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Kristen Hill is the owner and sole proprietor of Kristen’s Cultures, a local fermented foods creator and distributor. If you are not familiar with the health benefits of fermented foods, or even if you are, be sure to tune in and learn all about the amazing health benefits of these super foods
Welcome to The Secret Life of entrepreneurs. Stay tuned to meet today’s guest and hear their story of what makes them tick. What drives them to succeed, and their role in growing a thriving business community. The Secret Life of entrepreneurs chronicles the success and secrets of locally owned businesses and owners listening live as we discuss their secrets, and learn how they are making a positive impact in their community. You’re listening to your host, Barb McGrath, business leader, entrepreneur, and founder of the Get found on Google program. Let’s get started. Our guest today is Kristen Hill, owner and sole proprietor with Kristen’s Cultures, a face painting business, which she’s told me twice but won’t stick. And she’s going to talk about fermented foods, why she chose this path and her second passion in her growing business. So welcome, Kristen.
Thank you. I’m excited to be here.
We’re excited to have you. So start off, tell us a little bit about yourself and end your different businesses.
Okay. So I am Kristen Hill, and I am a mom of four beautiful kids, I hit the jackpot by getting two girls and two boys. The boys are 10 and seven and the girls are five and two and a half. I’m a software engineer by trade. And I own Kristen’s cultures, which is probiotic foods and drinks and do it yourself fermentation workshops. And I am a face painter now. I just started that in August with joyfilled face painting.
Excellent. There we go. joyfilled face painting. See I needed to say it out loud, then it’ll stick. I don’t know why that didn’t stick for me. Oh my goodness. Okay, so two businesses and volunteer activities. And for kids who for the record are all 10 and under, so still needing a heck of a lot from mom and dad. So how do you balance it all? How do you get everything done? Like my groceries would never get bought?
Yeah, that’s the eternal question. We all have to say you don’t have to buy all your groceries because you’re making fermented food.
You’ve got the shortcut, you’ve got like a kitchen at your disposal.
So I actually mainly stay home with the kids. Okay, so I basically I rent a commercial kitchen for one day a week. And sometimes I have to go in at nights when the chefs are out of the kitchen. So last night, I was there from about nine until 3am. So it’s always an adventure. Wow. And for face painting, it’s often on the weekends. And then during the week, I try to just sneak in social media marketing here and there. And my husband is wonderful. He also has his own engineering consulting business. So he’s able to help me out too. So he’s got some flexibility than to. So this morning, he was able to let me sleep in and drive the kids to school.
So he’s an excellent support to wow, that’s and I’m sure you’re very grateful for that. Yes. I’ve got some amazing support at home too. And I know I’m super grateful to have that kind of support. Absolutely. Okay, so one of the questions that I always like to ask people is, can you tell us about a typical day? What does a day look like for you? What time are you up? How long do you normally work? I know last night was an exception. Yeah.
So we get up around 730 and get the kids ready for school, make lunches get dressed, I drive them to school because they go to semi private school. And then sometimes I dropped my daughter off at preschool, which is twice a week. And then usually we’ll come home and we’ll hang out and do whatever. You know, often it’s household things. Sometimes it’s visiting friends or going to play dates. I really enjoy going to three mom’s groups. And during their playing time and stuff, that’s when I’ll often do business stuff. For Christians cultures, for example, I offered to pick up days a week. So I’m always trying to keep in mind Okay, today, what do I have to put out? And then kind of just coordinate with my husband to see when we can make things happen because of course the kids have activities too. Yep.
Okay, that sounds good. So having made water key for myself before, so of course there’s kombucha. There’s water kefir, and and I loved my Waterkeeper absolutely loved it. But, but water kefir doesn’t always go on your schedule. versus you know, the schedule for the greens. Yeah. So like, how do you make it all come together?
Well, that’s one of the reasons that I was there last night so late is because I have the commercial kitchen when they are closed the restaurant. Yeah, and so kombucha especially doesn’t follow that timeline. So I often will just have to pop in, you know, nine at night or 10 at night or just try to make it work and just do my best with that. It’s often fly by the seat of my pants.
As I think it is with many business owners out there. Yeah, absolutely. You’re you’re kind of doing what you think you need to do just to get things to come together.
So I like last night, I had a board meeting from six till nine. So I was like, Okay, I’ll go in after that. And then I ended up getting more done than I expected. So I just went with it and you stayed and you just continued to get things done. Yeah. Yeah. Isn’t that the truth? Once you find a rhythm, you just kind of keep going with it?
Absolutely. What are customers googling when they find you and find any of your businesses? It might be Kristen’s Cultures, it might be painting like, yeah, they wouldn’t be looking for.
So I think in Regina, they would Google Regina face painting or Regina birthday parties for the face painting business. I’m guessing that they’re probably looking for healing for Christians cultures, okay. I often talk about gut healing and our immune system and how it actually affects our entire bodies. Okay. A lot of autoimmune disorders can be helped with probiotic foods. So they might be kind of googling into that. Even the activity, a commercial and the fact that Costco has kombucha and it’s becoming really mainstream is very helpful, because now I’m not explaining things to everyone. They don’t look at me like I have two heads when I say all these weird names.
She what has that done from a competitive standpoint, because now there’s mass produced products on the market. And I have to think that the number of probiotics and a mass produced product is considerably less than something that’s also been home brewed. And that’s not necessarily the right term. So how what impact has that had?
Well, I try to look at other kombucha makers or other probiotic food makers or even other face painters, as not competitors, but collaborating with them. And so it’s people love supporting local is one thing that I’ve noticed they do. Absolutely, yeah. So with, like the Costco brand, or now I’ve noticed there’s cases that superstore of it as well. I like to just educate people. So if you’re going to buy from there, great, but always read your ingredients and labels and stuff. And they may have been sitting there for months. So they eventually sort of lose their probiotics as they get shipped or the education piece I find is missing when you just go and down a bottle of kombucha from the grocery store shelf, you’re not understanding what’s happening. And so you can go into detox. Oh, totally. So they’re selling that. So I very much try to educate people and be there to answer questions. And I also teach classes, because I think it’s great when people want to make their own just like you do.
Yeah, exactly. So we used to make water kefir. And we were going through, let me think back, I want to say we were going through about four liters of water kefir on a weekly basis. And we’re a family of four. So the very first time I made it, I did no, you know, take it in small amounts. Like I was, I was fortunate that way. Okay. I had made my first batch and had no idea what to expect in terms of flavor, like really had no idea what to expect. And I drank, let’s say six ounces. Okay. I felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck. Oh, my God. Like, I honestly I stopped and I thought, Oh, I’m getting the flu. This is just coincidence. I’m getting the flu. Yeah. And three or four hours later, I felt fine again, and I was like, Huh, okay, I’m gonna go try another six ounces. Yeah, there was that mattress back in my living room. So I was like, wow, okay, so this is doing something I didn’t know what it was doing. And, you know, to be honest, you’ll understand this better than I did and still do. The first set of water grains that we had, were huge, like, some of them got to be golf ball size. They were huge. You can imagine the size of the water container that I was having to use to, you know, keep these things alive. And it just got to be too much. I was giving them away. I was like, I couldn’t get couldn’t couldn’t get rid of them. Hardly. Yeah. So I retired those greens or I froze them thinking I would go back and they never came back. So I got a new set of water grains and they just, they never let up. lived up to the expectation. Okay, which was really disappointing because we loved our kefir. Yeah, and we had such a nice, fizzy kind of pop, like, fizz with hours. And when you really learn to love something, it’s and all of a sudden, you’re drinking flat pop every. No, this isn’t cutting it for me.
Yeah, so those greens had a different composition of bacteria and yeast than your old ones.
That’s right, exactly. So tell us about that. Like what do fermented foods do for us? What’s the benefit?
Okay, so I like to talk about them in terms of soldiers because that’s an easy to understand term that even kids can understand. So and I love teaching kids classes. By the way, there’s so much fun Okay, so basically our body actually has more probiotic cells or bacterial cells than it does animal cells or human cells. Okay. Wow. Okay. Yeah. Okay. And when we go to the bathroom that’s actually made up of more in weight more bacterial cells than food even. So I found that really? Yeah, that does shock me. Yeah, I just learned that last bit last week, actually, when I was reading a book, okay. And so I just feel like people don’t understand the importance and the depth that that impacts us. So in our body, when we eat sugar, Candida yeast called Candida albicans grows and grows, and it’s supposed to be there. But sugar in our culture is rampant, and we actually usually eat too much of it. And so when Candida gets out of control, it causes sugar cravings, which means we eat more, which means it grows more. And so in order to keep that at bay, we need to have a really good gut, which is intestinal shark Flora as they call it, which is basically the good soldier so we need good soldiers to keep away the bad soldiers. Okay, which is why our immune system is affected by it so much. Yeah, cool.
Okay. Well, there you go. Everything you want to know what your gut and more so like, how does that how does a business like yours? Get people to know that you have products out there so they can pick up a couple of days? I know you have a website? I think you have a couple of retailers that that sell for you. So how do people get to know you know that they can buy your product and like how do you market yourself?
So I tried to do a lot of social media marketing, posting. I have a page of course and I post on groups. Word of mouth is big. I think my Kombucha is sold at the 13th love coffee house. Okay, in the cathedral area, which is such a cute awesome little place. It is yes. And I also have my mustard right now, in the wandering market in Moose Jaw, which is on Main Street is a fermented food. Is it always a fermented food? No, definitely not. Okay. Yeah. So I basically do a range of foods, including fermented veggies like sauerkraut, garlic, carrots, and kimchi as well. And I know a lot of people in my life who refuse to eat fermented products because they taste weird. Oh, okay, I wanted to do something that the average person would be able to consume, just like a regular food and not think ooh, I’m not gonna eat this because it tastes weird. And I have just had rave reviews of all my mustard. So it’s kind of a spicy Dijon mustard, old fashion grainy style. And my husband doesn’t even like mustard and he was like, now this I like. And so I’ve had people buy that as gifts as well, because that’s something that isn’t like what the heck is this kombucha or what? I don’t like sauerkraut. It’s just like, put this on your sandwich. Like you would have normal mustard.
Got it? Yeah, yes. I’m not a mustard fan either. But I can certainly see like kind of understanding what the fermentation process does to taste. I can see that working really well with mustard.
Yeah, so I what I do is I actually use my kombucha vinegar, okay, which I brew from scratch as a base for that.
Okay, that makes sense to me. So did bring me a sandwich today. And she didn’t even bring me a bottle of like Waterkeeper combo.
Yes, again, because of its schedule, it is still second fermenting now, which means that it’s getting nice and bubbly, but not ready to taste.
So so how, let’s see, how would I ask this question? How much of the food that your family eats is fermented?
Well, because I have a husband who doesn’t love ferments like I do. We I mean, I would say we eat. We drink kombucha and water kefir, me and the kids sometimes like at supper, but sometimes we don’t sometimes we’ll have water or milk. Okay. Often we just eat, you know, like say sauerkraut and kimchi as condiments. So because you can’t heat it up. It’s harder to incorporate into like if I’m making a soup or something cooked right? But one thing I love to do is put kimchi on rice or potatoes for example. So I can chew would be awesome on those. Yeah, so I try to incorporate it in in creative ways. Sometimes you can make salad dressing how to have like, I’m doing ginger cider vinegar rather than apple cider vinegar now, so you can make that into salad dresses. And often I will just do it as a shooter. And my brand new product is called gut party. So it is a fermented brine shooter cape and it’s infused with Tumeric for anti inflammatory properties and some citrus flavor to make it more delicious. So I’m going to be keeping out with my pills. So like my supplements and stuff. Sure. And I’m gonna take a shot of that before bed, and I’m going to take some kombucha vinegar in the mornings. So that’s become one of my new routines in the new year.
And so is that a product that you’re selling as well? It is. Oh, okay. So tell me, like, who Who’s your ideal customer on buying something like that?
Well, I feel like the average person really needs to get a healthier gut flora these days. And because it’s becoming on more on people’s radars, it’s, it’s kind of more in the mainstream. So at first, I had more people who would be deemed crunchy. Okay, that would come to me because they already knew about what the heck this kombucha and Water Kefir was. But now I feel like it’s often just your average person trying to get healthier, just like the average person now is wanting to go to the gym more. It’s January. Yeah. And yeah, I think just in general, especially if you’ve had antibiotics, or if your kids have antibiotics, wipe out all the good bacteria with good or bad. Yeah. And so especially in this time, where there’s so many viruses going around, it’s very important to populate yourself while you’re on the antibiotics and then then especially right after so, because then if it’s like a blank slate, and it’s a war between like, which soldiers are going to win, maybe need to get on that right at the start. And after antibiotics, sometimes you’ll notice a six week pattern of getting sick again.
And that can be heard people say that yes, it’s like, oh, every month I’m sick every six weeks. I’m sick.
Yeah. So that’s one one issue of gut health.
Okay, I lost my train of thought. So I’m going to do a quick station ID. You’re listening to night views, The Secret Life of entrepreneurs and 91.3 fm CJ TR. Regina community radio. We’re here today with Kristen Hill from Kristen’s Cultures, Joyful Painting, and many volunteer roles, as well as for work get done in eight feet. And well, I guess your husband’s got feet too. So you gotta figure out. Okay, so we talked a little bit about kind of marketing and now there’s more competition in the marketplace, because of course you can walk in you can buy water kefir, you can buy kombucha, you can buy kimchi, you can buy so many of these things. Do you think overall? Is it making a difference in our health?
Yeah, we it is okay. And it used to be thought of as more of a crunchy health. Like you mean, kind of like that. Granola? Yeah. Can people that download to joke about being hippies? Okay, there we go. Yeah. But I think that it’s becoming much more mainstream. And so it’s a lot more accessible now. Because it’s in more stores and more people may have tried it. Whereas before, if I’d say kombu to people might have been scared. Like a maybe I’ll just pass for now. Right? But now somebody might say, Oh, my daughter gave me that. Or, oh, yeah, I tried that at a party. So it’s less scary to them.
That’s not usually what you hear people say, Oh, I tried not at a party. That was where I had my first sip of kombucha and I was hooked. Really? Yes. Okay, so I’m just trying to had I even tried it before I made it. I don’t think I had, I don’t think I had. So I was going to a local gym at the time flux, School of human movement. And we were doing a gut challenge. So there was all sorts of things that Darcy had us doing. I can’t remember most of them now. But the kefir was one. And so Ann had given me some grains. And like, I figured I got nothing to lose, right? Because everybody told me it was gonna make me healthier. And it did it honestly, did. I truly enjoyed it. And I’m still sad that those grains are no longer well, I’ll have to get you some new ones, Ben? Well, I do have one sitting in the fridge. And those are the ones that just never took off. And so if you don’t enjoy it, you don’t want to do it, and you don’t want to do it, then they sit too long,
But nobody’s gonna get you healthier grants and yeah, and cell cultures as well, so that if people even if they don’t take a class, they can make it themselves because I do really want to make it accessible. Yes. And you had asked me if it was making a difference in our health. So mainstream health now is finding so much more about gut health that they didn’t know before. So there’s way more studies being done. There’s way more research, and they’re just finding it makes way bigger of an impact than they ever imagined, even on mental health. So if people have anxiety and depression that can surprisingly be caused or impacted by your gut as well.
You know, I have heard that I think, to your point, the studies that are being done, I think we’re learning more and more every day the link between our gut and our brain is way more intense than we ever thought that it was. And yeah, no, I’ve I’ve seen seen lots of good stuff that way to talk about surprises. Is there anything about being a business owner or businesses owner that surprises you? Or was there anything that doesn’t surprise you is every day a new surprise?
Um, I feel like it’s a real learning journey. So I don’t know what surprise. But I’ve learned a lot about myself as a person, which is super helpful. I’m very grateful for that. So I always think in my mind, even if I shut down one of my businesses today, I feel like it’s really enriched my life. I’ve learned about my own boundaries, my own gifts and lack thereof.
I like that, though. Kristen, your boundaries, it’s not something that we’re always comfortable talking about. And especially as business owners, when you’re a small business, I think there’s an expectation that, you know, well, she can’t be busy. So why can’t you just do this for me right now? Or he your, you know, whatever your business might be. And so I think boundaries are important. Right? Tell us about your boundaries. How do you set your boundaries?
So one great example is I offer pickup two days a week now. But at first, when I didn’t have a huge customer base, I would just say, Great, when would you like to pick up? And then it eventually got to the point where I was like, Hey, who’s picking up when and which products Am I putting out for them? And it got too much for me. Okay, so then I had to try to experiment and figure out what would work. Yeah. And then occasionally, if people wouldn’t pick up and I’d have something freeze, because we have horrid long winters here. And I would lose out. So that helped me to develop policies, and how do I be firm yet kind and also not TLDR? Like, I’m not reading, wait too long. So finding that balance has always been a continual process. And then starting this face painting business in August, it’s been another. Okay, what do I do with pricing? How do I explain what I need from them and how to make it easiest for them as a host, for example, at a birthday party or an hourly event? Okay. And one main thing that I thought of when you would ask me previously, what did you wish you’d known before, was that sanity is more important than missing a sale or a gig. So to me, for example, getting a sailor getting so for example, at first, I would have probably erred on the side of I just really want sales because I’m so excited about this business. But I would stress myself out with Well, I, I shouldn’t really be taking pickup days, like every single day, but I don’t really want to lose a sale. And now I’m like, Okay, I need to just put myself first.
Exactly. Kristen, we’re just about out of time. We’ve got about 30 seconds left. Can you give us some contact details? How do people find you find you online, get in touch with you if they’d like to purchase something great.
So on social media, I’m on Instagram and Facebook at Kristen’s cultures. And that Joy Filled Face Painting. And I also have websites Kristen’s cultures.com, joy filled face painting.com
Awesome. Well, thank you very much. So I’d also like to thank our audience for joining us here today on 91.3 FM CJ ter Regina community radio for night views The Secret Life of entrepreneurs. And Thank you Kristen, from Joyful painting Kristen’s Cultures, your volunteer roles, just you have so much to share. And I know I certainly enjoy hearing about fermented foods and it’s a good reminder. If you haven’t tried them, definitely give them a try and I would suggest trying local if you have tried them and haven’t gone back for a while. Maybe now’s a good time to go back and pick yourself up a computer or or what was something pretty get party got party here we go pick up by a gut party shot. I will be back on February 6 with Lou crossbow and Luke Rossmo and Garrett Bawden. Both who are musicians and entrepreneurs here in the Queen City and they’re going to talk about their story, of course, are in a very competitive industry, and they’re going to talk about how they’re finding success. We are at a time, I’d like to thank you for joining us today on The Secret Life of entrepreneurs. As always, if you’d like to be a guest on the show, please email me at email@example.com or reach out on Facebook and Instagram at abovethe fold.ca. Just a reminder, you can even submit questions in advance of the live show on any of our social media channels. I’m your host, Barb McGrath, local business owner, digital marketer and Google girl. Remember, you worked hard for your success. Don’t keep it a secret. Bye for now.