Episode 177
September 26, 2023

Fries, Flights, and Wellness Insights

with Kristy Morris, Co-Founder and CEO of Kailo

About this episode

Our guest, Kristy Morris, has had a close relationship with entrepreneurship from a young age and saw first-hand what it was like to be a business owner when her parents ran one of the earliest McDonald’s in Australia after the brand was introduced into the country. Today she is the Co-Founder and CEO of Kailo, Australia’s leading luxury wellness brand. Tuning in you’ll hear about her upbringing in Australia, the influence her entrepreneurial parents had on her, her struggles at school, and how she came to own a coffee shop when she was just 24 years old! We then go on to learn how her eldest son inspired her to start Kailo, the pivots she and her business partner had to make during the COVID-19 pandemic, along with her reflections on how the business has grown and changed in ways she could never have predicted. Tune in to learn the full scope of Kristy’s story and the many lessons she continues to learn as a leader.

This episode is sponsored by

Exclusive Deals from Our Sponsors:

AWESOME CX by Transcom provides high touch, personalized customer experience services to consumer brands of any size! Email Lee at lee@stairwaytoceo.com to learn more about their award-winning services and Awesome Coffee Chats.  

 In This Episode You’ll Hear About:

[02:13] Kristy’s upbringing, the influence of her entrepreneurial parents, the early days of McDonald’s in Australia, and how her parents were approved for a franchise.

[04:33] The struggles she experienced in school, her cultural exchange trip to America, the positive impact it had on her, and why she eventually decided to drop out of high school.

[10:48] Her experience working at McDonald’s, how she worked her way up the ranks, and what this taught her about business operations.

[14:34] Why Virgin Airlines was considered such an innovative company at the time and the extraordinary lengths Kristy went to to make an impression on them.

[16:59] Her decision to open up a coffee shop as a 24-year-old and how this led to her joining HR at Virgin Airlines.

[22:48] Kristy’s marriage, starting a family, and her entrepreneurial partnership with her husband before they got divorced.

[25:39] How Kristy’s eldest son inspired her to start Kailo and how she met and teamed up with her wonderful business partner Kath Merlo.

[29:33] The strategic steps they took to survive as a business during the COVID pandemic, how they expanded into nutrition products, and the huge impact it’s had on their company.

[36:01] An overview of their recent business growth, their expansion plans, and how Kristy is developing herself as a leader.

[41:21] Details about what’s next for Kailo and Kristy’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs.

 To Find Out More:

Kristy Morris on LinkedIn


Kailo on Facebook

Kailo on Instagram

Kailo on YouTube

Kailo on LinkedIn

Awesome CX

Lee Greene on LinkedIn

Stairway to CEO

Stairway to CEO on Instagram


“My dad was trying to instill a really strong work ethic that ‘you are no different to anybody else’. I genuinely can say I think that is a gift.” [0:13:14]

“I was lucky enough to get a job with Virgin [Airlines] and they there were such a new company at the time. You felt like you were part of something really exciting.” [0:16:59] 

“The more vulnerable [you are], the more successful you will be because you're just opening up for people to come in and help you.” [0:22:24]

“[Kath and I] often talked about all the gaps that we were seeing. From what we were seeing in LA [versus] Australia, around wellness. — And all the clinics and things that you have on offer in the US. And we [wondered] ‘what if we can bring a concept back to Australia.’” [0:27:13]

“We've grown the services based on the guests’ needs, learning from our guests what they want.” [0:29:02] 

“It was a much bigger beast that we took on than we realized. You go into something that you've never done before and go ‘yeah, this is going to be – easy.’” [0:29:16]

“Fourteen months into opening, we hit COVID. [It is] by far the hardest moment that we've ever been through. Closing the doors to our business and realizing we only had $20,000 in the bank. We were still in such a startup mode.” [0:29:35]

“The hardest part has been not having such a close relationship to every single person in the team.” [0:38:39]

“I feel lucky to be in a business partnership, I think that always gives you that comfort.” — [0:40:05]

“Always surround yourself with really positive, successful, humble people. Because you don't want to lose sight.” [0:42:39]

Read the transcript

More Episodes

Episode 194

Widening the Wealth Circle for Women

with Allegra Moet Brantley, Founder and CEO of Factora
Episode 193

Turnarounds, Transformations, and Taking Charge

with Mary van Praag, Global CEO at Milani Cosmetics
Episode 192

Connection, Community and Conversation

with Julie Rice, Co-Founder and CEO of Peoplehood