Most of us, if pressed, will admit that we are at times a little cynical about the whole idea of family. We know that “family” should mean unconditional support, acceptance, and love, but let’s face it, it often doesn’t turn out that way.
That’s why meeting with Rochelle Wagner, founder of Lokahi Leaf, a CBD/hemp-based health and wellness company; her daughter Crystalyn, the creator of Crystalz, which offers spa-like bath products; and Rochelle’s two tech-wizard sons Niko and Mateo was so refreshing. Rochelle, a single mom, devoted her life to raising her children, who in turn encouraged her when she started her company.
While it speaks to the family’s deep bond, this is not the story of Rochelle but of Crystalyn, who despite having cerebral palsy was an integral part of Lokahi Leaf before she became an entrepreneur herself. Talking with Crystalyn about how she became the CEO of her own company would remind us that in life, there is no substitute for simply believing that anything is possible.
“I was born with cerebral palsy, but I can honestly say that since day one, no one in my family has ever let me believe there is anything that I can’t do,” Crystalyn says, reflecting. “I have been blessed with a mother and two brothers who never restricted my options. Yes, the wheelchair was there, but Mom always taught us that every option was on the table no matter what the world might say.”
Realistically, Crystalyn continues, she might have to modify what she does based on the situation, but there are no limitations. “If I wanted to climb a mountain, my mom and brothers carried me or pushed my chair up the mountain. When I wanted to play in the snow, they built a sled so I could go out in the snow, too. When I wanted to try surfing, they laid me on the front-end of the board. My family loved me enough to give me the chance to experience this life in every way possible.”
The world, of course, did not always cooperate. “Sometimes it tried to shut doors of opportunity,” Crystalyn recalls, then smiles. “That didn’t last long. They met my mom, who pushed them right back open. She is our warrior and fights for all of us to have a shot. So, I guess I ended up being a warrior as well.”
She says that helping her mom to start Lokahi Leaf inspired her to have something that she could call her own. “As Mom created her own company, my mind was taking it all in: the budgets, product designs, PR – everything,” Crystalyn states. “It was so much fun, and I thought to myself, ‘I can do this, too.’”
Her family encouraged her to think about the type of company she wanted to offer, and a few days later, Crystalyn had the answer: a bath store that would sell salts, scrubs, soaps, and more.
“The reason I chose to launch bath & body products was because I found water so therapeutic as a child,” she explains. “My mom made soaps, bath bombs, specially scented gels, and even fun bath tub crayons to entertain me. I remembered how I felt so peaceful and relaxed those days. I also imagined how the pandemic made people feel, and I wanted to relieve their anxiety and stress. It’s a lot like my mom’s mission for her company: to help people. Crystalz, however, reflects a bit of me and has a big splash of my personality. It’s colorful, fun, and energetic, and it just makes you feel good.”
Her typical day, Crystalyn continues, starts bright and early at 5:00 a.m. After breakfast, she goes into her office and checks on orders. She then packages them up and sets them out for postal pickup.
“I make products 2-3 times a week,” she says. “My mom brainstorms with me on new ideas. I also attend a few shows for small business owners that I am invited to. I am always learning more about entrepreneurship and establishing relationships within the community.”
Her twin brother Niko and younger brother Mateo are completely on board. “They are more than dedicated to me, my life vision, and purpose,” Crystalyn reveals. “Niko handles all IT aspects of my company, and Mateo handles website/graphic design and creation. We all work very well together and have the utmost respect for each other.”
The person who challenges her the most is Earl, who Crystalyn refers to as her father and who has taken on that role in her life. “See, I got to pick my own dad, and he believes I can do anything even when I am not so sure,” she says. “He keeps me strong when my self-confidence dips for a moment.”
She plans to use her business to help people and animals. “I have watched my mom and family knock down barriers for me. It is my obligation to now do something with my life, find my purpose, and create a legacy.”
Crystalyn is a lifelong lover of dogs in particular, especially pit bulls, and is always watching dog rescue shows and Animal Planet. “I plan to use some of the revenue from Crystalz to support a pit bull rescue group. My service dog was a pit bull, so I know how awesome these animals are. I want to help them to have a sanctuary to go to, free of abuse and cruelty.”
Her plans for Crystalz include launching shower gels and body-refreshing facial mists. “That’s in the future,” she says. “For now, I am focused on strengthening my company and growing it step by step. I want to use my story to show everyone, young and old, who was either born disabled or faces it through happenstance, that the only limitations we face are those we place on ourselves.”
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