Levo Founder Chrissy Bellman
Mar 30, 2019 02:59PM
● By Leland Rucker
Chrissy Bellman of Levo had a moment of inspiration that led to a Keurig-looking device to infuse foods.
Before the moment when everything changed, Christina Bellman had always been independent. Motivated from early childhood to succeed, she chose philosophy and finance at college and was hell-bent on the latter. Always looking for challenges, she studied abroad in Australia and eastern Europe and was on a solid Wall Street career track.
And it was then, as she was finishing college, that she had the moment. It came and went in a flash, but nevertheless, it persisted. “I like to say sometimes it was the first spontaneous thing that I ever did, because I’ve always been a very planned person, trying to optimize everything and adding value,” Bellman says during a recent interview in Denver. “But I think Levo really stopped me in my tracks and made me question what I wanted to do with my career.”
Levo is a kitchen appliance Bellman invented that infuses and mixes and blends herbs and oils together so you create your own recipes for anything from salad dressings to salves, tinctures, and lotions. Oh, and cannabis concoctions, too.
“I just had a vision for exactly what you see now. In fact, the more I stay true to the exact thing that I had in my head at that moment, I feel like the more it all works,” Bellman explains. “I’ve been pulled in a million different directions over the past couple of years. But I truly think that I just allowed my mind to just be spontaneous for a second. And I saw people struggling with the problem of making oils in a kitchen.”
Intrigued, Bellman started researching the subject, and the idea for a machine that could do all these things started to take shape in her mind, a machine that could have unlimited uses for anyone who cooks. A cannabis user, she also realized the possibilities for reaching a growing legal market in the midst of embracing the concept of using cannabis oil to infuse foods.
“I just thought in my mind, like, you know, this kind of an invention straddles a few mainstream applications of oil infusion,” she says. “And there’s the cannabis side, and I looked at where the industry was going, and it just really clicked in my head.”
Bellman grew up in Kinnelon, NJ, a small commuter town outside of NYC that was surprisingly rural, she says. Her parents were supportive of her and each other, and she watched as her father got his start in construction and house painting and moved into real estate. “He was a high-school dropout, and I’ve always considered him to be a very self-made person. I’ve watched him work so hard for our family.”
Bellman soon realized that to create a machine like this, she would have to change the way she did things. “Everything else in my life, I would look at all the factors and create a very intricate plan and then stick to that plan, like I had blinders on. But with this, I was listening instead.”
She continued to work full time, moonlighting on concepts, designs, and ideas for six years. She hired students to do CAD drawings, threw ideas at consultants, and sketched countless concepts. Her early prototypes, made from pieces of existing appliances, were, she admits, “ugly and scary my first one was a water heater with a pineapple can with a hole in it.”
The final epiphany to leave her job and go full time on Levo is familiar to many who work in the corporate world. “I would work on all these things that sound really fancy and cool,” she explains. “But I had an epiphany one night. I realized most of what I’m doing is taking information from PDF documents and putting them into Excel.”
After serious research to confirm her suspicions about the growing cannabis industry, she moved to Denver in January 2016 and found a particularly accommodating environment and support from restaurant owners and professionals with whom she consulted. Nine months later, the first Levo device was ready for lift off.
A new Levo line has been released for the holidays this year, with more features and a new/vintage look. “There’s acrylic and the plastics, and it’s got that hard retro feel of old refrigerators and appliances and things like that. And there’s much more functionality.”
She says the device’s ideal customer is someone who has multiple reasons to use it. “It’s for those who have a propensity for natural foods, likes controlling their ingredients, and cares about the quality of the ingredients that they use. When you buy premade stuff, you lose a lot of that control. So when you make it at home, you can literally pick each aspect of it and like fully customize it, whatever you want.”
The website includes recipes and ideas from users. Bellman says it allows her to control her microdoses, and she makes body scrubs, tinctures, and topicals with oils made with Levo, while other staffers use it mostly while they’re cooking. “So it’s just kinda different strokes for different folks.”
One of her passions is dogs. She has her own Weimaraner, and fosters dogs looking for homes. She’s been traveling on business lately, much of it in China, which hasn’t allowed that, but hoping to get back to it. At the same time, she’s now more in control and very hands-on about making Levo a better product. “I feel like a maker,” she says, “and it’s what I want to do. I want to make more products for this.”