Reinventing Quiet Spaces
After a painful divorce, this stay-at-home mom created peaceful places for others
Think about the frenetic, over-digitized, stressful moments we encounter throughout the day, and imagine them building up over a lifetime. Coronary in the making, right?
What if, after a long, irksome meeting at work or an unpleasant encounter with an insurance agent, you could escape for just a few quiet minutes by stepping inside your own pod of peace? Hold that thought for a moment and meet a woman who brought this dream to life.
Francine Steadman Krulak was a stay-at-home mom of three, living outside New York City and recuperating from a tough divorce, when she found her calling. She didn’t recognize it as a calling at first. “The ending [of my marriage] was arduous and unsettling for me, as I knew there was a difficult journey in front of me,” Krulak tells me when we meet at a café in Mamaroneck, New York.
Up much too late one night with her unraveling midlife anxieties, Krulak was suddenly struck with a CoveyClub-style reinvention moment, blurting out, “I really need a Buddha Booth!”
“At the time,” she tells me, “I didn’t recognize that I possessed both the skill and determination to take this path. Ultimately, though, it’s leading me to my Om.”
Her vision came in the form of hand-designed portable mini-temples made of wood, suitable for one or two people and meant for quiet contemplation and rejuvenation. “Many people seek solace to process emotional and mental challenges,” Krulak says with an assured smile. “With stillness, comes clarity.”
Soon after her eureka moment, Krulak enlisted the help of her family and friends to create a prototype for the idea, calling it the Lotus Booth, which stands grandly at nearly 7.5-feet tall with an ultra-plush interior and curtains made of noise-blocking acoustic panels. Cranking up her “life reboot,” Krulak’s next move was to launch BuddhaBooth, a furniture company with a wellness mission to provide an “om away from home,” as she puts it, for those who need a tranquil respite from everyday stress.
Two other models have since joined the Lotus Booth. The Obelisk Booth is smaller and offers a simple, sleek escape for one. The Clarity Capsule is a design-neutral booth that’s popular with corporations and schools because it’s easy to transport from room to room and to reassemble.
Built in the United States, each unit can be rented or purchased in birch, bamboo, ECOR, or PaperStone and is fully soundproof and safe from outside sensory stimulation.
The company first launched its product at the popular Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California and, not surprisingly, was a big hit among guests and staffers seeking a bit of inner calm amid the cacophony.
In the three years since that festival, BuddhaBooth has gained a solid footprint in corporations, co-working spaces, hospitals, and universities, including Mercy College, USC, Rituals Cosmetics, Johnson & Johnson, and Global Brands Group. Soon Krulak says it will be unveiled in one of the largest medical centers in the country.
Given the sharp increase in anxiety among school-age children, one of Krulak’s main goals is to get as many booths placed into as many secondary schools as possible, despite school budget cuts.
“We saw early on that the benefits of having a sensory-safe quiet space to ‘just be’ can aid all children, with or without special needs,” says Krulak. “This speaks straight to my heart, and I’m excited to roll them into more schools in the fall.” BuddhaBooths are already in a few middle schools in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City.
Even before founding BuddhaBooth, Krulak was healing hearts and minds with Art and Soul New York, her nonprofit foundation providing restoration for domestic abuse survivors through painting, drawing, writing, and meditation — all things at which she is quite skilled.
To add to her wealth of wellness contributions, Krulak recently launched a new platform called goyouromway.com (inspired by a Fleetwood Mac song) that features her contemplative “life hacks” as well as a curated selection of other personal stories that share her vision of calm.
“Writing was how I sanely made my way through many transitions,” says Krulak. “I ‘blogged’ to myself and wrote poetry to the universe.”
“We all have tragedies, trials and triumphs,” she continues, “but as I look back wondering how and when I’d turn the next corner, I realize I’m living a dream that I brought to life — though granted there is still no glamour circulating around my U-Haul trips!”
Visit buddhabooth.com to rent (from $500) or buy (around $3,500) a mini-temple. A portion of BuddhaBooths’ proceeds benefit survivors of domestic violence, women’s health research, and autism-related resources.