In recent years, there’s been a strong urge for African Americans to insulate their own communities through business. When a business thrives, it heightens economic development and revitalizes communities. Businesses create jobs, promotes self-sufficiency, helps stabilize local economies and serves as a tool for building generational wealth. If more African Americans take ownership and support Black businesses, we’ll be helping to redistribute the wealth in our communities.
According to a Nielsen/Essence 2017 report entitled “African-American Women: Our Science, Her Magic“, entrepreneurship within the Black community is increasing. Black women, specifically, are the majority owners and Kristian Henderson is making sure that things stay that way. In 2017, she founded BLK+GRN, an e-commerce site that sells products created by Black female artisans and entrepreneurs. Representing more than 20 brands to date, Henderson aims to uphold the integrity of her business by “promoting beautiful, sustainable, and high-quality products,” that are natural, ethically sourced and non-toxic. From skincare and home good items to jewelry, BLK+GRN is your new destination for all things #BlackGirlMagic.
Hi, Kristian! How can we best introduce you to the world?
Kristian: I am a Public Health Professor, a believer in #BlackGirlMagic, and committed to all things wellness and self-love. I received my Bachelor’s degree from Yale and my Doctorate degree from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. I blend my academic knowledge, creativity, and unconventional philosophy to promote healthy, happy, and free lifestyles. No day is the same, from teaching public health at George Washington to leading yoga classes to mentoring entrepreneurs, I want to redefine success and help others do the same.
What was the inspiration behind BLK+GRN?
Kristian: There are two key movements that are currently happening in the United States: the Buy Black Movement and the Green Movement. The Buy Black Movement is an acknowledgment of the tremendous buying power of the African American community and the realization that we can literally vote with our dollars. It is the idea that we can build up our communities by supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs. The Green Movement is a movement towards holistic health. It is the idea of removing toxic chemicals from our diets and products and instead using the power of plants and nature to heal and thrive. BLK + GRN was born out of these movements, allowing people to be conscious both socially and holistically.
Why is celebrating Black-owned businesses an important component of your company?
Kristian: The African American community has tremendous buying power, yet is often neglected by brands. Black owned-businesses have a better understanding of the needs of our community because they are a part of it. And we believe that our communities can be improved by supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs.
What are the top criteria that you look for in a brand before adding them to your platform?
Kristian: We curate natural products that are handcrafted by Black artisans and entrepreneurs. We partner with the best Black-owned brands that are creating specialized products that support a holistic and healthy lifestyle. Our brands use ingredients that are high-quality, ethically sourced, plant-based, vegan, organic, toxic-free, and cruelty-free. Our brands boldly feature women of color in their marketing and branding. Our brands take quality, sustainability, and integrity seriously. From perfecting your skin routine to cleaning your home, to establishing a self-care routine, BLK + GRN has you covered.
BLK+GRN specializes in curating products that are non-toxic, all natural and ethically sourced. Why is this important for you?
Kristian: We believe what you put on or in your body is extremely important and having products with clear, safe ingredients is essential to living a holistic lifestyle, but knowing they are handmade and ethically sourced is just as important. We want to feel good about the brands we support and where we put our money as consumers.
What have you learned about yourself as a businesswoman that has helped you propel your brand?
Kristian: Self-care, self-care, self-care. As an entrepreneur, there is always something that needs to be done, an email that needs to be written, a phone call to be made, or a website update to implement. It was really easy for me to work 20+ hours on BLK + GRN in one day, but I quickly realized that working non-stop with no time for self-care wasn’t good for me or my business. I had to quickly learn how to outsource tasks that I didn’t enjoy (or that someone else could just do better than me) and I had to reframe how I thought about downtime. Instead of seeing yoga, meditation, or watching a movie as a distraction, I started to frame it as necessary downtime. It helped me achieve balance, which has ultimately propelled my brand.
What can the world expect next from BLK+GRN?
Kristian: We are constantly bringing in new brands and products to give our customers more options for their holistic lifestyle. We’ll also be launching a podcast [soon] to get to know our founders better and hear how they live holistically.
Want to know what’s coming up next on the BLK+GRN platform? Follow them on Facebook.