Q&A with Kimberly Bouk of Kimberly’s Kupboard

I first discovered Kimberly’s Kupboard when visiting Pierogi Fest in Whiting, Ind. in 2016. Owner Kimberly Bouk, of Illinois, had some awesome tea blends for sale there, and I bought a couple bags to try but also noticed her amazing natural body care products. Recently, I reached out to her about collaborating and she sent me some samples and products to try. I’m loving the tea and tisane blends, salves and roll-on oil perfumes, so I am excited to share a Q&A with Kimberly so you can learn more about what her awesome company has to offer.

Q. How did Kimberly’s Kupboard come to be?

A.  I didn’t start out to be a business at first. My husband had said that i needed to go back to work because one salary just wasn’t cutting it. I really didn’t like that idea., I just wanted to earn a little money for our family without having to go back to work when my

salves
Kimberly’s salves help with everything from chest congestion to bug bites and pain relief.

youngest was 4. I came up with the idea for selling herbal salves because a local farm was letting people put their wares in her shop. I figured it might be a good start. I had been making and herbal salve (Chickweed) for ourselves and decided to start making more kinds of salves.

 

The teas became part of the lineup when  another store didn’t want the salves but asked if I could do herbal teas instead. I brought my little products that I had made into the farm store one day. At that time I only had 6 kinds of tea and just 3 salves. She loved the product, the packaging and bought everything I brought in!  In almost one sale, I had made back 95% of my startup costs, and that’s how I got started! I didn’t do shows and markets initially. I wanted to wholesale to stores instead and just approached store after store and got into several stores. When we started doing shows a year later, I was hooked! The response blew us away– I didn’t even know that tea and herbs was trendy, it was just something I loved doing! We do up to 90 shows, festivals and markets per year with the help of my friend, husband and sister-in-law. We also sell online and that business has increased every year. I remember at some point about 6 months after I’d started, thinking to myself, “Wow! This is ACTUALLY a real business! It’s not just some hobby that I’m doing here!”

Q. What is your process like for making the salves and essential oil blends?

A. Herbal salves are made by infusing herbs into an oil and then after a set time, we strain off the herb, add beeswax to harden and essential oils to most of them. I favor salves because, its a very gentle and effective way to heal a lot of issues with very little to no side effects. A lot of the herbs are difficult to distill into an essential oil, so this is an alternative way to utilize the benefits of the herb. When I first started making salves, it was just herbs and oils infusing in little pint jars on my kitchen window sill. Then we moved to quart jars, then half gallons and now we use a 7.5 gallon pan that has enough oil to  make over 270 salves at a time! For the essential oil blends, i first started just selling singles, but people would ask for blends time and again so I decide I needed to come up with some!

Q. How do you come up with your tea blends, and where do you get the teas and herbs from that go into them?

A. A lot of my tea blends come about from a customer request. They’ve either had a

tea
Kimberly’s Kupboard makes their own tea and tisane blends

blend somewhere else and want me to re-create it or they ask about help for certain issues like allergies or insomnia. When I first started out, I focused on herbal tea blends, so we grew a lot of our own herbs for these. As the demand for our teas increased and as people asked for teas that I could not grow, I sourced my herbs and teas from several wholesalers all over the world who specialize in chemical-free herbs and teas. I am an artist by nature, so sometimes I feel like “painting” with my teas … when I mix new recipes, I use my sense of taste as well as my sense of color. Sometimes people will ask me,”what’s the blue cornflowers for?” and I will respond, “It just makes it pretty!”

Q. What are your best-selling products? Do you have favorites to make?

A. I feel like I built this business on a few core products, that if I had not had them in the beginning, we would have never been so successful as we are. One of them is our Arnica Salve — it’s wonderful for relieving pain and swelling as well as helping to speed up the healing of bruises. I live in the middle of nowhere — literally 25 min from the nearest grocery store — and I will have people pull in my driveway to get some of this salve because they need it! Another best-seller is our Green-Roo-Berry Tea. This is a blend of Green Rooibos tea, berries, hibiscus and rosehips. It is high in health benefits, no caffeine

oils
The company also makes roll-on essential oil blends to help with ailments, and issues, like immune-boosting Bandit’s Blend and Crave-Ease to help with dieting and snacking.

and tastes amazing!! Thirdly, our best-selling essential oil blends are Serenity, a lemony blend for stress and anxiety and Bandit’s Blend–a 5 oil blend that is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-septic and smells wonderful! It’s what we diffuse at most of our shows and what most people smell when they first walk into our booth!

Q. What is your favorite part about doing this as a career?

A. Honesty, my favorite part about this job is the freedom to choose my work. I’ve never enjoyed having bosses and I enjoy the flexibility to work as much or as little as I want. Another big reason I love what I do is the fact that my family has a part in this business. They are learning valuable skills about dealing with customers, selling and hard work. I love travelling and meeting all the new people as well as seeing familiar faces at all the shows.
There’s definitely a sense of community among the vendors–we’ve dealt with the sames things and all know what it’s like to be sweating at a show in summer or freezing in the spring!  I enjoy seeing familiar vendors at all the different markets and they have become a family of sorts to us! Probably the best reason of all is that I am able to provide for my family while helping other families heal themselves without harmful chemical or pharmaceuticals. I love that I can help them take control of their health without having to run to the doctor for all the things herbs can help them with instead.
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