Ashley and Cortney Adams-Matthewis are trailblazers at starting deep conversations. They’re also experts at maintaining non-judgmental spaces that inspire others to make their voices heard. Mix these skills with a determination to empower their community, and it’s no surprise that the Houston-based wives co-host one of the Internet’s hottest mental-health podcasts.
The married duo’s HOODxHOLISTIC Podcast was launched in August 2017 to spread positivity and light to those dealing with stress following the massive flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. The show quickly grew into a successful biweekly podcast that is now aired every other Monday to over 100,000 listeners in 60 countries.
“Like a baby, we watched the podcast grow and flourish,” Cortney says, adding that while the show is rooted in healing and meditation, they often get up close and personal with their listeners. Each episode explores sensitive topics that are usually discussed only among close family and friends—sex, healthy relationships, childhood trauma, and more.
“We want to bring [transformative] care to the forefront and normalize the healing powers of community and conversation.”
Noting that there aren’t enough Black lesbians with a platform, the couple believes it is their duty to speak up and expose real-world issues, such as the stereotypes that plague BIPOC communities, and queer issues that are rarely discussed. Cortney’s “Hood Update” segment of the podcast highlights current events that are sometimes overlooked by the mainstream media. ”We have a desire to tell our own story our way, and to connect with people who look like us.”
Because Ashley and Cortney have been together for 11 years, they also use the podcast to share their tips for a successful relationship. They are steadfast believers in communication, personal growth, and evolution. The couple attended marriage counseling before they got married in 2016, and they still practice healthy communication by discussing topics every night over dinner.
While living through a pandemic has been difficult, the couple chooses to look on the bright side. Before their lives were put on pause, the two had day jobs with opposite schedules. “Our communication has gotten so much stronger since COVID,” Ashley says. “And we’re finally able to sleep together!”
Pre-pandemic married life wasn’t the first time the couple had been apart, though. When the two first met on Facebook, the Space City natives were separated by over 1,000 miles.
At the time, Ashley lived in Houston and Cortney was in Frankfort, Kentucky, playing basketball for Kentucky State University. They chatted for six months online and met for the first time in Houston when Cortney came home to recover from a serious knee injury.
The relationship blossomed over their mutual interest in art, crystals, and jewelry. “Creating in the beginning of our relationship brought us so much closer,” Ashley says. “We took what we were doing individually and started creating together.”
After showing off their designs, which included broaches, bow-tie pins, and earrings, fans began to show interest in purchasing similar pieces from the couple. “We were known as the girls with the crystals,” Cortney remembers. She and Ashley now live together in Houston, where they continue to sell their artwork on Instagram twice a month.
Along with helping others strengthen their relationships through the HOODxHOLISTIC Podcast, the couple has also authored the interactive journal Love Yours: 365 Days of Q&A (complete with a separate edition for couples) that features daily writing prompts to start conversations. Both editions are available on Amazon and at Walmart.
As podcast personalities, jewelry designers, and book authors with over 31,000 combined Instagram followers, the couple’s growing presence is impressive. In the future, the duo hopes to create a physical brick-and-mortar presence in Houston where people from all walks of life can hang out, find resources, and build community. “We want to bring [transformative] care to the forefront,” Ashley says, “and normalize the healing powers of community and conversation.”
For more information on Ashley and Cortney Adams-Matthewis, visit linktr.ee/hoodxholistic.
This article appears in the February 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.