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Merging ancient traditions with forward-thinking trends, JBK Wellness Labs is ahead of the curve when it comes to self-care but in no rush just the same.
Led by the tradition of the Tao, founder Dr. Jenelle Kim and her partner in business and life, Craig Nandoo, are utilizing Eastern healing powers and philosophy at their West Coast Headquarters for a self-funded self-care business that’s serving companies and individuals around the world.
Digital Hospitality visited JBK’s Miramar HQ to hear how family traditions have built a family business that’s growing at a pace as sustainable and time-tested as their products.
Relying on tradition, leaning into the going natural movement and always ahead of the curve, Jenelle Kim and Nandoo collaborate with clients to make herbal supplements that don’t just burn with buzzwords but actually work due to finely tuned formulas. Kim’s long family lineage in Eastern medicine comes with an understanding of how to best formulate supplements in order to best help those in need.
“I come from a long lineage of doctors, herbalists and practitioners. I like to always ground myself in remembering before I do anything is that they dedicated and sacrificed their entire lives to understanding the human condition when it comes to mind, body, and that balance. And I’m talking centuries!” emphasizes Dr. Jenelle Kim.
“Throughout these centuries they put their mind and heart in understanding the human condition to create certain herbal formulas of medicine to make sure that we’re able to live as human beings in the healthiest, most beautiful way possible. That’s my lineage.”
The first woman to carry that lineage, Dr. Kim’s ancient family formulas – known as Bi Bong – see the key combinations of herbal ingredients found in her family for centuries now helping others worldwide as part of a multi-million-dollar business.
Creating custom care products for brands carried in high-end retailers like Nordstrom, Whole Foods and Bergdorf Goodman as well as luxury hotels such as the Ritz Carlton, the Mandarin Oriental and the Four Seasons, JBK Wellness Labs serves as the contract manufacturing collaborator for the best brands in herbal self-care. This ranges from beauty to dietary supplements birthed from ancient tradition in JBK’s research and development center by a staff of 25.
Well-versed in Eastern Medicine, well-educated in the West, Jenelle Kim is using her dual hemisphere knowledge to create a global brand at the most booming of times. With industry experience dating back to 2006, she has proven early on CBD products by using it for skin care since 2012 and forward-thinking in regard to men’s grooming with the launch of Tao of Man brand.
“In East Asian, men’s grooming is huge!” explains Jenelle Kim. “I’m still watching as it starts to blow up here and I do see that happening.”
And blow up men’s grooming will, but while JBK is early on the trend in the West they’re ahead but not rushed. Just like the name Tao of Man suggests, Jenelle and Craig are as strong, rooted and flexible as bamboo.
“The Tao is the way,” says Craig Nandoo. “We talk about destiny and where the Tao has taken us in our route to where we are now. The concept of the Tao is very essential to a lot of our life. Sometimes it’s good to push, sometimes it’s good to pull and sometimes it’s just good to go for the ride.”
Contrary to most peers in the Western worlds of entrepreneurship and beauty supplements, Jenelle and Craig are measured in their growth, focused on formulation over flash and always purposeful in their product.
Just how do these Eastern ideals play into their business philosophy? Here’s a breakdown.
Fundamentals Matter – When it comes to the wellness world there are lots of smoke and mirrors. Not at JBK. Fundamentally strong with a deep lineage, it’s all about formulas and less about buzzwords. Herbs matter but they matter most when they’re paired with scientific synergy and season. Being able to properly utilize herbal ingredients is what sets JBK apart from the pack.
Self-funded – How does a company avoid burnout and unrealistic expectations? By being self-funded. Never taking a dollar from family or friends, Jenelle and Craig are doing things their way but more importantly at their own pace to make sure things are done right. This makes for better product, happier clients and more sustainability.
Globally Sourced – Merging Eastern medicine with Western education means searching far and wide for the right herbs and the right people. Sourcing proper Chinese raw materials, having production in both California and Portugal, JBK combines ingredients from Asia with the best doctors on staff to make the best products possible.
Empower Your Clients – JBK Wellness Labs wants to grow and retain their clients. How do they best do this? By collaborating on a product that really works. Creating unique formulas for each brand offers a product that will make both the client and end consumer feel better. This leads to retention for all.
Wellness is a Lifestyle – Jenelle and Craig are grounded enough to know that their products are only one part of wellness. Feeling good is what wellness is truly about and that ranges from physical to mental to spiritual realms. JBK wants every product they formulate to have a function that aids the full scope of wellness and they’re doing just that.
So, will these principles carry JBK Wellness Labs for years to come? Yes. However, will their business change and evolve from what it is now in the future? Absolutely.
“Be like bamboo,” says Jenelle Kim. “That means being flexible, always being grounded but sometimes the greatest strength comes in that flexibility. There’s a time to be strong and tough and unmovable but there’s also a time to be flexible.”
This applies to JBK Wellness Labs’ beginnings in skin care but openness to evolving into any supplemental shift if aligns with their ethos. The best case of being like bamboo? When Janelle Kim was approached to formulate with CBD all the way back in 2012.
While she was at first resistant, the learning that the formula request was to help children with seizures allowed her to sway to a new opportunity while remaining rooted in her deep values of helping others. The result? Help others she did while giving her business a half-decade head start on what’s currently taking over the supplement space in the West.
Jenelle and Craig are full of lessons in life and business. The teachings of the Tao inform the couple in personal and professional ways informed from the East that are clearly thriving in the West.
Though rooted in Eastern philosophy, Jenelle Kim grew up on the West Coast with Digital Hospitality host and Cali BBQ Media owner Shawn Walchef. They share many of the same learnings in regard to life, business and self-improvement.
Here are lessons from this podcast episode that you can reflect on and apply to your daily life.
1. They’re Always Going to Laugh Before They Applaud – Doing something new, true and different will always catch flack upon unveil. Trust your core. If you can stay true to yourself and the new while others first doubt you’ll eventually find the criticism will soon turn to praise. Kim experienced just this when telling others of her interest in Eastern medicine.
2. Make the Most of Mentors – When you have the opportunity to learn and grow, who are you to say no? Regardless if the opportunity aligns with what you believe your passion or interest to be, to learn from a willing teacher is always worth the time and might just lead to your big break. Shawn and Kim both experienced this in the worlds of BBQ and herbs that led them to where they are today.
3. The Power of Daily Habits is Exponential – Do it well and do it every day, just ask Kobe. The NBA superstar was well aware that if he practiced even one more hour than the competition each day then all those hours would eventually add up in a big way. Make good daily habits, stick to them and reap the long-term gains.
4. Be Curious – Seek and you shall find. The only way to learn, grow and broaden one’s horizons is to be curious. Such curiosity leads to knowledge, new friends and new opportunities.
5. Decisions are Being Made on the Internet – Do you research restaurants when you’re on the road? Look for potential employees on LinkedIn? If you’re making decisions based on the Internet, then so are your customers. Make sure your business is active on these platforms to best serve customers and own your own conversation.
6. To Plan for Others is to Plan for the Future – Businesses that win are not all about capital, they’re about a just cause. Learned from Simon Sinek, to grow a business that can truly win the long game is to focus on providing value for generations to come. If you care about the people, they will care about your business.
The last point truly hits home with Jenelle Kim and Craig Nandoo. JBK Wellness Labs is rooted in the understanding that they are here because of the care and work Kim’s ancestors put into making humans happier and healthier. This gift they were provided is honored when working with their doctors and collaborators to create formulas that heal this generation and the next.
Simply put? JBK Wellness Labs is here to make people better and they’re doing it the right way, for the right reasons at their own pace.
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