We recently connected with Jessica Marie and have shared our conversation below.
Jessica , thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today Owning a business isn’t always glamorous and so most business owners we’ve connected with have shared that on tough days they sometimes wonder what it would have been like to have just had a regular job instead of all the responsibility of running a business. Have you ever felt that way?
Growth. The dichotomy that resurfaces again and again for me as a business owner is achieving the goal I have defined and then immediately raising the bar even higher. Nobody told me in the inception days of Aster Earth (nearly a decade ago), that those big goals you see for the company will only grow once you achieve them. It is in these moments of realization that I reached my goal for the month or year and then immediately adjust my sights higher that I sometimes contemplate purpose.
My head will fill with questions like:
“Am I fulfilling my true purpose?”
“Is this my full potential?”
“Would working that 9-5, building someone else’s dream be (easier, more predictable, less demanding…)?”
In my most recent bout with this dilemma a few months ago, I really sat with this feeling and leaned in. I meditated on it and the resonating answer I received was my purpose to love and to help others. It is that simple. Aster Earth has blessed me with an avenue to love on others by crafting conscious body and home care. The customers I have helped with skin issues, allergy issues, natural living issues grows every single day. It is a space of comfort for me now, knowing even though the goals always grow, I am achieving my purpose simply by loving, sharing, and helping.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your background and context?
I’m Jessica Marie, founder, plant chemist, owner, CEO and mama-boss of Aster Earth. We have a whole lot of fun connecting with you all and we feel so blessed to share our mission with you, here.
We started nearly ten years ago, when my sweet baby girl was born with eczema. I tried everything on the market and found it all
1) did nothing
2) made her skin issues worse
3)hurt when we applied it (these were the worst ones)
Eventually, I realized all we needed was within me. I was actively employed as a plant-geneticist at the time and I’ve always lived a more holistic, plant-based life. I fused together the knowledge within me to create a soap formula that restores the natural oils to skin and protects the fragile skin barrier.
And…it worked…like really worked.
Soon, I had extra bars and would gift them to friends and family. Before I knew it, people had fallen in love with the soap and wanted to buy more.
From there, blossomed our entire line. We now offer head-to-toe skin care and a green cleaning line for the home. All of our products are consciously crafted, with the best practices for our planet at the forefront. We offer many refill options for products and all of our packaging is intentionally reusable or compostable.
We are honored to be sharing our line with clients, offering love and help each and every day in all the best ways we know.
We’d really appreciate if you could talk to us about how you figured out the manufacturing process./
Aster Earth manufactures our products in-house. We have since the very beginning. Initially, our product line was ten blends of soap. That’s it. They were all plant-based, made with no synthetic anything. Essential oils, plant powders, herbs are what make our soaps so very nourishing and gentle for all skin types. I am formally trained as a plant geneticist. I studied rare and endemic plant populations, using genetic data to connect how they are related. In short, I’m a plant nerd. I geek out on information and love to problem solve. What seems like moments and also a life time ago, a sweet lady taught me to make soap. She learned from her mom and had built a small business going to farmer’s markets and selling her product. I bought a lot of soap from her because it was the only thing I could use to shave my legs and not get razor burn. Eventually, she offered to teach me how to make my own. She taught me “cold-process” soap making. The issue with this style is for a manufacturer is that the soaps must sit for 6-8 weeks to cure before they are safe to use on skin. During this time, the sodium hydroxide, or lye, reacts with all of the oils and dissipates leaving none remaining in the soap. Often essential oils will get burnt up in cold process soap making because the reaction occurs over such a long period of time. The only way to circumnavigate the wait is to use “hot process,” however the issue with hot process is that the soap is often not as aesthetically pleasing as the soap is can be difficult to shape after saponification (fancy word for the oil and lye reaction) has taken place. I devised a hybrid method that makes my soaps ready to use in about 1/6 of the wait time of cold process, maintains the integrity of the essential oils, and yields this beautiful soft lather.
We still carry 6/10 of our original ten blends and we’ve added 3 more to our core blends. We always have seasonal offerings and celebrate the flora of our beautiful Sonoran Desert in our soaps and other products.
From soaps blossomed body butter, scrubs, lip balms, salves, and an entire zero-waste collection with bulk refill stations for conscious body and home care. We craft many custom products for other brands (private labeling) and we love being presented with a challenge from our clients and researching exactly how to craft the very best product to fulfill their needs and vision. We feel so blessed to be able to share the passion we have for mindful, conscious living with you through our product line.
Can you talk to us about how your funded your business?
Initial Capital…hahaha. When I first started it was with the mentality of doing things on the cheap or free, if possible. It was a side-project with the intention to craft something my little baby girl could use and not be irritated. I used food-grade oils because that’s what I had access to. I used high-quality essential oils bc at the time I was affiliated with an MLM company, thanks to my friend who insisted I needed $150 of essential oils delivered to my home every month. They did come in handy, however, I never was able to sell a thing for that company. Strange how when you are building someone else’s dreams, the passion doesn’t translate the same way.
I kept it simple. Ingredients needed to be minimal because with eczema you cannot pinpoint a trigger if the ingredients list is ten miles long. Equipment was a used crock pot, a scale, a few mixing bowls and measuring cups and a mold to pour the soap into. It was a glass baking dish for my first batch. Everything was crafted in my kitchen, late at night while the baby and soon babies slept.
Obviously, this has all evolved quite a bit. I have molds of every shape and size now, though our brand specializes in round soaps. You don’t see these often because honestly, they require a lot more effort than their square loaf counterparts. We work out of 550 sq ft space that has been outfitted with commercial kitchen equipment to keep us organized and producing efficiently. We buy our oils in bulk (at least 5 gallons at a time). We source essential oils from three conscious suppliers that we respect and trust their products. We distill our hydrosols, craft our own herbal infusions, and generally keep as much in-house as possible so we can deliver the very highest quality product to our clients.
I’ve had to grow out of the mindset of “lack,” and hold a vision for what success looks like and how to expand Aster Earth. Businesses require investments in order to thrive and evolve. Every purchase that grows the business is an accomplishment and a goal met. We just keep on smashing those goals and growing to the next level and we’re excited and honored to have you along on the journey.
- Website: www.asterearth.com
- Instagram: @asterearth
- Facebook: @Asterearth
- Linkedin: Jessica Marie