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7.30.2020

continuing the conversation with naadine koi

in light of the events that have taken place these past few months, we have been identifying ways to engage with our community in a way that feels authentic and speaks to what is in our hearts. we are so blessed to have amazing relationships with brand influencer partners who have made meaningful contributions to our community time and time again through beautiful content creation and collaborations. naadine koi of wellboxed is one of those very special, incredibly talented individuals for whom we are so grateful. she has become part of our kai inner family and has participated in a number of conversations + collaborations with kai recently and over the years. we thought it could be of great benefit to ourselves and our community to have naadine share her thoughts on how to keep the conversation going in an open and inclusive manner. we hope you enjoy this discussion with naadine shared below. 


the Black Lives Matter Movement is bigger now than ever, finally. it's important to make sure we're all doing our part to keep the conversation going - myself included. i'd like to share my experience as a Black woman in the candle industry, highlight the importance of Black representation, and share some of my favorite Black-owned businesses and content creators. you'll also find some helpful tips on how to keep the momentum of BLM going, as well as how to de-stress during these crazy times - we all need it! 

why do we need to keep the conversation going?
Black people have been experiencing racism and injustice for centuries. although the Black Lives Matter movement began in 2013, these issues have been going on for so long and been brought to so many people's attention yet we keep experiencing the same problems. now is the time to embrace this attention and keep the conversation going so that a year from now things don't go back to "normal." we need to change.

my experience in the candle industry (i.e., why Black representation matters)
i started well boxed, a visual platform that showcases my work as a candle specialist, five years ago. initially, my goal was simply to share my passion and inspirations for luxury candles. however, in time (and with a lot of hard work) it grew and i was able to turn it into a business. 

it's been a long time and it definitely wasn't easy. my business grew very slowly, and at times it felt like i was doing it alone, without the support of many others in the industry. i couldn't help but wonder, "if i was a different color, would i be working with different brands?" over the years, i've reached out to SO MANY brands about different projects and ideas. either i'm completely ignored or the response is for unpaid work. at best, they'd send me some free candles. i love luxury candles, but i definitely can't pay my bills with them. 

the reason why i often wonder whether my skin color has been a barrier is that i have painstakingly built an audience that is specifically interested in what candle brands are doing, and i have the knowledge and expertise to back it up. my platform is incredibly unique - and the fact that there are very few people in the luxury candle niche makes you think that achieving Black representation shouldn't be difficult. but still, i would see other faces that didn't look like mine representing these brands. 

after being in this industry for so long, you see which influencers work with these brands and you start to see a pattern in the people they choose to work with. influencers with no direct connection to candles, influencers who are not people of color. 

it's very difficult to watch brands paying other influencers, knowing that YOU are a specialist. sure, i realize that not every candle brand would be a great fit, but when the answer is nearly always crickets, you start asking yourself, "what can i do?" i feel like i'm reaching up to break through that glass ceiling, but i can't get high enough. 

a 2019 study by the Center for American Progress shows that Black women not only earn less (61.9 cents) than white women (78.6 cents) or Black men (70.2 cents) for every dollar earned by white men, but they have a much harder time finding employment, especially stable jobs with employee benefits. this isn't for a lack of trying, it's for a lack of opportunity

being Black, you always have to work twice as hard to get half as far - in any industry. it shouldn't be that way. 

this is why Black representation is important. people of color - the younger generations in particular - need to see themselves represented in all careers and positions to show them that they can do it too.

practicing gratitude and keeping it moving
on a positive note, i do appreciate all the support that i have received over the years. there have been AMAZING brands that i have worked with. i remember being a fan on the side lines, so finally getting the opportunity to work with some of these brands is a full-circle moment. it's easy to focus on the negative, but there is sooo much good out there. the fact that i'm able to do what i love, share it with the world, grow, and make a living from it is amazing. 


i'm committed to keep going. i set my goals, work hard, and i get there - one way or another. even though it may take me twice as long based on all the barriers i've had to break through as a Black woman, i still keep going. at the end of the day, i will always keep moving forward and i am grateful for the ability to do that. i love what i do and all the awesome people around me.

how to keep #BlackLivesMatter and Black representation going
as part of my own efforts to keep the #blm movement going, i plan to highlight Black-owned businesses, content creators, and other vendors and influencers regularly. i'm exploring some exciting collaborations too, so stay tuned for more on that!

if you want to stay involved and be an ally, i encourage you to join me in creating a calendar. this can be on a monthly, weekly, quarterly basis (whatever works best for you). on this calendar, add the actions that you are going to take to support Black representation and keep #blm going. 

for example, if you want to donate monthly to a cause that supports Black communities, mark it on your calendar on the same day of every month (or better yet, schedule a recurring donation). this serves as a regular reminder for YOU that #blm is still there. life is hectic and it's so easy to live in your bubble. it's easy to forget. this is a fight we're going to be fighting for a long time. we are so far behind and there's a lot of work to do. talking about #blm and Black representation should be something that we do on a regular basis; otherwise it will fall by the wayside. now is the time. if we're all doing something, then eventually we will thrive.

self-care tips
you know me, everything begins and ends with candles! personally speaking, the last few months have been very stressful. during this time i was in the process of buying a house - a stressful experience on its own - then COVID-19, then the murder of George Floyd, and the current social climate all happened. doing your part in the world is important but you also have to take care of yourself and put your mental health first. here are some of the things i do to de-stress.


1. stay home and burn candles 
going out during this pandemic is stressful enough, am i right? so stay home and burn candles. considering the season, i've been enjoying a lot of florals such as iris and rose; as well as fruity fragrances like pear and citrus. i also recommend using a diffuser and essential oils - having a light scent in the air can do so much to set a calm ambience. 

2. be a couch potato
listen, life isn't always about hustling. sometimes, you really need to just do nothing. i love to cuddle up on the couch and watch a movie or one of my favorite shows. 

3. zen music
i'm really into relaxing piano music right now, but listen to whatever makes you feel calm and relaxed. 

4. pick up a hobby 
with my recent move, i've really been into interior design. i love learning more about colors, patterns, textures, and other things i wasn't familiar with before. it takes me out of my world for a little bit and gets my creative juices flowing. discover what inspires you and try to incorporate more of it into your life. 

5. eat healthier
i know, i know, staying healthy is harder these days (hands up if you've gained a few pounds during quarantine). but making healthier food choices does so much for your physical and mental health.

6. pamper yourself 
a trip to the spa may not be an option but you can certainly have a DIY spa day at home. do your nails, moisturize, hair treatment; all while burning your favorite candles. sign me up! 

7. create your zen-zone
if you have space, this could be your own private room or area in your garden to create a private sanctuary. if not, a corner in your living room or a mood board on the wall is all you need. 

#BLM resources 
as promised, here are some Black-owned businesses and content creators to explore and support. let's bring Black representation to the forefront. Black Lives Matter. 


Black owned candle brands 

places to donate

this is just the beginning of the conversation. do you have any Black content creators or businesses to add to the list? please share and help us all continue to support Black representation and Black Lives Matter. 

7.23.2020

kai conversations with... Andréa Bernholtz, founder of swiminista

we couldn't be more excited to share this conversation with my long-time dear friend, andréa bernholtz, former president/co-founder of the celebrity favorite denim line rock & republic, who is debuting her newest fashion venture, swiminista - a collection of comfortable, ultra-chic swimwear made from luxury recycled fabrics featuring adjustable, personalized fits in sizes a-ddd. andréa has shared with us that her new line gives women the confidence to celebrate themselves and their own bodies, which is wonderful. cheers to that mission, and congrats to andréa on this exciting new launch. we hope you enjoy learning more about andréa below. 

xo,
gaye.


how are you taking care of yourself and your loved ones during this time? are there certain things that are proving to be sources of motivation/ inspiration? if so, please feel free to share. 
i am respecting everyone's feelings and boundaries. i am also trying to share only laughter and comedy. it is too easy to spiral and i always feel humor has usually helped me brighten my outlook, and i try to share that with my friends and coworkers. i also am obsessed with ryan heffington's sweatfest on instagram, it's a fun way to keep us moving when there is nowhere else to go. 

how do you embody kai's "breath*life*flow" lifestyle? 
i love supporting women, especially hard working, passionate and kind women. my love for the ocean as well as my home away from home, hawaii, has inspired my own business, creating eco friendly chic swimwear. i feel i am contributing in a positive way to women and the earth. 


what's the best advice you've ever received? 
the best advice i have ever received was, "don't give advice". usually sharing experiences and knowledge is more impactful and relatable; switching the narrative is frequently more helpful, rather than just getting an earful.

do you have a mantra you live by?
life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death, you have to LIVE LIVE LIVE. i try to practice that every day and teach that lifestyle to my daughter. 

what's your beauty secret? or must have beauty product?
kai's deodorant - it's safe and smells wonderful. my other daily go to is coconut oil - i use it on my entire body, face and hair. i am super low maintenance, but i do require a lot of water!!

go-to lipstick color? 
chanel mademoiselle

what color nail polish are you wearing right now?
ESSIE - 5 different colors (my 9 year old painted my nails). 

who is your role model? 
i have many different role models for the many different areas in my life. coco chanel's groundbreaking impact in fashion and life is very inspirational as well. 

how would you describe your personal style? 
eclectic with an edge


what do you love most about where you live? any secret spots you love to go to? 
the mountains and ocean are minutes away, my secret spot is my secret spot lol.

describe your perfect day.
going on a nature adventure, knowing my loved ones are safe and taking in life! 

favorite date spot?
sushi.

ultimate getaway? 
getting a massage on the water in bora bora. 

favorite food?
mexican hands down!! i have rarely met a chili relleno i didn't like.

guilty pleasure?
Ben and Jerry's Glampfire. it's limited edition, so it's hard to find (thank goodness).

kai obsession?
kai's room reed diffuser and kai's home linen spray!! OBSESSED, i spray lightly on freshly folded laundry, it's heaven. 


morning person or night owl?
the night time is my time! 

currently craving? 
papayas from the big island.

ideal way to relax/ unwind?
overlooking the ocean on a hammock listening to khruangbin, snuggling with my daughter.

what book are you reading currently?
Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle.

what's the most adventurous thing you've done?
in my early 20's i picked up and went to india and south east asia for 3 months, with no set plan and no cell phone or internet!!

thank you, Andréa Bernholtz! 

7.09.2020

kai conversations with... lisa king, founder of b-glowing



kai conversations has been an ongoing series on our blog, typically focused on kai devotees who are also celebrities, influencers, and experts in health and wellness. we recently thought to turn the spotlight towards our beloved kai retailers, also experts in their field, and inspiring us as business owners navigating through these uncertain times. for our first "retailer conversation" we are honored to feature lisa james-king, founder of b-glowing.com. her entrepreneurial story is incredible, launching in 2004 one of the first e-commerce beauty destinations specializing in luxury, prestige and niche beauty brands. we think you will enjoy meeting her as much as we have enjoyed working with her for many years. 

xo,
gaye.


how are you taking care of yourself and your business during this time? are there certain things that are proving to be sources of motivation/ inspiration? if so, please feel free to share.
i intentionally set up my workspace at home next to my upstairs deck where i can look out the windows, keep the door open, hear the birds and feel the breeze every day. honestly, it's the best office i've ever had. what more could someone want every day? my inspiration comes from enjoying the beauty that surrounds us in Portland, OR. we live in a wooded area so even when we are on our deck it feels like we are tucked away in the woods. pretty much every night we have a wood burning fire pit going and a big glass of wine. honestly, i could sit out there for hours with my family. i feel like i'm at the four seasons in whistler or something. it's the treat at the end of every day now.

how did you start your career? and how did you end up with your current role?
i came from the world of advertising working on commercial production. after 20 years being a part of amazing teams that have made some of the most memorable tv commercials of our day, i decided it was time to make a change. i told myself if i was going to do something on my own it would have to be something i was truly passionate about. then it hit me - I LOVE BEAUTY PRODUCTS! i've always been a beauty junkie since my teenage days. i enjoyed discovering new brands and sharing them with my friends. my enthusiasm was contagious. knowing that i decided to start my own website where i could share some of my favorite "undiscovered" brands. kai perfume was actually one of our first brands! 15 years later we are so proud to still stock it. today we continue to be an incubator for young brands while we also are proud to stock some of the world's favorite larger brands.



can you please share a few sentences about your retail business and what makes your platform unique and special to your community?
we've always been about authenticity and sharing what we love. if b-glowing was a person, we love to think of her as our "cool aunt". you know, that person who adores on you just the way you are. whether you have gaps between your teeth, dress differently from others, or whatever - she loves you for who you are and makes you feel incredibly beautiful! she loves to share her wisdom from her life experiences, of course, that includes her beauty secrets. this is what we convey in all our product write ups, in our blog "the glow" and that includes sharing our most personal life stories like when i battled breast cancer. we're not shy about saying it like it is. we are real and love our customers to be real with us.

how did you first discover kai? 
i was on a set in LA shooting a commercial and one of the production managers was wearing it. i was intoxicated! i had never smelled anything so fresh, clean, yet seductive. i wanted to nuzzle up to her. it was such a beautiful scent. 16 years later kai is still a staple on my perfume vanity.

what is your favorite kai product? 
of course, the original perfume oil, but i'm a sucker for those body buffers. i adore taking a shower using them because it makes it feel like i'm in a spa. the fragrance is to-die-for, the lather delish and i love the way it makes my skin feel.

can you please share a memory of a customer experience with kai? 
one of my first kai customers was a woman i working with in advertising. i was wearing the fragrance to work one day and she became obsessed. she started ordering it from b-glowing that day and 15 years later she still orders it.



what do you like to do for fun when you are not working? 
i love to hangout with my family, hike, and travel.

what is your favorite thing to do on the weekends? 
take day trips or hikes around the Portland area. i've been living here 20 years now and the beauty of Mt. Hood, the mountains and hills has never gotten old. i am continually in awe of the view. wine country is one of our favorite places to spend a weekend day. The Willamette Valley has some of the best wineries in the world and the views are breathtaking.

where do you look for inspiration for your business? are there certain instagram pages or pinterest boards you follow? or are there podcasts you listen to? 
i love the "How They Made It" podcast and the Alec Baldwin's "Here's The Thing" - "How They Made It" satisfies my desire of stories about building a business. it always makes me feel good to hear that others have had huge ups and downs as i have had. being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. as a former film major in college "Here's The Thing" satisfies my cravings for all things entertainment. some of my favorites to follow on social media are, "The Bucket List Family", "Best Destinations to Travel", "History Photographed", "Earth Pix" and of course a ton of beauty people i follow on instagram like @forever35, @lotstar and @kyliesallee.


thank you, lisa!