As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Heather Beach, a product development chemist, herbalist and shamanic healer. Heather has formulated some of the highest grossing, authentically natural consumer products on the market from many natural brands including Seventh Generation, Sunsoil CBD, and Grove Collaborative. Her fascinating career began in science as she holds biochemistry and biophysics degrees from William Smith College and Yale University. Most recently, Heather co-founded Kafina Energy, a revolutionary organic energy elixir that powers the body, mind and soul. Kafina was founded with a sincere mission to fuel, restore and awaken people through the power of plants.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Anunusual journey has brought me to where I am today co-creating with plant consciousness to bring products to market. I started out as a scientist and soon realized the road I had chosen was not where my heart and soul wanted to be. I decided to follow my passion and that led to me to an incredible milestone in my life: I realized I could communicate telepathically with plants. After apprenticing with a shaman, a whole new world opened up to me working with plant consciousness. The formula for Kafina was actually one of the first formulas the plants shared with me in a shamanic journey in 2012. In parallel to this spiritual awakening I was having, my professional career was developing natural products. Looking back, I realize that the last 15 years have been a boot camp for me to launch products from plants in a powerful way.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
Maybe the most difficult thing to do when I started on this path was to follow my heart’s lead even when it didn’t make a lot of logical sense for me to walk away from everything I had built as a scientist. Almost everyone in my life thought I had lost my mind. But, I knew I had to do it, and now I’m so glad I’ve built a life and career that fuels my soul. In hindsight it now makes sense to everyone who thought I was crazy back then! Sometimes you’re the only one who can see what’s over the horizon for you; it’s important to follow your intuition.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
The only thing that kept me inspired and still fuels me through the challenges of launching a new company is that I’m doing what I am truly passionate about. Kafina and the innovative formulas in our pipeline are revolutionary products that help people live their best lives, and honor the Earth, the plants and the Goddess at the same time. It’s fulfilling on every level.
So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Kafina co-founder Kathleen O’Brien and I are overjoyed to bring this formula to market. Along with a lot of people in the Burlington, Vermont area, we have loved using Kafina regularly for over seven years. It simply wasn’t the right time to bring this product forward to the mass consumer until now. So much is changing in the way people consume these days. The rise of veganism, mainstream use of CBD, care for the environment, etc. are all reflections of how wellness and holistic thinking has truly become ubiquitous. Sometimes it takes a lot longer than you would like for the timing to be right, but I’ve seen that it’s always worth the wait.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
It’s always a challenge for startups to find their first manufacturing partner since manufacturers make all their money on volume. There was a lot to learn about how to scale up the Kafina formula and move it from small batches in the kitchen to hundreds of gallons of product. The first co-packer willing to make the R&D investment in us also happened to be the worst! Luckily, we learned quickly that they weren’t the right partner when our first pilot run grew mold due to contamination. This was pre-launch, so no harm was done to our business, but was still quite a shock. Looking back, we laugh thinking about that fateful meeting when Kathleen and I had met in a coffee shop for a work session and saw something floating in our Kafina bottles. Even when it feels like the sky is falling, everything is working itself out for the highest good. We ended up in a much better place with the right manufacturer because of that huge error.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Kafina Energy wasn’t started in a boardroom yet it could redefine the energy shot category because of a shift in consumer consciousness to cleaner living. Kathleen and I felt that we could truly fuel and awaken people with this plant-based recipe and decided to bring Kafina to market because we experienced the impact of the formula ourselves mentally and physically. When Kathleen tried Kafina for the first time in 2012, it was the cure she desperately needed for severe burnout after having three children in 3.5 years while managing a demanding career. So many of my friends and clients were in awe of the energy and sustained focus Kafina provided as well as its mood boosting effects. This first iteration of Kafina gained a cult-like following in the Burlington area via word of mouth.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I recommend scheduling reflection time and allowing yourself to catch up with not only what’s happening around you, but how you feel about what’s happening around you. Switching to a plant-based diet and being aware of what you’re eating is essential for being deeply in touch with yourself. I would also recommend anyone on the brink of burn out, try Kafina Energy for sustained focus without the jitters or crash of highly caffeinated and artificial products.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Honestly, the person who has given me the most inspiration and encouragement to be myself and pursue my dreams is my daughter. Motherhood was the most transformational experience of my life and it has reconnected me to myself in a way I never had been before. I believe that this is what has given me the courage and tenacity to take the plunge into entrepreneurship. She is four years old now and loves to hear about what is happening with “Mama’s company!” I hope that I can inspire her as much as she has inspired me to be myself and make my dreams come true.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
My experience formulating products and working with leading natural consumer companies really positioned me to bring the formula for Kafina Energy to the masses. I have had the privilege of working with people of all backgrounds as a shaman and thrive on assisting others on their personal journeys while spreading knowledge about the incredible powers of plants.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why.
- Not everyone will see what you see and that’s ok — there’s learning in everything, take what you need, leave the rest behind and don’t let it deter you from your purpose and mission.
- There’s no fun in fundraising — which is a good thing, seek out more than just a check but the right people and backing.
- Don’t be afraid and don’t wait to have “real talk” with all of those around you. Ask for what you want and speak your truth whenever you can. It saves so much time and often reveals the intent of a potential partner and the real opportunity (or lack thereof) with them.
- Bringing something new to the world is really hard but worth it.
- If you have a co-founder, get ready to have one of the deepest relationships of your life. Find the courage to have the conversations you don’t want to have and strength to show up for each other, and you can be an unstoppable force together.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would love to see the whole world remember that magic is real! Just like Goethe said, “Few people have the imagination for reality.” When the world of co-creating with plant consciousness opened up to me, I felt like I understood that quote on a whole new level. There is consciousness in all things and working in concert with this is actually a natural state of being for all of us on Earth. Indigenous cultures have worked directly with plant consciousness for millennia while scientists have even documented that animals heal themselves with plants in unbelievable ways. I would love to watch all the people of the world realize the wisdom and magic of nature all around them every single day.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can follow the journey of Kafina Energy on Instagram @kafinaenergy, and on our Facebook page.