I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristi Blustein, founder of Khus & Khus, a skin-care company that uses nothing but 100% botanical ingredients.
What is your “backstory”?
Well let me see if I can, do this is in four sentences or less. About 12 years ago I was introduced to Yoga, started practicing meditation, went on a journey to try to heal myself from mental afflictions and attachments, I discovered the ancient practice of Ayurveda, Yogas sister science. I fell in love with all of the Vedic teachings, discovered my higher Self with the assistance of herbal medicine, and the limbs of Yoga, I then went to school for Ayurvedic Medicine, Herbalism and Aromatherapy. Started working with patients, and herbal medicine shortly there after, I decided it would be a good idea to find a way to introduce Ayurveda and herbalism in a modern way to a broader range of people. I wanted people to access nature instead of chemical laden products.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?
I wish I had a funny story to share, actually. I’m reminded now to have more fun. It’s a lot of work to create a brand, it’s also a lot of work to create trust around your brand enough for people to trust buying from you. But what I find most interesting is how when you’re doing something good and positive, how energy supports you and how you can align yourself with people who share the same ethos, about life and business, and these people assist you along the way. They support your journey and goals. You can’t do something like this alone, you will require support, but when you are focused on your purpose everything opens and the flow of energy comes and doors just start opening.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
What makes us stand out is we talk about the realities of what it takes to manifest healthy skin, we are not interested in fitting into the old commercial beauty paradigm, which basically has said for years if you use this product magic will happen. That’s not the reality of what it takes to truly manifest healthy skin. I know this because I have extensive training in Eastern holistic medical science. We recognize that creating healthy skin is a holistic healing process, which does contain using healthy, clean skincare products, but it also is part of a overall healthy lifestyle. We are here as a support system through the use of plants and herbalism in the form of your skincare. From there our hope is that people will start to have the millions of years of evolutionary success contained within plant wisdom, integrated into their system and this wisdom will start having an effect on their choices, because creating a healthy bodily system comes from choices and your day to day routines. Other green brands continue to talk about skin health in the outdated manner, and there is nothing factual to support their claims, your skin is the manifestation of your mind and body. There is always a mental emotional component to health, because the mind and body are connected. This is not just an Ayurvedic concept this has been studied by Western medicine for years, and we know mental emotional patterns have an effect on our health and healing process. This is why our formulas contain plants that are known as nervines, aka nervous system relaxants. By calming the mind from stressful experiences we can assist the body in adaptive stress response. This way we enhance immune function, the stability of the immune system known in Ayurveda as Ojas. It is a process not something that happens overnight and there is no magic potion, you have to work backward energetically toward your higher Self, but I can tell you in my experience plants provide a level of support in a overall healing journey and they are our allies in health.
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?
This would have to go to my husband and partner in life, he supported me not only financially and emotionally the whole time I was in school. But also for the first 3 years after I found Yoga, I basically was a hermit, meditating, reading Vedic texts and practicing Yoga for most of the day, I would spend around 6 hours day everyday doing this, compared to the way we lived prior he must have thought I was losing my mind. It had to be really weird on his end, I can only imagine what he must have been thinking. But he never said a word and gave me the space and time I needed to heal myself. He’s my best friend and biggest supporter and there is no way I could have done it without him.
Are you working on any exciting products now that will be in market later this year?
Yes I’ve been working on a new CBD product, it’s almost completed I’m still working on small aspects of the formula. Things are different now, when I started I could just make a product now everything has to be scheduled and controlled, there’s press and launches, not typically my style but I’m learning to work within these parameters.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Well the whole premise of the creation of KHUS+KHUS is to provide beautiful ethically sourced, clean skincare products, that replace synthetic chemically produced products, I believe chemically altered fragrances and chemicals can cause metabolic irregularities within peoples bodies. It’s a lofty goal, and I believe in our own way we are bringing goodness into the world just by existing. We have options now and they don’t have to look and feel like they came out of your grandmother’s kitchen. They can be beautiful and full of plant wisdom, and you no longer have to reach for that synthetic fragrance, you can access the finest essential oils, and while applying extoic aromas, have nature assist you in the positive regulation of your body and mind. Because every time you inhale aromas your hypothalamus is activated through the olfactory system. Which regulates many functions in the body, but has great influence on the endocrine system. Instead of inhaling unnatural aromas which I believe are connected to metabolic irregularities because we did not evolve with these chemicals we evolved in accordance with nature. Inhaling nature instead of toxins I believe has a tremendous effects on people’s health, and that’s always a good thing.
Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
The Autobiography of a Yogi, because this led me to read all of Paramahansa Yogananda’s books including his adaptation on the Bhagavad Gita, and a little book he wrote called, The Law of Success Using the Power of Spirit to Create Health, Prosperity and Happiness. He states, “ You demonstrate success or failure according to your habitual trend of thought. If the mind is ordinarily in a negative state, an occasional positive thought is not sufficient to attract success. But if you think rightly, you will find your goal even though you seem enveloped in darkness.’ Basically, get your mind right and everything will follow. Be mindful of your thoughts, because you manifest everything in your life.
You likely have heard of the famous cliche that in a gold rush the one selling the shovels makes much more than the one who finds gold. This is the modern day “green rush”. Can you recommend to our readers 5 technologies or services that can potentially be lucrative “shovels” for the cannabis industry? Can you give an example for each?
Well to be honest I’ve been part of the cannabis industry in Colorado for about 8 years, my husband is a MMJ consultant, and grower we are actually in the process of building out 2 grow operations currently one in Pueblo and Denver and actually one of our new partners owns a company called Farmhand and their logo is Picks and Shovels. Let’s just say there are many areas in which you can be lucrative, we are finding that focusing on rare strains and genetics is the direction we have been going into for a while providing custom genetics for new and established brands. Also, normalization lifestyle companies, are gaining in popularity, especially when it comes to women, overriding the stereotypes of what responsible marijuana use looks like. Yes, you can be successful whilst simultaneously using marijuana. Companies that help shift consciousness around the normalization of a herb that has been demonized for corporate gain for many, many years is significant because it pushes back on all this outdated thinking. And signals to the masses hey, maybe there’s a better way to managed stress that’s actually less harmful. The new lifestyle products that are coming out, are wonderful. Not everyone who uses MMJ is going to decorate their homes with psychedelic art and have giant bong’s laid out everywhere. Clothing is going to be huge, also. Or weed wear as we like to call it. I think that’s 5? I’d like to add one more from my perspective I have seen many, many MMJ partnership’s fall apart over the egos of a few men. Everyone wants to be the star, the main guy if you will. When you are essentially harnessing nature indoors to create one of the most prolific species on the planet, it has to be a team effort.
Successful businesses happen when the people running it share similar goals, and beliefs about the business and the brand it’s creating. Too much friction amongst partners paralyzes the progress of the venture.
What 3 things would you advise to someone who wanted to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?
Go to school and learn from someone who understands plants and knows how to formulate them. Why? Because despite what you may think plants are really powerful, it’s not just some conjured up hype, but a bonafide scientific practice. You will be working with the power of nature, and it deserves the respect of your time and focus before you start trying to concoct formulas that people will be putting on their person.
Remember to take care of yourself in the process, don’t forget your routines that keep you healthy, you cannot give to anyone if you are not established in your own practice.
Don’t invest too much money in the beginning of your company only what you need especially f you’re self financed, like KHUS+KHUS. I’ve been an entrepreneur for 20 years, let’s just say I’ve learned a few things about investing into businesses. I met one of the owners of Paypal about 18 years ago, he said to me, slow and steady wins the race you have to be willing to stay in the game longer and stay focused the whole time. Although, I don’t remember the whole conversation, but that was the take away and I’ve remembered it till this day.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Be kind, pay them well and fairly, and treat them with respect, like partners not employees and they will do everything in their power to support your vision. But always remember you are responsible to make to the hard decisions, when it comes to which direction you want the brand to go in.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
Oh wow this is an interesting question, especially because you mentioned they might see this, extra pressure. I think I could have a nice conversation with Russell Simmons because I feel like he would understand the business side of what I’m doing, but also the esoteric nature as well. I had to pick a fellow Yogi, although obviously Oprah or Martha Stewart would be awesome as well. As I hear Martha loves her weed, and well Oprah is just Oprah the master of manifestation and occasional MMJ user as well or so I hear. Plenty of business and personal topics to cover with any of them, I’m sure.
Jilea Hemmings is the CEO & Co-Founder of Leaf Tyme. She is running a series on the latest innovations impacting the cannabis industry.