A profile story
Taking a break from working at her busy 104 Street cafe, Kristina Botelho breezes up to our table, wiping her hands on her apron and greeting us with a smile.
Kristina is the owner of three-year-old Kb&co, a local cafe specializing in a variety of plant-based smoothies, salads, sandwiches, and sweets. A self-professed foodie, Kristina has known she wanted to work with food since she was a young girl. It wasn’t until her early 20s that she knew that being an entrepreneur was the right fit for her.
Kb&co is a flourishing fast-casual cafe, despite having only been open for under three years. The success is fitting, considering Kristina’s 20 years of operational and marketing experience in the quick-serve food industry. Her resume boasts certifications in nutrition with specializations in a plant-based diet. With locations scheduled to open in Calgary and Kelowna, Kristina continues to grow her thriving business across Canada, which is why we view Kristina as an authority in the local Edmonton health and wellness industry. She graciously agreed to speak with us more about her perceptions on the industry as well as her success in the field.
Q: So Kristina, you’re the owner of Kb&co, a super trendy cafe with two locations in Edmonton. How do you stay on top of the latest trends?
A: Is it trendy? (laughs) I think that anything health and wellness is here to stay. Trends are here for a while. I stay on top of it by constantly creating, innovating, and gaining inspiration from who’s doing more.
Q: What would you tell people who are skeptical about a plant-based diet?
A: That there is plenty of protein in a plant-based diet. Plenty of nutrients that people think they need from animal-based products are found in plants. Eating whole, non-processed food is the best thing that you can do for your body in maintaining optimal health.
Q: How can you identify something that’s here to stay versus something that’s just a passing fad?
A: I think that for me personally, it would be something that people can relate to. We’re kind of in a time where there are so many allergies and intolerances to food, more than we’ve ever seen. So unfortunately, I think that that’s a growing issue, so if I can relate to people in that way, then I think that’s great.
Q: What’s your favorite wellness trend right now?
A: Anything green!
Q: How do you come up with the recipes?
A: In the past, it’s usually been recipes that I love that are sort of ‘unhealthy.’ Like think of a traditional waffle or taco salad, those kind of things. Because of my own intolerances and issues I’m inspired to make something similar and relatable to what we are already eating as unhealthy and just make it super healthy. So a lot of the inspiration comes from just playing around in the kitchen.
Q: What’s the best thing about your job?
A: Creating. Working with my team, motivating them, inspiring them, that’s right up there. And, by default, we’re feeding people whole, nutritious, non-processed food, which is pretty cool.
Q: What are your hobbies?
A: I enjoy working out, reading, and spending quality time with my family. I have a 22-year-old son, an 18-year-old daughter, and an 11-year-old son.
Q: What does your family think about your job?
A: My oldest is an entrepreneur himself, so I think that he really gets the hustle and hard work that goes into building a business, which is nice. It’s something that he can relate to. Because my children are older, they understand everything that goes into making this work a bit better than they would if they were a little younger. They’ve always been supportive and they are incredibly patient, so I’m really lucky to have that.
Q: How do you keep a healthy work-life balance?
A: To be honest I don’t believe in a perfect balance. I used to believe that it existed, but I think you stress yourself out more by wanting to create that. So I take it a day at a time and try find as much space in my day for family time in there as I can, even if it’s just a 10 minute conversation I have with my kids.
It’s tough, because some days I’ll be at work until 8:00 PM and then my youngest is in bed by the time that I get home. At the end of some weeks, I will reflect and be like, ‘wow, I really sucked at managing my time,’ and other weeks I’m like ‘wow, that was a really great week and I feel fulfilled on the family front, on the business front, on the friendship front, on the work front, all of that.’ Everyday I just try to the best that I can to show my family as much love as possible, even if it isn’t perfect all the time.
Q: What makes you laugh?
A: Everything! I am not a serious person at all. I probably would get more work accomplished if I was a bit more on the serious side. But I don’t think I ever want to be. Memes especially make me laugh. If I can get a couple of memes thrown my way everyday from my oldest kids, I’m pretty happy (laughs). I mean, I’m laughing right now so… I encourage everyone to laugh everyday.
Q: What are you reading right now?
A: I’m reading “F*ck Feelings” right now. So really learning to keep the emotional side of things, when it comes to business or personal stuff, at bay. I’m a very emotional person; I wear my emotions on my sleeve, speak from my heart, and traditionally do work and business from my heart. I’m all for being your authentic self and being emotional, but there’s a healthy balance.
Q: What advice would you give to someone aspiring to be as successful as you have been?
A: Stay in your own lane. Drown out the noise around you. If you are entering the life of an entrepreneur and it’s something that you are passionate about doing, you have to trust your gut and trust your heart. The moment you start looking outside of your yard — we’re all guilty of doing it — all that does is create anxiety, anxiousness, doubt, fearfulness, which takes you away from all the positive energy that you could be investing into your own business. You just need to focus on you, and don’t worry what other people are doing.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
All photos taken by Johanna Halarewich and Jordan Lariviere