After getting engaged, jumping the broom, having a baby, surviving a life-threatening car accident, and getting into a heated copyright battle with a major beauty company, it’s safe to say that the past few years have been a rollercoaster for Kristian Henderson. But according to this mogul mommy, self-care is the saving grace that has kept her grounded.
Owner of BLK+GRN, a marketplace that features all-natural, non-toxic products for women of color, by women of color, Kristian knows that the path to growth takes sunlight, water, and self-preservation. When this DC-based business owner isn’t busy cultivating the fruits of her labor or teaching yoga in a 105 degree-room, you can catch Kristian loving on her husband and nurturing her precious baby boy.
In an intimate interview, the BLK+GRN founder opens up more about motherhood, traveling, running a business that caters to Black women, and how to find your forever happy place. Here are the details:
Black Moms Blog: Hi Kristian! Thank you for joining us at Black Moms Blog. Have you always dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur? What inspired you to create BLK+GRN?
Kristian Henderson: No, I didn’t know I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. My platform, BLK + GRN, is the only premium purveyor of clean, all-natural, Black-owned products. I was tired of complaining about brands neglecting Black women, so I created a platform that promotes and supports them and their brands.
“I was tired of using toxic products that were negatively impacting my health, so I created a way to easily find better, healthier options. I was tired of just talking about the economic problems impacting Black people, so I decided to find a way to circulate our dollars within our own community. I created what I felt was missing.”
BMB: Why is it so important for mothers to seek healthy, non-toxic alternatives to the products that we’ve used for decades?
KH: Short answer: because it is dangerous. The personal care industry is being exposed for its toxic secrets that include unsustainable sourcing practices, poor packaging selection, and ingredients that are doing more harm than good. The products you are washing laundry with, cleaning your kitchen and bathroom with, or putting on your hair can be full of carcinogenic and toxic ingredients.
BMB: After you launched your business, you went up against a major corporation and fought for the copyright of your business name. Can you tell us more about that process and how it pushed you to go harder?
KH: MANA owns Black Opal, which was recently rebranded as BLK/OPL, and they are asserting that the trademark BLK + GRN filed would cause confusion, so they are opposing BLK + GRN’s trademark application.
Their argument hinges on the fact that both brands use block letters, both spell Black with the shorthand BLK, and both brands use a symbol followed by three other letters Despite the fact that we are in different industries (Black Opal is a color cosmetics company and BLK + GRN is a marketplace), despite the fact that several other trademarks exist with the word Black or BLK included, they are still opposing the trademark of BLK + GRN, even with a seemingly thin argument. We are still waiting for the outcome of this one because Black Opal was acquired by two Black women and they are reviewing the case.
BMB: After becoming a wife and giving birth to your first child last March, how has your life as an entrepreneur change?
KH: I absolutely love my son! I love being a wife and mom. But having a son definitely makes running a business harder. So I have tried to hire people to help me and get some things off my list. I had to get a virtual assistant to help me with getting tasks done. I moved all of my products to a fulfillment center so I don’t have to pack and mail my packages myself.
BMB: At the height of your business, you suffered a concussion from a major car accident that could have derailed your success. What is it like having survived that very scary incident?
KH: In July I was in a life-threatening car accident and in a coma for two weeks. I wasn’t discharged from the hospital until November and now I have a traumatic brain injury. I go to speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.
BMB: What has helped you get back on your feet and continue to spread positivity?
KH: Running BLK + GRN helped me the most!! We are an all-natural marketplace of Black-owned products, where I get to help entrepreneurs thrive and Black people know the importance of toxic-free. I help start-up companies and entrepreneurs be successful. I made an easy way for all of us to invest money in Black-owned businesses. I showed Black people that it is important to use non-toxic products because the products marketed to Black people are often full of dangerous toxins. Luckily, I was able to find my passion. And my passion is BLK + GRN.
What advice do you have for moms on staying positive during the not-so-positive times?
KH: Self-care is so important to me. It basically changed my life for the better. I even think that my self-care habits helped my recovery from the damage done by my car accident.
“The emotional part of self-care is having a really honest conversation with yourself about what makes you happy and what pulls your joy. I basically got rid of everything that took joy and added more of what gave me joy before I had a baby.”
BMB: Along with practicing yoga, what are your self-care practices?
KH: After my car accident, I’m introducing more self-care practices. I go to acupuncture regularly to help me move any built-up toxic energy out of my body. Of course, I’ve been using all the BLK + GRN products to help me heal. I read that turmeric is amazing for the brain, so I’ve been putting more GOLDE into smoothies because it is full of turmeric. And I’ve been rubbing Shea oil all over my body to help any of the scars heal. I’ve also read about the importance of journaling. So I’m trying to journal every day so I can process my thoughts. We are going to be carrying a journal on BLK + GRN, so it was just perfect that I started my journaling practice and I already had a journal to use!
BMB: Happiness absolutely radiates from your Instagram feed. In the chaos of being a full-time mommy mogul, making time for your husband and your little (at the same damn time), how do you find your happy place?
KH: Luckily, I figured out what made me happy before I became a mommy mogul so I kept balance after he was born by still doing the things I enjoyed. I went to yoga, saw movies, and went out to eat regularly! Maintaining balance is key!
BMB: I see that travel is important to you. What advice would you have for moms seeking to get out of their comfort zones and don’t know where to start?
KH: I did the hard work of pushing myself out of my comfort zone before I had a baby. I can imagine it’s even harder to push yourself once you have a child.
BMB: I also noticed that you’re into The Four Agreements sis. Me too! What agreement has helped you the most on your motherhood journey?
KH: Don’t take anything personally. I’ve learned that my son can’t control his behaviors, moods, or reactions. So it’s best for me to just calm down, relax, and let him do his thing. His mood is not connected to mine, so it’s best not to take his tantrums personally. He probably is just annoyed because he can’t express his emotions and I understand that.
“Don’t take anything personally. I’ve learned that my son can’t control his behaviors, moods, or reactions. So it’s best for me to just calm down, relax, and let him do his thing.”
BMB: After all of the trials you’ve survived, it seems like there’s nothing that can shake you. How do you stay grounded despite everything you’ve been through?
KH: I do a thankful prayer every night. I pray and thank God for things that haven’t happened yet, and God usually makes everything happen. Blessings! I also journal and that has been amazing at helping me release my thoughts and emotions out of my head.
BMB: What’s the important takeaway from your journey?
KH: Be happy, be healthy, be free.
For more Kristian, follow her on Instagram @drkristianh!