NEW BEDFORD — When Justina Perry launched BuyBlackNB, a directory celebrating Black-owned businesses in the New Bedford area, little did she know it would motivate her to take the leap and start her own business, too.
“I didn’t exactly have those examples of ownership within my circle, and especially black ownership,” Perry, 34, said. “It happened organically. And I started just feeling more and more like it was less off limits to me.”
Perry, for the past eight years, worked for Southcoast Health as a doctor of physical therapy specializing in pelvic health and pelvic floor rehab.
“I had incredible mentorship, which I think is really valuable for new graduates like myself at the time,” she said. “I felt like it was time for me to move on to something else.”
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In December, Perry launched Oshun Physical Therapy and Pelvic Health located at 1249 Ashely Blvd. The business is geared toward women who are ready to heal in their pelvic floor and learn more about their bodies.
According to Perry, the size of the pelvic floor muscles are about the size of two hands and sling from the pubic bone in the front, back toward the tailbone.
“We assess the layers of muscles to see if there’s any pain, tension, weakness,” she said. “All things you would experience if you were going for your knee or back, but we’re focused on the pelvic.”
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Perry said she works with women who have bowel, bladder or sexual dysfunction, which is usually triggered after childbirth, but sometimes it presents earlier in life.
“People can kind of put it off, or they didn’t even know that there was treatment for it besides having a surgery. So we’re just here for people throughout their lifespan, who are ready to not have issues,” Perry said.
“It can really be debilitating. It affects your quality of life.”
Since launching Oshun, named after the African goddess of love and water, Perry has been able to get people in the same week that they call, instead of waiting for months and months.
Inside the fully equipped private office, Perry said that although they are an out-of-network provider, they work hard to coordinate a team approach to treatment planning. She also hopes to attract more women of color, a disconnect she said she felt while working at Southcoast Health.
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“I didn’t see many women of color at all. And that was a very accessible location, on the bus route and it took every insurance,” she said. “But, I think it comes from a little bit of distrust within the medical system. I’m not sure if this is going to increase access or not.”
Meanwhile, Perry has been hosting sold-out two-and-a-half hour workshops at Sangha Yoga alongside Nanci Winterhalter, a physical therapist.
“Women really want to know about their pelvic health,” Perry said. “We want to get the word out there and educate as many people as we can.”
The future of BuyBlackNB
As for BuyBlackNB, Perry said she will continue her commitment to making sure there is always an updated directory and that some of their signature events such as the Juneteenth vendor’s pop-up market will continue.
However, she said she thinks BuyBlackNB has the chance to grow beyond just a directory.
“It would definitely need more talented people, more people who are willing to give up their time, and be consistent with it,” she said. “But I think we have way more that we can do with it.”
On May 6, the organization will host an inaugural Black Excellence Gala.
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Like herself, she said BuyBlackNB is a role model for others to take a risk and start their own ventures. “I was afraid to do this. I was trying to find a way to do it without really betting on myself. Until I finally was like, no, I could just do it,” she said.
“It was moving past fear and I’m happy I did it.”
Standard-Times staff writer Seth Chitwood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter: @ChitwoodReports.Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.
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