Shannon Donegan, owner of Bodylove Naturals, is the ideal person to be offering a line of all natural, vegan bath and body products. Not only is she a practicing vegan with lots of experience using varieties of all-natural beauty products, Shannon is also studying to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. Bodylove Naturals is the result of Shannon’s passion for handmade organic materials and from her experience living a 100% natural lifestyle. As our featured Monthly Maker for April, Shannon shares with CAC some of the inner workings of Bodylove Naturals and provides tips on how everyone can start living a more natural and healthy lifestyle.
Explain what you do in 5 words.
Natural, cruelty-free beauty products!
Why did you decide to start Bodylove Naturals?
I decided to start Bodylove Naturals because I was sick of looking for/spending a lot of my money on high quality, natural/vegan beauty products. I found it hard to find completely natural products. Even though some products list claims like “natural” or “organic” on them, once I read the label I saw they still contained ingredients I couldn’t pronounce! Fed up, I started researching homemade beauty products and discovered how much I enjoyed making them for myself. That led me to the idea that I could expand on that and make them for others too. That’s how Bodylove Naturals started!
What process do you go through to make one of your products?
All our products have different processes and steps. Our whipped body butters are probably the trickiest products to make. After melting the butters at just the right temperature, I whip the mixture in an ice bath to cool it, making sure to add the fragrance/essential oils at just the right time. It took me a while to get the hang of that one!
What is your most used or most important piece of equipment?
My scale! All my recipes are measured out very precisely by weight. Without it I wouldn’t be able to make anything!
What is your favorite part of your business?
My favorite part of the business is knowing I’m providing all natural, cruelty-free products for my customers and for myself. I use all my own products, and I like that I can feel good about what I put on my skin. I never have to worry about scary chemicals or preservatives being absorbed into my body.
What problems did you have to overcome while creating your natural product line?
I’d say the biggest obstacle was finding the right recipes for the products. I was very picky about it. Also, I had to experiment quite a bit before I was 100% satisfied with the end result and be proud enough to put our name on it.
What projects are you currently working on for Bodylove Naturals?
Currently I’m working on a new perfume to add to the shop. It will be made with only essential oils (as opposed to phthalate-free fragrances) so it will be even more natural than the perfume oil we currently offer.
Do you practice a vegan (or similar) lifestyle outside of Bodylove Naturals?
Yes I do! I eat a gluten-free vegan diet for health and personal reasons. As restricting as it can sometimes be, it actually has opened my eyes to a variety of new foods/dishes that I wouldn’t have even thought of trying otherwise.
Any advice for our readers who want to start transitioning to a more natural lifestyle?
Transitioning to a natural lifestyle can seem daunting so I recommend starting with small changes. For example, starting with something simple like changing your beauty products. Then if you want to start eating naturally, cut out packaged foods that are not labeled 100% natural or organic. That is probably the easiest way to be sure you are avoiding harmful additives/preservatives. Baby steps. That’s how I did it!
If you were going to give some advice about the most important thing that one could do when choosing their body care products, what would it be?
My one piece of advice is to always read labels and don’t buy anything with ingredients that you cannot easily pronounce. By just doing that one thing, you usually can cut out most harmful products.
What places/magazines/websites do you frequent for inspiration?
I love looking at products on Etsy and Pinterest. I also love iherb. I buy some bulk ingredients from the site (like my organic unrefined coconut oil!). Also I enjoy browsing new products at local natural food and health stores to see what new ideas I can incorporate into Bodylove Naturals.
You have been selected to go on all-expenses paid vacation for two weeks with one person. Who are you taking?
That’s tough! I think I’d probably take raw vegan David Wolfe. He’s very inspiring and knowledgeable. I feel like I would learn a lot from him.
What are your 2012 goals for Bodylove Naturals?
I think my main goal is to expand our customer base. We have a few devoted/returning customers, but I’d really like to get our name out there more, and let more people know what we’re all about.
Where do you see Bodylove Naturals in 2-3 years?
Lastly, any art or business mistakes/advice you want to share with aspiring makers?
I would say the most important thing is to never give up; stick with it! It is very hard in the beginning, and you may find it difficult to stay motivated or enthusiastic during the times you aren’t even breaking profit-wise. Just remember to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing, and why it means so much to you. That makes it worth it!
Thanks Shannon for taking the time to answer our questions and for offering CAC readers this exclusive discount:
10% OFF your entire purchase at Bodylove Naturals Etsy shop with coupon code: VEGAN10.
(offer valid until Monday May 14th, 2012)
Any tips for us on how to live a more natural/healthy lifestyle? Or recommendations of your favorite organic product? Please share your suggestions below!