Friday, June 22, 2012



Each year, tens of thousands meet annually for the National Kitchen Bath Association’s (NKBA) Kitchen Bath Industry Show (KBIS).  This gathering showcases the latest advances and trends in all-things kitchen and bath for the home, and features hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of trade attendees from around the world.  This year’s event was at Chicago’s McCormick Place April 24-27th

One of the reasons for attending KBIS was to interview noted wellness expert Mariel Hemingway, who is also the brand advocate for Cambria USA, a leading manufacturer quartz, marble natural stone surfaces for the kitchen and bath.  Other reasons included wanting to gain a better understanding and appreciation for this industry and what the NKBA was offering in terms of green initiatives and its commitment to sustainability that included utilizing natural elements and materials, including those recycled or re-purposed for cabinetry, countertops, sinks, tubs, fixtures, and other related features, which would reduce their carbon footprint. 

No longer a trend, but a vital necessity to a brand’s viability and consumer demand, sustainability and green initiatives in most industries continues to grow in prominence with more and more manufacturers finding a way to reduce their carbon footprint, streamline their operations, contribute to improving natural resources, recycling, re-purposing materials, which leads to manufacturing and production offset costs, which further leads to lowering their bottom-line and becoming more profitable; all of which hopefully translates to cost savings being passed down to the customer in the form of a more attractive price point for the finished product. This growing trend ultimately becomes a win-win for businesses, consumers and the environment.  I also attended the industry breakfast, which featured an awards presentation to companies that have demonstrated a commitment to giving back to the community with surplus building materials for programs that benefit the disadvantaged.  Aside from the show’s enormity and significance in consumer-driven products, it was also a very impressive showing for this industry’s best. 


While at the show, I had the pleasure of spending some time with this extremely busy wellness expert to interview her on related issues of wellness and a healthy lifestyle.  Besides being the brand advocate for Cambria USA, she was also the national spokesperson for this year’s SpaFinder Wellness Week and was a featured guest speaker at the recent international Global Spa and Wellness Summit.  She is also a celebrated actress, having starred in thirty films, a frequent guest on talk shows and television sitcoms, an author, a yoga expert, blogger and spokesperson for Tatschme, a paraben-free, natural skincare line from Italy.  When not juggling all of these demands, she finds time for her partner, Bobby Williams; fiercely devoted to each other, they maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.

While tragedy has been a part of this beautiful woman’s life, such tragedies became the catalyst for her determination to live a life to its fullest with purpose, passion and humility.  Her lifetime has been a journey of discovery.  She learned along the way that not only was it important to take care of others and oneself, it also required becoming committed to living a healthy lifestyle and experiencing aspects of wellness consistently.  This included regular exercise such as yoga, hiking, or rock climbing, and eating a healthy and nutritious diet of natural or organic whole foods that were ethically raised.  She extends this principle by raising her own chickens in addition to having a vegetable garden.  She admits that over the years she’s tried many different eating trends, which helped her to discover what worked and what didn’t work.  The nutritional aspects also led to her authoring two successful cookbooks that served as guides to those in search of redefining their eating habits and transforming them into healthy and nutritional ones.

Along the way, she feels she has become her own best teacher while also learning from the examples of everything and everyone around her.  She also believes that by changing small things in one’s life that over time, those changes will lead to making things better and intrinsic to one’s life of health and well-being.  At this point in her life, she is feeling better than ever and in all aspects of her life and fully appreciates living her life in balance with those things and choices that made for a healthier lifestyle.  She also enjoys going to spas and loves how spas have been transformed into places that more and more are emphasizing the importance of health and wellness and then incorporating those aspects into the guest experience. 

It wasn’t just one thing that transformed her life, but rather a lifetime of experiences that included self-discovery, education, trial and error, determination and acceptance.  In addition to finding balance, she also believes that a person has to honestly assess what they want to accomplish in their life and need to achieve a healthier lifestyle.  After all, life is about choices, but understanding those choices and knowing how they’ll impact one’s life. 

Lastly, a major part of her life’s journey was not being afraid to openly discuss issues related to mental illness that has been a part of her family’s history.  All too often those suffering from mental illness have a societal stigma making them ashamed of their illness and making them withdraw, which often leads to depression, anxiety and even schizophrenia.  The issues of mental health are a critical part of living a life in balance, full of health and well-being.  

Mariel Hemingway remains a highly regarded wellness expert whose life continues to be a work in progress.  I have no doubt that the best is yet to come and look forward to her continuing to be an exemplar in areas of health and wellness.


Following are just a few of the companies at KBIS that are committed to sustainability and green initiatives; each company offers products that are functionally beautiful, technologically advanced and environmentally-friendly.


If you’re in the market for upgrades or renovations to your existing kitchen or bath related living spaces, make sure to research and familiarize yourself with the specific company’s positions on sustainability and green initiatives, in addition to checking out their full range of products and price points; do comparison shopping using the same criteria to arrive at a comparison that is as closely matched to the materials you’re considering.  The research will be well worth your effort and time.  Check to see if your local area has a manufacturer’s showroom to visit and see actual products on display.  In Chicago, the Merchandise Mart offers “Luxe Home” on it’s first floor where “Thirty Boutiques” of finished rooms representing various manufacturers and their unique products for kitchen and bath are on display; the showrooms are open to the public.  Many consumers make this their first stop before planning any type of home renovation or upgrade, regardless of the project size.  It’s also a great way to get samples and cost estimates that will assist in developing a project budget.  Remember to that labor costs generally represent the greater percentage of the total budget.  Lastly, if you have a designer or architect working with you, make sure they accompany you whenever you visit a showroom;

Having the right mix of kitchen and bath products will contribute to achieving a healthy and wellness focused lifestyle.  You needn’t have the grandest or most elaborate of set-ups, either; when choosing them, however, try to acquire those that are green and sustainable, while being functional and cost effective.  Plan your budget within your means, even if that means smaller, incremental additions to your living space; this will also help to avoid becoming overwhelmed.  Remember, it’s the journey that matters, not how soon you arrive at the destination or how much you possess.

That’s it for this edition.  Until the next one, remember to take care of yourself and those you love.

By Terry Herman

Terry Herman is a recognized expert in the industry, and regularly covers issues that include business, management, operations, customer care, treatments, products, and trends. In addition to writing and reviewing, she is also a management consultant and motivational speaker.  She also serves on EXPERIENCE | PREMCHIT Journeys In Retreat To Wellness Advisory Board, which is comprised of ten international experts in various fields of wellness and spa.  She also serves as a Group Manager for the popular LinkedIn group, The Spa Buzz.  You can email her at


(Photo credits: Mariel Hemingway, Cambria USA; kitchen design, Kohler Company.)


  1. healthy lifestyle is one of the best defenses against various Health
    -related problems.

  2. Thanks Rahul...I totally agree with you...apologies for the delay, but although I periodically check for comments, this one slipped by...have a healthy week...


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