Introducing Melissa: Our Weekly Woman Entrepreneur

CEO of Body Balms, a company that is commited to provide you with affordable, healthy, natural products.  The products are made in small batches, by hand, and without using animal products.  All of the oils are expeller pressed and choose to use organic and fair trade ingredients where possible. It is a a small business that believes in sustainable practices, fair trade, giving back to the community, and simple living.

How did you get started?
I had been crafting basic melt and pour soap for a few months, began selling it to co-workers and had started to experiment with lotions and balms from recipes I found in a magazine. I got invited to a soapmaker’s home where she taught a couple of us how to make soap. I was nervous with the thought of cold-processed soap making, a tad intimated and scared of terms like trace, lye, and saponification. I remember the first time I saw trace and instantly fell in love with that lye/oil smell that all soapers are familiar with. She gave me a bar that she had created, scented with precious sandalwood essential oil, and I was hooked. She also generously invited us over another day to make transparent bar soap, the process that comes complete with lots of bungee cords, lots of time and lots of everclear to make the soap transparent. We had such a great time, and now, looking back, I realize, she taught me something that would change my life from that moment on.

How long have had a business? What/who are your milestones/accomplishments/mentors?
I have been making and selling soap intermittently since 1998. I have seasons where I focus less on soap making as a business and more on other projects I’m involved in, but they always seem to remain connected. One of my recent accomplishments has been helping to establish a NPO called The Nourish Collective, to teach women in developing countries how to make and sell soap. It is our hope that we can empower women to change their communities, their health, and their future. The Nourish Collective has a fourfold Mission: Empowering Women through Education. Supporting and Equipping Communities, Promoting Hygiene, Health, and Sanitation, and Improving Environmental Sustainability.

What is the best thing you’ve learned as a soapmaker? How did your NPO idea evolve? I have learned that if you have a dream, just take the first steps and do it. Dreams shouldn’t be left for later, tomorrow may not come. The time is NOW. Be engaged in life, don’t settle for just being present. The initial idea for our NPO, The Nourish Collective, started almost the minute I learned to make soap. Angela and I would brainstorm ways to empower, help, and educate women while helping to decrease mortality rates and illness for things that most of us don’t have to worry about. Initially, we thought we would like to have storefront, a cooperative of sorts. A shared space for the community ran by local women.  However, we both have always had a strong desire to help women overseas; we often talked of Africa, India, and Asia. We volunteered for all sorts of groups like Invisible Children and held fundraisers for Bead for Life.

After my recent trips to India, Ethiopia, and Mongolia, we sat down and said, “Seriously, we have been wanting to do this for 10 years. Why not now. Lets just do it.” And so we did. Within a week, Ang had hammered out our Articles of Incorporation and bylaws (We had been unofficially been writing them for over ten years). Our paperwork was submitted and approved. We had our first official board meeting and the rest is history…Next stop, Africa in March to teach women how to make soap along with businesses classes, hygiene, and basic healthcare classes. We are currently sourcing supplies like lye in country, stores for the women to sell their soap in, and are working on developing other programs. We are researching mico-financing with the hopes to help more women. We plan on incorporating doula classes, aromatherapy, herbalisim and maybe even work on some clean water systems and set up some water wells.

What aspect of the business are you passionate about?
I love translating my life experiences into new products. For example, I’m currently creating new line of soaps from my recent trips to India, Mongolia, and Ethiopia – Masala blends from India, a salt bar with salts from Mongolia and a cardamon bar with spices I found in Africa. The thing I am most passionate about though is figuring out how I can use my company to impact others – their health, and their future.

What makes your products unique?
I am passionate about living a simple, clean, healthy life. That crosses over into my company where I create healthy practical alternatives to the mass produced products that are out there. I attempt to use less packaging, recyclable wrapping, and socially responsible raw ingredients. I think what makes us unique is that all of our soaps and products are made with cold-pressed organic carrier oils when possible. I use fair trade cocoa butter sourced from Dominican Republic and fair trade shea butter from the Burkina Faso Region of Western Africa. Another unique aspect to my products is that most of them have sassy names like Trigger Happy, Jane Doe and Tree-Hugger. This is just another extension of me and my personality.

bodybalms@aol.com
817 996-7469
Melissa Flick
Nourishing spirit, body, and land.
www.thenourishcollective.com
Help Scleroderma Research, See our 8.5 TON bar of soap! Organic Soaps & Toiletries.
www.bodybalms.com

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