Mom. Entrepreneur. Business owner. Karolina Kurkova puts the super in model. Together with Co-Founder Rachel Finger, the pair have built Gryph & IvyRose – a wellness brand geared towards kids – from the ground up. Now, they are on the brink of a major expansion.
Both Kurkova and Finger are ultra health-conscious. Identifying a need for high-quality products for their own little ones, the Gryph & IvyRose brand was born. Made in the United States, their products are organic, sustainable, and cruelty-free.
Their aim: to enhance kid’s lives with wellness in a sustainable, accessible, and prestigious way.
About to expand to the European market, we checked in with the duo to learn about their daily rituals and plans for the future.
How do you start your days?
R: This could definitely use some work – it’s usually the morning hustle trying to get the kids dressed, fed, and ready for school.
K: The morning is hectic with two kids and one on the way! Creating routines and scheduling helps but for the most part it’s get the kids up, put on some energetic music (and maybe a sheet face mask), get breakfast cooked and the kids off to school. If there’s time, I love to squeeze in some form of exercise that’s really active and gives me energy and focus for the rest of the day.
What’s your go-to uniform?
R: A linen button-down shirt and jeans.
K: I love a great suit, button down, and a pump. I feel good in it and I just appreciate the tailoring and structure of a suit – it just takes me from ‘mommy mode’ to ‘work mode’.
Describe your workspace/ workplace…
R: We are fortunate enough to have a bright and airy office space with large glass rolling doors. I love the winter months in Miami when we can open all the doors and work in the open air and sun.
K: My workplace is wherever I have WiFi or cell signal. I’m so used to traveling and have become very efficient and productive with my phone on the go.
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What are your workplace essentials?
R: Coffee and Slack.
K: Great music in the background! And handwritten notes are key, so I always have a notebook with me. And, of course, my matcha and chocolate probiotics for that afternoon pick-me-up. Good lighting for Zoom calls has also become a must over the past year.
What time of day are you at your most creative?
R: I’m so not a morning person at all so it takes me a while to get into my groove. I usually spend the mornings responding to more immediate needs and take the afternoons to tackle more creative projects.
K: I get inspired when I can research and feel most creative and productive later at night when the kids are asleep so there are less distractions.
What’s your go-to lunch order?
R: If I could have a Greek salad and fries every day of my life I would be the happiest person on earth.
K: Super bowl of greens, veggies, protein, seeds, and a great dressing.
What is the most rewarding part of the job?
R: I get so excited when we establish a new retail partner or are featured by one of the publications we admire. It’s amazing to see our concept and products resonating with people everywhere.
K: When you hear feedback and see people’s response to the products we put out there, and see customers coming back again and again, it makes me feel good that we’re helpful to families out there. And I love, as a start-up, being able to be involved in every part of the business, providing input and learning along the way and seeing the result of all that hard work coming to life.
And the most challenging?
R: When you start a business, it becomes another child and knowing how to nurture it, give it space to grow, anticipate it’s needs throughout that growth, and learn from its mistakes becomes yet another delicate dance in passion and humility.
K: When you are smaller, you don’t necessarily have the resources and budgets that larger brands have to move faster but that also is exciting because it encourages mindfulness and creativity. We have to work smarter and harder.
Where are you from originally?
R: A tiny town in northern Michigan.
K: Czech Republic.
What was your first job?
R: Carrying clubs at a golf course and I absolutely loved watching the look on men’s faces when I offered to carry four bags at once from their cars to the carts – all 90 (or so) pounds of me.
K: At 15 I started as a model in the fashion industry and travelled the world, which taught me a lot about professionalism. That was my university and schooling and I’m very hands on in the entire process and roles of the job.
What sparked your interest in creating this business?
R: A profound personal experience with alternative methods when I had my twins. I wanted to share those tools with families everywhere in a more fun and approachable way.
K: I love authentic ideas that can really benefit people and that’s what inspires me.
Do you have a mentor or inspirational figure that has guided or influenced you?
R: I don’t have just one single person – I am truly inspired by each entrepreneur’s unique story and experiences, particularly those who have paved the way in a new category. In general, their perseverance and humility drive me and encourage me to keep going.
K: My parents have been very inspirational in seeing how they work and manage personal and business priorities. And then, of course, starting in the fashion industry at such a young age, the professionals I’ve been able to work with and absorb, hands-on, how they work and create – that has been priceless.
What were some hurdles you had to overcome in the early days of the business?
R: What we’re doing with bath and body products, in terms of adding herbs, is really unique and we had to work with multiple manufacturers and chemists to figure out the best way to incorporate these functional ingredients logistically, and without breaking the bank.
K: I’m used to being creative and seeing things come to life in a relatively short amount of time, but building an actual business takes so much more time. It’s really a lesson in the right timing, resources, and patience.
What’s the most important business lesson you’ve learned?
R: Not every decision is going to be the right one at the right time. It’s important to take swings and be able to pivot quickly and build off the base hits.
K: Never underestimate the power of networking. Everyone has a unique experience and I think it’s really important to treat everyone you meet with kindness and respect.
The best advice you’ve ever received…
R: Hire for your weaknesses.
K: A female entrepreneur friend of mine recently shared a few pieces of wisdom that I loved: “You’ll never feel ready. Do it anyway” and “Set goals that excite you and scare you at the same time”.
What are you working on right now?
R: A very exciting new product line-up that introduces some innovative packaging and branding concepts.
K: Sustainability innovation with our current product line-up as well as more accessible product options.
What’s next for the company?
K&R: We’re thrilled about our new partnerships and opportunities in the European market and connecting with those new consumers. We are also expanding our product offering to offer new and exciting deliveries and introducing innovative new ingredients, packaging materials and designs.