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9.17.2015

15 years of breath*life*flow

i often say i'm blessed and i mean that in every way possible. from my health, to my family and in my work. i am blessed. and i am thankful. don't get me wrong, in the last ten years i have been challenged more than i'd like to admit. devastating losses that had me demanding of myself one foot in front of the other. but such is life, right? and i look around and say through it all, i am blessed and i am thankful.

15 sometimes very long, sometimes very short years ago, i launched kai. it was a happy accident that kai came to be in the first place so 15 years later feels pretty much surreal. with no business plan, no mission statement and no investors? i'm blessed. i've probably, no, i'm certain i've done all this in the most uneducated, unorthodox way possible. there have probably been missteps that i never realized or missed opportunities that i never knew existed. but here we are and this is how we got here over these last 15 years.

for as long as i can remember i've had a love/hate relationship with perfume and though my journey has not been pretty, it's all true. being hyper-sensitive to scents has allowed me to almost live in them. this includes the good, the bad, the ugly. fragrant flowers will stop me dead in my track to breathe in their beauty and be in that moment. it can take me anywhere. a distant memory or a new one in the making. we all have that and you've certainly heard about the power scent can have. it's quite amazing when you realize the connection your brain makes with just one inhale. but...it's also a double edge sword when it comes to my sensitivity. i've often equated myself to a running back when faced with a department store employee yielding an eau de parfum. my game plan is simply to get thru the fragrance department as fast as i can without getting "hit"! the best of the worst scents leave me with an unrelenting headache. the worst leave me sick to my stomach. anywhere in that spectrum has me in the restroom scrubbing the offender off and smelling like a combination of heavy/powdery/sickeningly sweet fragrance (pick one or all) and bathroom soap. i don't like the latter and better than the former so it's never a good situation and one i try to not find myself in. unfortunately, it took a few knocks to the head to realize that the scent that smelled heavenly on a friend would not translate in the same way on my skin. i stopped trying and swore off fragrance altogether.

fast forward to some month in 1998. i had read about a small perfume house that allowed you to create your own perfume and you only had to buy one pound. this would last me a lifetime! i knew exactly what i wanted and some appointments later i signed off on my own personal perfume! not only did i not feel the need for an aspirin or an airline bag but wearing it made me feel beautiful. so on a very crisp evening in new york i wore my new scent for the first time. two blocks down on a busy, christmassy madison avenue i heard a woman's voice coming from behind, "excuse me, is that your shampoo that smells so good? what is that scent?" i just about fell over when i realized she was talking about my perfume! long story short turns out she was a beauty editor. her compliments along with customers from my malibu boutique who would exclaim, "love what you're wearing" gave me the confidence i was onto something. i put the little roll on perfume bottle on my cash wrap for clients to use on their entrance/exit and watched what happened next. selling a perfume roll on with no box, no name? pretty unheard of. when i started getting calls from around the country asking for a scent that they were unsure of the name? mind-blowing. the rub that i really wasn't crazy about retail mostly because i believe it takes a special person to sell retail and clearly i wasn't that special. what the boutique and my dear customers allowed me to do was find my niche. and i loved it. loved that i was making other women feel good because of the scent, my little creating, that they were now buying and getting complimented on. hearing they were stopped on the street by strangers as i was or that their girlfriends, boyfriends or husbands loved the new scent they were wearing. incredible, but it still didn't click with me that maybe just maybe this is what i should be doing. two years later i sold my store and started thinking about my next "career" move. 4 months into my hiatus my dogs turned on me. yet, my dogs helped me decide to turn my passion into my profession. being bored and restless found me taking them on 3 mile runs twice daily. they had just about had enough of me. well, that coupled with the fact i was constantly being asked by former boutique customers where they could buy their new signature scent moved me to name and begin the branding process of my new business that i called kai. from kai's start in a tiny 10x14 foot office--which my son, robert, named my clown car due to the fact he and i were literally stepping over each other and shipping boxes--to the office space that we now inhabit some things have changed though essentially they remain the same. i adore what i do. i love my vendors, i love my clients and i love my team who i call my "angels" who are like my family.

it has been a wild ride with a learning curve i don't wish on anyone. but it has been fun and it has been rewarding and, as it turns out, what i believe i'm supposed to be doing. and it's all because of you! without you wearing it, telling your friends about it i would most probably still be nursing my one pound bottle running my very tired dogs on zuma beach. so thank you from the bottom of my heart! your support and loyalty means the world! that being said as i read these words out loud i realize they don't come anywhere near close to the gratitude i feel from my toes up! complete and absolute gratitude!

forever and always my love and appreciation!

xo,

gaye

p.s. we've decided to do something special for all of our fans who've helped make kai what it is. be sure to like our facebook page and follow us on instagram to get the lowdown on an exciting giveaway...

p.p.s. i can't close this in good conscience without giving recognition and thanks to oprah and her team as two of our products in the kai range, body butter and body buffer, were picked in 2007 as oprah's favorite things just as the recession was starting to hit. i don't know where we would have landed should things have been different as i watched peers, good businesses, fall away during that very sad time. so when i say "thank god for oprah" i mean it every single time! she was a game changer. as i said, i am blessed and i am thankful! here's to the next 15 and beyond!!

p.p.p.s. thank you, pappi, i don't know what i'd do without you!

a nostalgic look at our original kai packaging.
some of our favorite perfume oil press through the years...



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