Rhody Maker: Jessica Beecher of Beecher’s Botanicals
The skin care guru also prioritizes sustainability in her line of small-batch products made in Richmond, RI.
Rhode Island Monthly: Why did you begin making your own products?
Jessica Beecher: Since I was young — early teens — I really loved playing around with skincare products. I loved going to the drugstore and browsing the products for hours, reading the ingredients and claims on the packages. Back then the internet was not prevalent the way it is today, so “browsing” and purchasing was done in-store. As I got older, I really began diving deep into the science behind each ingredient. As time passed, I became more educated, learning everything I could about the effects that each ingredient has on the skin and the body.
I spent time looking for toxin-free face and body care products, but always found many brands to be “green-washing,” claiming to be natural, but after further investigation, I would be disappointed to find it was usually just clever marketing at work. I became vegan in my twenties, and went 100 percent cruelty free, which added another layer of difficulty in finding skincare brands that did not test on animals. That can be very tricky, although I do believe more and more customers are beginning to demand stronger ethics from companies, which is great!
At this point, wellness had become a bit of a hobby and I was looking for more. I began exploring the intoxicating aromas and restorative properties of essential oils. At first, I just purchased a few scents that I loved, but then I began to put serious time into researching each one’s origin, chemical makeup, properties and uses. I had spreadsheets galore!
In an effort to go healthy and natural with my products, I began crafting my own skin care products, using raw organic ingredients, and utilizing different essential oils to boost the efficacy of each product I was developing.
RIM: Was there a trial-and-error period when you first began making products?
JB: The trial-and-error period was not just when I first began making products! Every time I think up a new product concept, there is definitely a “playing around” period!
The strategy to my formulations is knowing what I want a new product to do. Because each ingredient has specific topical, and sometimes aromatherapeutic, properties, I will choose my ingredients first based on what I want the product to do. Next, I will begin with a base of one ingredient and then add additional ingredients little by little until the consistency is to my liking. I will test the formula out both by using it myself and by sharing it with a few others to use. I want to know the product works and delivers great results before launching it and officially adding it to my line of products. If everyone loves it, it is a go, but if there is room for improvement, I will tweak the formula.
The thing I strive for is consistency. With the products being handmade in small batches, as well as the use of natural ingredients, the same recipe can sometimes result in a variance of texture or firmness from batch to batch, so consistency is what I like to strive to achieve.
RIM: Do you use any of the products in your line? Do you have a favorite product?
JB: I use them all! My absolute favorite has got to be the in-shower treatment. It is the most effective way to moisturize, even smoothing K.P. [keratosis pilaris, the little red bumps on upper arms and legs]. Anyone who tries it is hooked.
Another favorite is the Moon Drops face serum. The smell is absolutely intoxicating. I use it before bed to help me relax. In the morning, I will apply the caffeinated eye serum to help me brighten and depuff. It is also an antioxidant, so it works in tandem with your SPF.
A must-have is my natural deodorant, which really does last twenty-four hours. I created it because all of the other natural deodorants I had ever tried were either too hard due to their wax or cocoa butter content, too sticky from using shea butter, which I find way too sticky in a deodorant formula, and/or they just didn’t work. Mine is made with only three simple ingredients, but it is the ratio of these ingredients that is the magic behind it! I am very proud of how many people have made the switch to natural after trying our deodorant. My favorite is the bergamot lime blend.
One of the products I am most proud of is the hibiscus melting cleanser. It is a soap-free cleanser with a unique application. It is one of those products where there is just no substitute. It removes all traces of makeup, including the most stubborn eye makeup, as well as SPF and pollutants from the day for those who do not wear makeup, and leaves the skin so soft and not stripped.
RIM: Could you tell us a little about the raw ingredients you use for your products?
JB: Yes! All of my products are made with plant oils, clays, butters and botanicals from the earth – no water or other fillers. So you are getting rich, luxurious goodness in every jar, and a little always goes a long way!
I focus on choosing the best of the best when it comes to the quality of my ingredients. I source organic ingredients, which means they are free from pesticides and are non-GMO. I also use fair trade, where possible.
The butters I use are raw and unrefined, meaning they are not heated or bleached during the extraction process. The oils I use are cold-pressed, which means that heat was not used during extraction of the oil from the plant. The avoidance of heat preserves the integrity of these raw ingredients, ensuring their beneficial antioxidants and vitamins remain intact and as potent as possible in my formulas.
One of my favorite ingredients is mango butter. It is the most healing of all the butters, so I like to include it in a lot of body products. Another favorite ingredient is Dead Sea mud. It is so healing and gentle on the skin; the Dead Sea mud soap bar is one of my favorite products. For aromas, my favorite is a tie between the Meditate blend, which is frankincense and myrrh, the Moon Drops blend, which features blue tansy, and peppermint tea tree, which is a great shower scent.
RIM: Why did you decide to incorporate auxiliary items (like the utensil set and the soap dish) into your brand?
JB: Great question! I added soap dishes and other accessories for a few reasons.
To prolong the life of handmade soap, it is important to not let it sit in a puddle of water in between uses. For those switching to bar soap for the first time, they may not have a soap dish, so I like to offer them for the customer’s convenience, so they get the longest usage out of each bar. The soap dish keeps your bar off the counter, allowing it to drain and remain dry between uses.
The utensil set is a fairly new offering, and there is a unique reason behind that one. Not eating out as much due to the restrictions over the past year, I have been cooking a lot more, but also supporting local restaurants by ordering menu items to-go. These often include disposable utensils, which I kindly decline, but it made me realize how much disposable cutlery others may be going through, and I thought a nice reusable option was needed. The set we offer is sustainable, eco-friendly bamboo and comes in a neat little carrying case. It was also important that it was lightweight and travel-friendly.
RIM: Was sustainability always a focus for you?
JB: I had always practiced sustainability in little ways every day, such as carrying reusable shopping bags, sorting my recyclables, and going paperless with my bills. Although it was not the reason I went vegan, eliminating meat and animal products from my diet was actually the biggest thing I had been doing to significantly minimize my carbon footprint. There are lots of statistics around how going vegan is the single biggest thing you can do for the environment, so I encourage anyone curious to further read a bit about it.
Sustainability really became a strong focus after starting my business. Each person’s individual habits really do make an impact on the earth and the environment and, as a business, the impact that is made is greatly compounded. The volume of materials that come and go daily in my studio, between receiving shipments of supplies and ingredients for the business, and preparing customer’s orders for shipment: My eyes are wide open to the environmental implication of every decision I make. I choose suppliers with similar values of sustainability, noticing things like the shipping materials they use.
I use a lot of glass packaging that can be reused or recycled. I also attempt to use minimal packaging — for example, I hand-wrap each bar of soap in a piece of tissue. The look is actually quite beautiful in its simplicity. I also use zero plastic when shipping orders. Products are all beautifully hand-wrapped in tissue, with padding using corrugated cardboard as an alternative to bubble wrap for protection.
I wholeheartedly believe that morally, you cannot turn a blind eye as a business. Luckily, consumers are smart, and care a lot about this topic, and they have the power to demand businesses practice sustainability with the power of their dollar.
RIM: Is there anything else we should know about you and your work?
JB: Yes! First, I would like you to know how honored I am that you wanted to include me in your series. I can sometimes get caught up in the day-to-day tasks and to-dos that are always calling my name, so it has been a pleasure answering your questions, and really fun for me to reflect on my business.
Beecher’s Botanicals is an indie brand, which means I manage all aspects of the brand myself. This includes everything from product development to package design to purchasing to customer service. As someone who is usually behind the scenes, taking the time to connect with you and your readers has been such a treat!
Visit beechersbotanicals.com to shop the line.