This month, I’m helping to host a special challenge with a new company called Alapure that makes quality natural body butters and lotions that I have fallen in love with. Because they are a new company, I wanted you all to have a chance to learn a little bit more about this brand and the founder, Jill Riley. I am a true fan of their products and their healthy lifestyle mission!
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what prompted you to launch Alapure? Any challenges you had to face and overcome in launching this new business?
My name is Jill. I am multicultural woman in my fifties often mistaken for someone in her twenties. Like all women, I want to be beautiful. Beauty is the result of many things and physical beauty is not just good genes. I believe that beauty starts with taking care of your body. That means exercise and fitness, having a healthy diet and a good skin care routine. A fit, healthy woman with beautiful skin can’t help but feel good about herself and exude emotional beauty which we all know as confidence. Now that is beauty. For me, it all began when I entered a high-impact cardio exercise competition. Preparing for that competition required a special diet and a focused exercise regimen. After that competition, I decided to continue exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet. At about the same time, I began experimenting with different skin concoctions for myself. I did it for fun. I would often mix different brands of lotions together; add other ingredients and essential oils to existing products etc., to come up with a unique blend for my skin.
Jill Riley packaging Alapure lotions
I was able to further tweak my skincare recipes from beauty tips and secrets I learned from my travels around the world over the past 20 years to over 34 different countries. In 2012, when I visited to South Africa, I hit the jackpot ingredient. It was Marula Oil. I further researched Marula Oil and learned of its healing, moisturizing and anti-aging benefits. I realized that women in the US would benefit from this. When I got back to the US, I experimented with some Marula lotion. There was something different about this lotion. It was like no other lotion I ever used before — it felt like velvet! I wanted to give multicultural women in America the opportunity to experience Marula Oil and my special lotion/butter recipe, and so I was prompted to launch Alapure and the Alapure Lifestyle.
2012-Learning about an African tribe and culture in South Africa
The biggest challenge I face with running a small premium cosmetic company is getting people to take a step up from the mass-produced, chemically-laden inexpensive products that are so abundant in the marketplace to an all-natural product that is a little bit more expensive. That is where confidence comes in. You know you have a quality product that people are going to love so you just keep plugging away. It’s also why the Alapure Icon symbolizes Strength, Confidence and Persistence.
2. Can you share with us what the formulation process was like for your products? What are the key beneficial ingredients and their properties?
Once I learned about Marula Oil, I knew that I wanted it to be the key ingredient in my products. I can’t say enough about Marula Oil – you really have to experience it to relate to what I am talking about. It is rich and non-greasy; it moisturizes with ease, it heals and it leaves the skin with a glow I have not seen before. Think about it – Marula Oil has about 70% to 78% of the fatty acids required for healthy skin. It is also rich in Vitamin C and Vitamin E – all good for beautiful skin.
I also learned about Tamanu Oil, another remarkable essential oil that is native to Indonesia. It is very similar to Marula Oil and boasts great healing abilities. I was able to see and learn more about the Tamanu tree at the botanical gardens in Singapore earlier this year.
The Tamanu tree (Calophyllum inophyllum) at the botanic gardens in Singapore. Tamanu Oil is used in Alapure Body Butters.
All my products contain ingredients that promote lasting benefits for the skin like Aloe, Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Rosehip Oil and Jojoba Oil to name a few, so a little usually goes a long way with maximum benefit. I know what benefits I wanted the product to produce as well, how I wanted the product to feel. After that, it was a matter of working with experts to determine the right percentages of ingredients to formulate the final product. Another important point was what I did not want in my products – things like parabens that your skin doesn’t need.
3. On your website, you mention the Alapure lifestyle. Can you explain what that entails?
The Alapure Lifestyle encompasses everything positive that goes into revealing one’s beautiful self. I realize that the lotions, creams and products we put on our bodies are great at enhancing what is already there. The Alapure Lifestyle focuses on what is already there. I believe that having a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and rest as well as staying hydrated all play vital roles in one’s skin health. In other words, the most radiant beauty emanates from the inside to the outside and the Alapure Lifestyle embodies this belief.
4. Can you tell us about the women’s cooperative you work with in Africa in obtaining the Marula oil?
Fair trade is the exchange of goods where fair prices are paid to the producers in developing countries. I made sure to work with a company that shares my position on fair trade. The company from which I source the Marula Oil has a community based empowerment program for the production of high quality products from raw materials gathered by the women in the local South African communities. Their aim is to empower the workers by providing far-reaching economic and social benefits, while upholding the highest international environmental and fair trade standards. I am pleased to know that I can help to empower these hardworking women and their families. I am planning to visit South Africa again in 2014 to establish direct connections with the workers.
5. Do you have any advice for other new small businesses that want to deliver beauty products with high quality, natural ingredients?
- Don’t try to offer all things to everyone. Instead, focus on what you know and care the most about and use that as your starting point.
- Research thoroughly, the partners (suppliers, labs, designers, etc.) with whom you wish to work. A good partnership is key to success.
- There will be challenges along the way. Don’t become discouraged by them. Let them strengthen you. Stay positive, stay focused and enjoy the journey.
- If you are working with a shoe-string budget as I did, be prepared to wear many hats in the beginning. You will have to do and learn all aspects of the business. It is not always as easy as it seems but there are benefits to knowing your business inside out.
6. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
The earth is in constant rotation around the sun. This allows us to experience the beauty of the seasons. Similarly, we have to keep in constant rotation of our lives. In other words, we have to keep learning, growing and accepting new challenges. This, in my opinion is what makes life exciting. If we remain stagnant in life, we will miss the beauty and the rewards of change.