BLK + GRN with Kristian Edwards feature #60 of Together Talks
Updated: Oct 25
"Together Talks" feature #60: BLK + GRN presented by KLS, freight company
Some Background on BLK + GRN
For today's edition of "Together Talks" campaign, KLS had the privilege to interview Kristian Edwards, Founder, of BLK + GRN. BLK + GRN is an ecosystem of 135 Black women-owned personal care brands. They have tested and curated 1,045 SKUs of high-quality, ethically sourced, non-toxic, and cruelty-free products in the below categories.
Categories: Home - Feminine Care - Beauty - Bath + Body - Skincare - Haircare - Grocery - Mom + Baby
The company also possesses the below certifications:
Certifications: Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) - Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) - Small Business Enterprise (SBE) - MWBE
Imagine being a professor at The George Washington University, on your way to achieving tenure when your life is flipped upside down. Kristian was on this path, when she was tragically involved in a car accident. You can read the devastating article here. The accident left Kristian comatose. She shared with us that her doctors informed her parents to prepare that she would spend the rest of her life on life support.
Kristian spent 45 days in a coma due to her traumatic brain injury.
But not only did she wake up, she overcame everything. The road wasn't easy, but between speech and occupational therapy she was able to regain a sense of her life back. A true miracle.
After her therapy was done she had come to the realization that she could no longer teach to the standards she had set for herself. She had to walk away from education. It was at this time she had to decide what she wanted to do with her life since her career was taken away from her. Back in 2017 she had been compiling a list of natural products created by black-owned women that she used herself. Family and friends loved the idea and asked her to make them lists as well, but Kristian admitted this was tiresome. She got an idea to transform this model into a business. Thus, BLK + GRN was created. Fast forward to after her crash, medical stay, and therapy, Kristian decided to jump full into BLK + GRN less than three years later.
Kristian explained to us what is ultimately her favorite part of the job, "I can align mission and heart and passion with what I am doing every day. Our marketplace is designed not only to uplift black women entrepreneurs but also educate our consumers." As she explained to us, BLK + GRN sets out to help consumers before they get sick or before they are needing medical treatment. "We try to educate consumers with what they are putting on or in their body. It brings a lot of joy to educate and help.", Kristian explained.
The BLK + GRN website does a beautiful job eliciting the impact of their marketplace, "When buying Black, you possess the gift of influence. After purchasing at BLK + GRN, you use it to showcase Black women-owned products and support Black women collectively. When you live green, you possess the power to lead a happier and prioritize healthier life."
When the company was created in 2017, Kristian gives credit to one moment that really gave her that final push. She mentioned a book she read, also available on the marketplace, "Our Black Year". This book gave Kristian the mindset required to create her company, BLK + GRN. As she shared with us, "Put your money where your mouth is. If you care about black-owned, women-owned, family-owned businesses this is an opportunity to support those companies. Our marketplace makes it easier to connect these companies with consumers."
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The goal of the company is to provide a marketplace not for companies, not for businesses, not for owners, but for artisans. That is the partnership commitment that Kristian has created. As their website states for their mission, "One, to challenge the marketplace to normalize access to non-toxic products targeted to Black women and two, to fund Black women entrepreneurs’ who create non-toxic personal care products."
Here is a link to their dedicated process for any new artisan to partner with. Kristian shared that the overall goal is to work with newer start-up brands to help guide them through the process. BLK + GRN gives them an immediate platform to learn the intricacies of the industry without all the challenges that accompany getting into retail space or D2C selling. Their marketplace provides a start for these entrepreneurs to enter into the retail world.
What stands out for an artisan that BLK + GRN wants to partner with, Kristian elaborated, "Amazing packaging always helps products stand out, of course high quality while being all green. None of our banned ingredients are ever permitted, that is our commitment. We do a skin deep report to show how toxic a product can be and that is factored in as well." The marketplace with their rules and guidelines
Values and Commitment
The marketplace provided by BLK + GRN not only makes buying curated products easier, but it provides a level of trust and transparency with the products being sold. Kristian explained what separates her company from others, "Some marketplaces are all natural, but not all black-owned, or some focus on only black-owned but no focus on being all natural and toxic free. BLK + GRN offers both, without any exceptions, it is our mission."
The company also has their banned, "Toxic Twenty" list, which are ingredients that will not be found in any of their products featured at BLK + GRN. The company's commitment resonates with customers who feel that authenticity. Not only are the products created by Black women, but they are tested, effective, and they provide real solutions for consumers.
Kristian explained the culture as black women helping each other. She elaborated further, "I love working with women who are contractors. They have this vision and dream and BLK + GRN gets to help, support, and provide a platform to watch their companies grow." These partnerships with artisans is what makes the work so fulfilling to Kristian. She told us that she doesn't just want to do a job, but wants her work to feed her in some way.
Kristian did explain that there are hard days, the work never stops, and she does receive negativity, but she created a solution for herself. "I created a folder in my email, that whenever I am having a bad day I click on this folder and it has memories, reviews, kind words from companies and consumers. These little notes remind me of the work and opportunity BLK + GRN is providing."
Given what Kristian went through with her crash, her career, her new life she said her mindset changed. "I regularly felt like I would just shut it down, it can be taxing. But my accident was such a blessing and a curse. I've learned that nothing is that important to steal joy. I came so close to death, so I no longer operate in fear. I believe in what will happen will happen." This belief for Kristian is a pillar that enables her to continue to expand and grow the BLK + GRN brand.
The remainder of the year has a new website being launched for BLK + GRN. The new launch will make the process even more streamlined for consumers to find what they need and know where to look. Starting next year, Kristian plans to continue to build the team with the intention of bringing on a grant writer. She also believes there is a market for corporate gifting that is untapped potential for her artisan partners. "Businesses have made commitments to supporting black-owned businesses, but don't know how or where to look. We can be the bridge and make it a seamless conversion while connecting our artisans' products with these businesses. Win-win for all!", Kristian explained.
Kristian explained that her ultimate crystal ball for BLK + GRN is to have warehouses in multiple countries. The ability to provide products across the world would be so impactful in her mind. We ended our conversation with Kristian asking her what piece of advice she would share, "Trust yourself. We tend to know things even if it doesn't make sense or we can't explain the logic, our intuition is strong. There is a reason you're being led the way you're being led. Follow the path and trust yourself."
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Kristian also offers a Course, "Retail Ready", where she helps startups. If interested you can visit it here for more information.
Interested in being featured with "Together Talks"?
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Contact us as we would love to learn your story and share it amongst our audience.
Weekly we provide 2 companies our platform to expand their reach courtesy of our campaign. Let's collaborate!!!
KLS wants to thank BLK + GRN and the Founder, Kristian Edwards, for today's "Together Talks" feature. Keep up to date with BLK + GRN by following their blog on their website, check it out here. Follow along for the BLK + GRN journey with their social handles below!
Also check out the BLK + GRN Podcast here!
Klimson Logistics Solutions - Together Talks with BLK + GRN feature #60
*Klimson Logistics Solutions is an Industry Leading Customer Service 3PL. Our focus and commitment to our clients has us striving to be the BEST customer service 3PL for LTL, FTL, Reefer, and Drayage in the country. KLS, freight company, is a 3PL providing nationwide logistics solutions. KLS shipping services include: LTL freight, FTL freight, Reefer LTL freight, Reefer FTL freight, and Drayage. Klimson Logistics Solutions thanks you for viewing our marketing campaign, "Together Talks". If you have any interest in being featured or questions regarding your freight operations please contact us today!
Our precise and reliable effort.
We handle every shipment with the exact same process. It does not matter if you move one shipment a year or ten per day, you will receive the same level of customer service from us. When we started this company, we had one goal in mind, treat every shipment like it was our own. With our vast knowledge of the industry, we understood what a customer would want from a communication standpoint. We applied that process to be the standard here at KLS. Our reliability and being able to depend on our consistency is why we have such long-standing relationships with our clients.
Every shipment in our industry starts with a quote. We are firm believers that time is money, thus we strive to have quotes back in a 5-10 minute reply time for LTL and FTL, any FCL quotes are at the mercy of the carriers getting back to us. For LTL we have the flexibility to quote both off of NMFC and also Density depending on the carrier. Utilizing our services, you’re allowing us to use our expertise to class your freight accordingly to ensure we are providing the best rate we possibly can.
Once a quote has been submitted and a client chooses to proceed with KLS handling the arrangement of the shipment our full process begins. We create the BOL that will be used for the shipment. If it is a new location for our system, we will obtain all the important/special details (reference numbers, contact details, shipping hours, closed for lunch, dock/doors, etc.). We meticulously build every detail into our software for all future shipments involving that location. After we have both locations built and necessary reference numbers have been applied we will tender the shipment to the carrier. We use this method because it provides us a real time pickup number from the carrier to obtain updates prior to pickup. Our staff will either email the BOL directly to you or to the shipper (at your request) the minute after the tender has been accepted by the carrier. LTL carriers require a 2 hour window prior to close time in order to schedule it for a same-day pickup attempt.
The following morning you’ll receive an email from us. It will either provide the reason the pickup was missed (driver’s trailer filled up, driver missed the close time, truck broke down, shipper said no freight, etc.) or if the pickup was successful you will receive the PRO (tracking) number from us, along with the eta for delivery. Our staff will track it throughout the duration of transit and advise if anything happens that will alter the estimated delivery date. The day the shipment delivers we will email you with confirmation and the POD (Proof of Delivery), should you require it.
Your shipment has been quoted, scheduled, picked up, and delivered. The next step is waiting for the carrier to invoice us and make sure the rate matches up. If it does, we close out the invoice from the carrier in our system and automatically your invoice is created and sent to the requested party at your company. In the event the carrier has an additional charge on their invoice “Variance”, we will never send you an invoice with an additional charge without first identifying you of the charge.
Let us repeat, NEVER WILL WE JUST BILL OUT AN EXTRA CHARGE WITHOUT YOU BEING NOTIFIED.
You are our customer, we represent you. Should the carrier provide an extra charge on an invoice, “Lift gate, additional weight, reclass, detention, etc.) We notify you of the charge via email first. Second, within that email we identify what is required should you choose to dispute the charge. Again our goal is to honor your request, if you want to dispute, we will dispute. During a dispute we will provide you updates every step along the way. Once a dispute is closed out, whether it is approved or rejected, then we will invoice you as the invoice has been resolved.
For reference, our company only had 6.2% of all shipments go to dispute in 2022 and we successfully won 91% of those disputes on behalf of our customers.
This is our process for every single shipment you move with us. We don’t cut corners, we don’t hide from difficult situations. We believe in being available, honest, and transparent. We don’t ever want to tell you that a shipment is lost, damaged, misrouted, but it is our duty to notify you the second we find out something has gone wrong. We hate to present bad news, but it is part of the job. What you can guarantee is that we will work a shipment all the way through and turn over every stone until we get a resolution for our clients.
Our core business is LTL and FTL. Within these options we have options for both dry and refrigerated/frozen. We also offer FCL/Drayage options. Our company as a 3PL has nationwide options and services clients across the US.
Let’s breakdown our services more in-depth
LTL: Standard and Guaranteed CFS (Imports & Exports) Tradeshows Hazmat Anything that is on a pallet can be moved LTL. Typically LTL is up to 10 pallets, but the sweet spot for a carrier is 6-8 pallets at most for an individual shipment. LTL quotes are good between 5-30 days depending on the carrier. LTL can be quoted either via NMFC or density to determine the class (we do this for you).
Volume: Anything over 10-12’ of space in the truck is the technical rule for a volume shipment. When we run a quote for you we will determine if it qualifies for volume and provide you a rate if available. Volume moves allow you to get a reduced rate for larger shipments. The caveat to volume shipments it the quotes are only valid for 3-7 days and they move on capacity between terminals. If a terminal is backed up they will move their LTL freight first before the volume freight, which can lead to longer transit times for volume moves.
FTL/Dedicated/Expedited: 53’ Dry and Reefer 26’ Box trucks with lift gate Sprinter Van The main difference for FTL vs LTL is space and transit time. For standard pallets you can fit either 26 or 30 pallets in a 53’ dry van. The other main difference is transit time, for FTL each day counts in the transit time, whereas LTL does not count the day of pickup, weekends, or holidays in their transit time.
Reefer/Frozen: LTL and FTL We specialize working in the CPG space with food manufacturers. We regularly deliver to the following locations: Kehe UNFI Core Mark DPI Wegmans Cugini H.T. Hackney Netrition HEB ALDI Chambers and Owens EBY Brown Nassau Candy Harris Teeter Wakefern NU INC Long Distribution
What makes KLS different?
There are thousands for freight brokers and 3PL in our industry. Barrier to entry is rather easy and agents or owners will often hire sales people without any intention of properly training them. It results in high turnover for many freight companies and a forgettable experience for the client. We choose to operate differently through our consistency. We truly care about doing right by our clients and prospects too. While we would love to help provide our services to every company we speak with, that just isn’t realistic. We won’t always be the right fit for every company that moves freight and that is ok. Our authenticity as a shipping company sets us apart from the competition and that is backed up by our testimonials. We also run a marketing campaign bi-weekly called “Together Talks”. We interview, highlight, and promote two businesses every week. Our goal is to grow our network, make new connections, and learn something new with each collaboration. Check it out on our website and if you’re interested in being featured reach out.
Our company also runs a year long charity promotion. Book your first shipment through KLS and we donate to the charity of your choice in your name. Our way of thanking you for giving us an opportunity to show you the KLS way and what makes us one of a kind. This entire package is what we offer to every prospect and every client. Our goal is to help provide answers that customers may have when it comes to shipping. We want to always be available as a resource and will always offer a lending hand whenever we can.