Singer and actress Kelly Rowland is using her platform for advocacy. Her latest effort: partnering with gummy bear-maker Black Forest to spread the word about its efforts to replant forests across America, with a goal of planting 10 million trees by 2030.
For the past three years, Black Forest has partnered with the National Forest Foundation (NFF), for which the Destiny’s Child alum is a board member. To date, approximately 600,000 trees have been planted in states that have been ravaged by wildfires, including California, Oregon and Idaho.
This partnership with NFF is just one example of how Black Forest has sought to reduce its environmental footprint. The brand’s goal is to only use color and packaging from “real sources,” including turmeric and purple sweet potato juice, by 2022, and to have adopted sustainable packaging and lower carbon emissions, water use by 2025.
For(bes) The Culture spoke to Rowland about the environment, how her mental health affects her entrepreneurial mindset and her advice for young advocates.
For(bes) The Culture: Tell me about your partnership with Black Forest. What attracted you to this project?
Kelly Rowland: Black Forest has actually always floated in my house in some sort of way. It’s [my son’s] favorite gummy, and that’s actually how we reward him. He gets extra privileges, and Black Forest is a privilege in my household. I really decided to partner with Black Forest because I love that they’ve made this 10-year commitment to become a sustainable brand and, them wanting to make sure that they’ve planted 10 million trees by 2030. I always think about how brands give back to the environment, in the earth, or in the community in some sort of way. This is such a beautiful way that Black Forest has done this. It goes to show what a real brand with real power and real reach can do. It makes me really delighted to be a part of it.
For(bes) The Culture: Why is taking care of the planet important to you and your family?
Rowland: Trees go on to be like hundreds of years old and they outlive us at times. To be able to plant a tree, that speaks to generations and generations to come. I like to make sure that I’m doing something to contribute to my kids’ future and oxygen and just making sure that they have all these beautiful, tall beings to look at. I look at trees sometimes as giants and as a kid, I would imagine them as big giants and they were protecting me.
For(bes) The Culture: How has the pandemic affected your mental health?
Rowland: I am grateful for my circle. I truly am. I’m grateful that I was still able to keep myself busy in a good way by doing so many different things and immersing myself in creativity. I felt like that really helped me during the pandemic because I was able to focus on something else and not the pandemic. That’s not to say I didn’t have my moments where I would be frustrated that I couldn’t just go to my friend’s house, hang out and chill, go eat at a restaurant, or something as simple as that. Being able to be aware of the spread of Covid-19, I just wanted to be safe, keep my family safe and keep those that I don’t even know safe. I just stayed put and decided to be creative, and it helped out tremendously.
For(bes) The Culture: How has your mental health played a factor in your business endeavors?
Rowland: I feel like when it comes to mental health, I’ve definitely always been aware of it and I’d like to make sure that I’m okay. I like to make sure that others around me are okay. I always say, ’No, really, how are you today?’ I asked my friends that, even before the pandemic. Mental health for me plays a really big part in just everyday living because it affects every single thing that we do.
From the moment you wake up to the moment you put your head on your pillow at night to go to sleep, it affects you in every way. It’s so important to make sure that’s a priority in your own life, just as much as anything else. It’s an open wound, you see. When it comes to matters of the heart and the mind, sometimes you think that you’re pushing those things to the back of your thoughts, but they’re the main thing that maybe is causing you to not progress forward. Life is all about progression, moving forward, being happy and abundant, and being full of joy. Really paying attention to mental health is a big priority in my life.
For(bes) The Culture: May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Is there anything that you would suggest to young advocates who really want to be a part of a strong cause, but may struggle with personal balance?
Rowland: I would say personal balance will start with yourself. Ask yourself, ‘What’s something that you feel like you want to work on, on yourself,’ because usually, you’re the easiest person to judge and the hardest person to look at at the same time. Take the time to get to know yourself and know exactly, how do you want to grow? What space do you see yourself in right now? What do you want to work on? What do you want to be better at? Sow into yourself, and when you sow into yourself, other amazing opportunities come for you. Joy comes for you and you deserve joy.