By Mia Khatib
CHAPEL HILL — As the cost of living gets more expensive, people often look for cheaper alternatives. But when Ayesha Murphy couldn’t keep up with rising steroid prices to treat her daughter’s eczema in 2015, she decided to get creative.
And, just like that, Beary Sensitive Organic Skin Care was born.
What started as a hydrating soap bar to soothe her daughter’s skin turned into a collection of organic body butters, bath soaks, facial cleansers, moisturizers, and more.
“I really just built all-around holistic wellness of essential oils, body moisturizing oils that actually penetrate your skin that a lot of other companies don’t really use,” Murphy said.
While trial and error was a part of her business journey, Murphy went as far as getting a degree in Advance Organic Cosmetic Science and Organic Skincare Formulation to elevate her product. She said organic products may be more expensive, but you don’t have to use as much.
“My customers may not come back as often, because their product lasts so much longer, but the benefits are a lot better than those who have to continue to go out and buy lower price items,” she said.
Beary Sensitive is sold in stores across the Triangle; in the Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland area; and Rock Hill, South Carolina. Murphy just entered into a new partnership with Weaver Street Market, which has locations in Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough.
“It was really big for me because of the fact that they have multiple store presences. My other stores so far have been [individual stores,]” Murphy said. “And so, when the order came through, it was like, ‘this is great, obviously I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.’”
Murphy works a full-time job on top of running her business and now that it’s growing, she has taken on a business partner in Virginia and joined Kimberly Knight’s The LUX Public Relations Agency to help her out. Still, Murphy makes all her products at home, and said it’s rewarding to show her daughters the grind behind her business.
“I think it's really important for kids to be able to see that and understand that there's multiple ways that you can be a boss and make money, as opposed to always thinking the corporate route that we're normally trained upon,” she said.
Portia Hackett, Weaver Street Market’s digital marketing and social media specialist, said they primarily target local (within 250 miles of the closest store) vendors or people, “game changer” products, majority Black-, Indigenous-, and People of Color-owned, and co-op produced products.
“At 51%, the owner receives the most economic benefits so we want to create that incentive, and we're trying to work on removing barriers from BIPOC products being able to get onto the shelf,” Hackett said. “With Beary Sensitive being a local, woman-owned game-changer product, it was something we really liked.”
Hackett said they’re “purpose driven” and work with vendors to market their products based on the stories behind them. Weaver Street has 4% game-changer products, she said, and they have cards identifying them on the shelf, which includes a photo of the vendor and some background information about the product.
“Especially for smaller vendors, when we first put them on the shelf, they may not be in other stores or they might be in a few stores, but the idea is that they step up,” she said. “’Seal The Seasons’ started with us and now they’re a national brand.”
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