Lisa Li on the Healing Power of Flowers

This Women’s History Month, we’re shining a spotlight on the women behind some of the biggest brands in the beauty and wellness industries. Today, we’re sitting down with Lisa Li, the founder behind The Qi, to learn more about the brand’s mission, how we can address burnout, and so much more.

"I think it’s really key to first recognize when you’re feeling stressed and burnt out, so you can then take a step back and get yourself rested and centered again."

It’s no secret that the Standard Dose team loves The Qi. For many of us, your brand was our first experience with whole flower tea. Could you share what inspired you to create the brand? 
I didn’t know about whole flower teas until a trip to Yunnan in 2018. Before then, I was much more of a green tea person. After I came back to New York, I just couldn’t stop thinking about my first Rose tea experience there. That magical and transformational first time, after being burnt out working in fashion for 10+ years and missing tea time with my grandma, was what inspired me to start The Qi.

What is the meaning behind the name “The Qi?”
“Qi” (pronounced “chee”) means “Life Energy” or “Life Force.” It stands for the energy in all things. Flowers contain the most Qi, and according to ancient Eastern philosophies, when a plant flowers, it is believed that it’s at the peak of its life. Since we specialize in healing flowers, to name the brand The Qi felt so fitting. 

You grew up Northeast of Beijing, and have spoken fondly of the time you spent with your grandmother, surrounded by healing herbal remedies. Could you tell us more about what that time was like and how you honor those traditions with The Qi?
When I was growing up, my single mom and I lived with my grandparents. While my mom was working, I spent most days (when I wasn’t in school) hanging out with my grandma, sometimes helping her with simple chores and sometimes we’d have tea together. When I used to have tea time with her, I always poured tea for her and served her tea first before I sipped mine. It’s a sign of love and respect for the other person, especially a guest or someone who’s older than you. I still do this and serve others first, as I find this simple gesture to be so loving and wholesome. It’s one of the best ways to slow down to cultivate a deep and genuine connection. 

What are some of the most important lessons you learned from your grandmother? 
Kindness and generosity. Both my grandmother and mother have the BIGGEST hearts. They are so incredibly generous with their time, energy, and resources. My grandmother was the type of person who could never walk by a homeless man without giving him some change or food or both! 

One of the core foundations of your brand is giving back to farmers and the land, and you work directly with family-owned farms in Asia. Could you speak more to this and the meaning this has for your brand?
When I went to Yunnan (the birthplace of tea) for the first time in 2018, I met our Shangri-la Rose farmer when she brewed and served me the first cup of Rose tea I’d had in my entire life. It was so special and unique that I knew I wanted to find a way to work directly with her family. The small farms we work with all put so much love into growing their flowers. Most of them are generational farmers where their parents and grandparents all have been cultivating and fine-tuning their methods for hundreds of years. Every single flower of ours is 100% hand-picked so they are really labor intensive. It’s so important to us that we support them and offer fair wages so they can keep doing the beautiful work of creating these wonderful flower teas. 

With the ongoing pandemic, a lot of people are experiencing additional stress and burnout. How can healing remedies like whole flower tea help create space for more self-care in these moments?
I think it’s really key to first recognize when you’re feeling stressed and burnt out, so you can then take a step back and get yourself rested and centered again. Everyone loves flowers and they bring us so much joy. Flower teas help us both from within AND through our senses with their aroma, their beauty while dancing in the water, their warmth to the touch, and their soothing taste. Each can offer a moment of break, nourishment, and reset for our minds and bodies to break the cycle of stress and burnout. 

Where do you find inspiration?
Flowers. Flowers. Flowers. And other artists, designers and creators. 

Can you tell us a little bit about a woman who inspires you this Women’s History Month?
I find Jing Gao from Fly By Jing quite inspiring. Before I started The Qi, I randomly reached out to her via a cold email after seeing her Kickstarter campaign. She graciously replied and hopped on a call with me and shared SO MUCH helpful information about launching and starting a brand. We kept in touch ever since and to see where she’s taken Fly By Jing today is something that inspires me so much because I know all the challenges and setbacks that she had to face along the way. All women who come from humble and difficult beginnings but persevere through them, create their own successes, and give back along the way inspire me.