Around these parts, we like to learn about and from people who are running their own businesses – business we love and admire often happen to be run by some very resourceful and badass women. In this edition of mind your business, we talk to Ripe’s Adriana—this LA-based librarian/beauty maven is running a brisk business (via Etsy and her own website) with her unique flavors, hand-made appeal, and healthy-delicious perfume oils, lip balms, and more. Obsessed with her stuff and her style, we just had to ask her a few questions.
m: When did you start Ripe?
Adriana: I started Ripe in 2011 first as a creative outlet for mainly fun jewelry pieces and feather and crystal hair fascinators. As of June 2012 I transitioned into making and selling hand made bath and body products starting with lip balms, perfume oils and bath salts. Over these past two years I have added sugar lip scrubs, men’s cologne oils and aftershaves, solid perfumes, skin cream, body mists and all natural cuticle oils.
m: What lead you to starting your own beauty company?
A: I graduated from UCLA with my bachelor’s and master’s degrees before going on to receive my library science master’s degree. I also have a certification in Interior Design, but ultimately I was drawn to becoming a librarian and have been working at both academic and public libraries for almost 14 years. I work full time as a librarian and use my spare time and weekends to work on my bath and body shop as well as a vintage shop and a small jewelry shop I also operate online.
m: One of the things I love about Ripe is your unique scents/scent combinations. How do you come up with your ideas?
A: In the beginning I knew that I wanted to focus on “ripe” things – like fruits, herbals, flowers, and gourmand scents. So I was drawn to things I’ve always enjoyed like red velvet cake, coconuts, and mangoes. As I continued to expand my scents and flavors I was drawn to more exotic combinations as well as fragrances and flavors that I’ve grown up with. I have a huge family and living in California we have been blessed to have large open spaces that lend themselves to a variety of fruit trees, including apple, apricot, peach, cherry, pomegranate, lemon, pomelo and guava to name a few. So these types of scents and scent pairings grew out of what I know as well as some typical Mexican foods and beverages that I love as well like horchata, tamarindo, prickly pear fruit and Mexican hot cocoa.
m: What kind of research did you do before you started selling your own products?
A: I began researching lip balm-making first after I could not find a suitable coconut lip balm that I loved. I narrowed down what ingredients I loved and researched them as well as vendors and companies that offered what I needed. I placed my first orders and got to work on making the products after reading a whole lot about methods, tips, and tried and true processes. I learned about ratios of oils and butters, natural preservatives, the difference between fragrance oils, essential oils, and flavor oils, as well as what photo sensitivity is when it comes to certain essential oils or how using a sweetener in a balm is ultimately going to defeat the purpose of it as we will tend to lick away or eat our balm off. Many of the most valuable knowledge I have gained though has come from fellow bath and body shop owners who have been doing this for some time and they have very selflessly guided me many times.
m: What’s the most challenging part of running your own business?
A: Time and storage space. Working full time and also having my family and myself to tend to as well does not leave me a whole lot of time for much else, but I have learned the hard way how to manage that bit by bit and it is definitely a work in progress. I have also learned that not every idea needs to be accomplished and that I have to edit myself and let myself off the hook when time is catching up to me.
m: Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would change if you had to start all over again?
A: I don’t think I would change a thing actually. Every misstep and every challenge overcome has allowed me to learn lessons that I may have not learned otherwise. I relish when someone gives me constructive criticism on something they may or may not have liked just like I relish when someone raves about something they now love and can’t live without. Both scenarios allow me to work on improving what I am making and continue to do what works best.
m: Do you have any plans for expansion of your company/offerings? Do you sell in stores or just on Etsy?
A: I’m always coming up with new scents and I have a new limited-edition fragrance coming in the summer; and hopefully if I can find a bit of room I hope to make soap again, which is something I’ve only done in very limited quantities because I just don’t have the shelf space for curing too many bars of soaps at once. I would also love to dabble in some face scrubs and I have some recipes I’ve been playing around with, so that may come up in the future. I sell on my main site at ShopRipeShop.com. A few stores in Australia, Canada ,and the U.S. currently carry some Ripe products as well. They can be found here.
m: What advice would you give someone who is looking to go into a similar business for themself?
A: Stick to what you know and love. If you make something that comes from a place of familiarity or something that you yourself enjoy you will succeed. Be original and don’t be afraid to ask questions or to make mistakes and basically fall flat on your face. Messing up is good because what comes out of it will be even better and worth all the trips and fall. Oh yeah. And be original (did I already say that? It bears repeating).