Dr. Kristian Edwards – Empowers Wellness

Dr. Edwards’ Vision for BLK + GRN and Beyond

Dr. Kristian Edwards discusses founding BLK + GRN to offer toxin-free products from Black artisans, fostering holistic wellness and community empowerment.

BY  A.  Baldie

In the realm of wellness and conscious living, Dr. Kristian Edwards stands as a beacon of empowerment and change. As a professor of public health and a fervent advocate for natural lifestyle choices, she embodies the essence of holistic well-being. However, it’s her role as the visionary behind BLK + GRN that truly underscores her commitment to fostering healthier, happier communities.

BLK + GRN isn’t just a marketplace; it’s a testament to Dr. Edwards’ unwavering belief in the power of #BlackGirlMagic and the transformative potential of mindful consumerism. Conceived as an avenue to support Black artisans while promoting toxin-free living, BLK + GRN offers a curated selection of all-natural products spanning skincare, home essentials, and bath and body care. It’s a testament to Dr. Edwards’ dedication to providing a platform where individuals can align their purchasing decisions with their values, supporting both personal health and economic empowerment within the Black community.

The genesis of BLK + GRN finds its roots in a deeply personal journey. Motivated by a desire to mitigate the disparities highlighted in the Environmental Working Group’s research, Dr. Edwards embarked on a quest to embrace natural, non-toxic products. Her quest led her to realize the intersectionality of her mission—to not only prioritize personal wellness but also uplift Black-owned businesses.

Central to BLK + GRN’s ethos is the meticulous curation of its offerings. Dr. Edwards and her team employ a rigorous selection process, ensuring that each product meets stringent criteria for quality, safety, and alignment with the platform’s values. Through this approach, BLK + GRN has emerged as a trusted destination for those seeking products that not only nurture the body but also reflect a commitment to sustainability and community well-being.

Yet, Dr. Edwards’ vision extends beyond commerce. It’s about fostering a dialogue, empowering individuals to make informed choices, and cultivating a culture of holistic wellness. Through initiatives like her engagement on social media platforms, she seeks to inspire and educate, bridging the gap between consumer and creator.

As BLK + GRN continues to flourish, Dr. Edwards remains steadfast in her dedication to amplifying Black voices, championing natural living, and nurturing a community of empowered individuals. Her vision for the future is one of growth, innovation, and continued advocacy—a vision where wellness is not just a lifestyle but a catalyst for positive change.

In conversation with Entrepreneur Prime Magazine, Dr. Kristian Edwards shares insights into the genesis of BLK + GRN, its commitment to quality and community, and the transformative power of conscious consumerism. Join us as we delve into the heart of a movement that’s redefining wellness, one product at a time.

What inspired the creation of BLK + GRN, and how do you ensure that the products featured on your platform align with your mission of promoting natural and healthy living?

I read, “Study: Women of Colour Exposed to More Toxic Chemicals in Personal Care Products” in 2017 by the Environmental Working Group. It showed how products marketed to Black people are more toxic than products marketed to every other demographic. I was personally committed to using products that were natural and non-toxic. On this journey, I read the book Our Black Year, which discussed how individuals had a lot of power to uplift Black businesses if they purchased their products. So I modified my list to be natural products by Black-owned companies. However, I had to go to a lot of websites to order the products I wanted and I had to test them for effectiveness. I created BLK + GRN to be an easy one-stop shop to find non-toxic and Black owned products.

My mission has and always will be to connect Black women to the tools, resources, knowledge, and products they need to lead happier and healthier lives. I believe that a life free of toxins and all things artificial is a life worth cultivating.  My purpose through BLK + GRN is to help Black women do exactly that while also elevating and incubating a group of Black women artisans who otherwise would not have a place to share their stories or their products with the very people they created them for. Since 2017, BLK + GRN has elevated over 100 Black-owned brands and shipped over 18,500 orders of non-toxic products placed on our marketplace.

How do you select the Black artisans and creators featured on BLK + GRN, and what criteria must their products meet before being included in your marketplace?

At BLK + GRN, our all Black artisans are carefully chosen by Black women’s health experts who know what an all-natural product truly looks like. We’ve seen first-hand the damaging effects harmful ingredients and practices have had on our community. Our marketplace connects Black women with natural lifestyles to high-quality, toxic-free brands that share in our mission of health, wellness and community cultivation. We promise to maintain that connection by curating, crafting and consuming consciously for you. We use a 4 step onboarding process:

1. Discover – We love finding small Black artisan brands that are high quality and really meeting a unique need. We have hundreds of artisans that we have discovered, but we are not interested in carrying every product possible; we curate our selection to include only the best of the best of Black-owned brands.

2. Alignment – We only partner with Artisans that have built their brands on the values at the heart of BLK + GRN — health, wellness, and community cultivation. We go deeper with the Artisan, asking questions about sourcing, packaging, personality, and community responsibility.

3. Quality Assurance – We wouldn’t bring anything that’s toxic into our home, or yours. We check each product ingredient against our Toxic Twenty List- which was developed utilizing the latest research – and we ensure that nothing scores above a 5 for toxicity. We want to be absolutely sure we’re offering you the cleanest plant-based products on the market.

4. Test – Once we’ve ensured safety, we test for effectiveness. For this, we turn to aestheticians, dermatologists, makeup artists and other professionals to use the product and report back on effectiveness and quality. Dr. Kristian personally tests every single product!

What measures does BLK + GRN take to ensure product quality and customer satisfaction, and how do you handle feedback and returns? 

BLK + GRN aims for 100% customer satisfaction. While all sales are final and we do not accept returns, we want to hear from you if you are not happy with your purchase. If our customer receives a damaged or incorrect order, we ship them a replacement. If they have feedback on the product itself we share it with the creator to incorporate in their constant analysis of their product. 

As a marketplace focused on natural and non-toxic products, how does BLK + GRN stay updated on industry trends and regulations to maintain the integrity of your offerings?

We use the Environment Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep® database to stay up to date on the research around the toxicity of ingredients in personal care products. When we discuss ingredient safety in our ingredient library, we regularly refer to the EWG’s safety and sustainability rating because we consider their data fairly reliable, and their research is public. Their scoring system is between 1-10 when rating ingredient safety and sustainability.

Looking towards the future, how do you envision the growth of BLK + GRN, and are there any upcoming initiatives or partnerships that you’re particularly excited about?

I am really excited about my TikTok and going live more on IG. I am getting emails from my customers that they want more information from me about healthy living. I am so excited to talk about healthy eating, easily incorporating exercise into daily activities, self-love tips, gardening, in addition to my use of non-toxic products.