Total Health: Kendra Martin of Craft Lab Co. On How We Can Optimize Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing

Authority Magazine
Feb 17 · 27 min read

Integrating creativity into your routine spurs innovation: I strongly believe that doing creative activities creates innovation in a person. If your desire for your mental performance is to come up with new and great ideas, then I’d add at least one creative activity to your daily routine. You could start small, buy a pack of Playdough and use it to mold with your hands each morning. Or if music is your thing, spending ten minutes a day devoted to that. My best ideas for Craft Lab Co. have come at random when I’ve been spending a lot of time nurturing my creativity. One of my favorite product ideas came to me when I was singing! What’s happening when we are creative is that we are tapping into different parts of our brain, and that allows us to see problems and solutions in a unique way.

Often when we refer to wellness, we assume that we are talking about physical wellbeing. But one can be physically very healthy but still be unwell, emotionally or mentally. What are the steps we can take to cultivate optimal wellness in all areas of our life; to develop Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing?

Kendra Martin is the CEO & Founder of Craft Lab Co.™, a company that provides Creative Wellness Experiences, which are hands-on activities designed to stimulate the senses. Kendra’s intention is to help move modern female warriors from “fight-or-flight” mode into “rest-and-restore” by giving them opportunities to relax, be present, and get creative.

Craft Lab Co.™ launched in October 2020 and recently released a new experience that stimulates your sense of touch, Kendra’s fave the Balance | Buddha Bead Kit.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I grew up in a small town in the Mojave Desert in California (so small you’ve probably never heard of it), Ridgecrest. The desert was my backyard, my prickly playground. I was immersed in flora and fauna since I could walk. Play time was outside, and I had to get creative since there was nothing but open desert landscape. The lizards were my pets, the dirt was my molding clay, and the rocks became my special treasures. That’s basically still my life! Because of that time as a child completely engrossed in nature and forced to develop my creativity, I still find contentment from those elements; touching them, seeing them, hearing them. I’ve incorporated so much of that into my company, Craft Lab Co. All of the Creative Wellness Experiences I’ve developed are curated to stimulate the senses and invoke creativity. I found that creativity and experiencing things hands-on takes me out of fight-or-flight mode and moves me into rest-and-restore, the parasympathetic nervous system state. It helps me avoid those awful feelings of fear and anxiety that crop up naturally in the human experience. So I created a company devoted to offering people that same opportunity. It’s sort of abstract, but when you actually make a candle with one of our candle making kits, or you string gemstone beads onto a string to make a necklace, you drop right back into how you felt as a kid — relaxed.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

The decision to start my own company happened slowly over the period of a year. Yes, it took an entire year for me to get the courage to leave my kush corporate job, liquidate my retirement savings, and just go for it. And that’s because… it’s TERRIFYING! Fear drives so much of what we do as humans, whether we are consciously aware of it or not. Most unpleasant emotional responses stem from fear in my experience. So there were lots of fear moments I had to move through. I had an incredible support system from my family and boyfriend, to my friends, to even former bosses and coworkers. They all inspired, supported, and believed in me. Throughout that year of existential self-discovery I also did a lot of research. I took a week off of work to write my business plan, and during that week I got a feel for what owning my own company might be like. That freedom to work at a coffee shop, to transpose my creativity into company vision. It was exhilarating, and I was hooked. During that year I also read and listened to women who have walked this path before me. Women like Oprah, Marie Forleo, Lacy Phillips, and Gweneth Paltrow and Elise Luhnen from Goop. Those are a few names that stand out because they offer not only examples of success, but their paradigm of exploration and deep self-awareness is really to me the key required to be able to do great things.

I always had the entrepreneurial itch, but thought it was too risky to listen to my intuition. When I was able to hear, see, and feel what life could be like for me, it became a matter of when, not if. I had some unfinished emotional hurdles I needed to overcome before I was ready to take the leap of faith. So I took my time and tackled some serious ghosts in my emotional closet. Lots of panic attacks, crying, meditating, physical exertion, and creative expression exercised the demons. Then I was ready, and I jumped head first with no safety net. I went all in because I didn’t want to have an easy way out to rely on in moments of insecurity. Certainly not a conservative approach, but I’ll tell you what, I’ve never been happier or more fulfilled in my life than I am now because I had the courage to live the life I actually wanted to live.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

I feel so much love and gratitude for the connections I’ve experienced, there are many people who helped and encouraged me. All the people I previously listed fall into this category. But one thing I’ve learned is that the most powerful shifts in who you are as a person come from within. I say that not to discredit any external relationships, but the most critical relationship of all is the one with the self. When we talk about wellness, in essence that’s what we are talking about afterall. Becoming who you want to be comes from your own soul. And I’m referring to holistic wellness, not just physical “oh I look great today” wellness. No other human can create the change within you, any external motivation or validation is ephemeral. It has to stem from within. For me that’s where it came from. This yearning to be more, help more, do more.

I have a daily journaling practice as a part of my self-care program, and each page has a quote at the top. Today in my morning journaling session a quote from Elizabeth Gilbert read “the universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.” I think the secret to becoming who you want to be is embodied perfectly in this quotation. The light shines bright in each and every person, it’s a matter of finding the light and letting it be your guide. When your spirit is able to light the way for your human experience, that is when you can live your most fulfilling life.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made was to consider mistakes as failures and fear them. I used to be a perfectionist, and my need for external validation ran deep. During that year of soul-searching, before I started Craft Lab Co., I realized that I’d rather “fail” at being an entrepreneur than not try at all and stay unfulfilled in my career. I knew that if I was going to be an entrepreneur I would make mistakes every single day (and trust me, I do). Now each day when I make a mistake I see it as me getting stronger, more nimble, and more helpful to my customers and the world around me. When I fail each day, I’m failing forward and I’m doing it with all of my heart and energy behind it. My intentions are pure, so I accept my mistakes now. Years ago I would allow myself to get so overwhelmed and embarrassed by mistakes I’d make at work that the insecurity and fear was paralyzing. I didn’t want to live that way anymore, and now I don’t.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I have two that were so crucial in my personal growth I just have to list both here :).

The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukov — Two main concepts I took away that shifted my perspective: 1) the role of intention (the intention behind my decisions) and its effect on how I show up in the world, and 2) the relationship between the personality and the soul. I could go into depth on how these ideas changed my life, but I’ll do my best to summarize. Zukov’s words on intention serve as a reminder for me to practice metacognition (thinking about my thinking, being aware of my thoughts and why I make the choices I make). Secondly, his separation of the personality (what drives my emotions) and the soul (that light within me that is omnipresent and pure) offered me such a relief. To understand that my emotions ebb and flow, they are not who I am, is paramount to feeling a sense of contentment.

The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle — This book is very aligned with the value proposition of my company, which is that our experiences allow people to be grounded in the present moment and feel relaxed through sensory stimulation. Tolle talks about the power of presenteeism, how today is really the only relevant notion of time required for happiness. He discusses the pain body and that really ties back to somatic awareness. Listening to these ideas some years ago before I ever came up with Craft Lab Co. likely expanded my own awareness of these concepts, and I think without that awareness the thought of my company intention might never have manifested.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

My mom says this to me all the time, “progress is perfection”. So simple and yet it has the ability to combat fear. I don’t have to be perfect, I don’t have to be happy all the time, I just need to keep progressing. My goal is growth, however that shows up in my story, for better or for worse. I will make mistakes, I will “fail” at things I try, but I will keep showing up and bringing the best version of myself that I can today. All I have to do is be my best self today. That’s the only thing I really have control over anyways, so why stress on the rest of it?

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I just launched a new product that I absolutely love, it’s an experience designed to stimulate your sense of touch by allowing you to make your own mala (beads used in meditation to help clear the mind). I call it the Buddha Bead Kit, and it comes in two variations currently, Turquoise for balancing the chakras and Rose Quartz for love energy. The goodness is twofold: when you make your buddha beads you are focused on the present moment, the task in your hands is to touch and create, and you are using your hands to create something that is uniquely yours. It is very relaxing and gratifying. Then at the end of the experience you have something that can be used to further your meditation practice. I love 2-for-1 functional concepts, so it’s exciting to be able to offer people a relaxing experience but also enhance their personal wellness moving forward (i.e. meditation). Imagine a world where self-care is a top priority and people are spending more time creating and relaxing in the simple pleasures of life, think about for a second how the collective paradigm might shift, the ripple effect that could have on how humans interact and the innovation it could lead to. When humans are calm and creative, great things manifest, and that’s my vision.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. In this interview series we’d like to discuss cultivating wellness habits in four areas of our lives, Mental wellness, Physical wellness, Emotional wellness, & Spiritual wellness. Let’s dive deeper into these together. Based on your research or experience, can you share with our readers three good habits that can lead to optimum mental wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

Mental wellness is all about connecting to your purpose in life, to be able to think clearly, manage stress, and contribute to society. In order to do that some things need to be in alignment.

Do you have a specific type of meditation practice or Yoga practice that you have found helpful? We’d love to hear about it.

I practice both meditation and yoga pretty much every day, it’s a big part of my preventative self-care program. I do guided meditations, I love the ones from Deepak Chopra, or I just lay in silence with my eyes closed for a few minutes each morning and focus my attention on my breath and try to relax all the muscles in my body. The more stressed or upset I am, the longer the meditation. I upscale my self-care to meet my current mindset. The more emotions I have, the more self-care I do. I have to get back to homeostasis before I can be of the utmost use to society. My goal is to be even keeled each day, with a mindset of contentment for how my life is today and today only. If my thoughts run into the past or future, I recognize them and then bring attention back to the here and now. For yoga I practice both heated vinyasa and bikram. I am a certified vinyasa yoga instructor, so I love flow-based sequences. I often set an intention or choose a mantra for my practice, to keep my mind from wandering. Yoga is my number one form of physical exercise because it’s a practice of both physical and spiritual wellness. In both yoga and meditation I am able to connect to what I like to call source energy, the energetic current that connects us all. This is gonna sound really woo-woo, but sometimes when I’m fully in the zone of a yoga class I can physically feel the collective energy flowing from the people around me. It’s like a sixth sense that sets in, to feel energy, it’s wild and exhilarating. I become full of love and compassion. That’s one of the most satisfying feelings in the world to me, to be immersed in a current that is greater than my own. I can’t get enough of it, and oftentimes the focus of my meditations will be centered around connecting to that. It’s representative of something bigger than the self, the removal of ego and the immersion into life purpose.

Thank you for that. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum physical wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

When we think about physical wellness I’d venture to say most people think predominantly about food and exercise, but it is so much more than that. Right now we are living in an era that can be acutely overwhelming, especially in this past year. There have been a lot of fear-causing events, and what I’d really like to give people is habits to cope with those feelings of fear, worry, and anxiety — they all manifest physically in our bodies and have a ripple effect into other areas of physical wellness like our food and exercise habits.

Do you have any particular thoughts about healthy eating? We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

Most people associate the notion of healthy eating with some diet or eating style: Whole 30, Paleo, Keto, Vegan, etc. We like the idea of diets, because they promise results. The issue in my experience is that dieting isn’t practical, it doesn’t fit into my life as my life is today. I was Vegan for 8 months, and I was sick once a month for 8 months. I probably wasn’t getting enough nutrients, and was eating a lot of processed vegan foods. This isn’t to say veganism is bad or that any diet is bad or good, I’m just sharing my experience with them. I love the idea of all of them, I just have a really hard time sticking to them, and here’s why.

I’m not willing to plan life around the food I eat, I want the food I eat to integrate into my life and I want it to be a pleasurable experience. Diets take a lot of time and energy, and I’d usually prefer to spend that energy or time another way. So diet after diet there’s always a breaking point where I say “screw it” and I eat the cupcake (it is usually a cupcake or some dessert, I have an insatiable sweet tooth). I’ve tried and failed so many times, and now I don’t diet. I simply listen to what my body is telling me, back to that notion of somatic experiencing. If I’m starting to feel full, I stop eating. If I notice my energy levels are low, I eat something green, high in protein, or healthy fats like an avocado. I just give my body what it wants, I listen to it. It’s about finding a practical balance, extremes don’t work for me. Everything in moderation, including moderation, as they say. Most of what I buy at the grocery store is organic produce (mostly green), lean organic proteins, and nuts. I don’t eat dessert every day at home, but you better believe that if I’m out at a nice restaurant having a culinary experience, I’m not depriving myself from an incredible dessert. And because I moderate but also give my body those treats, I enjoy the treats more than most people (from what I’ve seen). I get so much pleasure from a slice of pie with whipped cream on it, I’m telling you I’m like a kid in a candy shop. I go crazy with dopamine, and I love it! Of course the caveat to my personal relationship with food is that I exercise almost every day. Exercising every day allows me to worry less about calories. Even if it’s just a thirty minute fast-paced walk outside, I have to get the blood flowing. By pairing the two, eating and exercise, I’m able to do both in a less extreme way. Extremes aren’t sustainable, and wellness isn’t about short-term gains, it’s about long-term wellbeing.

The best thing I can say is if you’re struggling with food, don’t go all-out and make drastic changes all at once. Start small, change one thing at a time. If you notice that your stomach is always upset after you eat dairy products, then cut dairy out for thirty days and see how you feel. It takes 30 days to form a habit. Compartmentalize the challenge, if you don’t it becomes too overwhelming and restrictive.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum emotional wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

Do you have any particular thoughts about the power of smiling to improve emotional wellness? We’d love to hear it.

I believe in the power of manifestation, in a human’s ability to create what they desire for their life. I’ve done it in my own life, and I never thought I could. Since I believe that, it would follow that smiling could improve emotional wellness absolutely. Take action each day that is in accordance with your highest and most authentic self, and if your highest and most authentic self is someone who smiles often, then smile frequently! At the same time, I do believe it’s important to allow yourself to feel what you organically feel. If a person lost a loved one, I wouldn’t say to them “YOU SHOULD BE SMILING!” It’s important to have compassion for ourselves and allow ourselves the space to be upset if we are upset. I think the key is the awareness of those emotions prior to taking action on them. When I’m in a pissy mood, tiny things can really grind my gears. Now that I have this habit of emotional awareness I can recognize that something unusually small is irritating me, and think to myself “oh, that’s a bit abnormal for me to be in such a tizzy about this towel being damp, I should probably pause for a bit before I interact with anyone so I don’t seap out sideways.”

Finally, can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum spiritual wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

One of my favorite topics, the spirit and the self.

Do you have any particular thoughts about how being “in nature” can help us to cultivate spiritual wellness?

Nature in my opinion is the embodiment of spirit. It allows you the chance to see, touch, taste, smell, and hear in this expanded way. It’s intoxicating. I am the best version of myself when I’m in nature, free and uninhibited. Nature connects us again to that concept of source energy, something greater than ourselves, and we just feel good when we are in it. I walk along the coastline a few times a week to keep close to nature. I touch everything I can when I’m in nature, I just fully embrace it. Again I go back to those childhood memories of being in the desert, completely immersed in nature, and think about how it made me feel. It’s a childlike wonder that nature brings to the adult psyche, and that absolutely cultivates spiritual wellness.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

A movement of self-care. I’ve touched on it so much throughout this interview, and it’s at the epicenter of my company, because I believe in it that much. I’ve seen it work in my own life, and in others. If we all took better care of ourselves we would treat each other better, be more productive, more innovative, and do greater things as a civilization.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)

It’s an honor just to be asked this question, my goodness! So I will absolutely put the plug out there that I AM looking for investors who would be the right fit and are aligned with my company’s intention. But also, my life would be made if I sipped an oat milk latte with Oprah Winfrey or Gweneth Paltrow and talked about all things wellness. Those two were so pivotal in my paradigm shift to be able to start Craft Lab Co.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

The Craft Lab Co. website is craftlabco.com and our social handle for Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook is @craftlabco!

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film…

Authority Magazine

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Good stories should feel beautiful to the mind, heart, and eyes

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Authority Magazine

Written by

Good stories should feel beautiful to the mind, heart, and eyes

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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