We had the good fortune of connecting with Kimberly Slaikeu, PhD and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kimberly, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking.
This may not be a popular opinion, but I really feel like risk is the step-sister or black sheep of the family that gets a bad rap. Truth be told, we take risks every day that we are breathing , so to live a life of risk avoidance is literally impossible. When we choose to love someone it’s risky.
Becoming a parent? Risky. Deciding to work for someone else other than yourself? Still risky. There is no area of life where we can make choices and risk not show up. I think from the entrepreneurial standpoint, the impact just looks, and feels, bigger. There needs to be a narrative shift around risk to minimize the Boogie Monster effects we often allow it to play in our lives.
As an entrepreneur, I’m becoming more comfortable with changing my own mindset around risk(s)—this has not always been easy. It is a muscle that needs to be conditioned. With that, risks, for me, is becoming more of a corridor of opportunity rather than a hallway to avoid. Our egos are here to do a job—and that is to protect us from any form of harm. When it (my ego) begins to question and idea or opportunity that I am pondering, I take time to pause, thank it for the “warning” and push pass the fear. When it presents the question of “What if this doesn’t work?”, my response is “What if it DOES?”; I hold the beauty of possibility in my head which gives me the grit and persistence to keep moving forward.
Now granted, when you are considering something “risky” you must collect intel and evaluate the pros and cons. More importantly, you must have a candid conversation about what there is to gain AND lose—the beginning of something always starts with an ending. A comprehensive “checkup” is critical…and once that is done I go with what I’ve learned to trust—my intuition. There have been very few times over the course of my life that my intuition has failed me—there have been times that I, unfortunately, decided not to listen to it. Lastly, being healthy in mind, body and spirit is essential to managing risk appropriately.
If you’re “off” in any of those areas it could cause significant problems. This is why self-care is not something that is nice for me to do but a necessity so that I remain clear and open to the gifts and opportunities that God continues to send my way. I try to make sure that I keep my vertical path clear so that I can hear God’s voice clearly. This requires a daily renewal of my mind.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I’ve been in healthcare for over 25 years holding a PhD in nursing and urban studies and have held roles as a state and nationally recognized assistant professor, nurse executive, clinician and published author. I’m also certified as a professional life coach. This naturally makes individuals curious about how I made my transition from healthcare to food. The short answer is that I’ve always been a creative at heart.
Luxe Artisan Preserves offers a collection of small-batch, hand-crafted preserves infused with herbs and alcohol. As early as age 6, I began my training as a “flavor connoisseur”–I spent hours helping Big Mama harvest fruits and vegetables from our urban garden to be cooked or preserved. Her and my mom were both effortlessly masterful when it came to the kitchen. This is where my passion ignited for understanding the intricacies of flavor. It is also where I learned early on that being in the kitchen is more than putting ingredients in a pot. Food is love and is often found at the center of life’s most intimate moments–thus, it is to be respected at all costs.
The flavor profiles in our preserves collection are interesting and unique–pushing the boundaries of flavor is what Luxe is all about. Throughout my life, I’ve always been a bit of rebel going against “standards” set for women and, more specifically Black women. The rebel in me often shows up in the kitchen through the stories that I allow each profile to tell which makes Luxe unique. Each profile is built upon inspiration from a part of my life journey or inspiration from a piece of art of music that I have experienced. For instance, our plum + lavender + sage preserves–which is infused with creme de violette–was created to honor my mother who transitioned after living courageously with cancer for over 7 years (November 17 2018). Black plums were her favorite summer treat and our holiday meals were always full of sage. I incorporated lavender because it is my favorite herb and we infused her room during her last days with the scent for a calming effect. It is one of my most favorite profiles to make because it holds a lot of sentimental value. It can be rather complex to master the bold ingredients and get them to play well together.
My focus in the kitchen is upholding the integrity of high-quality ingredients sourced from local farmers and growers–in order to maintain their essential flavors and textural appeal. What also makes our preserves unique is the scope of usage. Most people think toast or cheese and crackers when it comes to the use of preserves. While traditional uses are great, many of our customers–affectionately known as the Luxe Family–use our products in a variety of interesting ways ranging from a base in cocktails, marinade for poultry/fish, to deglaze a pan, an ingredient in a breakfast favorite or as what I describe as an “accessory”, e.g., drizzled over their favorite dessert. Our products allow you to experience everyday luxury, by changing the traditional construct of your favorite dish(es). Luxe preserves can be equated to the finishing touch on a beautiful design. We are here to elevate the culinary food experience.
From brainstorming new flavor profiles to cooking in the kitchen, Luxe customers remain at the forefront of my mind. I find myself visualizing the conversations their having as they’re gathered with girlfriends on a Friday night, family on a Saturday morning or a self-care Sunday. I count it an honor to have Luxe products present in these special micro-moments. These are the moments that create the chapters in our lives. There are so many lessons that I am learning along this journey. First and foremost is that you must have an unwavering belief in yourself and how you share your gifts with the world–even in those moments where it feels as if no one else “sees” or “gets” it. You also must be willing to do the dance by jumping off the cliff and adjusting your parachute along the way for your landing. Do it afraid, do it while you’re trembling, but just make sure you do it. I would like the world to experience Luxe Artisan Preserves. We currently have customers across 17 states and the District of Colombia and will be showcasing in several grocers in West Michigan October 2020. The long-term goal is to have an international presence. While Luxe Artisan Preserves is a gourmet, artisan food product it is really a lifestyle brand. Luxe is a vibe….a whole entire mood.
I am currently building an infrastructure that supports the emotional, psychosocial, spiritual, physical essence and well-being of our core customers–badass women who are no longer interested in allowing a date on the calendar to drive their experience with luxury. Luxury can be created in those micro-moments that we spend alone and with those closest to us. Luxury shows up in how we treat ourselves and in the narrative that we feed our souls and spirits. Being healthy and whole is the foundation of luxury. I’m here to help women redefine what luxury looks and feels like in their lives. For me, Luxe is more than just a collection of dope preserves—it is an honor (and obligation) to journey with women as they redefine luxury in real-life moments. There is nothing more exciting than this!
Be on the lookout for a product line expansion that will evolve over the next 12 months that allow women to do just that. If there is one thing that this pandemic and the current unrests has taught us it is this–time waits for no one and the most precious commodity that we have. Respect it, care for it, and use it wisely.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Whew! This is a tough question because there are so many great places to choose from in Grand Rapids. Our world in Michigan still looks a bit different, thus, the hangout scene is not quite the same. However, I live for small quaint environments that have a strong sense of community–Malamiah Juice Bar, Squibb Coffee and Wine Bar and Forty Acres Soul Kitchen would definitely be some of our first stops. For an afternoon of relaxation, we’d head to Apsara Day Spa for massages and facials. Michigan has a lot of hidden gems–pre-COVID19 I traveled a lot and I must say that we have some of the best beaches in the nation. So I’d make sure we’d spend a day at the beach with a couple of good reads in tote, yummy snacks, a charcuterie board and a couple of bottles of Motu Viget Spirits’ sparkling wine–which is a local Black-owned spirits company. I absolutely adore ATL! The energy, the sense of community, the grit, beautiful people–just all of it. I don’t get there as much as I’d like, but I’m looking forward to returning soon. My first stop will definitely be Slutty Vegan!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My mother. While she made her transition from earth November 17, 2018, her spirit still influences and informs who I am today. My biggest hope is that my life will continue to make her proud. My daughter, Reaghan. She is my reason. Her beautiful spirit is contagious. I am so very grateful to be surrounded by a tight circle of family, friends and mentors that cover me in prayer, wisdom and freely offer their insight. I have an advisory board that includes individuals that I would trust with my life–literally and figuratively. They are some of the most consistent people that I know and I am grateful for the opportunity to do life with them.
“Black Fascinator” Photo: Adam Bird Photography Printed Suited & Leather Motto Jacket Photos: Brianna Kilgore Printed suit photo standing against wall: Andrea Wallace
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