When Dr. Kristian Henderson created BLK + GRN, she was setting out to meet not just one, but multiple needs she saw that weren’t being met for Black women. By creating an online marketplace full of non-toxic beauty and personal care products, all made by Black artisans and founders, she’s providing women better access to clean products, and better access for them to scale their businesses. Hear more from Dr. Kristian herself in our interview with her below, and check out their marketplace here! You can even grab 10% off by using code: Yell10!
How did you get started doing what you do? Tell us your story!
With a background in Public Health, one of the topics central to my research was health disparities among Black women and the growing research pointing to toxicity in personal care products. There were two key problems that I wanted to solve: One – Black women’s lack of access to high-quality non-toxic products; and two – Black artisans lack of access to retail platforms to scale.
Black women spend twice as much on personal care products, yet 75% of the products marketed to Black women are formulated with ingredients that are considered toxic and linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive damage.
Black women are looking for higher quality Black-owned products, but there wasn’t an easy way to purchase these green products. That inspired me to launch BLK + GRN, a platform for marketing and selling beauty and personal care products from Black founders made using non-toxic ingredients.
What all do you look for when sourcing your conscious products?
All of our Black artisans are carefully chosen by Black women’s health experts who know what an all-natural product truly looks like. We’ve seen firsthand the damaging effects harmful ingredients and practices have had on our community. Our marketplace aims to rectify this by connecting women of color to high-quality, toxic-free brands that share in our mission of health, wellness, and community cultivation.
As you’ve mentioned, all of the brands in your marketplace are owned by Black women - tell us more about the importance of this to you.
Part of the reason why I started BLK+GRN is because I recognized very early on that there was a lack of representation and diversity in the wellness industry. And as a result, many of the interests and concerns that are susceptible to Black women have been neglected.
I found that many women of color view wellness as a luxury rather than a process of self-preservation.
For so long, Black women have been taught to be strong, hardworking, and resilient. And at times sacrificing our own health and wellbeing to do so. That’s why it’s very important that we as Black women care for our bodies from the inside out to live healthier, happier lives starting with the products we use every single day. So, I wanted to create a safe space where Black women can normalize self-care and make better life choices because navigating that space can intimidating at times. I value Black women, small businesses, and my own happiness. I wanted the BLK+GRN market to reflect that from our artisans to our customers.
What are your favorite products in your marketplace this month?
I try every single product that we sell on the BLK + GRN platform, literally. I have tried over 300 different beauty, personal care, and cleaning products. I have tried it all, except the beard products, of course haha. Which means, honestly, it is hard for me to state my favorite products this month. But I’m happy to highlight a few: I love the Posy Hair and Body Oil, this magical oil is is easy to apply, and somehow it is formulated to be moisturizing without being oily. When it comes to my home cleaning routine, the LooHoo Wool Dryer Balls are a must for my laundry! There are so many toxic chemicals in fabric softeners and dryer sheets, not to mention all the waste. The dryer ball alternative not only removes these toxic chemicals from my laundry, but they are so much better for mother earth. Another switch that I made that I love, is all-natural tooth powder by Dirt Don’t Hurt. It not only freshens your breath, but it also naturally whitens and re-mineralizes your teeth.
What recommendations or resources do you have for consumers looking to support companies owned by women of color in industries other than the wellness space?
I recommend connecting with content that’s outside of your comfort zone. Our podcast introduces listeners to women of color from diverse perspectives and spaces. You can also read an article by or featuring a woman of color. Asking someone in your network for their recommendations would be helpful too. I believe that you first have to make a choice to support women of color before you’ll truly seek out to connect.
I value Black women, small businesses, and my own happiness. But my choices didn’t always reflect these values.
I feel that if your choices, actions, and purchasing decisions do not reflect your values, then you haven’t identified them and/or been intentional about them.
I know I wasn’t. As consumers we have to hold each other accountable. I started by connecting to Black artisans that I believed in – someone else can start by having a conversation.
Any advice for other female entrepreneurs you’d like to offer our community?
One, develop a self-care routine. Entrepreneurship is full of ups and downs, so developing a routine to help balance the lows is a key. I found that I had to fight the external pressure to work constantly. The no-sleep movement sounds cute until you crash. Develop balance, create a sustainable business that can thrive.
Two, develop a mission-driven business. Our core mission is connecting people with high-quality, toxin-free products that support wellness, and to cultivate forward-thinking Black artisans and entrepreneurs. Our vision is to radically disrupt the global economy to equitably include small, Black-owned businesses by empowering artisans to grow and scale their businesses. We will revolutionize holistic health by providing people with a customer-centered platform to discover products from all-natural, Black-owned brands. This mission, this vision, is what keeps me going when I want to quit. If the goal was just to make money I would have quit a long time ago.
Photos courtesy of BLK + GRN