Gabe Kennedy is the CEO & Co-Founder at Plant People, a botanical wellness brand crafting high-performance CBD and herbal products. Gabe launched the company around a core mission to connect and heal communities through the power of plants.
In addition, Gabe is a renowned chef, with experience cooking for tastemakers, professional athletes, and dignitaries. Since its launch in late 2017, Plant People has been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, Vogue, Goop, The New Yorker, Cool Hunting, and Bon Appetit.
On the first hour of his morning. When I wake up, the first thing I do is take a moment to just be. I don't jump straight out of bed. I then do about 15-20 min of meditation with an app called Insight Timer. It's not the sexiest app but highly functional. Although it’s challenging to do every day, it’s really important to me.
I grew up in Boulder and both my parents work in alternative medicine. I grew up in a health and wellness-oriented community and first started meditating in elementary school. My mom always said, “If you don’t have time to meditate for 20 minutes a day, you need to meditate for an hour.” I’ve made it a point to try to meditate every day.
After I sit, I’ll make an espresso, put my bag together while listening to NPR’s Up First but recently defaulted to music so I can start my day on a more positive note. So much crazy shit going on now. Then I’ll get to the gym and get in a nice swim, stretch, shower. I then ride my bike to work - Brooklyn to Chinatown. Within the first hour I’m meditated, caffeinated, and at the gym working my body. This routine has been vital to my wellbeing.
On Plant People’s origins. Our sweet spot is building around the unique attributes of plant genetics. We understand what is in the plant and look to what research tells us these compounds work for. Then we begin to build. At the moment the CBD category is really a one size fits all - panacea. Although there’s some truth to that, my philosophy is that every plant is different.
If we can understand the genetic expression of a plant, we can then optimize for effect. We can then amplify those effects with other herbs to create a really robust product that’s much more oriented around a need space than a want. Every product we have utilizes a different hemp profile, and then reinforce those profiles with terpene blends or herbal solutions that really deliver.
We're not hemp, CBD, or cannabis people. We're plant people. Our name really says it all. What’s important to us is exploring the diversity of plants, and understanding how we can better utilize them. We believe in the power of all plants, not just one and not just one compound in one particular plant. When I build products, I try to defer to our namesake and that idea of celebrating what plants have to offer, and part of that celebration comes from really understanding what they’re made of.
On building community. Our perspective at Plant People is that it takes a village. As we have built the business, building the community remains integral to our success. We are only as good as our team. Now more than ever, it’s important to have people to lean on and tackle big ideas with.
The foundation of any good brand or movement in popular culture is rooted in community and connection. Within our name and business DNA, we embody this tribal mentality. Being a plant person is about connecting people and the planet while revisiting our relationship with nature and ourselves.
Building an inclusive, thoughtful and accessible brand is really important for us. I believe that often times the wellness space is too much about the individual. When we think about wellness, it’s about the individual as much as it’s about community and the wellness of the world. Rather than just focusing on eliminating the bags under our eyes, we should be working to eliminate the plastic bags in the ocean. I’ve always viewed wellness as a community-oriented activity.
On Plant People's brand promise. Our core tenets as a business are efficacy, education, and regeneration. When we talk about the product, it needs to fit into those categories. It needs to work, deliver on the promises we’re making, be something that opens people’s minds to the power of plants and the opportunity that they hold and regenerate the health of people and the planet. At the end of the day, what we create needs to work. We're driven by efficacy as much as impact.
On nutrition and eating habits. So many people are telling us how we should eat and how we should operate. There should be a responsibility in the way we consume about taking care of our own wellbeing and our planet’s wellbeing. But at the end of the day, it’s not my place to tell someone what to eat or what not to eat. Rather, I prefer to encourage curiosity, moving through experiences with an awareness of how it makes you feel, which can inform decisions around diet.
One thing we do know is that given the globalization of our food system, making the most environmentally, socially and economically beneficial decision is a challenge. But, eating seasonally and regionally is always a safe choice if accessible and within one's means.
On mindful consumption. We are in a moment in history that consuming responsibly if you have the means to is non-negotiable. We often place convenience over doing what is beneficial for all. The more I learn, the more conscious of my own actions I become. We have so much impact with what we choose to purchase, so understanding the systems and implications are key.
It requires work, but we need to step up. I try to buy non-packaged foods, buy in bulk, reuse any glass, and eat more plants. I avoid fast fashion or exploitative labor practices. There is enough clothing on the planet now for everyone - we don’t need to keep producing. I enjoy getting most of my clothing from vintage as well as impact-oriented companies with cradle to cradle practices.
On finding time to recharge. I get a fair amount of nourishment from spending time with the people I love, but I also hit a limit and need to tap out. I really value my mornings and evenings. If I can take some time and space for myself in the morning, checking the boxes that allow me to feel productive - taking care of myself, the rest of my day is easier.
The things that I find to be really important are meditation, music, exercise, feeling the sun on my skin, and a good meal. The more that I can fill my own tank, the more I can show up, be present, and give to others. When I’m feeling depleted, it’s really hard for me to show up as my best self.
More recently, I’ve found a deep appreciation for alone time in the evenings. It’s really easy, particularly in New York, to go out to dinners or events - there is always something. There are never-ending opportunities to be social. After a bit of that, I have to tap out. It’s really a balance. It’s having enough self-awareness to understand when I’m reaching my limits, and understanding that that’s okay.
On his sleep ritual. On my ideal day, I’m listening to smooth jazz, reading a novel, drinking a cup of tea, and falling asleep. That rarely happens. More often than not, I’ll take some CBD, catch up with my family, play some music, or watch a movie before I jump into bed.
I try to leave my phone far enough away that I’m not tempted to get on a phone when I get into the bed. Truth be told that is tough and I'm pretty bad at it. My goal is to simply decompress because my days can go pretty late and I try to wake up pretty early. Sometimes I want to veg out and watch TV and sometimes I prefer to read or play music.