Episode 253: Devin McGhee Kirkland, Co-Founder and CEO of Deon Libra

When Deon Libra Co-Founder and CEO Devin McGhee Kirkland’s father passed away in 2018 from a stress-related heart attack, she realized she had to make some lifestyle changes to deal with her own stress. After diving head-first into the world of natural stress remedies, Devin developed Deon Libra in 2020 as a way to combat the effects of chronic stress on Black bodies.

In her research on natural stress solutions, Devin learned about the healing powers of adaptogens — non-psychedelic mushrooms — and was impressed by how much her sleep and anxiety improved. She couldn’t help but wonder why these natural alternatives weren’t more widely accessible. Devin decided she could step up and be the one to bring both education and healing products to her community.

To hear more about Devin’s career journey and Deon Libra’s mission, listen to this episode wherever you get your podcasts!

Dan Hodgdon
I knew that in order to keep my soul alive, I had to keep creating.
Devin McGhee Kirkland
AnnouncerWelcome to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY™ hosted by Jodi Katz, Founder and Creative Director of Base Beauty Creative Agency.
Aleni MackareyHi, Jodi, how are you?
Jodi KatzHi, Aleni. Great to be here with you.
Aleni MackareyGreat to be here. Tell me what's going on your world. How was last week for you?
Jodi KatzWell, last week I was at the Kisaco Research dermatological beauty Connect event in Miami and it was amazing. First of all, so many of our pod guests were there. Ron Robinson, Ewelina Aiossa, Dr. Portela, Alisa Lask, Amy Shecter, Chris Payne. So it's always so fun to be at events and see somebody podcast gas. So of course, I took pictures with them all. And there were just so many incredible fascinating people that I haven't met within the professional dermatology, aesthetic space. So we made lots of new friends. Miami is amazing. I love it. I was happy to be back there. And I can't wait for this event next year.
Aleni MackareyThat's so great, because Kisaco does such a great job of putting on these conversations with people in the room who really are experts in the space. And I feel like every time we're participating in them, we learned so much. You were involved in a panel as well, right? Tell us more about that.
Jodi KatzI loved it. It was so much fun to our panel was first session on the first day. And we were talking about the new wave of dermatology retail. So Amy Shechter from Everybody was on the panel, along with Selena Cox, who's from CVS Health, and Penny Coy from Ulta Beauty, and you know, three very different ways to retail skincare, and services. And it was a very lively conversation, we only have 30 minutes to squeeze in all the learnings. But I really did take away a lot of knowledge from these three ladies.
Aleni MackareyTell us one highlight if you had to pick one thing.
Jodi KatzWell, either what I thought was really interesting is also you know, this, like very big machine to move. I asked how are they really educating their staff on all these updated trends, you know, the trends that are productive for our skin, but then there's the ones that are really dangerous or bizarre from tik tok. So they actually have these like mini trainings that they can put together in a week's time, so that they can educate their staff to be like, you know, alert to these topics prepared to answer questions, fly those trends, the products that are in store. And you know, as we study trends, as an agency based b2b, you know, it takes a long time to develop a point of view. So it's really amazing that they're able to pull this together in such a short amount of time.
Aleni MackareyThat's incredible. That's so interesting. I hope to read more about that on LinkedIn, you will. Great, and you do a lot of panels God. So I think our next episode, actually, is somebody that you met in a similar space. Is that right?
Jodi KatzYes, I met Devin at the Woman's Wear Daily beauty and wellness forum in New York was in September, and she was on the stage on a panel about wellness. And this is so cool. You know, I'm such a fan of LinkedIn. And before I go to events, I always LinkedIn and say hi to people that I know will be there. And I'd never met them before. But I know that she was speaking. So I LinkedIn and said hi to her, that I was looking forward to meeting her and she LinkedIn back and said hi. So the event was an all day event in New York. So after her panel, I wasn't sure if she was gonna, you know, jet, like a lot of people speak on their panels, and they don't stay for the day. So I like literally chased after her after she came off the stage out into the hallway. And I introduced myself in person, and asked her if she'd be on this show. And then what she told me, which is so sweet is that she's a listener, and she's been listening since the very beginning of her entrepreneurial journey, and that the content was super meaningful to her as she was, you know, dealing with the uncertainty of building a business and that just like, obviously, it gives me like crazy goosebumps.
Aleni MackareyThat is so cool. It's really as a full circle moment to hear that I love I mean, we have the numbers, you know, we can see how many people open the emails and listen to the show. But hearing from people who actually learn from it is such a cool thing.
Jodi KatzIt's very strange phenomenon that we all live in where we put out content digitally. And we hope it makes an impact on people and we hope that it creates value for them, but you just don't really know. And it's really easy to kind of forget that there's humans on the other side of all these digital devices, but meeting people in real life that love the show is so special to me. That's amazing.
Aleni MackareyWell, let's get to Episode 253 Devin McGee Kirkland, co founder and CEO of Dion Libra.
Jodi KatzWelcome to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY™. We are a career journey podcasts talking about what it's like to define success and reach for it in the beauty and wellness industries. Today we are continuing our C suite wisdom quarter with Devin McGhee Kirkland, co founder and CEO at Dion Libra after her father passed away in 2018 from a massive heart attack brought on by stress, she realized she had to make some lifestyle changes and started experimenting with natural stress solutions. Dion Libra is an adaptogenic beauty and wellness brand that launched its first products in November 2022. To help combat the effects of chronic stress, with a research centered on how stress affects black bodies, I'm excited to dive into the conversation about her career journey from Virgo visionary to Dion Libra all on episode 253. Hi, Devin, welcome to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY™.
Devin McGhee KirklandHi, Jodi. Thanks for having me.
Jodi KatzSo we are here together. And I just want to before this interview begins debit acknowledged that you made the sweetest Instagram post about your relationship with this show. And like literally gave me goosebumps. So do you mind just sort of like paraphrasing what you wrote to your fans today?
Devin McGhee KirklandYeah. So when I started, like building down the road in 2020, I was in grad school, I was living in like a one bedroom apartment. And I felt like as a founder, I didn't know where to start. So I just started with podcasts like listening to every video podcasts I could find. And I feel like at the time, there were only like two or three really popular ones. And yours was one of them. And so I'd start my mornings in the morning by like getting to my phone, turning on your podcast, and then going to make coffee and like checking emails and doing my homework though. It was really cool when you asked me to join because it was a full circle moment for me. Like I used to listen to this, and listen to other founders. And here we are.
Jodi KatzYeah, well, the whole point of the show is to humanize our industry. And to really make sure that all the all the stories are told right like this, like this fascinating. stories don't just belong to the super famous people, right? Like they belong to all of us. And I wanted a place where people could tell their fascinating stories. So thank you for agreeing to be a gas and for sharing that sentiment is really, like I said, a total goosebump moment for me that, you know, people are listening. Yeah, it's helpful. It's a resource and a service. And that's what I always wanted it to be.
Devin McGhee KirklandWe're definitely listening. So thank you for creating this platform.
Jodi KatzSo let's go way, way, way back before you are an entrepreneur, this is a career journey show. And for many of us our career dreams start when we're very, very young. So go back to like, 11 year old south, what do you want to be when you grew up?
Devin McGhee KirklandGirl, something so far removed from what I actually, I thought it was gonna be like the next Beyonce and I cannot sing at all, like, my poor mother put me in voice lessons and everything. Like I could dance, but I could not sing but that's what I really thought I was gonna be like, I was reading music in my notebook in between classes and all types of things. But obviously, I'm not Beyonce, Jr.
Jodi KatzHow long did this dream laughs like, is that like a elementary to middle school dream? And then you had a new dream in high school? Or like, you know, did you start your 20s thinking you're gonna be on stage?
Devin McGhee KirklandYeah. I think it was really like elementary and like, maybe it's the beginning of middle school. But I was a competitive cheerleader. So like, by the time I got to middle school, my whole life was just like Cheer, cheer, cheer, like, cheered school cheer for travel. So I didn't really have time to think about like being Beyonce, Jr. But I was always really into like, my personal style, I felt like that was like my greatest form of expression. And so I wanted to be in fashion and like, express my creativity into design. But again, like nobody within my network did that, or nobody that I had personal access to did that. So I didn't really know where to start. So I kind of just like kept styling myself. I think I always tell people like I won Best Dressed in high school, senior superlatives, but we weren't uniform. So it was just like me styling up my school uniform, and things like that. But I feel like that heart if I look back on my journey, and my dreams and desires as a child, like somewhere in there, like the one thing that's the common denominator is that I knew I was a creative. And I knew that like in order to keep my soul alive, like I had to keep creating.
Jodi KatzOkay, let's talk about best dress with a school uniform. So how does personal style show up when you're limited to I would assume it's like a polo shirt, maybe a sweater and a skirt? And like tall socks?
Devin McGhee KirklandYeah. So like uniform days, I guess. When did I graduate high school. I feel so old. I graduated high school in 2008. And so like in the early 2000s, it was like that trend of wearing like a double polo shirt. So I would wear my Lacoste polo shirt under my uniform shirt and do the double, double collar thing. And then like once everybody started doing it, then the school was like okay enough, so I kind of got everybody in trouble with it, but it was cool. It was my own little personal style. And then like on game days, cheerleaders are required to wear their uniforms. And so my thing was like screw wearing or cheerleading shoes like I had matching black and gold vans to match I had like the perfect yellow Golde Dolce Gabbana shades that I was like wearing I don't know who I thought it was. But I was wearing all of those little accessories just to like, stand out and look different from everybody else.
Jodi KatzOkay, so cheerleaders in high school, like, were you putting like, decorations in your hair? Because that's like a classic cheer thing, right? So like, match the hair to the uniform.
Devin McGhee KirklandYeah, but we have a required bow at that time you had to require everybody had the same bow. Okay,
Jodi Katzthen was it required though? I love the language of required though. Is it very big.
Devin McGhee KirklandCompared to cheer bows now? I would say no, like, it was big enough because it was like the regular bow so maybe the size and then like the little strings that come down. But like turbos now or like the size of my head. And it's like a it's almost like a headpiece, not even a bow. I love that for the girls now, but it wasn't too big.
Jodi KatzI was not a cheerleader. But I wish I could, like have a bow in my hair look ridiculous. But it just like makes me smile. Like there's something about the bow and that like is so pleasant and joyful.
Devin McGhee KirklandIt's a thing, especially in sure worlds, like you had a competition. You're like scouting, everybody's bow like is herbo better than mine. Ill their bows are ugly.
Jodi KatzSo um, the wellness industry is not exactly like your competition, but it's pretty competitive. Let's talk about the journey getting there. So you went to school to study film and TV right?
Devin McGhee KirklandIn grad school, so and I went to undergrad at UCF go nights. And they're just studied interdisciplinary studies, because I'll be honest, couldn't really figure out exactly what I wanted to do. But it helped me study film helped me study mass communication, and a little bit of journalism in business. So I was able to like tap into all my interests and still graduated four years. And then when I went to grad school, I really wanted to be a writer at the time, that is like my God given gift. And so I was writing screenplays, and then my dad died in the middle of grad school, I think I was in my first year. And that was really it. I feel like once he died, my entire world to change, like I didn't know what I wanted to do, I didn't know what to focus on and then do never happen.
Jodi KatzSo my guess there's a little bit of activity in between point A and point B. So did you finish were you able to finish graduate school?
Devin McGhee KirklandI stayed in grad school and to the pandemic. And regardless, if you're on the writing side, or on the filming side, you are required for your final project to film a short film. And we could not film a short film. So essentially, I was supposed to have to stay in school, like an additional year, just in order to graduate. And I was like screw that because I was building the lever at the same time. And as things started to pick up, and we were winning grants, and getting investment interest. I was like, it's not worth just paying for additional classes for no reason.
Jodi KatzOkay, so how does one go from this like awful family tragedy to saying I'm going to start a brand and named after my dad, what was what was going on in your mind? And what did you have access to that inspired this?
Devin McGhee KirklandYeah, I think naturally, I'm a giver. And I'm a caretaker. And so the more I discover in anything, it could be clothes, it could be shoes, it could be food, it could be supplements, I share that usually on Instagram. And so as I was dealing with my own grief, there were like days where I wouldn't sleep for 72 hours, like straight, like my wife would wake up and I'd be sobbing and she'd be like, What is wrong with you? And have you been asleep? Like not even a nap. And so I typed in Google one day natural stress solutions. And adaptogens came up, I had no idea what they are. So for people who don't know what they are, they are non psychedelic mushrooms, herbs and routes that when you consume them, they help your body regulate your cortisol levels. And so I started with ashwagandha, which is what I call the basic B. We all know what that word means adaptogen. Because most people know what it is. They just don't know that it is an adaptogen. And within like two weeks, I was sleeping, I had mental clarity, I could focus I felt better. My anxiety had decreased. And so I'm a nerd, I just went down this rabbit hole of like, what are these things? And like, why hasn't anybody ever taught me this? And so as I started researching adaptogens and stress and how it affects black people specifically, I came across a sleep study that said that was studying black people and white people sleeping. And what they concluded is that when black people sleeping, we are not truly at rest. Because our heart rate and our blood pressure doesn't drop to the normal rate of asleep a human. And so like what was happening to me through my grief, and my trauma made sense to me. What happened to my dad made sense to me. And so I looked at my wife who was my fiancee at the time, and I was like, Why the hell isn't anybody teaching black people this like it's easier to keep us sick with diabetes, heart disease and keep us on medication so that they can make money off of our illnesses and that's for all people, not just black people. But we have the least amount of access to those resources and when I say are looking at the wellness industry holistically. There were a few things that stuck out to me and that it was that wellness is very white. It's very feminine and very skinny. And if nobody was going to provide the access just to the education, not even the products, as far as adaptogens are concerned, like, why not me? I feel like a lot of times boundaries get stuck on, oh, I don't know enough, or I haven't been doing this long enough. Like if you care enough, you can figure it out.
Jodi KatzSo this is a lot of learning in one moment. And obviously like, you know, kind of a moment desperation when you're not sleeping and like our bodies can't function without Yeah, right. Our brains go to Mosh. All this is happening in your life. And you're thinking, I can create access to this information for for people like me who don't know this and never heard of an adaptogen and are really struggling. But turning that into a business is like a completely different beast. So how did you get from this information to get out there to I'm going to turn this into a company.
Devin McGhee KirklandSo in 2021, on my dad's death anniversary, so February 17, we launched with an editorial website, which we just consider like a digital safe space for black people. So we post everything from like healthy recipes to my wife is a retired basketball player and a crossfitter. So to like her five minute ab workout to playlist, we interview people within our communities. So like El Moxley, who's an activist, like we interview her and just talking about things that she enjoys, and lets her create playlists. And we really just wanted to spark, you know, what we call like black joy. So there's an area called big fun, I think a lot of times, the media that black people consume is negative most of the time or traumatic. And so we wanted that digital safe space for people to be able to learn and have access to those wellness resources. Because I think a lot of time we assume people know, you know, like if you just eat less calories or eat more vegetables, and like, people don't have access to all those things that may come natural to us. And it's a privilege to be able to have access to those resources and that information. And so it was really important for us to start there. Like it's totally free, like you don't have to pay for subscription. And that was our way of giving back. And when people started showing interest in that and people wanted to be a part of that. We were like, okay, education, first, the website, editorial, and product stuck. And then we still haven't done phase three yet, which is in real life experience.
Jodi KatzWhile you're putting this together, grieving, do you have a day job?
Devin McGhee KirklandI was still in grad school. So at some point, I was still in grad school. And I had not made the decision to walk away yet. And really, the deciding factor for me was glossier me this black beauty business grant. And I had built the Glossier Brown community for glossier years ago on Instagram. And I was like, I know, I don't have any products. I know, I don't have anything, but they were one of the only brands at that time that offered grants for pre launch businesses. And so I looked at Britt, because I had talked to other founder friends, especially black female founder friends that were like, they're gonna want you to have a co founder, most people aren't going to invest without a co founder. And I felt like your co founders, like your partner, your non romantic partner, but like you were married, it's basically a marriage. And so who better than to ask her who had the wellness experience already? She's a former SoulCycle, instructor, retired basketball player Hall of Famer. And I was like, why not? So I asked her, she said, Yes. And I said, Okay, we're going to shoot her shot, we're going to apply for the grant. And if we get it, then we're gonna do this. And I think out of like, 10,000 applications, they chose 16 businesses, and we were one of the four pre launch companies.
Jodi KatzThat's amazing.
Devin McGhee KirklandThank you.
Jodi KatzSo let's, um, let's talk about I guess, like Courage, or confidence. Because the, there's the ambition to do something that, you know, maybe you haven't seen done before, or something that you want to do first off, then there's a follow through, but then there's that the feeling? Is it self doubt? Is it assurance, like, were you moving through the world with sort of this, like confidence that like, I can make anything happen that I think of, or were you in a less sort of competence base?
Devin McGhee KirklandI think it was moving through the world that way. So my mother will tell you, I've always been that way since I was a child. Like, if you want to put me in a purple dress, and I want to wear a black dress like today, we're wearing a black dress because I don't wanna wear a purple dress. That's a simplified version of that. But I thought time I was moving through the world with confidence and ambition. And, you know, I think for me, grief really puts things in perspective. So like losing somebody, like a parent puts things in perspective for a lot of people but for me, for a period in my life, I felt like I was invincible. Not like jump off a building and I'm gonna fly invincible, but like, what is there to lose? Lose, I've already lost my father. And so I think at that point, it was like I can do anything like who's going to stop me. I will say my founders journey has kind of reversed that a little bit. I think you take a lot of beatings as a founder you hear a lot of nose, you hear a lot of that's not possible, you hear a lot of that's not going to work. And so I can be honest and say like, My confidence has definitely taken a little bit of a hit as a founder, but I've always moved through the world that way.
Jodi KatzAlright, so I just want to put this in perspective. You are building this you got the grants, which is like wild like that's, I guess the numbers were against you, right? 10,000 applicants 16,000, opera 16 opportunities only, you're in a period of grief. And you're starting this business, had you ever actually had like a job outside of influencing at this point in your career?
Devin McGhee KirklandOh, yeah, I worked in corporate. From the time I graduated until the time I went to grad school, I worked in corporate sales, and I hated it. It's just not me. It's not my personality. I think, in my opinion, not all places, but in the places that I've worked. There's a lot of like undercutting people. And I'm a part of like, what I refer to as like good human alliances, like I always tried to do the right things to the best of my ability. And so it just made me really uncomfortable to like, try to undercut someone to try to do something to make numbers and things like that just don't make sense to me. So I knew that wasn't a fit. But I feel like in corporate, once you get put on like the sales track, you have a hard time transitioning to other departments, because I feel like everybody's trying to get in sales, and I was trying to get out. And so when I left corporate, I went and worked in retail, I worked at the Henry Bendel store, I had opened that store in college in Orlando, and then the one here in Atlanta was hiring for another manager. And I did that and to me, it's just like mindless work. It's very easy. Like it's physical labor, you open your packages you greet you sell. And it came natural to me. So it was a pay cut. But it was much less stress on my body. And like all the health challenges that I was having. When I was working in corporate, like I didn't have that anymore. And so to me, my health and like my sanity were more important than making six figures in a sales job that I hated.
Jodi KatzOkay, let's identify one thing you learned that you still take with you from the corporate sales job, like something like a positive learning, one, just a positive one, just one.
Devin McGhee KirklandUm, you know, I think it's really important to me to be upfront with your customers, I noticed a lot of times in sales, that in order to get the sale or close the deal, people will tell Little Lies, but little lies lead to big lies. And as I'm like sitting next to a co worker in my cubicle, and I'm like, Girl, I know we can't do that. But okay, girl, get your money. You know, it just taught me, you know, to always be honest. So, even with Dr. Libra, like, if I know we're gonna run out of inventory for something, when we get to that point, I'm gonna say it like, just so you know, we're gonna run out, it's gonna take us a little bit to get it back. And I think that's really important. I think people really underestimate the truth. Even if it's like a little truth, people underestimate the power of the truth.
Jodi KatzI love that learning. What a great time in your life to acquire that right really early in your career right out of college. First of all, I love looking at challenges as opportunities, right? So I knew there'd be a great learning in there. And any of the jobs that I've had in my career or bosses who were not palatable, it taught me how I wanted to show up in the world. Yeah, it just like this taught you how you want to show up in the world for your customers. And I think of all the jobs is like, they go into my backpack, and it's like, my backpack of experience. And so they're not forever, but they're like, they're, they're helping me have tools. Yep. Right. So all of that mishegoss I'll call it with the competitive cutthroat line. All that stuff influences how you're showing up in the world today, and probably how you were able to, you know, beat the pack of 10,000 applicants for 16 spots, right? So there's, there's value in taking a job, even if it's not a job, right?
Devin McGhee KirklandYeah, I think my dad told me a long time ago, like you will learn from friends, family, coworkers, bosses, more of how not to be then how to be. And I think we overlooked that a lot of times, I think it's more important to like, take your pain and challenges and look at them as like, Okay, what is the opportunity? Like, how can I learn from this and like, now I know when I'm a leader, don't do this to people.
Jodi KatzThat's another reason why I like doing this show. Because we got to talk about the truth. You know, there are going to be people that we all work with who don't share the same value system as us. Yeah. It's very taxing to work with people that, like you said, when in the case of a corporate job or like literally lying, right they had, it was a means to an end for them, but it was gonna have a big implication later on for that customer. Yeah. Okay, so let's talk about this quote that you shared with my team forever doing it scared. What does that mean?
Devin McGhee KirklandYou know, I have horrible anxiety, I'll be honest, I was like in the shower, like, oh my god, I can't believe I'm doing this today. About anything. I don't know, I psych myself up before I get there. Most of the times, it's probably like, my biggest area of opportunity internally. But I've learned in my years or over my founders journey that, like nobody has all the answers, and nobody always knows exactly what they're doing. And like, there's going to be moments in life and in business that are uncomfortable for you, or where you're not the expert, you're the novice. And so I just always try to encourage people, including myself to do it scared, like, it's not always going to feel good. You're not always going to have all the tools and all the armor, but like, you'll gather all of that along the way. It's kind of like what you said about your backpack of experience. It's the same thing. And so when I feel like I'm about to psych myself out of something, or an idea, I have to remind myself, like, do it scared because like, it could go up, it could go down, but it'll never go up if you don't even try. So you have to attend.
Jodi KatzI love that. So tell me about like, what's actually happening in your body? When you're having this sort of like, your body's trying to psych yourself out and your mind is trying to psych yourself up? Like, is it you know, are you shaking is your stomach hurt, you know,
Devin McGhee KirklandMy stomach, I have the most sensitive stomach, it's my stomach. So like, full transparency like I didn't even eat today. Before this, I'll eat after after this. Because I know my body, it's not necessarily the healthiest choice. But I know myself. So I just won't eat before certain events, or I won't consume coffee before certain events, if I don't have a certain amount of time, between my morning and the event. But it's definitely in my stomach, or me just thinking of everything under the sun that could go wrong, which is like the worst habit to have. But I feel like, I can admit this a little bit stays here. The Virgo in me is like a little bit of a control freak. And so I want to know, every scenario before I do anything, because that way, I can either fix it or prevent it, which is impossible in the human world.
Jodi KatzSo I know it's really hard to like, rationalize the fear. But I want you to know that like, nothing could go wrong here. I don't think you you know, I mean it like even if you're like oh, the techs not working, we'd reschedule right, like if the you know, the internet crashes in your town, we'd reschedule if the, you know, the screen gets wobbly, sometimes the connections not great. We'll close it out and start again. So I just want you to know in this space, and it's probably someone other places, even if there's obstacles, nothing's really going wrong.
Devin McGhee KirklandI appreciate that. I really do. Thank you, Jodi.
Jodi KatzI want to talk about the visceral reaction to opera call opportunities. Because when I set my set goals for myself, it can be very long term goals. Eventually, I'm gonna reach them like this is i proven this to myself, right? Like, I have evidence now to believe in myself. But every single time I get closer and closer to the dream, my body gets like, I don't call like shaky but vibration me, like I vibrate. And I have really epic theatrical dreams, like, kind of like Marvel movie kind of style, like just have so much adventure. And it's my body is like, so scared to actually like, reach the goal. Because it it's, it felt so insurmountable. Whatever, whenever I dreamed it up, and my wrists will get all like tingling in my arms, and my hands and will get tingly, and on my heart will raise some more. And now that I have evidence of what's on the other side, I'm able to like get excited about that feeling. But it used to be really, really intense and scary, because I didn't know that good was coming.
Devin McGhee KirklandYeah, I think but now I know. I think like losing when I lost my dad. Not the bad things that never happened before. But nothing that intense had happened before. And so for me, I did realize it I was able to pinpoint, like, the negative and the anxiety started when I lost him because it almost feels like at any moment anything can be taken from me. So that's like something internally like I am working through it because it doesn't mean because you lost one really great thing in your life that you're going to lose everything great. So I struggle with that. Like when we have a win, like I'm excited for like two seconds and then it's like, oh, but Dad's gone. And so I have to work through that. Like, just because you lost him doesn't mean you're gonna lose everything good. You touch.
Jodi KatzYeah, it's a lot of hard work. You have Yeah, it was You're right. I hope that you find a way to celebrate all the little wins. Because that will believe you. Right? Like, you know, it's not going to replace him. Yeah. Right. So that reality exists, but you do amazing things every day and wonderful things happen to you and around you every day. And celebrating those even in a small way, I think has the potential to give you like a little bit of a life raft. Yeah. Okay, let's talk about success, because you started this business to try to ease stress. I wouldn't say being an ambitious entrepreneur, entrepreneur, is a great way to avoid stress.
Devin McGhee KirklandNo, girl, I'm the most stressed out person.
Jodi KatzOkay, so you, you started this business to get get out the stress and relieve yourself. And now you're in a situation where different types of stress I'm coming at you every day? And what are you doing in your life outside of work, which is helping other people with their stress? What are you doing for you?
Devin McGhee KirklandSo I will admit, and I tell everybody, like, at this stage in my life, I'm a more I'm more of a like, do as I say not as I do, because my self care has like completely diminished from what it used to be. But for me, it's just like really finding time to spend with my wife like outside of work, because we're together right now. Like she's literally right there. And so we're together all the time. But I think people think we spend a lot of time together because we work together. And we don't get to spend a lot of time together. So for me, it's like, can we do dinner? Even if it's just once a week, like, can we look at each other. And I think we've gotten a lot better of doing this to each other at like eight o'clock and be like, Yo, close your MacBook like, it's time to like, watch Love is blind, which is like, Oh, love is blind is out today, you have to watch it. But watch Love is blind and like, do things that remove us from the work world because we do work within our house in our warehouse. And that's it. And so like 98% of our time is spent in the same in the same space. We're supposed to eat here, work here, rest here, workout here. And so really just like learning to maybe not physically pull ourselves out of our work environment. But like mentally pull ourselves out of our work environment. So like our biggest thing now is like, let's go eat once a week we go to dinner, even if we're like dog tired, we have to go to dinner. And then like earlier this week, it's gotten warmer in Atlanta. So we go for hot girl walks.
Jodi KatzOkay, what is the hot girl walk?
Devin McGhee KirklandI was started that I think Meg the stallion started like a hawk or a walk. And it's just like, what you call going on a stroll as a form of exercise.
Jodi KatzAlright, but it's not me looking hot as I walk. No, no. So I could be a sweaty mess. You can be a
Devin McGhee Kirklandsweaty mess and go on a hot for a walk. Okay, got it. Hot girls are sweaty.
Jodi KatzOkay, so you're at a really challenging time in this business where you're living and working in the same place you're living and working in, right? And that's going to change, right? The business is gonna grow and you won't be working as much from home. But you are a human and not a robot. I want to remind you of that.
Devin McGhee KirklandThank you. I appreciate that.
Jodi KatzBut it's hard because the work is fun, right? So it is an adventure.
Devin McGhee KirklandYeah, most times. Most times the work is fun. It's very stressful. But most times, but it is hard, especially like I'm a night owl. So like sometimes we should be winding down and not like 11. I'm like, oh, we need to talk through this right now. And I've had to learn to be like, do you have the capacity? Do you want to talk about work. And sometimes that one conversation leads to like an all nighter where we're up till 4am. But I've had to learn to turn that off, like tomorrow will hopefully come. And there's time to work through whatever this idea. So I write things down everywhere all day.
Jodi KatzAnd I love it. So I want to just let everyone know, we're wrapping up our interview segment. So thank you, Devin, for your honest answers and sharing your wisdom. And thank you. Okay, I have a bunch of fan questions for you. We can probably get to two or three of them. Cool. Okay, this is actually really important question. And I wouldn't know the answer. How does one start out using adaptogens? Like picking adaptogens and using them?
Devin McGhee KirklandFor me, I feel like do your research. I started with Google. And then once I realized it was something that I was really into. I went on Amazon and I found a whole bunch of books. There's really big books like there's one that's like 600 pages I call my adaptogen Bible and then there's books that are like 100 pages that kind of give you some recipes in the back to help you but they also explain all the benefits. So I think that's really helpful. And then you can always DM me or ask me help you to my back.
Jodi KatzOkay, so Nesa is asking, Did you bootstrap your business? Or do you have investors?
Devin McGhee KirklandI have investors and I knew very early on just because of the brand and the aesthetic that we were trying to build. It wasn't going to be something that I could Bootstrap. And so we started with the friends and family round in the middle of the pandemic. And I always tell founders, specifically black founders because we always feel like our friends and family like don't have any extra income to you know, invest I asked like shoot your shot. I didn't exclude anybody. I asked everybody and some of the people that I thought would have no funds to invest were like the first people to like, send in the wire and write the check. So we did friends and family and then angels after that
Jodi Katzthis is actually a really, I guess, loaded question, what's the one piece of advice you would give to somebody just starting out as an entrepreneur?
Devin McGhee KirklandTrust your gut, like, it sounds so cliche, but all of the mistakes that I've made on the journey, and I wouldn't even fully call them mistakes, like all of the lessons that I've learned, were because I didn't go with my first instinct. Like, I thought there was an expert that knew a little bit more than I did. And I was like, well, they've been doing this 10 years I've been doing it for I'm gonna, like, take their advice and run with that. And it was just not the right decision. So trust your gut, I think it's easier to swallow the challenges and the mess ups when it was something that came from you. So I always say like, if I made a decision, I can eat that if it goes wrong, because I felt like that was what was best for us at the time, and I did with what I could with the knowledge that I had. But it's a lot harder to swallow when you took somebody's advice and ran with that. And you already had doubt like so now if there's even like an inkling of doubt, you know, and mentorship or advice. I'm like, Yeah, I'm not doing that.
Jodi KatzThat is very good advice. Devin, your guide can be a scary, lonely place.
Devin McGhee KirklandIt is. But I feel like the best comes out of that.
Jodi KatzRight. That's why you're you. Wow, this has been so much fun. Devin, thank you so much. This was our 253 episode. So thank you for being a part of our show.
Devin McGhee KirklandCongratulations, by the way.
Jodi KatzThank you. I'm so grateful that I got to meet you at that Women's Wear Daily event that was like almost half a year ago, I think at this point, right?
Devin McGhee KirklandYep. Almost September, I'm so glad you found me like when you walked away, I had a little fangirl moment. And my wife was like, Who is she? And I'm like, You have no idea. I used to listen to that podcast. So thank you, I really do appreciate you having me,
Jodi KatzI do want to acknowledge that LinkedIn plays a role here because I saw that you are going to be at the event, right? Because like in the collateral tells you who's going to be speaking and I always make an effort to like say hi to people on LinkedIn beforehand, because like you just don't know that you're gonna have time to actually greet everybody in person, the circumstances of people having to, you know, leave or come or come late or whatever. So I messaged you on LinkedIn and you messaged me back and then I was able to chase after you after you walked off the stage and I'm really glad because like, sometimes I feel like she knows should I make an effort? Will they respond? You know, like, all the same stuff. So you were giving me more evidence that I should just always reach out say hello.
Devin McGhee KirklandDo it scared?
Jodi KatzYes. I love that. Okay, so thank you for so much for joining us. If you liked this episode, please rate and review. As always, make sure you're following us on your favorite podcast platform and Instagram to stay up to date on upcoming episodes and all the fun we have along the way. Thank you. Yay, we did it. You did great. Now go eat. Bye.
AnnouncerThanks for listening to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY™ with Jodi Katz. Tune in again for more authentic conversations with beauty leaders.

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