…You can start incorporating self-care into your daily routine by deep-breathing. It’s an easy way to relieve stress and increase circulation throughout the day. Another small tweak that can support your wellbeing is swapping some of your everyday household items for eco-friendly alternatives. Many items we use everyday carry harmful chemicals that can have dire consequences with constant and continual use. And lastly, you should surround yourself with people who love, and support you. Having a great support system will really help you, especially if you’re starting something new.
Ihad the pleasure to interview Kristian Henderson. Kristian is a professor of public health, a natural lifestyle enthusiast, and the founder of BLK+GRN, an all-natural marketplace by all Black artisans. Here, products are curated and sold in categories like skincare, home, and bath and body to meet the needs of wellness seekers who want to buy Black and live green. Kristian’s latest entrepreneurial endeavor is the culmination of her belief in #BlackGirlMagic and her experiences in the public health industry. She is an unshakeable optimist who is passionate about helping women cultivate a lifestyle that’s free of artificial ingredients, toxins, and harmful chemicals. She believes that doing so is the only way to foster true happiness.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
Well, my background is in public health, and I actually worked as a hospital administrator for a few years before starting BLK+GRN. But after a while, I didn’t really feel that my values were aligning with certain practices that were taking place in that environment. I was more interested in helping people take control of their lives and make more conscious decisions when it came to their overall health and well-being. So, that transition from healthcare to creating an online wellness space seemed very easy to me.
BLK+GRN did not start out as a business. At the time, I was on my own wellness journey and really wanted to change my lifestyle from the inside out. I was working unsustainable hours, eating poorly, and using personal care products that weren’t very good for my health. I recognized how far I was from honoring and caring for my body, and wanted to feel well and balanced. It was then I decided to answer my own health concerns and turn my passion into a mission. I set out to spread BLK+GRN’s message of optimal health by using holistic practices and clean products to as many people as possible.
I voraciously read up on natural healing treatments and started discovering and sampling eco-friendly products from other small businesses — and created the BLK+GRN wellness protocol. I didn’t want to just give people an ordinary shopping experience; I wanted to provide them with the tools and knowledge they needed to transform their lives. We’ve created a platform for people to have a better relationship to their bodies, and cultivate a more fulfilling life through self-care.
Can you share your top three “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?
I think for most people, setting out to make healthy lifestyle changes can feel both inspiring and intimidating. But, it’s important not to overhaul your entire life by adopting too many new habits. Approaching things through mindfulness can make a big difference in the long run and create lasting results.
You can start incorporating self-care into your daily routine by deep-breathing. It’s an easy way to relieve stress and increase circulation throughout the day. Another small tweak that can support your wellbeing is swapping some of your everyday household items for eco-friendly alternatives. Many items we use everyday carry harmful chemicals that can have dire consequences with constant and continual use. And lastly, you should surround yourself with people who love, and support you. Having a great support system will really help you, especially if you’re starting something new.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
It’s always interesting to hear from people all across the country about how the products that we sell are making a positive impact on their lives. I’ve gotten so many emails from customers who are excited consume products consciously. So, seeing a growing number of people are authentic and intentional about health and wellness
It’s also when we get emails from artisans who thank us because, without us, they would be out of business and are able to move products in ways they never have before
So, it’s people’s experience saying, “Thank you. I’ve been looking for this. I’ve been needing this. I had no idea anything like this even existed.” That’s been rewarding.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I think the biggest mistake I made was not really understanding the importance of having a clear statement of what problem I was addressing with my business, and how I wanted to address it. A lot of people were saying that the market was too niche, and that it was limiting in terms of who I wanted to be and what I wanted to express. At times, it was really difficult to balance all my desires and to motivate women without feeling like I needed to motivate in a particular sector.
When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
Well, our company BLK+GRN is an online marketplace and educational platform for people to discover clean, non-toxic products by all Black women artisans and entrepreneurs. We really want to promote better health and wellness, and support small businesses by helping people remove toxicity from their products and instead use the power of plants and nature to heal and thrive. It’s my passion to help marginalized communities cultivate a lifestyle that’s free of artificial ingredients, toxins, and harmful chemicals. I believe that doing so is the only way to foster true happiness.
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 about that?
I would say my parents. I’m so grateful to have parents that have been very supportive of all my career choices since day one. My dad is an entrepreneur at his core and I’ve inherited got his spirit of dreaming of solutions and executing them. My mom is a risk taker, and she always empowered me to not be afraid of failure. Their support and encouragement recharges me. It’s so important to have a village or tribe that you can turn to, especially when you are building something new.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
If I could start a movement it would be a movement rooted in “self-love.”We live in a society that profits from our insecurities and self-doubt, so loving yourself is really a political act. I hope that a movement like that would inspire people to put their own happiness and well-being first, because self-love and self-care shouldn’t be seen as a luxury or an act of indulgence, but rather a form of self-preservation.
What are your “3 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- There are some things Google Analytics won’t help you to predict
- Operating from a mindset of abundance can be difficult when you’re running a business with REAL expenses haha
- Launching and maintaining a fruitful business requires an engaged, proactive team
Do you have a “girl-crush” in this industry? If you could take one person to brunch, who would it be?
I would say that my industry girl crush are all of our Black women artisans (So I guess they’d be crushes haha)! It would be a dream to host them in one space for one mindful purpose. I truly hope they feel appreciated by myself and our customers
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Definitely environmental changes! Apart from my work in public health and creating BLK+GRN, I am also a natural lifestyle enthusiast — so, helping people to heal and thrive by living green is very important to me. When people make better purchasing choices by opting for sustainable, eco-friendly products, it leads to a better world. And since I recently became a mother, I’m constantly thinking about the kind of world I will be leaving behind for my kids.