Mar 14, 2014
04:44 PMHealth & Science
These Connecticut Mamas Say Go Naked—With Your Skin Care Regimen
Do you like how you look naked?
Whatever your answer, Erin Egan and Jessi Calvo think you'll like yourself a lot more when you start using the word "naked" in an entirely different way – as in the products and practices you use to take care of that exposed skin.
They call themselves the Naked Mamas, and in launching their Eastern Connecticut-based venture (Colchester and Columbia), they ask the health-conscious question, “If we can't eat it, why should we put it on our bodies?”
The pair avoids using chemicals, fragrances (included in practically every other brand), gluten, soy or corn in their bath and body products – which include cold process soaps, lotions, body butters, foot scrubs and more. The complete lists of ingredients (all recognizable and pronounceable) are included on the back of every product – “naked” for their customer to see.
Being honest about what’s in their skin care line is the cornerstone of their business. People should know what they’re putting on their bodies because what you don’t know really can hurt you.
Given all of the things that are not included in their products, you have to wonder what is?
The answer is a host of indulgent ingredients that come straight from the kitchen.
Names like Lemon Poppy, Apple Crisp and Sea Salted Caramel make the bars of soap sound more like desserts than skin care – and they look like treats too, thick-sliced bars in deep chocolate tones or with pastel swirls.
The Maple Blossom soap includes real pomegranate and molasses. The Peppermint Mocha soap and lotion – best sellers – smell as good as they sound and are made with peppermint, of course, while the Chocolate Covered Bacon soap – a special request – is actually made from the two “of the moment” foods.
Their skin care line is all-natural, organic and often vegan, and ideal for people with food and skin allergies. The mamas are living proof, as they have allergies.
In fact, that’s where this story starts.
With her health suffering and doctors telling her she had a mass in her thyroid, Egan, 33, went to an endocrinologist and a naturopath in 2009 to find answers. It turned out that she has allergies – to pretty much everything.
“My friend calls me bubble girl,” Egan says with a laugh.
She began making food from scratch to get her body back on track, but her skin continued to be a problem, with rashes and outbreaks.
“I can’t even use natural soaps because they use corn in their products,” says Egan. If she uses cleaning products that contain corn to clean the machinery used in the production process, she can have a reaction.
The same goes for Calvo, also 33, who discovered her body wasn’t reacting well to processed food after going through a cleanse. She cut corn, soy and gluten from her diet as well.
“It started with food, but it became clear that skin care was next,” says Calvo. “My health was better but my skin was worse.”
The mamas (Egan has three girls, 13, 11 and 9 and Calvo has two boys, 14 and 9) needed to make their own skin care products. As a child, Egan watched her aunt make soap, so she had an idea of how to begin.
They started making small batches for themselves but word quickly spread among family members and friends. They wanted to get their hands on the healthy soaps and body butters too.
So the mamas increased their production and started selling.
The two women divide the product responsibilities. Egan makes the soaps and lotions – more technical recipes – in the bright kitchen of her Colchester home, while Calvo creates the body butters, scrubs and foot creams in her Columbia home about a half hour away.
On top of their home business, they have real lives. Egan is pursuing dual Master's degrees in social work and public health, and Calvo Is a licensed practical nurse looking to get her RN.
The pair comes up with different scent combinations and experiments with recipes. (While we chatted about their business, Egan was attempting a new recipe for a pumpkin soap. The final product is pictured below.)
The mamas opened their online Etsy store just last month, and they’ve joined “Team Heartbeat” a group of other Connecticut artisans who work together to help each other’s businesses.
Cocoa Kiss Lip Balm, Honey Bunny (Carrot Honey) skin soothing soap, Vivacious Vanilla Lime Luxurious Whipped Body Butter and Spa Skin Sugar & Coffee Scrub are just a few of the products included on their page. They say business has been steady since the launch.
“People who make soap do it because they love making soap,” says Egan. “We’re not getting rich off of this.”
Naked Mamas bars of soap cost approximately $5.65 per bar, body butter costs $10 for a 4-ounce tin, body scrub costs between $6 and $8 for a 4-ounce tin and lotion costs $6 for a 4-ounce tin.
But this is just the beginning.
Calvo wants to start selling a diaper rash cream for cloth diapers that she’s experimented with and sees liquid soap and dishwasher soap in their future.
“We’re looking into having stores carry our products,” says Calvo. Top of their list is the Willimantic Food Co Op, where they both have shopped since they were kids.
The mamas will bring samples and skin care for sale to the Colchester Federated Church Craft Fair on April 5.
Special orders can be placed, but the women prefer customers buy the whole batch if that’s the case. Visit the Naked Mamas Etsy page for products.