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Powerful Women: Let's Talk – 91: Peaches McCahill

Peaches McCahill
Peaches McCahill
Peaches McCahill

Peaches McCahill, President of the McCahill Group, is Shelley Irwin’s guest on this edition of Powerful Women: Let’s Talk

Peaches McCahill is the President of the McCahill Group and is a pioneer in the beauty, fitness, and spa industries. She’s a sought after consultant, speaker, and writer who cares about health and wellness. Peaches McCahill joins us on this edition of Powerful Women: Let’s Talk.

Powerful Women: Let’s Talk is created by WGVU NPR and made possible by WGVU NPR sustaining monthly donors. Become a sustaining monthly donor now at wgvu.org/donate to support WGVU NPR’s local programs, including Powerful Women: Let’s Talk.

Full Transcript:


>> Produced by women about women. Powerful Women, Let's Talk is a series of interviews with women who are trailblazers and have helped shape our world, transforming who we are and how we live.


Shelley Irwin: Peaches McCahill is the president of the McCahill group. A pioneer in the beauty industry, passion has led to much of her business success in the health and fitness world. She speaks, she writes, she mothers and she serves her community plus I understand she's a master table scraper. Welcome to our Powerful Woman Let’s Talk Peaches.

Peaches McCahill: Thanks much. Yeah. It's a tablescaper.

Shelley Irwin: Scaper!

Peaches McCahill: Right! So you create tables based on themes and specifically at Thanksgiving. Something I do every year. Everyone comes over to see what new table theme I have for Thanksgiving. So it's a lot of pressure actually.

Shelley Irwin: Yes yes. Which you probably handle well due to your success, get to the table scaper but first of all, I want to ask you how the name Peaches came to be.

Peaches McCahill: Yes. So everyone always says that so first of all the Michigan peach, not Georgia. So I wasn't born in the South, but my grandfather was the one that named me Peaches. There were no girls in a very, very, very long time and when I was born, he said that she's my peaches. So that was where the name originates from.

Shelley Irwin: So that's on the birth certificate.

Peaches McCahill: That's what my legal name is and it's worked well, my business because you know, doing health and wellness and it's easier to remember too so many people call me peach versus, peaches even but, I like it.

Nice. Let’s talk about you in your journey. Has wellness always been at the top of your passion list?

Peaches McCahill: I would say yes, I think I was one of those weird kids that used to go to a health food store early, maybe at the age of 12 or 13. I was a big swimmer exerciser and I remember lots of times my friends just I would go over to my girlfriend's house and she had a pool pretty a pretty big pool and I love to swim and I would swim back and forth and while they would sit inside and eat French fries and so forth. I would be swimming and I would have them flick the light when I had an hour up. So, yeah, I was always that way and was fortunate enough to take that passion and build a business around it.

Shelley Irwin: Didn't you also start working at age ten too?

Peaches McCahill: Yes. So it’s a kind of interesting story because I really didn't need to. I had no need for any money growing up in terms of that. My family was very, very well but, I had this interest in just kind of being independent. So, my first venture was my candy store and so I made a candy store out of my dad had give me a big dollhouse and I decided that I was going to do something with that and all my friends were too lazy to go get candy at the store. So I would bring it back and open it up and up the price and so that was actually first venture so it was successful too and it was fun and I only keep thinking back why did I want to do that? And I said I still come back to the need to feel independent, the need to be able to take care of myself and that kind of goes all the way through my life.

Shelley Irwin: Nice inspirational. So did you study the art of entrepreneurship or business? How did you get to it?

Peaches McCahill: No, I didn't study that. I actually grew up in the 60's and 70's and at that point, my father would say I want you to be a nurse, you can marry a doctor so you could have a life you need and I went to nursing school for year and a half and I didn't like nursing. So I went back to Michigan State. I got my undergrad degree in recreational therapy working with primarily physically impaired adults. I came to Grand Rapids and I got my masters after that and my masters was really what we would call now corporate wellness or at the time it was industrial recreation. I had this idea that in, you know, across the seas in Asia and so fourth their work hardening getting people exercising moving and we're just starting that here in the states and so I was kind of a pioneer in that if you want to think of something different and I was able to eventually get a job in my 20's and design the first wellness center for Steelcase. OK, so I just got really lucky Shelley. Really lucky, right place, right time. You know, and then always looking for relationships and part of it is truly luck with people being in the right place at the right time.

Shelley Irwin: You mentioned your father a couple of times. Sounds like he has had some talks you listened to or?

Peaches McCahill: No. I actually I think it was my mother. My mother was the one that really inspired me to be independent and she inspired me primarily because in those days my dad would give her a check and say that this is the money you use each week. Buy the groceries, take care of the kids.

Shelley Irwin: Which was not unusual.

Peaches McCahill: Totally normal. Right? And so my mother would show me that check and she’d say whatever you do, make sure you can buy your own lipstick, which is really the premise of the book that I've been working on which is to teach women no matter what happens to you, make sure you can take care of yourself. It's critically important because you don't know what's down the path in life.

Shelley Irwin: Well, let's talk more about how you got to where you are now. You spent a lot of time in the beauty field.

Peaches McCahill: So kind of what happened was when I was doing my entrepreneurial thing I got the job and was doing retreats for women again, having massage, facials, exercise, you know, it all kind of works together inside out and so I remember Suzanne Somers said never underestimate the value of a great haircut because we are a visual society and so people like to look and feel good. So, it kind of goes together and since skin is the largest organ in the body and really is a reflection of our health, it makes sense that it goes with health and well-being. So, I kind of do both. So I've done many, many wellness properties, wellness centers, built them, designed them and I've also done quite a few spas. So it was kind of a natural movement for me to get into that industry. So, I’m doing both now.

Shelley Irwin: And yet I introduced you as a mom extraordinaire. Where did this come into play and obviously the balance here?

Peaches McCahill: Well, I always wanted a big family. I mean, I always had a lot of dolls, some girls and not one of my girls liked dolls. It just amazed me maybe that’s why I got luck with my granddaughters but, not one of my girls loved dolls and I loved dolls used to love to dress them up.

Shelley Irwin: Did they know you loved dolls.

Peaches McCahill: They did but, they didn't have any interest in them and I think that was the thing, I liked to mother my dolls and I loved mothering as a matter of fact in highschool I got world's greatest mother award because I was just a mothering kind of person.

Shelley Irwin: It always comes back.

Peaches McCahill: It does, it does. And so I at that time knew I wanted to have children and that was very important to me. At the same time, I talk about independence. So how do you do that balance? It's a tough one and so I intentionally kept my business relatively controllable and not so big that I couldn't go to school, read a book or attend a birthday party or something like that. So that was important to me to be able to do that with 5 children and 8 grand children now. So really important aspect of my life because family is everything to me.

Shelley Irwin: Talk to me more about the passion that is evident. How do young women find their passion? Does it have to start at age 10 or can I reinvent?

Peaches McCahill: I think the thing I'm learning every year is I don't know what I don't know. I have to think about who I am and who I am not. And I don’t know if we do that enough to really identify that or if we just take a job just to get a job. orwhat really rocks me like for you. You love to exercise that rocks you. It rocks you to do these triathlons so you have to find whatever that is inside you. Now maybe it's not your career, but at least it's a passion that you should have and as I mentioned earlier, women should always keep their hand in the game. Make sure your’re always doing something. So that you've got something to fall back on and always a passion too. Some people find a passion in sewing and they end up with a sewing business or they find a passion in something else. So it's important to kind of like say slow down to speed up. Look at your life and say, OK, what do I really want? And what really rocks me.

Shelley Irwin: Yeah.

Peaches McCahill: Not what rocks my friends, what rocks me.

Shelley Irwin: Have you ever made a mistake?

Peaches McCahill: Oh, my gosh, who hasn’t made a mistake in life? every night when I put my head in the pillow I ask how could I have done that better? Right, my kids say that I’d want a suggestion box at my funeral because I could have been better because I think things can always get better and I think it's important to reflect on what you're doing every day and mistakes we all make mistakes we’re imperfect. So, things are going to happen and the problem is not what happens, it's how you respond to what's happening in your life. I think that's critical. So certainly I make mistakes when my kids were little, I used to say okay to go to therapy when you're 35 because I’m doing the best job I can.

Shelley Irwin: How do we make America well?

Peaches McCahill: Well, we're not doing a really good job, I can tell you. I was talking to someone the other day about, you know, in my business, my impact is really to try to get people healthier and living healthier lives. Not doing a very good job, right and that pandemic did not do us any favors. So we saw during that time an increase of weight in men about 30 pounds and women with an average of 22. We changed, it was a disrupter and now we've got to go back and we have to begin to think about our health and every day health. And so you seen a movement not just about weight loss, we've seen a movement about health and what do I need to do to keep myself healthy and you may have 20 or 30, pounds overweight and it doesn't necessarily mean you're unhealthy healthy. So, you want to think about what you're doing the food you're eating, if you're moving but, more importantly, what are you thinking about every day. What are your thoughts like? You know, are there in a positive thought or negative thought? I think it's critically important to start with that. How do I look at myself. Do I look at myself and say you're awesome and cool?

Shelley Irwin: You can control.

Peaches McCahill: That's right. You can control that but, you can't control all the outside noise but, you can control your thought.

Shelley Irwin: More about you Peaches. You are a gift giver.

Peaches McCahill: I’m a gift giver.

Shelley Irwin: Why do you always bring a gift?

Peaches McCahill: I brought you a gift today. Well, so I brought you that little salt. It's a little now. You don't have any cellulite but, this is a pretty cool little thing. Salt is very healing and is full of minerals. So, you're seeing places like even locally there’s like salt baths and salt rooms you know, that people go into heal and that's a salt stone, OK and you can actually put it right on your body. So, some people take it like I don't if you do, do you take Epson baths?

Shelley Irwin: Certainly, this is not about me, it's about you. I want to go back to you. You know, why the essence of bringing a gift? Thank you, by the way.

Peaches McCahill: Well, I don't know, it's just me. I was raised to bring a gift to whenever you received an invitation or when you go to someone's house. You write a thank you note, you do those types of things and I think I tell my children that same thing and so showing gratitude for the people in your life.

Shelley Irwin: Yes, you gift the community as well. Tell us about your community involvement and why.

Peaches McCahill: Well, currently I’m on three boards four boards actually I’m on the which you probably would like as well, Michigan trail fund so Michigan Trail Fund used to be Iron Bell Trail and the intention was that we're going to have trails all the way up across the states. One continuous trail. Now we kind of changed our objective and we're just trying to build trails and communities to make Michigan really the Trail State. Crystal Mountain owners would say the trail the biggest trail state in North America. I mean, that's kind of the goal. So, we raise money to build trails across the state.

Shelley Irwin: Wouldn’t that help with wellness?

Peaches McCahill: Correct and we're trying to get into the inner cities where people can have access to walking biking running because that's a challenge for people that live in some of the inner cities. So, that's one board. The second board is Michigan Fitness Foundation which actually does all the nutrition education for SNAP out across the state. It runs some, it really is really very important initiative. You might have seen some of the posters out that people are eating healthy vegetables they're watching. Those are some of the things put out by Michigan, Fitness Foundation and all the education that goes in the school systems and preschool. The third board I'm on I joined more recent which we are on together is the Cherry Health Foundation board and Cherry Health is just a phenomenal organization doing great work in our community at so many capacities. I’m also on the Goodwill Foundation board. So and most people know about Goodwill but, what they don't know about Goodwill is that it's not just the stores Goodwill, it's the work they do to teach people, educate them and train them in various occupations. That's a big thrust of Goodwill Industries.

Shelley Irwin: And you get a lot from what you give I trust.

Peaches McCahill: Yeah. Yes, again, going back to my mother for those as much is given, much is expected you know. So, you should make sure and I again try to teach my children that to be gifts. We also have a McCahill scholarship fund which is because my late husband and it's basically giving out scholarships to young high school students that don't have money to go to school. So, we do that through having an annual basketball tournament at Aquinas college every year.

Shelley Irwin: Tablescaper expand.

Peaches McCahill: You know, tablescaper yes, that is one of my many hobbies actually, as I mentioned earlier to you it's a kind of getting to be a pressure. You know how many Thanksgiving themes can you do? So, I've done everything from like kind of a Victorian theme and got everybody plates that matched or you know, certain, you know, like maybe a deer hunting theme or whatever it might be. And then I end up spending a lot of time developing those and I know how many table clothes I have. I actually buy my fabric Mary Ann Fabrics and then I cut them all that stuff. So, it's kind of a crazy thing but, I started long time ago and now there’s pressures. So, I'm hoping now that my oldest daughter has a new house that we can move it to her instead of me and she can carry on the tradition.

Shelley Irwin: Family’s important to you. All right, I'm to ask, did you bring the red licorice and how do Doritos fit into a wellness plan there Peaches?

Peaches McCahill: Oh, well, I think that I'm a human being and as I said earlier, I make mistakes and I have a couple things I like to treat myself to one of them is red licorice, which I've always loved and I didn't bring you that purposely today and I like Doritos. I'm so sorry, but I do but, I think that comes to moderation in life, right. So when we talk to people about they're looking at their nutrition intake. We don't want them to just totally eliminate everything that they love. If you want a piece of cake on a birthday, eat it. You know, it's the point that you eat a whole cake or where you eat cake every day. So I think that's the balance of life. Are they good for me? Probably not, but is it a nice simple pleasure.

Shelley Irwin: Yes, for that allowance. Lastly, what's this about the dummies that you know?

Peaches McCahill: Yeah. Well, So again, you said you had one.So I actually have two ventriloquist dolls, I had this doll collection and I actually moved my doll collection up to my cottage because nobody would let me put it anywhere and so I have two ventriloquist dolls and, you know, Jimmy, Amanda and they come out periodically. It's kind of a private thing that I do. My children are just mortified when I do it but, like the last time I did, it was one of my daughters. She was bringing her girls all dressed up for her wedding and I brought Amanda out and we all sang going to the chapel. So, you know, that kind of thing. Again, having zest and fun for life is critically important to me and I think today especially take a moment, take a laugh, look at life a little more humorous than you maybe did yesterday.

Shelley Irwin: Does your business of wellness touch on emotional and mental health?

Peaches McCahill: That's a big piece of it now Shelley, you know, again, we’re saturated every day with so much negative information, negative noise and a lot of comparisons with social media and so forth. I think it's hard for us to what I said earlier, a look in the mirror and say I'm awesome, I can do this, you know, I think we have to kind of be looking at that and thinking of how taking better self care self love and that will make us, you know, I think that kind of follows the suit with us being better, more healthy individuals and there's a lot of initiatives that we do in our organization dealing with the mental health side with health coaches, people that work. We also know when to pass the baton to someone that may need some assistance beyond our capacity.

Shelley Irwin: What is the first step to one who's either young or young at heart to begin their journey of wellness.

Peaches McCahill: So I do a lot of speaking and the speak is really how do you spiral up and people often ask me the question, where do I get started? And I say.

Shelley Irwin: Because it’s never too late right?

Peaches McCahill: Never too late. So, I say think of one thing that, you know, you shouldn't be doing and stop doing that. So that could be doing, maybe I'm sitting too much and not drinking enough water, I'm drinking too much wine, whatever I'm doing that I know I shouldn't be doing and just start with that start with one little thing and if you haven't read the book Atomic or Atomic Powers, Atomic Habits, you should read it. It really talks a lot about going one step forward every single day getting better, one percent.

Shelley Irwin: Leave me with a motto. Get me fired up.

Peaches McCahill: Didn’t I fire you up yet?

Shelley Irwin: I want extra credit.

Peaches McCahill: On my house, this is a fun thing for people to think about doing, I have a big chalkboard that I always had when you walked in my door is always something on it, a statement on it and I often use this one when people get all negative and stuff, I say become the most positive enthusiastic person you know and I put that on the board and I remind myself because people need positivity. People need individuals, they gravitate towards positivity. So, if you can start working on that remove that negative statement of the negative thought from your mind and move forward as positively as you can.

Shelley Irwin: All right and you get your 8 hours of sleep?

Peaches McCahill: I don’t get my 8 hours. I tell everybody how to sleep properly but, I wake up and watch netflix at least once a week.

Shelley Irwin: I knew I’d find your one mistake. Peaches McCahill thank you for your inspiration, your positivity passion and energy.

Peaches McCahill: I appreciate the opportunity.

Shelley Irwin: Yup, talking to Peaches McCahill on this edition of Powerful Women, Let's Talk. Thanks.

Peaches McCahill: Absolutely.


>> Produced by women about women. These powerful podcasts focus on powerful women and how their strength transforms who we are and how we live. Want to hear more Powerful Women, Let's Talk? Get additional interviews at WGVU.org or wherever you get your podcasts. Please rate and subscribe. Powerful Women, Let’s Talk is produced by WGVU at the Meijer Public Broadcast Center at Grand Valley State University. The views and opinions expressed on this program do not necessarily reflect those of WGVU, its underwriters or Grand Valley State University.


Shelley Irwin is the host and producer for The Shelley Irwin Show, a news magazine talk-show format on the local NPR affiliate Monday through Friday. The show, broadcast at 9 a.m., features a wide variety of local and national news makers, plus special features.
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