The Expert

Desirée Pais

The founder of BENSHEN on reimagining wellness and establishing female empowerment


We may earn a commission if you buy something via an affiliate link on our site.


@desiree.pais // Instagram

Tell us about BENSHEN.

BENSHEN is a monthly platform for empowerment. Each month has a different theme, with daily meditation, coaching and weekly workshops, with accountability groups for those who want them. Each group of 4 or 5 create a vision for the month: maybe it's to meditate daily, launch a business, get in physical shape. Then they hold eachother accountable. My vision was to really help retrain women on how to support one another after our patriarchal conditioning taught us to be jealous and insecure. What we’re really doing is getting a bunch of women together each month and showing them how incredible it feels to actually support each other: share your wins - glow and grow and elevate. It's so fun to witness that. 

We started with 30 women and have evolved to become more than 200. They join from all over the world and work on different projects each month - I’ve seen some unbelievable changes happen to these people’s lives. People sign up each month as a membership - like a gym membership for the mind. We also host retreats and immersions.

Monthly memberships versus a 1:1 with yourself.

I love getting into people's problems and challenges and finding solutions - getting them unstuck from where they are now and on track to where they want to be. It is something that I truly love doing. When I'm teaching to 100 people it's really hard to get into people individually and unpack their stuff so with a 1:1, I get to know them, get to know what they’re working on, what they’re goals are, how they want to feel, what they want to experience, what their blocks are, what their hidden agendas are, what their subconscious beliefs are, what are the paradigms that are running the shows of their life. That’s the stuff we really dive into, to begin to create a new experience for them and how they operate and show up in the world. But my goal is never to make anyone reliant on me - rather to share a set of tools.

The motivation behind BENSHEN.

I moved to New York to work in the fashion industry at 18 and, a year later, enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Then I started practising yoga and meditation because Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen were practicing at the studio across from where I was working in menswear at the time. From there, I did a yoga training, another one, and a masters degree in acupuncture and Chinese medicine which took seven years. All of it stems from really struggling with mental health and self confidence, physical conditions, hormonal issues, cystic acne, chronic fatigue and growing up around a lot of addiction. So there was always this innate desire to figure out how to feel better, how to be happy, how to change. Everything I’ve done is to gain a deeper understanding of how to do that. Because I was doing all the wellness stuff but I didn't feel good. I was spending all this time and energy doing all this stuff but I just felt worse and worse. I realised that I was sucking all the life out of life and that’s when I came up with the concept of BENSHEN, as I realised so many people were doing the same - trying to just check wellness off the list - drink the green juice, do the class, but with no lasting effects.

Live the Process x Benshen class

@desiree.pais // Instagram

Words by Rupi Kaur

@desiree.pais // Instagram

The most rewarding part of what you do.

To see some of these women, who have been in our community for years and years, share something so powerful is amazing. When I see our community come together, when I see them all connecting, when I hear the stories that they share with each other, and seeing women support each other I'm like wow we really created something special here. 

It’s seeing a client have that ‘uh-huh’ moment and then doing something with it. It’s incredible when you see the power they cultivate from getting this realisation. It’s this surge of confidence and personal power and their whole life changes as a result. And of course I also love my other clients who are maybe having a little resistance to it. I have so much empathy for those patterns that are harder to break, cos it’s juicy and I have to figure out how to really get in there! It’s reality about changing mindsets, about bringing more gratitude and intention into your life.

Who you're inspired by.

I've been working with two mentors for 12 years: success coach Chris Chan and psychotherapist Thomas Jones. I so admire their ability to work with the human mind and experience and help people overcome the conditioning that they came here with. Thomas is like a wizard and is very much about positive manifestations and moving forward - anything is possible. Chris is about getting to the heart of the matter, about vulnerability. The way that he can connect to patients and work with them, even down to body language, is amazing. He can see where someone’s at just from observing them. 

I also love to look for inspiration outside of the wellness industry. People that are applying practices with positive change. Some of them are doing it very quietly and it's really cool to witness that. There's one woman - Carla Harris - who I saw speak at LinkedIn many years ago and I just couldn't believe how she has this high-powered role at Morgan Stanley and everything she was talking about was everything I was learning about in spirituality, mindset and growth. I think anybody who's that driven moving forward in a positive momentum - creating something, building, growing - is going to somehow unlock these secrets in many ways.

A piece of advice you’d give your 18-year-old self.

She was killing it! It was more my 20 year old self that needed advice. To just trust in all the decisions you’re making. I’m somebody that likes to do so many different things - fashion, marketing, yoga, meditation, beauty, wellness. I did a million different things and felt like a failure because I never completed anything but down the line it is what has made me unique, and what makes me stand out, and I have so many different skills that I never would have learnt if I just did one thing.

Desirée Pais

@desiree.pais // Instagram

A BENSHEN retreat in upstate New York

@desiree.pais // Instagram

What wellness means to you.

For me, wellness means having the energy and vitality to enjoy life. Enough vitality to choose to be happy, to look at your life and be grateful, to choose joy and have fun and go out and live this world, versus the other version of wellness which people get stuck in which is creating a lot of boxes around ourselves to experience some kind of illusion of perfectionism but really you want to take off these boxes and be free and experience life fully.

Where you go to escape.

I work so much but I enjoy it! Downtime is watching a period drama or meeting friends for dinner - I definitely need to escape to the sunshine more though!

On your wishlist.

I've always had a vision of this apartment I've wanted and it's been in my head for years. It would be so cool to see that come to life. I see it so clearly - this beautiful, lofted apartment that I know is going to happen one day.


Join the Luminaire community. Catch the latest drops, be inspired, learn from the best.


Connect with a personal shopper or send an enquiry.