A breast cancer diagnosis and some girl talk during a trip opened the door for developing a brand that would give women a healthier alternative for feminine products. Meet Dr. Barb, MD, a Board-Certified OB/GYN who is a co-founder of BK Naturals. Dr. Barb teamed up with her business partner, Kimba “The Natural Diva,” MBA, to create safe yet effective products for all women to use. Together, they developed Kushae, a line of all-natural feminine products with the mission to “give women back their voices in advocating for feminine health and hygiene and to insist on natural products made especially for women, by women.”

Painted Pink Inc. had the chance to speak with Dr. Barb during our first Pinktober Instagram live chat to learn more about her experiences with breast cancer, her company, and how she’s helping women reduce their risk of cancer. 

Since 2002, Dr. Barb has been practicing as an OB/GYN and has helped many women along their journeys with health and well-being. However, she experienced her own health scare at the age of 38 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. This came as a shock to her since she was young and had no family history of breast cancer. Since the recommended age for your first mammogram is 40, she was not due for her first examination at the time of her diagnosis. Dr. Barb began her journey to healing, fearing for her future and the future of her family. She was married with two small children at the time. “You hear the C-word, and your first thought goes to death,” she recalled. 

When Dr. Barb was asked to share her breast cancer experience from both the lens of a doctor and a patient, she stated, “When you’re a doctor, you very confident and in control, because you’re very well-trained and have been doing it for a long time. As a patient, you’re vulnerable. You’re scared. You’re worried.” She believes this experience has helped her become a better doctor now that she can put herself in her patient’s shoes. Dr. Barb has developed a greater sense of empathy, sympathy, and awareness for all women going through a circumstance of this nature. 

The Turning Point

Dr. Barb’s road to recovery included a double mastectomy and a breast reconstruction. Although it was not an easy process, she is now a 10-year survivor. Having breast cancer led her on a quest to figure out why this happened to her since there was no family history, and she wasn’t older. She began to live a more natural lifestyle, from what she put on her body to what she put in her body. Because of her new way of life, she began to brainstorm ideas for feminine products free of all harmful ingredients. A lot of our everyday products contain chemicals that contribute to cancer developing within our bodies. With this in mind, she partnered with Kimba to create a change for women ready to free their bodies of toxins and chemicals that our typical feminine products hold. 

“We’re not just trying to sell a product; we’re trying to make a difference.”

The formula for the Kushae line took a year to perfect. Dr. Barb and Kimba worked with a team of cosmetic chemists to ensure there was nothing linked to cancer present in any of the products. The goal was to have a line of products that were just as effective as any other medicine or chemically based product with the added benefit of being toxin-free. Dr. Barb made it clear to the chemists that she wanted a product with no fragrance and made of ingredients from the earth. The BK Naturals team gained expertise from the chemists on what it takes to obtain the perfect feel, texture, and effectiveness before they are tested. Once the testing was complete, it was time to try the line out! The ladies were pleased to find that their goals were accomplished with the products, and they were ready to launch.

When asked why many manufacturing companies do not take the same route of creating natural products, Dr. Barb revealed that artificial ingredients are a lot cheaper. Because companies are greedy and more concerned with profits than health, they cut corners and use dyes, parabens, and other harmful chemicals. With all-natural products, you may pay a little more, but being free of toxic ingredients and at a lower risk for cancer is priceless. 

“You have to INVEST in your body.”

Many women may notice that a lot of our feminine products contain fragrances of all kinds. From fruity to floral scents, you can always count on a company to market its products’ scents to promote a “fresh feel.” Dr. Barb shared that these marketing tactics are used to reel women in for-profits but are not beneficial to the female body. “We don’t want to smell offensive, but we also don’t want to smell like roses,” she stated when describing the misconception that women are supposed to have these fragrant smells in their most sensitive areas. Dr. Barb gave insight on what to look for in products – factors such as the pH level of the products and the absence of parabens are what matter the most. A lot of women react poorly to perfumes that are put on a sensitive area. 

“It’s a process of re-educating women as to what’s healthy as opposed to what’s marketed to them.”

Health Impacts Outside of Breast Cancer

Many women have questioned the impact feminine products can have on our cycles, fertility, and hormones. Although our cycle is controlled by your hormonal status and not feminine products, Dr. Barb shed light on the benefits of using natural products to maintain a healthy hormonal balance. Chemicals regulate your hormones, so they can change your body’s response, which can affect our cycles and even fertility. Dr. Barb’s advice is to seek guidance from a physician who understands you culturally and listens to you to understand better how your everyday products could impact your health. 

The End Goal

With Kimba and BK Naturals, Dr. Barb seeks to do her part in the mission of creating a cleaner and healthier environment for all women. Her personal goal is to continue sharing her story with others as a way to offer hope and inspiration to those who may be facing an issue with their health. She lives by her motto, “Every experience that you have in life is either a win or a learn. If you don’t win from it, you experience it as a loss. Guess what? In the end, you still win because you learn and become better, stronger, and more resilient.”

To learn more about Kushae products and its creators, visit www.kushae.com