I had a blast talking to Kristen Crawley, badass entrepreneur, mother, wife, and future Korean Drama fan. Speaking with her was nothing short of inspiring and the topics ranged from confidence, shoes, to moon signs.
Kristen was nothing short of a treat to talk to. She is balancing a lot and still manages to come across as personable and warm, on the phone and on her Instagram. She’s learned a lot to get to where she is now, and maybe you could learn a little something from her words too.
We are obsessed with your skin – What is your current beauty routine?
Ooo, oh my gosh okay. I got this Clear and Brilliant Laser treatment a few weeks back so my skin routine is a little different. My skin is really sensitive to the products that I was using– recommended by the nurse– were giving me breakouts. Now I’m going back to my tried and tested routine that I’ve had for over a year and has worked really well for me.
First I do a double cleansing: I’ll start with the Dr. Barbara Sturm Foam Cleanser and then I’ll do this Take Care beauty balm, it’s from an all-natural beauty company, and I’ll use the black charcoal face wash from there. I wash, make sure all the makeup and dirt is off my face and then I’ll do a cold rinse to close my pores.
Then I do a hyaluronic acid serum; Dr. Barbara Sturm has one, this other brand named Stack Skincare has one. You can get them pretty much anywhere. I do that, then depending on what time it is– if it’s daytime, I’ll do the La Mer Cool Gel Cream mixed with the Sturm Sun Drops which are SPF 50. Then I’ll put that on my skin and I will be good to go. If it is night-time I’ll do an oil: like a papaya serum or a heavier kind of oil just because my skin gets really dry. The papaya serum is also from that brand Take Care Beauty Company. I’ll then do an eye cream. I really like the Genaissance de La Mer eye cream and I put this lashfood on my eyelashes because it really makes my lashes curl up. That’s pretty much it for my face.
Of course, I’ll brush– I don’t know if you want all these details. [chuckles]
Of course, I do!
So I actually don’t use normal toothpaste. I just brush my teeth with baking soda and then I rinse with peroxide. It makes your teeth so clean and so white. It’s crazy! Then I usually do some kind of lip exfoliant like a lip scrub or my lip mask just because my lips get really dry and chapped. Then I will follow up with lip balm over that. For hair, I always like to put oils in my hair. I love the Sisley Precious Oil Hair Products and I’ll put about one pump in there and will take some of the Oribe Power Drops— they have one that’s good for anti-pollution or color treated hair– and I will mix those two together and apply it to my hair and brush my hair. Then, I’m pretty much good to go to bed.
And that’s like a regular night when I’m not doing any masking!
Oh, wait, okay, let’s talk about masks. Do you use sheet masks?
I do. I love sheet masks. So my favorite full face sheet mask– obviously KNC Beauty for eye and lip masks– I love the Joanna Vargas Euphoria Face Mask , it’s so nice. It’s amazing. I really like her products a lot. I really like her deep exfoliating mask too. I don’t know if you’ve used that but it’s like a liquid and you just rub it on your face and let it sit for a few minutes. I’m obsessed with it.
Whenever I do a mask or any facial night, I always exfoliate first. I’ll use that and do a detox mask, so I’ll do a clay. I just used one the other night that was like a detox flower mask and it was really nice.
So after that, I’ll focus on hydration. I’d have just deep cleansed my face and exfoliated, so then I want to put moisture back. That’s when I pull out the sheet masks. The Joanna Vargas one or Magic Stripes, I don’t know if you’ve tried that one before, but it’s really nice. They have a hyaluronic moisture mask. The La Mer Treatment Lotion Mask is amazing.
Hm, I’m trying to think of what else. I even like Bliss, their stuff is really good. I feel like it is really hard to go wrong with a sheet mask, right?
Right. The only thing about them is– I love sheet masks, but I’m black and they never fit my face correctly most of the time.
Do you find that they’re too wide or they’re not wide enough?
The nose part will be too short like lengthwise and widthwise.
Ah, mmhmm. [other noises of understanding and agreement]
And then the mouth part is never big enough for my mouth. [Laughs uncomfortably]
Ugh, that’s so weird, right? I can’t find a good fit either. You should try Lancome. They have these hydrogen ones. We’re actually developing a full face mask for next year but I’m trying to use this new technology called hydrogel. The Lancome one might fit you better. I feel like that’s a problem because you can’t really make a mask for everyone’s face size right?
Yeah. That’s something to think about though since you’re coming out with a line of them. That’d be a cool marketing angle.
No, yeah, I have been thinking about that. My nose never gets covered either and it’s always like weird with sheet masks. Don’t you think? It never like stays down on your nose.
Yeah exactly! I’m always like well, I guess my nose didn’t need anything.
That’s where I usually need it the most!
I put on that Dr. Jart’s acne mask and it didn’t cover my nose at all! I was like this is where all of my bumps are.
Same. So many blackheads. Do you use any retinoids?
Yeah, I actually do. My eye masks have retinol in them– a smaller amount so it is not too strong. I use those and then I’ll use the Drunk Elephant retinol cream. I’m just starting to get into retinol for my whole face. I love it for under my eyes and I think it works really well but I’m just starting to use it for my whole face. I’m just trying to take it in stride.
Yeah, right because it does do that purging business.
Yeah and I like to be out in the sun, so I don’t want to go too hard with the retinol.
That’s fair. What kind of music do you listen to while you get ready?
Um, it depends on where I’m going. If I’m going out for the night, then I obviously listen to something a little more upbeat like hip-hop or whatever. If I’m winding down at night, like taking a bath or doing a little self-care routine, it’s more R&B and classic hits from the 90s and 2000s. Definitely Aliyah kind of vibes.
In the morning, when I’m getting ready, I love to listen to like Majid Jordan [laughs].
He’s one of my favorites, I’m like obsessed with them. I love their music so much because it just feels so timeless and I can listen to it around my kids. I don’t have to worry about turning it off really quickly because they’re about to curse or something like that. I’m really obsessed with them, I listen to them all the time. All the time!
But also if I’m cleaning, I love to put on Mariah Carey essentials.
Yeah, my oldest son is like, “Oh no it’s cleaning time.”
[Laughing because this sounds like my childhood]
He knows when Mariah comes on– he tries to run and hide because he knows what time it is.
That’s awesome. So is there a specific song that you can put on in the morning and it’ll like get you in the mood to take on the day and just get you in the groove of having a great day?
It’s funny. I think the Majid Jordan song “Her” just gets me in the groove. It’s such a beautiful song because he’s talking about the girl that he loves. It just puts me in a good mood.
I think you would like this song called “Ashamed” by Omar Apollo. Have you heard of it?
Ooo I’m going to have to check it out. Let me put it down right now.
It’s kind of Prince-inspired and you can hear that in the beat and stuff.
Okay. Yes, that’s what I like about Majid. I can feel a little Prince in there, you know?
Of course! Your makeup skills– just your looks are [can actively hear me thinking of the words to describe her Picasso-esque, artistic looks] enviable.
[laughs graciously] I don’t know about my skills but thank you.
Hey, I learned a tip from you…
Yeah! There was something you said about putting brown eyeliner in your upper waterline.
Yeah! To make your eyes look bigger.
Doesn’t it make such a big difference?
It does. It really does.
That’s awesome. I’m glad I’m helping people.
So, who or what inspires your beauty looks?
Oh, my gosh. I have so many pictures saved. I have a whole folder on my Instagram called Mood Board.
It’s full of looks I want to try and filled with stuff like cool graphic eyeliner, etc. I really look to girls on Instagram that are doing cool things. There’s this one girl that I found that lives in Oakland. Her name is Teisha Jenaie. She just does the coolest stuff with liners, really graphic stuff. I had a Dior makeup event one night and I had the guy recreate one of her looks and it was really, really popular.
She’s one of my inspirations when it comes to makeup and doing really cool and interesting stuff. I don’t really have a makeup icon, though. I do always look to the 90s supermodels and how they were always kind of natural and fresh-faced. If they did something it was one little pop. Like a pop of blue eyeliner or a red lip. It wasn’t a full glam look.
It just doesn’t work for me. I try to do natural, but elevated. I’m always looking for that extra little something because I don’t want to look plain either. So instead of like a black cat eye, I’ll do a navy one or something emerald green. Just so that it’s a little more interesting than normal.
Yeah, I don’t have a particular muse or inspiration it kind of just comes from everywhere.
Nice. So, how do you find new products that you’d like to try? I’m assuming you don’t just walk into Sephora and just pick stuff up, but you might, I don’t know.
No, I do. I do. Of course, I’ll order stuff that I’ve tried before online. And I’m very blessed to have people send me stuff a lot of the time, so I don’t have to go buy something if I don’t want to. I actually like going into stores because it’s also the business that I’m in. So, I need to be knowledgeable about what’s going on, what are the new trends, etc. So I do; I like to go into Sephora. I always look at the beauty section of Urban [Outfitters] or J. Crew because so many stores have them now.
I’ll go to the mall on an off-day, during the day, and look at Macy’s, Nordstrom, or Sephora just because you just need to know what’s going on in your industry. Also, I just buy a bunch of stuff. If it looks cool or interesting, I get it. I don’t really have a set stipulation on what I will or won’t buy, unless it is full of chemicals. If I see something that I think is really cool, but see ingredients that are known to cause cancer, I’ll be like, “Nah I need to put this back. I don’t need it that bad.”
Have you always been really mindful of ingredients and products in that way?
I’ve been mindful of it since I was in my early twenties, when I started really paying attention. Before, I didn’t even really think about it. I feel like most people didn’t think about the ingredients before, but now, it is one of my major buying decisions.
I just don’t feel comfortable putting something on my skin that I know can cause really bad things, you know? I’m going to have a problem using that product if I buy it. My subconscious will just be like “Mmmm, no.” and I won’t feel comfortable at all. I’ve been pretty conscious about it for quite some time and I’m really happy that people are starting to think about it.
People are definitely more concerned about what they’re putting into and on their bodies and its led to this huge surge in organic beauty products. That’s something you were at the forefront of when you started KNC Beauty, so how has this increased interest in organic beauty affected your brand, if it has at all?
It’s definitely affected it. We’re one of the very few all-natural sheet masks companies. Net-a-porter just released a report that their natural beauty section had grown by over 400% and we were one of the top sellers for our eye masks in that category. As people are becoming more aware of what they are putting on their body, they’re searching for that. So it’s helping our sales and its helping to spread the word. We’re an all-natural company and we’ve been around for a few years. It’s been nothing but positive for us.
Wow. That’s awesome. Do you think growing up in Chicago has influenced your interest in fashion and beauty and where you are now in life?
Um, well I didn’t grow up in Chicago.
Oh, you didn’t!
I grew in Springfield, Illinois which is like three hours south of Chicago. I spent my whole 20s in Chicago though, and we would always go up when I was a child– but I’m not from there. I’m from a smaller town in Illinois, but with that being said, it definitely had an effect on me. When I would go up there for the weekend or summertime, I would see all of these people wearing all of these things that you couldn’t just get at the regular store. They just looked so cool. I thought, “Wow, where are they getting this stuff from?”
That made me have more of a hunter mindset because I knew I had to find that stuff. This was before the era of the internet, this was before online shopping– now you can find stuff that is 30 to 40 years old, like amazing vintage archive pieces, but back then you couldn’t. You had to go to the thrift store and that’s what I did. I would even shop at Goodwill sometimes because you just never knew what you would find.
I definitely think being around a more diverse and urban group of people definitely made me think about fashion more and my personal style. We were also close to St. Louis, so I would go there a lot and it is obviously very different, but it was still like, if you had swag and you had style, you stood out. I always wanted to stand out like that. I was never a girl that got a lot of attention for her body. I was very thin growing up, so I never got that attention for my body, I never got it for my looks, so I wanted to be the fashion girl and have people compliment me on my outfit and the way I style things.
I can’t change my body and my look, so I want to be known for that, rather something else.
Are you a sneakers or heels type of girl?
You know it’s funny, it depends. When I’m going to a business meeting, or I’m going out to dinner, or for an event, I almost always wear heels because I feel like it really just elevates the look. My every day, when I’m running errands, when I’m just around the house or out with my kids, I wear sneakers so it is really like 50/50.
I love comfort, but as I’ve gotten older I want to look and feel more like a woman and there’s just something about putting on a nice heel that gives me instant confidence.
That’s awesome! Would you describe yourself as a confident person?
I think that I’m getting there. Naturally, I’ve never had a lot of confidence. Like I said, I grew up in the midwest, I was very thin. I grew up in a small town where there were probably only two or three biracial people at my school. It was like, you’re either white or you’re black, and that’s it. So that was really tough. I would get teased a lot. I was very, very thin. I’m thin now, but in school, I was always getting teased. So that’s when I decided to focus on things that I like, like fashion, art, and schoolwork.
I think growing up like that, in that environment, made me lose my confidence. But as I grew up and left that small town, and saw the world more and was able to talk to people that weren’t so close-minded, then I was able to gain my confidence back. Being around people that have seen other things and have seen other ethnicities and skin tones and body types was really refreshing. Over my twenties, I gained a lot more confidence, but naturally, I’m not a super confident person. It’s taken a lot of time to get there.
I’m glad you got there though, that’s awesome.
Thank you, me too. [chuckles]
Do you think that feeling of being different has influenced the way that you tackle life now?
Yeah. Growing up, I felt like it was not a good thing to be different. But now, I’m so happy to be different and think differently. I move differently and my ideas are different. That’s an asset now. Before I would have thought, “Oh, I just want to look and be like everyone else.”
It’s definitely been an advantage, especially with a brand, and trying to think outside of the box, and do new and innovative things. Like with the eye masks, there were so many eye masks on the market, but I wanted to create one that was affordable, really effective, and cute. I wanted something that people want to take pictures of. That’s why I developed my own shape. Think about all the beauty brands and all the eye masks you’ve seen, and we were the first to do a custom shape. That’s a part of the reason for the success. We don’t pay for marketing, we don’t pay for ads, and we don’t pay for influencer posting, so I had to think about what was going to make people want to post that anyways.
We’re in such a space today where everyone is getting paid for everything. I knew I needed to create something that looked cute on and people were going to want to post. That kind of out-of-the-box thinking is what has led me to my second successful product instead of doing what the “normal” person would have done, which is just making the eye mask the same shape as everyone else’s. It’s definitely been helpful to be different.
This is so– this is mad inspiring.
Oh great! I’m glad.
Right? I mean I write for a place called No Basic Girls Allowed, so pretty much everyone who works for the magazine is not you know, “normal” or yeah, you know what I mean?
It’s just so nice. IT’S OUR TIME. [laughs]
I’m curious, how do you stay creatively fresh and original with so many fires going at once? You’re an entrepreneur, a wife, a mother. That’s a lot. How do you replenish yourself?
Girl, I know.
So, it has been difficult, I’m not going to lie. It’s been pretty difficult to juggle everything. I’m going on year three with KNC Beauty. My kids are 3 and 9. RSVP is turning ten this year as well, so it took quite some time, but I’ve learned time management is so important. Carving out– actually, I’m a Cancer so I get really moody sometimes. If I don’t feel like working that day I won’t work. Which is really bad. [chuckles]
I kind of have to let myself be because I can’t force anything on myself. It won’t turn out well.
That was last year. It got to this point where I would go through these really depressive states, and these ups and downs, and I wouldn’t answer my emails for a week or two. It just got really bad, it just made me more stressed. What I do now, is that I make sure I carve out at least one hour a day, and I set a timer on my phone where I sit and answer emails and I get caught up on all my work. I put my phone down, I don’t get on Instagram, and I really focus. It is incredible how much you can get done when you’re just focused on one particular task. I get all of my work done every day in that hour.
I have to try that. I’m a Cancer moon and I am the same way. [laughs]
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Yes, I know! It just got to the point– I had a really rough mental year last year, because I had so much on my plate and it got to a place where I just mentally checked out. Then, when you’re ready to jump back in you’re like, “Oh my god I have 5,000 emails.” Mind you, most of it is junk mail, but still– just seeing that number is–
Yes! It’s so stressful. It’s been much better now though, because of a few things: my son turned three and now he’s in preschool. Before, he was only in school two days a week and it was half days. That was really rough, but now he goes every day for most of the day. That’s crazy right there, that’s a lot of hours that I can work and do stuff and even just chill and watch Netflix and do nothing. By the time he gets home, it is all good, and I can have my day finished. In the morning until the afternoon, that’s when I make sure I have my work stuff done and my chilling relaxing stuff.
When the kids get home from school, I make sure I spend quality time with them, and then when my husband gets home, we have dinner and watch a movie or something. It’s all about time management and now its schedules too. When you have kids you have to stick to that schedule because if something gets off schedule, everything is thrown off.
I also made the decision to stop drinking, because when I go out and I drink, I’ll feel bad the next day and want to recover. It won’t even be a rough night, I’ll have like three drinks and now it does not sit well with me. I don’t know if its because I’m over 30, or what. I’m not saying I’m committing to sobriety– If I feel like having a glass of wine while I’m out, I’ll do that, but I don’t really go clubbing anymore or stay out late. There were some nights in Paris where I’d stay out until three or four in the morning. I don’t really do that anymore because I’d rather wake up and go walk around and shop and sight-see. It’s all just me becoming more of an adult– taking my work more seriously, taking my family time seriously, and pushing out those old habits I had when I was immature. It’s time to boss up now. 2019 is going to be KNC’s breakout year, and that’s because I’m focusing now.
We’re going to get it together collectively.
You’re manifesting this energy I can feel it. Do you believe in manifestation?
Oh yes! Of course, I believe in all of that. I believe in it all.
What is the first thing you do when you get a moment of free time?
When I get a moment of free time?
Yeah throughout the day, say you’ve had a super busy day, what’s the first thing you do when you have free time?
The first thing I do is make a snack. I’ll make a snack and I’ll get on my iPad and I’ll watch tv. TV is my favorite thing because it is an escape.
My husband gets mad at me because he always wants to watch documentaries. And I’m like, “I don’t want to watch documentaries!”
“I don’t want to learn right now. I want to laugh!”, You know what I mean?
YES. I agree with you 100 percent.
It’s so annoying.
Then he gets mad at me and is like, “I’m trying to educate you.” And I’m like “Look, I don’t want to learn about stuff right now. I am tired of hearing about all this conspiracy stuff.” Do I believe it? Yes. The world is so messed up… I really just want to.. I want to…
You want a mental break.
Yeah, I just want to unwind and I want to check out. I want to watch something that entertains me and makes me forget about all the problems in the world, and not make me over think about them.
Have you watched PEN15? [it’s supposed to look like penis but I wasn’t bold enough to say it on the phone] It’s on Hulu.
No I haven’t. Oh, I don’t have Hulu. Do I need to get it? I have Showtime, Netflix, HBO, Spectrum and Amazon but I don’t have Hulu.
Everyone has been telling me about the Handmaid’s Tale. I feel late on that.
I didn’t really get into it. I’m not good with like– it’s like dystopian and really dark and I like to–
It’s like Black Mirror kind of?
Yeah it is.
I can’t watch stuff like that.
Do you like Korean dramas?
Nooo. I haven’t heard of them.
If you love romance and comedy then I think you’ll love K-dramas.
Wait, are you talking about Kim’s Convenience store?
Ah no. They aren’t like that.
No? Okay I thought I had one. [laughs]
Romance is a Bonus Book, that’s the first one. Strong Girl Bong-Soon. And Oh My Ghost.
Is it subtitled?
Yes it’s all subtitled.
Okay, I don’t mind subtitles. One of my favorite movies ever, is a French three hour movie, and it is all subtitled.
What movie is it?
Blue Is The Warmest Color.
Oh I love that movie!
I saw that you signed on to be a creative at Wilhelmina, are you excited about that?
Yeah! I’m super excited. This is a new vertical and I’m one of the first that they’ve signed. They have been great and totally get what I’m trying to do and my vision and everything. That’s nice. I think we’re going to do really awesome things this year.
Where do you see KNC beauty going next? Where do you see yourself in 3 to 5 years? Vision board time.
KNC beauty is going to be so major! I have so many plans and I’m really excited about it. We have three new products launching this year. They’re all lip care products to add onto the lip mask and the lip care experience. We have our first two of the three products coming out in the summertime, and then the last one later. We have some cool collaborations coming up this year. Next year, I want to do another three to five products.
I need to find a sweet spot. I take so long to put stuff out because I am such a perfectionist, but it’s like “Girl come on, you can’t put something out every eighteen months.” I’m trying to find that sweet spot, where it’s not doing too much, but still doing more than what I am now. That was all learning.
I didn’t realize when I was creating my eye mask, that it would take me a year and a half to do it because of customizing shapes and formulas and stuff. For example, if I’m going to be doing a holiday box, I need to be working on that now, and not in like September. It is all about learning and putting the things that you’ve learned into motion and just rolling with it. We’ve got some new products and collaborations this year that I think will really just take KNC to the next level. I’m just looking to expand in an organic way.
I saw you in the Issues/Hold On music video with Teyana Taylor, are you going to be an actress now too?
Yesss. Oh my gosh, probably not. But it is funny because Teyana is a good friend of mine and she was like, “Hey I’m going to be having a video shoot, do you want to come make a cameo?” And I was like, “Okay!”. I was on my way to a concert, and I just stopped by on my way to say what’s up and then, of course, I ended up staying there all night long.
It was really cute. She directed the whole video herself which was cool. She’s just really awesome. She sings. She dances. She writes her own songs. She directs her own videos. She does her own choreography. She’s just so talented.
Honestly, it’s just awesome how many women we get to see doing badass things and being truly creative and being able to witness that. You’re one of those people too I hope you realize that.
Oh, thank you. I appreciate that. I don’t know if I see myself like that but it is really nice to hear.
You definitely are. What does being a non-basic girl mean to you?
Oh, man. That’s so funny because our brand book at KNC says on one of the pages “Nonbasic”, I kid you not.
It is just about being yourself. Everyone is different, so I don’t want to single anyone out and say if you wear Uggs and like pumpkin spice lattes, then you’re basic. It is not about that. It is about doing what you like and being who you are regardless of what society tells you what you should be, and what you should do. Nonbasic is not about how you dress or how you look, it is about how you carry yourself, and how you create, and your ideas. At least for me. Of course, I always try to look unique with my clothing and stuff, but being nonbasic is more so a state of mind. I don’t follow what everyone else does, I don’t believe what everyone else says.
If you do, that’s okay too, but for me, being nonbasic is being your own true person regardless of what society wants you to be.