LĒVO Founder Chrissy Bellman on Chasing an Idea, Overcoming Chronic Pain, & Breaking World Records
Long before LĒVO’s founder and CEO Chrissy Bellman developed her idea for the infusion device, she was making body scrubs at home. Since she was a teenager, Chrissy would infuse homemade sugar scrubs with her favorite oils, saving money on products that would have been overpriced in the store.
Little did she know that by 2011, her DIY habits and love for natural remedies would plant the seed for LĒVO, and that by 2021, her brilliant vision would blossom into a successful fixture in the wellness world.
Speaking from LĒVO’s headquarters in Denver, Colorado, Chrissy talks about the challenges of starting a business, being herb agnostic, overcoming chronic health issues, and a (very surprising!) world record she holds.
A Conversation with Chrissy Bellman
Hey Chrissy! How are you?
Hi! Really good thanks. I’m busy and there’s a lot to do, but I’ve been trying to bring positivity and lightness into as many things as I can.
How does that filter into LĒVO’s culture?
It’s contagious! We think through how we can really support one another and make challenges not as hard to overcome. When the team is saddled with stress or worry, they may suppress their concerns or observations for improvement within the organization, so I encourage an open dialogue so problems don’t fester.
You have a holistic approach to wellness. How does this manifest in your day-to-day life?
I try to understand what I’m consuming. If I couldn’t easily make it myself, maybe I shouldn’t be putting it on my body, eating it, or spraying it on my countertops. I’m conscious of the level of processing that’s involved with products I use and foods I consume. Whether it’s a scented candle or flavored food or edibles at a dispensary, it defeats the purpose if it’s done so in a way where it’s really artificial.
“In Eastern medicine, herbs have been regarded as having superpowers for millenia.”
What do you love to make in your LĒVO?
I use my LĒVO to save money; I’ve made homemade body scrubs forever and they’re otherwise super expensive. I can’t bring myself to spend $15 or $20 on a body scrub at the store, when I know I can throw an infused oil, salt or sugar, and an acid (like orange juice or lemon juice) together to make the exact same thing! Perhaps, even nicer than what they have in the store.
The homemade body scrubs are something I’ve done since high school, before LĒVO existed. I had a friend’s mom show me that recipe, and it’s my most common go-to.
COVID-19 has uprooted everybody’s lives. What are some key lessons you’ve learned from the pandemic?
The importance of community is paramount; there’s a human need to connect. I’ve watched people struggle with that, and it makes me so grateful that at LĒVO, we have a sense of camaraderie that feeds that need.
I’ve tried my best to share this with our customers. We’ve really focused on interactive aspects of the brand like the LĒVO Love Club (LLC). The LLC is currently a private Facebook group, but it’s more of a LĒVO Love mentality that transcends a particular platform, sharing recipes, ideas, and above all, supporting one another. Many infusiasts have health or wellness goals (of which joy is a legitimate one!), so it’s awesome to see communal support for someone’s specific goals within the platform.
What are your feelings on certain types of herbs, such as cannabis?
Being “herb agnostic” as a brand is the best way to normalise the use of plant medicine and honor how plants can help us heal in every way. In Eastern medicine, herbs have been regarded as having superpowers for millenia. Acupuncture and anti-inflammatory diets have been increasing in prominence in our culture; I see a marriage of Eastern and Western trends. Hemp is a natural extension of homeopathic interest with medicinal uses, and continued research into the possible benefits of cannabinoids are promising.
LĒVO is headquartered in Denver, Colorado. What inspires you about the wellness and start-up scene there? And why did you move to Denver from New York City?
I would say that the West Coast is a little more into, and ahead of, the East Coast in terms of natural food and wellness trends. Boulder, Colorado, is a hub for many of the brands that are in, say, Wholefoods. There’s also an active lifestyle here that’s more frequent and enjoyable than the more polarized fitness culture I had come to know in NYC. It’s true what they say about “you can take the girl out of Jersey, but…”
For many reasons, I believe Denver was a better place for me to get LEVO off the ground. There’s something entrepreneurial in the spirit out here that I feel comes from the history. The west was once the New Frontier, so I feel that mindset is echoed in today’s generation underneath it all. Colorado is also a place of a lot of firsts, be it women’s right to vote in 1893 or legalizing cannabis!
As a female entrepreneur, what has your experience looked like, and what challenges have you faced?
My focus has been to successfully launch a business and get it out there. I believe that will merit tailwinds for other female, hardware, first-time, ex-corporate entrepreneurs like me, too! I also focus on relating to other entrepreneurs, in general, on how much we have in common in the challenges we face. Through that lens, I’m not that different to the majority of male entrepreneurs. I think there’s impact in normalizing it; rising tides lift all boats.
Starting a business, no matter if you’re taking over a family office or opening a bakery or you’re launching LĒVO, is full of trying times. I had to survive some big challenges to prove to myself that I am not an imposter! What makes me an entrepreneur is what makes any entrepreneur: I didn’t sleep for X amount of time, I got on the plane, everything was against me and I still kept doing it.
Does being an entrepreneur spill into every aspect of your life?
Yes, and I don’t fight it. For me, work is a massive, largely creative, outlet. I have a lot of energy and if I’m not putting it into work, it might not be a good thing. Work for me is like taking a dog on a very long walk every day. It’s where I bring a tremendous amount of energy, and I’m glad that it translates to results. Work is also where I have met more and more people that I connect with the most, so it’s been the gift of community for me as well.
“I think the best thing I can do for other women is to successfully launch a business and get it out there.”
You founded LĒVO because you recognized a gap in the market. Can you share more about this and how LĒVO’s changed people’s lives?
I came up with the idea and started working on the patent and prototypes on the side in 2011. I remember when I started Google searching infused products and there was no branded, efficient solution in sight. But, there were millions and millions of people talking about how they were creating infusions at home. I saw people making homemade cleaners or basil-infused olive oil or cannabis brownies, whatever the case may be. That was where I saw the opportunity for something novel and the pent up demand on something outright unsolved. LEVO made this messy, inconvenient DIY endeavor more accessible and sits at the cross-section of many use cases. If I made a natural lotion, over the course of several hours without LEVO, I’ve only fixed one thing; whereas, when you have an infused lavender coconut oil made with LEVO, you can make cookies and your own lotion without the mess.
Why did you feel so passionate about creating a solution to this?
My passion for it and why I jumped at it and why I could see it and why I understood the customer is because of my journey to manage migraines that I have suffered with since middle school. When a migraine hits, I often lose my vision and get numbness or bizarre sensations all over my body. I finally went to a neurologist in high school who scanned and questioned me in every way. I had this amazing experience where I had expected a neurologist to be the epitome of a Western medicine doctor, but instead he was kind of kooky and he talked to me about things I ate, things in my house, my stress levels, and shared a list of online forums of other people with migraines.
That experience fed the vision around LĒVO. As soon as I joined the forums, I was like ‘wow this is crazy’, as people were drawing pictures of the aura that they see in their eyes and sharing them and I was like ‘wow someone else goes through that’. It was a scary experience being a young kid and getting weird visuals like that.
So, that was why I had a propensity towards natural remedies and why I understood how valuable community is when you have these kinds of diseases that are just becoming more and more frequent. We really can help each other heal.
With the pandemic, we’re back to the simple things in life a lot more. How does LĒVO align with this movement of cooking more, gardening more, just living a simpler life?
LĒVO is a set and forget it type product, so it makes it easier for you to infuse something that will transform a recipe without preoccupying you. When you’re spending so much time in your home space, you may not want it to become a science lab of DIY messes. LĒVO makes it more convenient and less messy, so that herb, nut, flower, root, whatever sort of infusions inspire you can be incorporated into your life seamlessly. It’s about staying power, and it can become a staple for that reason: accessibility.
“Community is a great way to help each other heal.”
On a completely different note, we have to settle the rumors that you’re actually a world record holder. What for?
I have a world record for speaking Gibberish very fast! I was an intern for a [world record database] company where I was counting people’s world records, watching their video submissions and validating whether they actually had a world record. Imagine counting thousands of coin flips and what not! They asked me if I wanted to set a record at their next event so I said “yeah!”, but didn’t tell them what it was going to be. It was at this place in New York called Joe’s Pub, and I put the Star Wars rolling credits up with my script and read an excerpt of Sarah Palin’s resignation speech aloud, in Gibberish, which everyone was making fun of at the time in the news. I did the fastest time to recite 75 words of her speech in Gibberish. I don’t think anyone has challenged me, yet!
That sounds hilarious. As the business grows, how do you stay true to your original vision for LĒVO?
I’m personally trying to go back to why I knew people would love this product and what makes it fun and that original lightbulb moment and vision for it. I feel like what can help my role more and more is establishing the continuity in that so it doesn’t lose that depth. I think it’s important when you’re competing in the digital space to keep the depth and breadth of the product to avoid ever being confused for a ‘bland’.
And finally, what do you hope to be doing both personally and professionally in five years time?
I love to make things. I would like to make more products that people enjoy. I’ve come to the realization that it’s not just work, as there is a huge personal creative outlet for me and a huge passion and cause that I feel like I have to get out when an idea comes to me. I’ll sleep better at night if it’s out in the world and out of my head, so when I’m working on it, it doesn’t feel like work. I thrive off learning better and better ways of getting these ideas out of my head and into people’s hands!
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