Karolina Kurkova is a physical anomaly—even at 7 a.m. My current houseguest is standing in my kitchen, giggling with my children, and the picture of beauty—you can almost hear the animated birds from Cinderella chirping behind her in unison. Often called one of the last true supermodels, she lives up to the title as she gracefully ambles to the table to join me. But with with Kurkova, it's not all about what's on the outside, as evidenced by her latest venture. In addition to her roles as fashion icon, philanthropist, and mother of two, the Czech-born beauty’s latest venture is Gryph & IvyRose, a children’s wellness line that incorporates many of her own health philosophies and regimens. Here, over breakfast, we sit down to discuss.
This year you celebrate your 20th year as one of the fashion industry’s most successful models. What keeps you going?
What keeps me going and inspired is truly my passion for creativity and expressing many different creative outlets. Whether it’s a picture, video, styling, or directing, I love being involved in every aspect of my work and job. And it just never feels boring or repetitive to me because there is always something to learn with different teams, different people, different concepts and ideas that you get to work on; and in my case, when I’m in my modeling shoes you can really tell stories. I love picking projects where I get to play different roles and really explore myself. It always keeps it exciting for me and it’s never boring.
What inspired you to start this line of holistic wellness products?
Firstly, I have done a ton of research myself, and wasn’t impressed with the level of performance that other “natural” products were offering. I thought there was a lot of potential to connect with those parents who want to do something good for their children but who are also used to a certain level of service or style. And what excited me most was the more well-rounded and comprehensive approach to children’s health. Not just as a personal care brand, but with lifelong tools such as probiotics and herbal elixirs that addressed preventative health in a more friendly and fun approach, something that everyone could understand.
How did you and your partners decide which products were needed and why?
Given my fashion and design background and Rachel [Finger, the line's cocreator]’s product background, the bath and body line was the natural start to the conversation. We saw a lot of opportunities where we could create something better by adding the functional herbal element that our cofounder and herbalist, Orion, had introduced to us. So applying these ancient herbal traditions to the bath and body line was the start, and then building out the categories to the supplements and probiotics were another way we felt like we could help make a measurable difference in children's and parents’ lives.
The probiotics are actually delicious. Can adults use them as well? Do you use any of these products on yourself?
Yes, adults can use the G&IR probiotics. They are formulated for a children’s dose, but many parents are stealing, or sharing, as a treat. We’re actually launching a similar probiotic for the adults too; then they will be able to do it with their children together. Obviously the ones for adults will have a higher content of probiotics. But I do eat them myself! When four o'clock hits and you have a little craving, I love chocolate; I always share with my boys. It’s organic cacao, hypoglycemic, and just so satisfying. The chocolate hearts are actually very popular with my boys, it doesn’t feel like they are taking a supplement, it tastes good and has a nice fun shape.
Which products do your children use and love?
For my son Tobin, “Call it a Night” would be one of the top products for him. He has it by his bed and uses it as his bedtime routine. He reads his book, has a little tea, and uses the Call It a Night oil. He likes the taste. It relaxes him and makes him feel good. He also loves the shampoo conditioner; he loves the smell and how it makes his hair feel. For Noah, his favorites are the probiotics; he loves taking the vanilla chewable, the chocolate hearts every day, and he actually likes the taste of them. It’s good for his immune system, which is important for little kids. He loves the bubble bath and the animals on the packaging. What kid doesn’t love a little bit of bubble bath?
Do you personally follow a similar philosophy to Gryph & IvyRose? What is your daily health regimen like?
Absolutely, I wouldn’t be involved with a private company that doesn’t embody my philosophies and lifestyle. I’ve always been, before children, drawn to more holistic practices. I like taking vitamins, supplements, and I take herbs. Especially when I feel my body needs, I go to see my acupuncturist and Chinese herbal medicine doctor. Sometimes you need a bit of extra support. I like herb formulations because it’s not a pill, you can put it in water or tea, or a smoothie. The herbal formulations I take are especially made for me. Dan, one of our cofounders, and Orion, his son and my partner, specialize in this area. When I go see them they see what my body is saying I need, which leads to a specific herbal formulation that I take. I like taking probiotics myself regularly, keeping my gut good and strong. I travel a lot and go to a lot of countries, so good probiotics and vitamin C and B12 for energy are important; good fish oils as well.
What is your daily beauty routine?
I have a few favorite beauty products for my daily routine. Lotion P50 keeps my skin smooth as a baby. It actually balances my pH while purifying and exfoliating my skin. I also love using a great face or sheet mask at home and especially when traveling to keep my skin hydrated, healthy, and vital. The Hanacure face mask from Dr. Colbert is an anti-aging, brightening mask that I love. Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Hyaluronic Ampoules are great for the evening. I use beauty counter Vitamin C, honey mud masks from May Lindstrom, ginseng masks from Sulwhasoo, and Tata Harper’s cleanser. A good steam and some face acupuncture always helps me too. I’m all about the quality of the skin. To me, my beauty regimen is the most important for my skin to look fresh and have a glow, even when I wake up and don’t put on makeup.
Are you a fan of detoxes or cleanses?
Yes, I’m definitely not against detoxes or cleanses. I’ve done them in the past, and I think it’s good when you do them to really find a lot of information from the right source. I’m actually due for one. I do think if you maintain a daily healthy lifestyle and eat well and clean, that’s really the most important for the body. I think sometimes it’s good to give your body a break and maybe eat more simpler, cleaner foods, or not have any animal protein, or have more of a liquid diet. I think changing it up and not eating the same thing over and over is good.
You grew up in Eastern Europe, where all things beauty and health are particularly derived from natural components. Is the philosophy behind Gryph & IvyRose a mirror to what you grew up with?
Not everything was natural, but I think growing up there I was very aware of natural food that I got to take and eat, plant, harvest, et cetera. I witnessed the cycle of how things grow, how good vegetables taste when you take them fresh from the garden, and I made a lot of homemade food with my grandma. We’d pick vegetables and store them for the wintertime and make food from scratch. Definitely my grandmother's generation did make a lot of stuff in the garden. I was definitely exposed to more of that upbringing, but I wasn’t really exposed to acupuncture and healing. That came later from my exposure to traveling and being around different people and seeing how how different things make me feel. I have found over the years that I am extremely aware of what goes into the body, and I’m just naturally more prone to alternative, healthy practices instead of polluting my body with chemicals or things that will give me other side effects.
Are these herbs and remedies also influenced by Chinese medicine? Did you consult with naturopaths as well when formulating?
All our formulas are influenced by Chinese medicine. One of our cofounders is a Chinese herbalist and acupuncturist, and they work on our formulas with the help of our pediatrician who also practices acupuncture and uses herbs in his practice.
You genuinely seem to enjoy all aspects of putting this product line together. What’s next on the horizon for you creatively?
What’s on the horizon? My Cybex collaboration is coming out and with Gryph & IvyRose there’s a lot of new product in development. We are growing and a small team, but my cofounders and I are very hands-on with all aspects of the company. I like to do things that really inspire, empower, and educate kids and their parents, and provide alternative solutions for common things that kids face. We are also working on a children’s book with our pediatrician, Dr. Cowan, to create something visually beautiful and educate and empower kids.