DCF: Who Are You?
I am Dr. Kristian Henderson, a Public Health Professor, a believer in #BlackGirlMagic, and am 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 aim to redefine success and help others do the same.
DCF: Why do you love what you do? What makes you funemployment?
KH: I was tired of complaining about brands neglecting black women, so I decided to create a platform that promotes and supports black women 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 and that is why I love what I do. (DCF: Yasss be the change you wanna see!!)
DCF: Who was your first mentor and how did you find them?
KH: My Family is my village. My dad is an entrepreneur at his core and I 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. My little brother is my biggest supporter; he believes in my dreams and my ideas before anyone else, and he is one of the few people that I take advice from. Their support and encouragement recharges me. (DCF: It’s so important to have a village or tribe that you can turn to, especially when you are building something new.)
DCF: What’s your happy place?
KH: Yoga, my bathtub, or exploring a new country. (DCF: Love all of this!)
DCF: Where do you get your energy?
KH: Adopting a healthy lifestyle has been key to maintaining my energy. I have a mostly plant-based diet, which means I eat tons of fruits and vegetables, incorporate green juices and smoothies, drink plenty of water, and avoid processed foods. I also workout at least three times per week, although some weeks are better than others. I am also very protective of the energy that I am around, managing the people and places that I interact with. (DCF: Yes protect your space and your energy!) I truly believe in holistic health.
DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find it?
KH: 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 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) – (DCF: I am a HUGE believer in outsourcing, especially if you 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. (DCF: Scheduling self care can be just as important as scheduling that angel investor meeting because it helps you show up at your best!)
DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?
KH: I had to let go. I had to let go of bad habits such as judging myself, caring too much about what other people thought, and eating processed foods. I have had to let go of people that I loved, not because I didn’t love them anymore, but because they didn’t serve me. I had to let go of who I thought I was, in order to allow myself to be who I really was. I had to let go of the narratives of self-sacrifice and embrace the ideas of self-love. Many of these things were difficult to let go, but I had to sacrifice my comfort zone so I could truly realize my personal mission. (DCF: Sometimes you have to get uncomfortable in order to grow!)
DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?
KH: Happiness was difficult to find while I was trying to outrun and outwork racism and sexism. Working in a corporate environment historically created by and for white men made it nearly impossible to escape bigotry. I had a choice – either I would fight to change the organization or I could create my own. I needed to take some risks in order to find happiness so I chose to build a company that is consistent with my values, supports black women entrepreneurs, understands the importance of self-love, and is built on holistic health.
DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?
KH: Slow down. I have a tendency to move fast. I rarely procrastinate and I truly live by the words, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” But after wasting thousands of dollars, trusting people I shouldn’t, or investing my time into broken ventures, I realized that maybe I should hold off until tomorrow for larger decisions.
DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?
KH: I love the idea of embracing failure to ensure that we learn from our mistakes, but it so hard for me to pick just one failure. I agreed to speak at a retreat, but I neglected to get a contract signed, and subsequently we didn’t have a clear understanding of the expectations. I have invested thousands of dollars in business ventures that I later decided were not a good fit for me. I have invested time in people and refused to let them go (even though I know I needed to), simply because I had already invested so much time and energy. The first lesson is always get a contract, the second lesson is do your due diligence before you spend any money, and the third lesson is value people for what they are, not what you need them to be, and let them go when it is time.
DCF: What was your proudest moment to date?
KH: I’m taking risks, caring less about what people say, and finding my happiness. I quit my corporate job, got a divorce, became a professor, moved to a new city, started a new company, and became a yoga instructor. I am truly living my best life and that makes me proud. (DCF: Shed that old skin!!)
DCF: What are you currently conquering?
KH: I recently created BLK+GRN, the only premium purveyor of a variety of clean, all natural, black-owned products. Instead of complaining about brands neglecting black women, I created a platform that promotes and supports them and their brands. Instead of using toxic products that were negatively impacting my health, I created a way to easily find better, healthier options. Instead of just talking about the economic problems impacting black people, I decided to find a way to circulate our dollars within our own community.