October 29th, 2015
As soon as I remove the lid on the small glass bottle the smell of sweet and succulent lavender fills the small meeting room. I scoop out a dollop of the waxy pale yellow ointment inside and apply it to a dry patch of skin on my hand. The experience is soothing and revitalizing as my skin absorbs the nutrients of the salve. It glows ever so slightly with the glistening power of lavender and coconut oil.
Fadeem Brace sits across from me in a dark flannel. He smiles, eyeing my own expression as I try his Wanderlust organic skin care product for the first time. I simply smile at the little glass jar before me and read the four recognizable ingredients on the side: Coconut Oil, Lavender oil, Calendula Flowers, and Rhode Island Bee’s Wax. That’s it. The Lovely Lavender skin salve captivates my senses and I enjoy the aroma, the soft feel, and the silence that is filled by a young entrepreneur’s confidence and my pleasant surprise.
Wanderlust Skin Solutions is Fadeem’s dream. Along with his partner, Johnson and Wales University student Devone Pommills, he is creating organic skin care products with local ingredients at a reasonable price. The two of them hope that they can increase consumer awareness about products and demonstrate the benefits of simple, local ingredients.
Wanderlust’s product line includes skin salves, body butters, and scrubs, all made with no more than five ingredients sourced from local purveyors. Sourcing from local purveyors supports the growth of small businesses and the local economy. Their products can be used for a variety of uses like curing dry skin, minor cuts, chapped lips or bruises.
The market for personal care products is crowded with big name brands. This includes an endless list of skin care treatments and an even longer list of chemical ingredients. Over 10,500 unique chemicals. These are mostly, unpronounceable, untested, and unsafe chemical ingredients. According to the Office of Cosmetics and Colors at the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “A cosmetic manufacturer may use almost any raw material as a cosmetic ingredient and market the product without an approval from FDA.” Many of these chemicals are tested afterwards by outside scientists and researchers who often find they can cause cancer, development issues, and affect the reproductive and endocrine system.
Fadeem was shocked to learn about these toxic chemicals along with their harsh effects. He decided he had to do something to bring change to the skin care market. Last winter, he took a class at Farmacy Herbs, an urban community and herbal education center with their own herb farm in West Greenwich, Rhode Island. There, he learned how to formulate skin care recipes.
While in class, Fadeem also worked at the successful Providence restaurant Gracie’s. Working at the restaurant gave Fadeem the idea to start his own business. As he explains, “From the owner of the restaurant I learned about loving something that you started, caring about food, and how to check for efficiency within a working environment. I saw how the whole place started from a dream.”
This past spring, Fadeem turned a trip to visit friends in Santa Monica, California into a business opportunity. He sold his laptop in order to make his skin salves, put $300 in his pocket, grabbed a tent for sleeping accommodations, and took his dream to the West Coast. While there, Fadeem gave out samples of his product along beach boardwalks and around Santa Monica. He reached out to people, asked them questions, and most importantly, learned about himself and the demand for his product.
For Fadeem, the trip verified that he could be an entrepreneur and think on his feet. Fadeem explains, “I felt like a true American following that dream and going to California, not needing to stay in a hotel but sleeping in a tent and making it happen. I really lost myself, but found that I can execute this and that there is a lot out there for me.”
Fadeem returned to Providence with newfound confidence, ready to fully launch Wanderlust Skin Solutions as his primary pursuit. He developed new recipes, reached out to local flea markets and festivals, and began to promote his products. The local startup community in Providence makes it a great place to grow a social venture. Fadeem says, “There are so many young people here with the same mindset and so many people who love the idea of local handmade products, so this is probably one of the best areas for Wanderlust to start.”
This past summer, Wanderlust sold its skin salves, body butters, and scrubs at Providence Flea, where a variety of local vendors and the community meet every summer Sunday. Emily Wanderer, Social Enterprise Greenhouse Incubator Manager, first met Fadeem at the Providence flea and told him about the Social Enterprise Greenhouse Hub. Fadeem explains, “Emily saw our drive and passion and I saw Social Enterprise Greenhouse’s drive and passion. The Social Enterprise Greenhouse Hub is a great place for starting a business and interacting with other social entrepreneurs.”
Fadeem takes advantage of Social Enterprise Greenhouse networking events to help grow Wanderlust Skin Solutions. Interacting with other people is one of Fadeem’s favorite things about owning a business. As he says, “Owning a business is always about meeting new people and networking. That’s something that I love to do. The fact that that is apart of my job makes it seem like I am not working and am just being myself.”
Fadeem’s biggest dream for Wanderlust Skin Solutions is to change the world. He says, “I want Wanderlust Skin Solutions to be a revolutionary company. We want to offer affordable skin care products and help wake people up to living an organic lifestyle.”
Wanderlust currently sells its skin salves, body butters, and scrubs on their e-commerce website: www.wanderlustskincare.com/store. You can also find their products at Leviathan Exchange, Noon Designs, and Dharma Healing Center. They are currently working on expanding their product line to include men’s products. In preparation for the Holiday Season, Devone and Fadeem plan to create a Holiday Bundle Kit so customers can buy many products for a discounted price for gifts. For more information and to buy their products check out their website.
Student Venture Intern
Jessica Kaufman is the Social Enterprise Greenhouse Student Venture Intern for Summer 2015. She is working under the Social Enterprise Greenhouse University Initiative, which is funded through the Blackstone Charitable Foundation Innovation Grant to retain students and recent graduates in Rhode Island through enabling them to work on and in social enterprises. Her work centers around documenting the success stories of student and recent graduate social ventures. Learn more about Jessica here.