Stress is not pretty. And no one understands this better than beauty entrepreneur Germaine Bolds-Leftridge. The founder and CEO of IKnow Skincare, the line of clinically-tested products created to enhance the beauty of mature skin (available online and on Amazon), keeps the hectic pace of today’s world at bay by spending time in her own personal Eden, namely her garden.
“When you’re one with nature, it is a state of gratitude. And it really is calming,” affirms the North Carolina-born, Detroit-raised businesswoman whose mother inspired her foray into skincare and her interest in tilling the soil.
“My mom was a gardener; she had a major ‘green thumb.’ And my memories are of us picking the greens in the garden and how she would cook them for us. Everything we wanted, in terms of vegetables, came from the garden.”
A Seed is Planted
Bolds-Leftridge, who makes her home in Maryland, started her garden three years ago, right after her mother, Omer Jean, passed. “I live on seven acres, and my mom always told me to make a garden,” recalls the businesswoman whose first attempt at gardening failed.
“We tried it, but we put the garden on the wrong side of the property; the garden would flood when it rained…When she [my mom] passed, it became part of my therapy.”
As the skincare entrepreneur found a more suitable spot for her garden, she worked through her grief by planning and planting the space with the vegetables she and her mother loved. And, with time, life began to sprout.
Today, a placard reading “Omer Jean’s Love Garden…Love Grows Here” welcomes all those who enter the 6 x 9 feet oasis planted on raised, covered growing beds. “Everything is raised by about three feet, so I’m not having to bend down on the ground,” says the CEO.
Suggested by professional gardener Erica Jones, who helps maintain the plantings, the gentle-on-the-back structures provide easier access for weeding and watering.
During the growing season, the organic garden yields a bountiful harvest. Collard greens, kale, broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, beets, okra, squash, eggplants and peppers all make their way to Bolds-Leftridge’s kitchen as ingredients for Sunday dinners or for family holiday recipes (with extra bounty frozen for later use).
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“We’re also doing a lot of seasonings, like growing mint, thyme and rosemary,” details the 64-year-old entrepreneur whose plans include expanding her planting area. “Since I have all this acreage, I’m trying to utilize it. The garden expansion will be 12 feet by 14 feet, and it’s shaped almost like an octagon,” she shares about future plans.
Grow Where You Are
With a busy career that includes running the day-to-day for IKnow Skincare, acting as a brand builder for many well-known beauty brands and running The Ubiquitous Women’s Expo (a platform for entrepreneurs to grow and build their businesses), Bolds-Leftridge will often retreat to her garden to find solace from her hectic schedule.
She believes we can do the same. “When you’re one with nature, it’s a state of gratitude. And it really is calming,” says the Morgan State University alumnus.
Taking a cue from her gardening guru, Jones, Bolds-Leftridge says to those considering gardening as a hobby to “grow where you are.” This means you don’t need a big space to enjoy the calming benefits of gardening.
“If you live in an apartment and you have a balcony, grow herbs or tomatoes,” coaches the businesswoman, who says a sunny windowsill will also suffice if space is at a premium.
The main idea is to work with your hands— preparing the soil, planting the seeds and tending to the new growth. “It [gardening] forces you to slow down, to really immerse yourself in the moment,” she shares about the meditative aspect of gardening.
Lessons for IKnow Skincare and Gardening
“Gardening is part of my devotion. It really is,” relates the entrepreneur who spends about 30 minutes daily watering, weeding and taking care of her crops. “I play my gospel music when I’m out there. I talk to my mom when I’m in the garden…When you sit down, pick off the harvest, take it into the kitchen and see all this greenery, you feel like you accomplished so much.”
But most of all, Bolds-Leftridge draws a correlation between life and the act of gardening. “You get what you put into it. Planting good seeds into good soil so your crop will be plentiful—that’s biblical,” says the IKnow Skincare founder.
“Sometimes I think we’re impatient with growth. But if you keep doing the things to nurture that soil, you’ll get a good crop.” As with life, a little patience to tend to the soil may just be what’s needed to soothe the soul.
For more about IKnow Skincare, visit iknowskincare.com and follow Germaine Bolds-Leftridge and the brand on Instagram @iknowskincare and Facebook. You can also watch her channel on YouTube for additional skin tips.