So here’s the thing… I started a beauty business, but I’m not really into cosmetics at all. I have no idea how to put on makeup and I’m generally not even that into skincare products. You may be wondering, then, what would compel me to start a business making natural body care products? Well, I’ve always been interested in making things myself. I often hesitate (or refuse) to buy something if I feel I could make it myself.

About six years ago, I took a workshop at my local natural foods co-op in Minneapolis where I learned to make winter skin remedies. After that evening, I was hooked. I wanted to learn more about the healing power of herbs and other plants. I already had an Etsy shop where I sold sewn accessories, so I began adding body care products, starting with lip balm. In late 2012, I launched my current brand — julia elise — focusing solely on natural and herbal body care products.

From hobby to business
For three years, creating and selling these products was a hobby, a side business that I never thought would transform into much more. I had a full-time position directing fundraising efforts for a local non-profit and had a toddler at home.

By late 2015, I was on maternity leave, having just given birth to our second child. After crunching the childcare numbers, I decided it made the most sense for our family for me to stay home with our kids for a while. I never had the desire to be a full-time stay at home mom, so I knew I was going to need some non-parenting work to fulfill me. I decided to transform what had been a hobby for a few years into a real business.

The change from hobby to business has been a true challenge. With my parenting schedule, much of my work happens during stolen moments when my kids are sleeping or my husband is with them. I often have to remind myself that I need to invest both time and money in my business in order to make it successful. Moreover, if I don’t believe in my own success, nobody will. Some of the decisions I’ve had to make have been nerve-wracking, but I’ve been lucky to have a supportive husband and amazing group of female business owners to cheer me on and talk through business ideas with me.

Power of plants
Through the process, I’ve come to learn more and more about the healing properties of herbs and plants. It is critical that I know the ingredients in the products that I do choose to put on not only my own, but also my kids’ bodies. All of my body care products are handcrafted by me using natural and organic ingredients, like beeswax, herbally-infused oils, shea butter, and essential oils. I select these ingredients for their ability to heal and rejuvenate the body, inside and out. I like to think that my products are not just “beauty products” or even “body care products,” but that they are truly healing for the body and mind.

I select these ingredients for their ability to heal and rejuvenate the body, inside and out.

Through the process, I’ve come to learn more and more about the healing properties of herbs and plants. Herbs have been used as medicine throughout history and they are capable of nourishing our bodies in a variety of ways, from encouraging hair growth to relieving stress. Calendula, one of my favorite herbs, promotes cell regeneration and soothes the skin, which is why it is a featured ingredient in almost all of my products.

I also believe It is critical that I know the ingredients in the products that I do choose to put on not only my own, but also my kids’ bodies. All of my body care products are handcrafted by me using natural and organic ingredients, like beeswax, herbally-infused oils, shea butter, and essential oils. I select these ingredients for their ability to heal and rejuvenate the body, inside and out. I like to think that my products are not just “beauty products” or even “body care products,” but that they are truly healing for the body and mind.

I am fascinated by how plants can make us feel beautiful and healthy. I am always thinking about the goal of the final product and which herbs will achieve that goal. I recently created a loving massage oil and specifically selected lavender, german chamomile, calendula, and red rose petals to infuse into the blend of sweet almond, golden jojoba, and avocado oils. Lavender and german chamomile have strong properties of calming and relaxation; calendula promotes healthy skin and cell regeneration; and red rose petals put the love in the loving massage oil.

From the very first lip balm I sold to a friend, to seeing my products on the shelves of real brick and mortar stores, the journey of learning about herbs and other ingredients, developing recipes, and figuring out all the many elements of running my own business, has been incredibly rewarding.

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Julia Miller is the creator and owner of julia elise, a natural & herbal body care products company. She lives in Minneapolis, MN with her husband and two young children. When she's not chasing small children or creating body products, she enjoys sewing, exploring her city by bike, and learning about herbalism. Find out more at juliaelise.com