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It may seem that intuitive entrepreneurship is a way of doing business that’s only available for online entrepreneurs, coaches and healers. Well, nothing could be further from the truth! All businesses can benefit from the wisdom of the owner’s intuition, and all business owners can benefit from allowing their intuition to guide them in their business.
Today’s podcast guest is a shining example of how intuition can guide a highly successful, bricks and mortar business. In the manufacturing industry no less!
Kristina Runciman is the owner of Lifeforce Glass, Inc., manufacturer of imprinted giftware. The business was inspired by Spirit and has served to help inspire and delight hundreds of thousands of people over its 28 years. Lifeforce Glass currently employs nine people and three dogs in Kingsport, TN, USA.
In this episode, you’ll hear about:
- How a dream in the 1990s inspired Kristina to find a way to support her family and start her business
- Why being open to spiritual guidance is good for business
- How honouring your values is critical for the intuitive entrepreneur, even if it means making tough decisions
- How Kristina is practicing more detachment and ‘allowing’ as the business grows
Welcome to the Intuitive Entrepreneur Podcast. I'm your host, Brigit Esselmont, intuitive business strategist and mentor. As the founder of Biddy Tarot, I turned my love for tarot into an abundant seven-figure business. The secret to my success, making intuition and strategy my entrepreneurial superpower. Now, I'm inviting you to do the same.
In this weekly podcast, I'll be sharing advice, tools, and real life examples from some of the best intuitive entrepreneurs to show you how you can trust your intuition, align with your purpose, and create a positive impact through your work. Let's make it happen.
Brigit: Hello, and welcome back to the Intuitive Entrepreneur Podcast. Today, I'm talking with Kristina Runciman who is the owner of Lifeforce Glass. Now, Lifeforce Glass is a manufacturer of imprinted giftware. Think about these beautiful colored little pebbles and stones that have really inspiring words and phrases on them. These are distributed through thousands of stores in the US and also worldwide.
Now, what makes this business extra special is that it was inspired by spirit, and it served to help inspire and delight hundreds of thousands of people over the 29 years that it has been in operation. Lifeforce Glass currently employs nine people and three dogs--that's right, three dogs--in Kingsport, Tennessee in America.
Kristina is also married to Tom, who is also in the business and their daughter, Katie, has delighted them with two adorable grandchildren. Kristina is a student of tarot, and she's also enrolled in our Biddy Tarot certification program. She is, of course, a lifelong spiritual seeker.
Now, in today's conversation, we talk about how a dream in the 1990s inspired Kristina to find a way to support her family and start her business, why being open to spiritual guidance is actually good for business, how honoring your values is critical for the intuitive entrepreneur even if it means making tough decisions, and how Kristina is starting to practice more detachment and more allowing, particularly as the business grows and continues to evolve.
All right, with that said, let's get into today's interview.
Brigit: Welcome. Kristina Runciman. How are you going?
Kristina: I'm doing very well, Brigit. How are you?
Brigit: I am very well, and super excited to be talking with you today because your background is perhaps a little bit different to what we've been hearing on this podcast. We mostly hear about online entrepreneurs, but you're someone who is in more of the bricks and mortar in manufacturing industry. Can you just tell us a little bit about your journey and what kind of business you've created here?
Kristina: All right. At the moment, we imprint messages on glass stones, pieces of bamboo, and glass plaques. We do scripture verses and inspirational quotes and, lately, in fact it's not even out yet, but a collection of glass stones that are based on my own spiritual journey. It's quite out there with the words like show up, meditate, elevate, and aspire, and great things like that. I'm hoping to expand my tribe with this line of glass stones, so it's wonderful than what we usually do.
Brigit: Are you selling to just individual customers or do you sell to retailers as well?
Kristina: We're mainly wholesale. We sell to gift stores, hospital gift shops, bookstores, distributors. It's been very challenging in the last few years as retailers are diminishing, so we are open to selling to individuals. You just never know who's going to be a wholesale customer. I find you cannot be restrictive. People and some of my peers want to vet everyone and say, "You're not an appropriate retailer for my product," but I think you can't do that these days. It's all different.
Brigit: It sounds like you're being a lot more inclusive in terms of your selling and distribution.
Kristina: Well, we are a spiritually-led or a spirit-led business. Why would we exclude people? That's my thing. We also sell a lot on Amazon, and that has led us to all kinds of people.
Brigit: How did this journey begin? I know you've got a really special story for how it began, so I'd love to hear it.
Kristina: We really do, Brigit. It's one of those goosebumpy stories. I was about 35 and raising two little kids. They were two and four years old. My husband had just been diagnosed with a chronic illness. I knew that I needed to do something to help support the family because we really didn't know how this was going to progress. Also, I wanted to do something that I could be at home with my children and raise them the way I wanted to.
I kind of balk at our culture a little bit of the materialism of it. Anyway, I won't get into all that, but I was praying for a focus of what I was supposed to do. One night, October 28, 1990 at three o'clock in the morning, I got a dream, like a nighttime dream, not just an inspiration. It was a dream where everything was laid out for a business. I had no money or experience, but I knew this kind of thing didn’t happen to everyone, certainly never happened to me before, so I went ahead with it.
28 years later, I have a 5,000-square-foot manufacturing building and my husband's been in the business since 2001. My children have both been involved, and we have nine employees now. We sell to about 2,000 retailers around the world really, but mostly in the US. It's been quite a journey where I use intuition every day, really.
Brigit: Tell me a little bit more about that. How are you using intuition in your business? Obviously, you've used it as a catalyst to get started. What does it look like in these days where you're bringing intuition in business?
Kristina: Well, it's funny as sometimes it's a product idea that'll just arrive in my head gradually. Sometimes, things happen. I had a piece of equipment that wasn't working. It had locked itself, and I was trying to figure out how to get this unstuck. This voice just came out from nowhere. It said, "Bang it," so I just took a whack at the equipment and that took care of it. It can very practical.
Brigit: I know because we always have these kind of images of something a bit more ethereal and more gentle. It's like, "No, just bang the thing."
Kristina: That's right. It really is very rarely ethereal. Every once in a while in meditation, something will happen, and that's so satisfying but so rare that you just get an inspiration when you are expecting it. A lot of things come in the shower.
Brigit: That's for sure. Are you being quite proactive in terms of giving yourself time and space to really feel into the business and what it needs of you or is it more that you're experiencing this as like a breakthrough, an inspiration or an aha moment?
Kristina: I rarely have aha moments. It's just kind of a day-to-day do the thing. I do a tarot reading for myself every morning and very often asks something about the business. Because I'm not particularly skilled yet in reading the tarot cards, I learn by what actually happened that day. It works both ways. I get guidance, plus I learn how to read.
Brigit: Do you have a daily practice to help you tune into your intuition and then see how that's translating for your business?
Kristina: Yes. I meditate every morning. I get up really early before anyone else and meditate for at least 30 minutes every day. It's made a huge difference. I haven't always done that, but I've been doing it for a while now. It really helps a lot.
Brigit: How do you think it's helping? What is it about meditation that then supports you being more tuned into your business?
Kristina: Well, I find that I gradually not as judgmental of people. I don't think you can work with more than one person without having staff issues. It's just so many personalities. How they do or don't get together, I think meditation has made me a calmer person, and I don't take things nearly as seriously because I have a view of the bigger picture I would say. I think meditation had a lot to do with that.
Brigit: When you say the bigger picture, what exactly does that look like for you? Does that mean the context of the business? Does that mean the context of the galaxy?
Kristina: Universal. I think that we're all an individual expression of source, and connecting with that source every day helps a lot. This is just so unusual for a manufacturing business. There aren't many people I feel that I can talk to comfortably about this. Even members of my staff, I think they look at me like, "There she goes again," woo-woo stuff.
Brigit: Especially with what you are creating and producing which is these beautiful inspirational stones and so on, I wonder if it could actually be your strategic advantage that you are operating your business from a more intuitive way. Have you ever thought about going down that path?
Kristina: I think we are on that path. My intention is to create things that help people in their lives. We hear all the time how somebody came upon a stone, whether they bought it or someone gave it to them or they actually found it, that the saying or the word on it was just exactly what they needed at the right time. Sometimes, it's kind of life changing. When I hear these stories about our product, it really makes me feel connected to what we're doing.
Brigit: Yeah, absolutely. I wonder too, though, if you could be like more of your brand or like the way that you talk about how you run your business, if you were to be more open around how that is sort of spirit led intuitively that, I wonder if that could also support what you're doing in terms of what you're creating. Have you ever thought about that?
Kristina: Like in our marketing?
Brigit: Yeah. Even to talk more publicly about how you do make decisions in the business based on your intuitive guidance as well as strategic guidance and data and all of that other good stuff, including that intuitive element as well.
Kristina: Well, I think it might be to our advantage if I was a little bit more authentic about our experience and share it more openly. I feel like we need to obtain a large chain of stores in order to grow quickly. Corporate speak is a lot different from spiritual speak. There may be a bridge, and I would like to find it.
Brigit: That's certainly the intention of this podcast, in particular. I know many of the people listening are actively bringing those aspects together, how do we bring spirituality and business together in a way that the language that we use, the way that we express ourselves and be present and visible in the world is in alignment with honoring our spiritual selves as well as the business side. I'm curious about when perhaps maybe you haven't followed your intuition, what's that lead to.
Kristina: Well, sometimes I get so excited about an opportunity, I don't check in with my intuition and I'll just charge ahead. I, last year, had an opportunity to meet with some major buyers, people that aren’t necessarily our customers, but I thought if they were, it would really be a big deal for our company. I laid out $10,000 to participate in this and it was just a total bust. If I had checked in, I probably would have gotten the message that, "No, this isn't going to work." That was one time where that didn't work. We've had plenty of products that didn't sell, but I think that's all part of the learning process.
Brigit: Absolutely. After that experience, were you then more, I guess, diligent about tuning in before you're making important decisions?
Kristina: Yes. I don't do anything without really making sure that it's spirit-led, that it is for the highest good of everybody, not just my ego.
Brigit: Absolutely. Being the highest good of everyone, does that sort of filter out through your company and how you interact with your employees and then customers and so on?
Kristina: Yes. One aspect of our mission statement is to realize the potential of our employees, and we really try to make the most of everyone's gifts and talents. I'm very loyal, and I get a lot of flak about not laying people off when business is slow or, you've probably heard in this country, we have to pay for health insurance and it's very, very, very expensive. We do pay for our fulltime employees health insurance which is very significant expense. It just seems like the right thing to do. We don't have to do it because we're a small company and small companies are exempted from that, but I don't know how you could face yourself in the morning if you didn't do the best for your people, when people do the best for me. I hope they do anyway.
Brigit: This is one of the things that I've seen come up a lot with intuitive entrepreneurship. A lot of it is values-based and values-led. Sometimes, if you're really truly following your values as an organization or as a leader of that organization, sometimes you do have to make decisions that maybe not along this status quo or other people would think it would be a good decision or may have a cost to the business and so on, but you follow those values anyway because that's what it means to be a values-led organization. Do you feel that happening in your organization too? You're willing and open to make those tough decisions so that you can stay in alignment?
Kristina: Yes, we do. I try not to source product that has any objectionable qualities. I try to buy recycled paper for our packaging and for our marketing materials, small things like that. We don't have recycling for business in our community, so we drive it. We don't throw things in trash. We have a way of repurposing some of our materials and we do that as much as possible. There's always more you can do. I feel like we do the best that we can. Sometimes, you just feel guilty being human.
Brigit: Tell me more about that. What does that mean for you?
Kristina: It just seems like the Earth would be a better place without us. I guess I just heard about the one million species that we've destroyed. This is kind of on my mind.
Brigit: I suppose, given that we're here now, we can take actions to protect the environment and protect the Earth. It sounds like you're doing what you can in your business to still be a good custodian of the Earth.
Kristina: We are doing what we can.
Brigit: Yeah, absolutely. Now, you have a number of family members working in your business. How does that sort of play out? What are some of the opportunities and perhaps challenges of having family in the business?
Kristina: Well, it's just my husband now. My daughter is raising two adorable babies at the moment. But when she was in the business, she did shipping, marketing, and packing. My husband, he does the accounts receivable, and he's a printer. He does maintenance on our building. There's always something that needs to be fixed. Sometimes, I might get annoyed, but when we get in the car to go home on that short drive home, everything kind of melts away and we're back to being a couple again rather than coworkers. We try not to talk about work too much at home. The roles definitely changed. I'm pretty clearly the boss at work, but not at home.
Brigit: Well, actually, I think you do need to have that give and take because I think it can throw things a bit out of balance. If the work context, you're the boss and your partner is working for you, I think at home it always needs to flip the other way a little because, otherwise, that balance of power can get a bit out of whack. I don’t know what kind of boundaries do you have in place so that it doesn't feel out of balance.
Kristina: Well, it's funny that you had mentioned that flip because we do exactly that. I manage all the finances at work and he manages the finances at home. We both have our financial responsibilities.
Brigit: Does he contribute to, say, the strategy and the future of the organization or is that very much in your space?
Kristina: That's pretty much me. I'm the visionary.
Brigit: I take it then your husband's very much... does he enjoy doing the work and getting the job done and then going home basically, right?
Kristina: Yes. I'm not sure we'd say enjoy, but he does what needs to be done.
Brigit: All right, very loving partner then.
Kristina: He is. We're going to be celebrating our 40th wedding in September, so we're doing something right.
Brigit: Congratulations. That's adorable.
Kristina: Thank you.
Brigit: I think particularly so given that you are working together. I hear a lot of people who they start their business and things start to go really well, and then they’re like, "Great, my husband can now quit his day job and can work in the business." For some people, that works really, really well. Then for others, I think it can be... I don't know. I think you need to have a lot of boundaries in place to make sure that it does work in the end.
Kristina: I think so. For us, it always worked pretty well, but were friends before we were lovers. We waited seven years before we had children. I think we know each other very well and we knew we could do this.
Brigit: Beautiful, excellent. Now, you mentioned tarot before, and I know that you're taking the Biddy Tarot certification program.
Kristina: I am.
Brigit: How are you sort of bringing this into your business? Again, I totally trust that, with tarot, you're at the early stages but there's still so much that you can get from the cards even though you're sort of starting and beginner. I'm curious how you would integrate a little bit of it into your business.
Kristina: Well, it's funny. Lately, since I've finished mastering the tarot card meanings, I've kind of been thinking about my staff members and assigning them a court card, things like that. As I said, I do do a reading every morning. It's usually about the business. I'll go through my day and I'll think, "Oh, this is why Queen of Swords' reversed," especially since that, for me, means muddy thinking.
Brigit: Do you find then it brings you more mindfulness in your day to day work?
Kristina: I really do. I really do. I'm looking forward to going further into the course and being able to use it even more. I feel like when I can design spreads and things that I could really get some juicy information about possibly new product development, and that I find very exciting.
I feel that I'm also concurrently accessing my spirit guides that is another course that I'm taking at the same time. I think the two are working hand in hand. I know not everyone accesses guides when they're doing tarot but some do, and I think that there's no reason why the power greater than we are couldn't speak to us through tarot cards. Why not?
Brigit: Absolutely. I say it's happening in partnership. There's the part of yourself that's interpreting the cards and seeing the message that's important for you. Then if you are working with spirit guides, then that adds another element to it as well. I think the two can work beautifully in tandem.
Kristina: I feel like this business was given to me by a source and that's why we named it Lifeforce Glass. It's my responsibility to work in tandem with the universe. That's my responsibility.
Brigit: I think that this is something that a lot of intuitive entrepreneurs really feel. Once you've really felt into your vision, but maybe even more so like the sole purpose, your sole purpose, the business' sole purpose, and you start to see how you almost just don't have any other choice but to allow this business to flourish and succeed and to do so in a way that is connected with your inner wisdom and inner guidance because you can see that there's such a higher context to what you're doing. Does that resonate?
Kristina: It absolutely does. We can be of service to people in so many ways. It's more than just trying to sell trinkets. It's the meaning in the product. It's the messages that are printed on the glass stones or the plaques. We want to be of help and service. So many people are just starting out on their journeys of self-realization. I hope that we can be of some service there.
Brigit: I think with the whole concept of having these beautiful words written on stones, there's so much intention behind it and the energy behind that. You're sharing this with so many people around the globe. I think it's beautiful.
Kristina: It's been a lot of fun.
Brigit: Tell me what's emerging for you over the next 12 months?
Kristina: Well, there's been a lot of organizational energy at my business. We've gotten extremely efficient over the last year and everyone, without necessarily discussing it, has been just doing everything more carefully, organizing things, cleaning up, and just continuing products that don't sell and trying to be inspired for new ones. It's just kind of funny that everybody seems to be on the same page with this. I think we are just trying to get more and more efficient so that we can produce more, help more, make more money with the same amount of staff and just prove to ourselves that we're successful business people although, at 29 years in business, I think we've proven that.
Brigit: Yes, absolutely. It sounds like maybe the Marie Kondo Netflix series has had an impact.
Kristina: Maybe that's it. They do talk about that in the packing room. They may be employing that. You're onto something, Brigit. I didn't even think of that but, thank goodness, I'm definitely the beneficiary of that energy.
Brigit: May I tell you, it makes such a difference. I mean, I'm not thinking just organizing my home because that was a huge energy shift when I did the Marie Kondo on the home but in our business as well, we're always looking at how can we just trim and focus, trim and focus. My team, if they're listening, they might be laughing going, "You know what, Brigit, you're always coming up with new ideas. What are you talking about?"
Kristina: Well, it's the Pareto principle, right, that 80% of your result comes from 20% of your effort?
Brigit: Yeah, exactly. That's great. Even after 29 years, you can still find those areas to just trim back and keep things chugging along.
Kristina: Absolutely, especially as things just change so much with digital marketing. Things that used to work before don't work anymore. There's no reason to cling to old ways of doing things if it's not efficient.
Brigit: That's right and everything will always be in a constant state of change, and so it's important that we adapt to that continually. Over these next 12 months too, what new aspect of yourself do you think that you'll be expressing over these next 12 months?
Kristina: Well, to be perfectly honest with you, detachment, I believe, is what we're looking at. I have other passions like the tarot and my grandchildren. I'm hoping that everyone's getting so efficient that they don't need me as much anymore. I would like to see what else is out there. It has been such overwhelming focus for me for such a long time, and I do think I need to find out who I am without my business or as a lesser role in my business. It would be good to think that it could carry on without me. I'm not going to live forever.
Brigit: Yeah. I think that's always that next challenge of when you've created and founded a business, and you've established it, and it's moving along well is looking at like what is your exit strategy? It sounds like that's starting to come into your mind.
Kristina: It really is.
Brigit: But also to be able to leave a legacy. You don’t want to just go, "All right, I'm out. Oh, business stopped, finished, no more business." I think it is something that can absolutely continue to run. Do you think actually that might be where your daughter will come into play or do you see maybe a different alternative?
Kristina: No. We need to find the right person, and that is where tarot and meditation is really going to be helpful because I think it's going to be harder to exit than it was to start it.
Kristina: I really need a lot of guidance here. I expect that it's going to take a long time too.
Brigit: Well, it's good to sort of be patient and just allow it to flow rather than of having a hard deadline perhaps of when it must happen.
Kristina: Allowance is one of the most important aspects of life, I think. Just that grasping is something that isn't going to help.
Brigit: Wonderful. Is there anything else that you'd like to share before we call this interview complete?
Kristina: Well, actually, Brigit, I would just like to say how much I admire you and how you've just built this empire and into what appears to me to be a very short time. Your site is so beautifully laid out and your materials are always consistent with your brand. I think I've learned a lot from you, and not just from tarot.
Brigit: Thank you. I appreciate that very much. Beautiful.
Kristina: I have been aware of your existence for about a year, I think. When I'm designing things, I try not to get all over the place and just stick to the path because that's what you do.
Brigit: Yeah, most of the time when I'm not getting distracted by shiny objects. Beautiful.
Brigit: It's been so good talking with you today, Kristina. Can you let us know where to find out more about you and also Lifeforce Glass?
Kristina: Okay. Well, our website is lifeforceglass.com.
Brigit: Very simple and easy.
Kristina: That's right. If you want to communicate with us, we answer emails, so happy to discuss anything with anybody.
Brigit: Fabulous. Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for your time and energy today, Kristina. I really appreciate it.
Kristina: Thank you for all you do, and you're a benefit to the universe.
Brigit: Very sweet.
Thank you for joining me for today's episode of the Intuitive Entrepreneur Podcast. If you love this episode, please leave an honest rating and review on iTunes. It really helps to get the word out and, of course, I read every single comment. If you want weekly inspiration to help you trust your intuition, align with your purpose, and create huge business success, then head on over to bridgit.me and sign up for my free weekly emails. That's B-R-I-G-I-T .me.
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