Fashion CEO & health fanatic Latif Hamilton on finding the middle path
Latif Hamilton is what you might call a “busy guy;” aside from being the CEO of a fashion company, he pursues business side hustles, outdoor adventures and health and wellness trends — all while reserving time for his wife and friends. Despite all of that, he feels like he has found some degree of balance and tranquility — even though his house burned down right at the start of a global pandemic. But it hasn’t always been that way.
“There are so many ways in which we don’t really honor ourselves, and we succumb to the society’s arrangements for how you should work and how you should be in the world, and they’re not always healthy,” he said.
Hamilton’s wake up call came six years ago when he began noticing serious problems with his health. As the CEO of Spirithoods and a person naturally inclined to daredevil-esqute stunts, he quickly felt the toll that poor health was taking on both his business and his personal relationships.
“I had been diagnosed with early-stage M.S.,” he said. Multiple sclerosis (M.S.) is a disease of the central nervous system caused by the immune system’s attacks on its own body.
“I was so confused, like, why is this happening to me?” Hamilton asked. “I’m physically fit, I’m eating what I would consider is correct and doing all the right things, and the reality for me was that there is a lot to healing. So I spent six years retooling my diet, really doing a lot of different practices and experiencing a lot of different things in the realms of health.”
“Retooling,” for Hamilton, meant trying every kind of potentially helpful therapy, including a water-only fast, infrared saunas and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. His health exploration spanned Western, natural and antiquated medicine. What turned out to make the biggest difference, he said, was exploring the emotional realm of his wellbeing — specifically, stress and trauma.
“I had a stressful childhood, and so I was creating stress in my life — both good and bad — in an unconscious attempt to feed that natural proclivity I had toward stress or intense experiences,” he explained. “So, you know, I was learning to fly planes, I was riding motorcycles, I was being a CEO of a company and always working, working, working, working — I was not giving myself time to breathe and rest.”
Striking a healthy balance between work and more relaxing activities — spending time with his wife, practicing mindfulness and meditation — has helped Hamilton address areas of weakness in his health aside from the obvious diet and exercise categories.
“I was able to really reverse my condition,” he said. “And one of the key factors that people don’t realize is the realm of emotion, as well as lifestyle and stress.”
As Hamilton will be the first to admit: he is not a doctor. But he has become an expert in recognizing when he needs to slow down, and he hopes to help others discover the role of stress in their lives and what is causing it. He’s been teaching a health class for a few clients to help them make adjustments in all realms of wellbeing.
“Stress — obviously — rips apart the body. When they say stress is a killer, they’re not kidding,” he said. “What I call it is that I’m teaching people how to interpret the language of their own body.”
Finding a stress-free (or, at least, stress-reduced) lifestyle couldn’t have come at a better time for Hamilton. In March, his house was destroyed by a fire, so he and his wife have spent the entirety of the COVID-19 pandemic couch surfing through California. He has also been in the process of transitioning SpiritHoods, his wildlife-supporting fashion brand, to a bigger facility and launching a crowd funding campaign. Despite all of that, his spirit remains intact.
“Because of COVID-19, we’ve had some challenges, but we’ve also had some opportunities,” he said. “There’s an element of self-expression that’s probably needed now more than ever. We’re able to provide that.”
His stress management comes with a few hard-and-fast rules; for example, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings are reserved for spending one-on-one time with his wife, and they have to do something fun (a.k.a. not work or chores). He also tries to limit his work hours and spend time with friends outside of Los Angeles, since the energy of the city can be “chaotic.”
During the workday, Hamilton uses exercise to keep himself motivated and focused. He breaks up hours of work (and sitting) with 20-minute workouts, which he swears are better than caffeine.
“I don’t really drink coffee or anything like that, but these workouts give me this tremendous boost of energy and mental concentration. I get about three of them in in one day,” he said. “I find them extraordinarily powerful in keeping my motivation and my energy up, and it’s fun!”
He has also discovered that in order to feel rejuvenated after work, he has to be intentional about finding a creative outlet. Although he is involved with the design aspect of SpiritHoods, Hamilton supplements fashion with pottery, music and other projects.
“Sometimes the first thing I do when I wake up is grab my guitar and play music for five to 10 minutes,” he said. “I find that, as much as I work, I have to counterbalance with creativity in order to keep my soul from feeling depleted.”
As far as advice, Hamilton wants others struggling from stress — especially those feeling isolated due to the pandemic — to remember that things don’t always go smoothly and that challenges are part of life. But finding mindfulness, relaxing and recognizing that difficulty is part of what makes life rich and beautiful might help alleviate some of that stress. Reaching out to people who love you to replenish your emotional stores is also important.
“Especially having been through our house fire and seeing a community of people rise up and help us in such extraordinary ways really showed me the depth and magnitude of the human heart,” he said.
LIGHTNING ROUND QUESTIONS
COFFEE OR TEA?
Probably right now, Byron Katie’s “Loving What Is.” I highly recommend that for anyone that’s going through an illness as well — one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read in my life.
FAVORITE PLACE TO ESCAPE?
Eureka Dunes, Death Valley.
FAVORITE SONG RIGHT NOW?
It’s actually from the new Lion King — “Don’t Jealous Me.”
LEAST FAVORITE THING TO DO AT THE GYM?
You know what? I love working everything out. The thing that is most difficult is leg day.
WHAT IS YOUR WINTER FASHION SENSE?
I’m a bit eccentric in my fashion most times, so in winter, my favorite is a little bit dressed up. Like think a peacoat — a little more formal, a little more New York style. Like I like to wear dress shoes, a vest … I don’t know what we would call that. Business casual?