Cristin Smith

CEO/Founder of Saffron & Sage

Cristin Smith is the CEO/Founder and Spiritual Director at Saffron & Sage, spearheading operations at Little Italy’s first-of-its-kind membership-based holistic health club. In addition to day-to-day operations, Smith serves as Strategy Director and Spiritual Director, holding space for individuals to explore their sacred pilgrimage while cultivating discernment and incorporating other ancient practices into their lives including solitude and meditation.
Smith founded Saffron & Sage in 2013, as a result of her personal healing journey and the search for holistic health care practitioners, non-toxic products, therapeutic practices and healing places to achieve wellness of the mind, body and spirit.

Prior to Saffron & Sage, Smith spent many years as a community leader and entrepreneur, leveraging her passion for growth and transformation to make an impact in community development and the non-profit sector. Smith worked with other entrepreneurs, connecting them to their community and target customers, and assisting companies in defining and designing their brand, vision, values, mission and ethos. Smith also offered mentorship for local entrepreneurs and leaders in areas of personal development and spiritual formation, as well as branding, marketing, and spatial design.
Smith started her career in the financial and insurance services industry, holding various management roles. Following that, Smith and her partner started their own agency, where she assisted clients in underwriting their future through strategic planning.

While building Saffron & Sage, Smith studied to become a Spiritual Director through Loyola Marymount University.
Cristin calls Mission Hills home where she lives with Harper and Juniper, her fur babies. In her free time, Cristin enjoys sailing and traveling along with taking Harper, Saffron & Sage’s resident therapy pup out for adventures.

Where did the idea for Saffron & Sage come from?

Saffron & Sage was born as a result of my personal healing journey. During a six-month sabbatical in 2012, I had a health crisis, leading me to seek out holistic health care practitioners, non-toxic products, therapeutic practices and healing places. I was driving from Tijuana to Los Angeles and everywhere in between paying a-la-cart prices for all of these top practitioners but I was having to synthesize their diagnosis and treatment plan. This made me ask myself the question of why there isn’t a place with all these practitioners and products under one roof, where I can take all the classes and services that they are recommending? And as it turned out, there are, but they designed for the ultra-wealthy, with prices of upwards of $10,000 for week stays at “wellness hospitals” or “wellness resorts”. I didn’t have the time or money to jet off to a destination medical resort, but this fueled me to begin devising a plan to create such a space for myself in San Diego.

So, Saffron & Sage was designed with me in mind—a busy entrepreneur who needed a space to support me in healing my gut, learning to breathe out of my belly, decreasing stress, eliminating toxins from my system, and the list goes on. I wanted one place that I could walk through the door, not care about what I looked like or fear that I was going to break the bank and could begin to heal from the inside-out.

Located in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood, Saffron & Sage is a 3,000-square-foot urban wellness sanctuary is designed with expansive, light-filled treatment rooms, a movement and meditation studio, a luxurious wellness lounge, a clean beauty boutique and apothecary. Saffron & Sage offers its members a multitude of services and classes, including acupuncture, botanical medicine, energy therapy, fire cupping, sound therapy, and more. The studio also hosts wellness classes that are carefully curated to nourish the body, cultivate a clear mind, and serve as a space for your spirit to dwell. These include breath work, sound baths, cleansing meditation, energy work and various forms of yoga, including yin and restorative classes.
The Saffron & Sage the multi-disciplinary team is made of more than 30 practitioners from Medical Doctors to Acupuncturists, Psychotherapists to Movement Therapists, who connect the community to consciously curated wellness resources and create individual treatment plans for each member.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

• 6 a.m. – wake up and walk my dog Harper
• 7:30 a.m. – yin yoga at Saffron & Sage
• 9 a.m. – eat breakfast and get ready
• 10 a.m. – first meeting of the day/work
• 12 p.m. – lunch
• 1 p.m. – meetings/work
• 6 p.m. – dinner
• 7:30 p.m. – long walk with my dog Harper or restorative yoga
• 9 p.m. – preparing for bed
• 10 p.m. – sleep

My schedule is open during “Work” hours and my team has full access to book me with meetings with them or others in order to achieve our organizational objectives. I start every day by making two lists: what is urgent and what is important, and then I go through and delegate what one of my team members can tackle and then what’s left for me. From there, I design my day based upon priorities.

How do you bring ideas to life?

The question of ideation is a good one and for me, it begins with incubation. My creative process involves journaling and brainstorming, and visioneering in different formats. I move between my lined journal and art journal with big blank pages. Then, I use Pinterest and big oversized wall post-its and let the idea evolve. Some ideas end up maturing or developing faster than others. I can think of three business ideas that are still sitting and waiting for the right time to come to life. When an idea begins to take shape and manifest in a tangible sense, then I move into designing or fleshing out different aspects of that vision. For example, when Saffron & Sage started taking physical form it did so in the form of one-on-one consultations, then multi-sensory events and I worked on those independently from one another and asked how those ideas might work in conjunction with each other. Then, I spent time sitting with the essence of the brand and the etymology of Saffron & Sage surfaced. For me, I have to let things come into view in their own time and be willing to undergo a process that doesn’t have an identifiable timeline.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The rising response to traditional Chinese medicine and integrative medicine. It shows that we are moving beyond symptoms and beginning to look at health through a holistic lens. I think this trend is helping us to course correct not only in the realm of healthcare but altering the fabric of our everyday lives.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Sleep—I rarely sacrifice my sleep. I need at least 8 hours each night and I rarely stay up past midnight working anymore. My sweet spot for productivity and creativity used to be between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. but I have retrained by my brain and body to go to bed by 10 p.m.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Things never work out the way that you hope, but they always work out better. Be open to outcome and become acquainted with the notion of holy indifference because it will serve you well.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

You have to make sacrifices. Catherine of Aragon said, “No one gets to god without suffering.” I keep hearing “influencers” and millennials say things like “don’t hustle align” and I’m here to tell you that you must align and then hustle. Being an entrepreneur is not sexy or glamorous. You spend your days putting out fires and moving mountains. Most of us don’t have a live-in stylist and show up every day dressed to the nines and “Instagram-ready”. Running a business is hard work and it requires your time and energy—your full capacity and that isn’t always easy.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I am constantly looking for amazing people. I am looking for my next new-hire, new mentor, new investor. I’m searching for diamonds in the rough and people who I need to meet to bring my ideas and vision to life, people who I need to learn from in order to grow to the next level. My biggest advice is to seek out great people to surround yourself with.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Vision. I am crystal clear on the vision and values of Saffron & Sage. The way I communicate, and the organization communicates from meetings to social media is all about vision—who we are and what we believe to be true. You will attract the people who share your vision and values and deter the ones who don’t. I like and enjoy every single staff member and every single Saffron & Sage member and as a result of this. My staff works in an environment that they love, doing what they love with people they love, and my clients are achieving their wellness goals and loving every minute of it.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

There have been so many failures, but a huge area of failure and learning for me in the first 2 years of opening our flagship Saffron & Sage location was not parting ways with staff fast enough. I have learned that when you uncover misalignment in vision and values with an employee, you need to part ways immediately. Preserving the integrity of the organization’s culture is more valuable than any interim loss of revenue or perceived fear of lost revenue. I failed in this area multiple times and am happy to say just last month I finally learned the lesson and was able to course correct this behavior.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

One of the businesses that I have cultivated from time to time over the years is a space for entrepreneurs to connect with mentors and investors. A space for them to decompress and form relationships that will aid them in their personal and professional development. This will be a membership-based space build around invitation and application.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

My memory foam mattress topper! It came in yesterday and I had the best night’s sleep last night.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Other than my calendar I don’t use any software that helps me be productive.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Start with Why by Simon Sinek. I can’t stress enough how essential this book is to lay down the foundation for your organization. It is crucial to success.

What is your favorite quote?

As of recent. Marianne Williamson’s words have been reverberating deep inside my soul:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us

We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God

Your playing small
Does not serve the world
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you

We are all meant to shine
As children do
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us

It’s not just in some of us
It’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same
As we’re liberated from our own fear
Our presence automatically liberates others

Key Learnings:

  • Constantly look for amazing people to surround yourself with. I am looking for my next new-hire, new mentor, new investor. I’m searching for diamonds in the rough and people who I need to meet to bring my ideas and vision to life, people who I need to learn from in order to grow to the next level.
  • Being crystal clear on your vision and values is vital to grow your business and attract the right people (employees, customers and partners) who will also share your vision and values.
  • When you uncover misalignment in vision and values with an employee, you need to part ways with them immediately. Preserving the integrity of the organization’s culture is more valuable than any interim loss of revenue or perceived fear of lost revenue.