Kim Lewis was part of the corporate America, working at American Express, traveling, yet dreaming of having her own business. Here’s my interview with Kim Lewis about her life’s milestones.
Would you guess that American Express – yes, the one that has that credit card you use for Costco membership – has produced some of the best women-entrepreneurs in the skin care industry?
If you care about your health, you do care what kind of personal care products you buy for yourself and your family. Organic and natural ingredients always take preference when you glance at the ingredients list, don’t they?
Remarkable people are always behind amazing products, trends, concepts. They pour their soul, their heart, their labor of love into the products that are truly amazing.
Such people leave a lasting, long-life impression on us. Usually, such creative souls develop a product, and even create a product category, out of personal or social need.
Let me introduce you to Kim Lewis who was the product of a corporate culture, the American Express company, and who raised up to the occasion to create a huge market with one great need for natural skin care.
CelebrateWoman (CW) What got you started on the path of developing Yellowstone Bees products?
Kim Lewis (Kim) I cannot take credit for starting Yellowstone Bees. A woman named Lorinda Brewer started this company. I met her in 2006. I think we were probably soul-mates destined to meet in life, and Yellowstone Bees was the vehicle to arrange that meeting. We are still friends to this day. I admire her greatly.
The reason I bought Yellowstone Bees is because I fell in love with the products. And I wanted to have my own business where I could produce something good for people. It was a nice fit at the right time of my life.
CW What was your life before you started this company … and after …?
Kim I worked for three large corporations, but most of my career spent with American Express (AmEx) in a variety of management positions and geographic locations, eventually ended up as one of top women at Amex in a Senior Vice President position.
Lived and worked abroad a large part of my career – including Japan, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe (lived in London UK and Frankfurt Germany).
“Retired” from the corporate world in 2005 and bought Yellowstone Bees in 2006. Best decision I ever made at that time of my life!
Before I bought YellowstoneBees, I spent most of my time on airplanes, staying in hotels, sitting in meetings, managing the work of thousands of others. Given the seniority of my position, my life was highly structured by work pressures and very stressful. I had little or no free time and rarely took vacations or holidays off.
Because I traveled so frequently, it was not possible to have any pets. My traveling did provide a lot of wonderful life experiences and until 9/11 travel was a pleasant experience. Also I usually traveled first class and that helped make the experience good.
The first thing I did when I left American Express and moved to Montana was get a German shepherd puppy. I grew up with German shepherd dogs. Her name is Nikita, and she is 6 years old now.
After I bought Yellowstone Bees my life got very busy again but in a wonderful way. I felt very useful but not stressed out the way it was before when I worked in the corporate world. I still work a lot of hours but it feels quite different, since it’s for my own business and because I choose my own schedule.
I rarely need to travel for business. When I do travel, I try to drive so I can take Nikita with me. She even gets to go to work with me every day … she leads a charmed life!
Managing one’s own company, especially when you love your products and your customers the way I do, is extremely rewarding! The economic situation makes it tough, but I would not ever want to go back to working for someone else.
CW Who are those remarkable people that influenced your creative, professional, and personal life that lead you to starting and sustaining this company?
Kim So many wonderful inspirational people have had a strong positive influence on my life that it is hard to know who to even focus on.
I would have to start with my parents though. My parents were entrepreneurs, running their own companies for many years. My Dad had a strong influence on my professional life in terms of the values it takes to be successful in business. My Mom encouraged and supported my creative side – music lessons (clarinet, French horn, piano), dance, choir. She taught me the joy of reading.
Both of my parents believed in the value of education and taught me core values that I still live by today – loyalty, hard work, independence, dependability.
I was very lucky to have several wonderful mentors mostly from my days at American Express. I can think of two in particular – Hector Cuellar and Richard Stouffer. Very wise older men who took a special interest in my career and with whom I am still in touch with even today.
CW Has your involvement with your Yellowstone Bees products and the company changed your self-image, and your relationships with family, friends, romantic involvement?
Kim I certainly have a very different view about the types of products I use in all aspects of my life now. I read labels on everything now and am much more careful about what I choose to buy and use…from personal care products to cleaning products, what I use in my laundry, on my lawn, for example.
Through what I’ve learned about natural skin care I’ve been able to influence many of my friends and family to switch to healthier and safer products as well.
As for my self-image that has always been strong and positive. I can thank my parents for that most likely. Managing my own business just gives me even more confidence and self-worth.
CW If you had to do it all over again, would you? And why?
Kim There is not a single thing I would change or do over again!
Every experience, good or bad, positive or not, has made me who I am today. I think it’s really important for us to live in the here and now, dream about our future, and remember only the pleasant memories from our past.
With a passion for natural health products for women, Kim endeavored onto the path of healthy, green living. She does it day in, day out. That’s of the power of love. And of a joyful soul.
What’s Next: Biggest Surprise That Has Ever Happened to Kim Lewis