College of Professional Studies and applied them to her small business dream. She emphasizes three important lessons from her entrepreneurial journey:

Take it slow

Ronell speaks of starting her business with a “spirit of excellence.” For her, that means a) taking the time to ask other entrepreneurs lots of questions; b) setting the right pace for R&R Leisure and Wellness to gain a loyal following; and c) providing products thoughtfully curated to create an ambiance of calm, peace and rest.

Provide value in people’s lives

When working to build connections with people who visit her business, Ronell says she has utilized lessons from a Leadership Communication course she took at Villanova. “I’m focusing on serving my community,” she says. “When people aren’t sure how to manage the rough waters of life, I want to provide them with something that speaks to their emotional and mental wellness, whether that’s an inspirational coffee cup or access to a counselor.”

Practice what you preach

“R&R is a space where people are allowed to exhale,” says Ronell, who makes sure to carve out time for herself between managing full-time work, classes at Villanova (she graduates in December 2021), church, family and now a startup business. "The pandemic has taught me how to prioritize my life and really place my energies into making sure that regardless of what happens, I remain well."

a mug with the Bible quote be still and know