Interior design is approached in a completely different way by the team at the energetic lifestyle company The Cristalline. Starting off her career in jewelry and proceeding to become an interior designer, co-founder Rashia Bell realized early on that she’s always had a connection to stones and their energy. So when she embarked on a journey of becoming a crystal healer, Bell had hopes that it could add the energetic connectivity that her and The Cristalline co-founder Elizabeth Kohn were looking for.
Today, Rashia Bell and Elizabeth Kohn help clients balance all areas of their lives by incorporating the natural energy of crystals in interior design and bespoke experiences. By exploring the personal aspects of clients’ lives that are reflected in their living environments, The Cristalline creates a design solution that merges the aesthetic and energetic worlds of design and energy healing together. Here, Rashia Bell opens up about why crystal work is moving from being reduced to a “hippy-dippy thing” to an increasingly demanded form of holistic healing, the important learnings from organically growing a company, and the value of having a co-founder.
How have your previous experiences in the fashion and beauty industries helped form the way you founded, and now run, The Cristalline?
Everything about this business has been a product of my past career and experiences and the journey that got me here. I feel lucky to have such a broad background from design, to products, to even being a CFO, as I know it is why we are able to do more than just one thing in our business and have seemingly divergent aspects all fit together.
What do you think are the pros and cons of having a co-founder?
For me, there are only pros, and it is no different than the pros that I see from collaborating with other brands. It is wonderful to have someone else that is as passionately invested as you are in your business and that brings a wealth of support. For me, it helps me in many ways maintain greater balance in my life and not feel as overwhelmed juggling the needs of a growing business. For example, about a year and a half ago, I found myself getting burned out in all aspects of my life from work, to other obligations, and living in NYC for many years. Having a co-founder allowed me the opportunity to live part-time in Colombia and have the ability to have a different pace and life in the weeks each month I spent there. Consequently, it allowed me to go full-force and prioritize my time better when I was in the States, but while away I was secure in knowing that the operational side of things were taken care of and the “fort” was being held down in my absence. I think at that time it made me a better partner in our business in a way that I wasn’t able to be before.
...when you and a co-founder have similar, but complementary skills, there is double the potential for growth and success.
My co-founder in my new venture is actually based in Hong Kong, which may sound difficult or untraditional at first glance, but the time difference is actually beneficial to our business. It allows her to oversee our brand partners in Europe, while I run the fulfillment side from the US. Being based in two major business hubs we have access to two different world markets and can effectively run our business nearly 24 hours a day. I believe that when you and a co-founder have similar, but complementary skills, there is double the potential for growth and success.
Are there any unexpected hurdles you had to overcome when founding your company? How has this journey been different than what you anticipated?
The fact that the business came about organically has meant that there wasn’t a roadmap, so some of the hurdles have been around feeling like the business is pulling you instead of you guiding the ship. On the other hand, there are some wonderful things that have taken place. When we originally set-out we thought that the business would be largely design-focused, since that was where we both had the greatest amount of experience, both being interior designers for many years. It has been pleasantly surprising to see that the personal healing aspect of the business has taken an equal, if not larger, role because of its breadth and depth. It is one area that personally allows me to learn and grow each and every day from my clients.
You mention that the personal healing aspect of your company turned out to be a larger role than you anticipated. Why do you think people in today’s day and age seek out holistic healing? Do you think the reasons have changed from when you first entered the space to today?
I don’t think the reasons have changed from when we started, I think they have only increased in both awareness and need. This is a day and age that is fast paced, hectic, technologically driven, and often overwhelming. Therefore we are constantly looking for ways to balance our energy and our mind. And because of this environment we seek tools that we can integrate on our own; tools that don’t have to be about taking a vacation or scheduling another appointment in our already packed days. I believe it is because of this that we turn to mindfulness and holistic healing. From meditation to acupuncture, yoga, and crystal healing the commonality is energy. How we can cultivate it, how we can shift it, and how those actions affect our mood, well-being, both mentally and physically, and from the greatest standpoint—how it can improve our lives.
If you were starting the business today, what would you do differently?
Honestly, there isn’t really much I would do differently. The whole creation of the company was somewhat organic, and there really was not a concrete plan that we had to adhere to. This has allowed for our business to be adaptable to the various types of clients from design to healing and given us the ability to have different revenue streams. One thing that I would have done differently is more functional in nature. When our website was designed, we didn’t know how many functions it would need to have so it has been difficult incrementally trying to get it to do all that we need it to and to service our range of clientele. So that’s one area where we’ve had some growing pains.
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What would you say the biggest misconception is about you or your industry?
I would say the biggest misconception is that working with crystals is just some “hippy dippy” or “trendy” thing. I am proud that the work that we do and the partnerships that we have with esteemed companies such as the Four Seasons Hotel Downtown New York and Philadelphia, are not only dispelling that notion but giving them the ability to be seen in a high-end environment and to reach a broader demographic around the world.
For a beginner in this space, what advice or set of guidelines would you offer?
First and foremost: Be open. Visit stores where the staff is knowledgeable and you are comfortable asking all the questions you may have. Secondly, you have to touch the stones in order to connect to the energy within the stones. I always say that one should disregard going in and reading the labels because you need the crystal for “x.” See what you are drawn to by texture, weight, and feeling first—it may surprise you to see which is the one you actually really need. I believe crystals come into your life when you need them, so even if you aren’t looking, don’t be surprised if they find you!
You can also start immersing yourself in the space and help get connected to your intuition through stones by attending a crystal healing session. In a session, I, as a crystal healer, facilitate guiding the client through a customized meditation and visualization while crystals are placed on the chakras (energy centers within the body). Based on what you are seeing and experiencing, I am changing the stones on the body to clear energy blockages, and help the client access deeper areas of insight. A crystal healing session allows the individual to greater connect to oneself, unearth unresolved emotions or feelings, enhance meditation or mindfulness practices and the ability to nurture and support the things that one is working towards through the custom crystal recommendations and practices provided.
...we are constantly looking for ways to balance our energy... How we can cultivate it, how we can shift it, and how those actions affect our mood...and from the greatest standpoint—how it can improve our lives.
What is a bad habit you’ve had to break on your entrepreneurial journey?
I can definitely tend to be a procrastinator when there is a laundry list of things to be done. There is little room for that when you have a small business and people look to you for direction or execution.
How do you invest in women around you?
I try to do so regularly in my day-to-day life and in my healing work. I try to invest in women by showing up and being a supportive friend and colleague. A large part of my private healing clients and wellness retreat attendees are women, so I have the opportunity to invest in them through them seeking out to have a greater understanding of their inner-selves, and I am grateful to be able to support them in their efforts and journey.
How do you invest in yourself?
Investing in myself can range from gaining increased knowledge and doing something challenging, to self-care practices and travel. I am someone that values and needs both introspective time and finding inspiration through my experiences, so I support myself by creating those opportunities and making them a priority.
What productivity tool would you be lost without?
Definitely my phone. I travel quite a bit and it is paramount for me to have the ability to do work on the go.
What is your favorite female-founded product, service, or company?
We recently did a product collaboration with Carbon38, that merged the energy of crystals with activear. It was a blast to partner with such a dynamic female-founded brand that also really cares about supporting female founders, and also love crystals!
What’s next for you and the company?
All facets of our company are growing, from being able to bring my private healing work to other cities, adding more wellness retreats, and expanded group offerings. On the design side, we are working on a crystal and stone based product line for the home and focusing on commercial-based design projects. Personally, I am keeping very busy as this winter I am launching another company called Re-Vityl with my co-founder, Iva Millereau. It is a lifestyle brand featuring products that are all about rest and recovery, that are perfect for home and travel, and hopefully we can bring that to The Helm as well soon!
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