The Breathe in Detroit Story

Our Story

our story

"Only in the darkness, can you see the stars."

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Breathe in Detroit is a company built on the basic belief that we are all limitless, resilient, and stronger together. Just like Detroit, our story is one of renewal and recovery, of what is possible when you lift your head up, open your heart, and breathe.

It’s hard to fully understand the value of a deep, long breath. Most of us will move day by day through our journey, never connecting to the fact that our breath is guiding each and every step we take. Without breath there is no you. Literally. And much like our breath, most of our days pass by without us being fully aware and present, until suddenly, something beautiful or terrible pulls us deeply into the moment, and we are consumed with the reality of the world around us.
Everyone has a story. This one just happens to be ours.

The idea started with Cynda. She is originally from Detroit, and after several years in other cities, she returned home because she had run out of options. She was an alcoholic, and had been for years. The life that she had built, including a decade-long legal career, had been upended. After several trips to rehab and attempts at sobriety, each time successively losing more and more friends, family, financial support and resources, she was virtually homeless, penniless, and above all hopeless.

Admitted to the hospital with acute alcoholic hepatitis in May of 2013, with complications that caused complete liver and kidney failure, she needed a transplant to survive but was ineligible due to her alcohol abuse. Her family was told to say goodbye, and she was scheduled for a surgery to implement permanent dialysis, a procedure with a grim prognosis for life should she survive. In what can only be considered a medical miracle, moments before her surgery was to begin, fluid was discovered in her catheter bag-an indicator that her organs were slowly beginning to work. After a few months, she was released home to the care of her parents. She was 35. Starting from what felt like less than zero, she began the road to physical, mental, and spiritual recovery.

In addition to the damage her body had endured, her soul was crushed with paralyzing shame. Most days the simple tasks of getting up, dressing, eating, functioning, were all that she could physically handle. As a part of her physical therapy, she began a yoga practice. Yoga allowed Cynda to concentrate on the present and reconnect with and discover her true self. She was learning to breathe again.

Yoga began to heal Cynda in more ways than anyone imagined possible. Everyone around her, including her doctors, were astounded at the rapid healing of her body. She was removed from the transplant list in April of 2014, and continued on a path of personal growth and recovery. An idea to make a t-shirt that reflected the essence of resiliency that both herself and Detroit embodied was born out of a conversation with one of her yoga teachers.

Around this same time, Cynda met Sean Murphy, who would become the co-founder of Breathe in Detroit.

Sean had his own story of losing a past life and finding a new beginning-- a story of financial downfall, a lost marriage, and an almost broken spirit-something they understood about each other right away. It was difficult to begin to form a life partnership with so many things lost and so much to figure out, but it was also the support they both needed. For the first time, Cynda was able to see that her story was relatable, it was understandable, even though it was in many ways miraculous and unbelievable. They thought about what was happening in Detroit, how Detroit itself was learning how to breathe again and how that was the same thing they were going through personally. Loss and reinvention. And a never-ending pursuit of self-discovery. Personal setbacks, new beginnings, loss, grief, fear, and pain are all part of being human and are inevitable. And so is connection, compassion, empathy, understanding, community, hope, and love.

And so Breathe in Detroit was born to share that message.

Breathe in Detroit is driven by the desire to uplift and to inspire, because your breath, and ours, is a gift. Today, Breathe in Detroit partners with nonprofits and donates a percentage of sales. The company also sponsors and hosts fundraising events, festivals, and community ambassadors creating positive change. By supporting our efforts, not only are you directly giving back to the community, you are making a statement-that we are stronger when we take care of each other.

When we reflect on our journey, we are reminded that everything and anything is possible. As we find our own strength, so may we support others. Like ripples in a pond, we radiate outwards.

We appreciate each one of our customers for the support, and all the friends that have helped us along the way.

Breathe deeply, show up for yourself, and everything is possible.

Love and Gratitude,
Cynda and Sean