WINTER GARDEN — When Jessica Collins reached her 20s, she expected her skin problems to be behind her. Instead, they intensified. She spent hundreds of dollars in aesthetician visits and skin care products, which only made her condition worse.
She began researching the ingredients added to the lotions and crèmes and discovered there were many chemicals, including those to extend shelf life and to present an appealing color. So she created her own organic line of products, Wildflower Beauty by Jessica.
The Winter Garden resident’s journey started with bottles of coconut oil and olive oil.
After discovering these were the base ingredients in prescribed skincare products, Collins grabbed some from her kitchen, applied the concoction to her face and neck, and within three days, she had smooth, clear skin.
“I still (use) it to this day when I give myself an at-home facial,” she said. “I’ll use it as part of the regimen. Coconut oil is in every single one of my crèmes, and olive oil is in most.”
She studied emulsification and started experimenting, eventually coming up with a simple and organic hand lotion that worked for her. It contains five ingredients: besides the two standby oils, it has sweet almond oil, organic beeswax and purified water.
Collins put some in a jar and kept it on her desk at work so she could apply it to her hands throughout the day. Her boss asked about it, sampled the lotion and was hooked; she even asked Collins to make a gift basket for her mother for Christmas.
Other co-workers were impressed, too, and that year, Collins collected about $350 worth of Christmas orders.
Sensing she had created something special, Collins made more batches of her crèmes — hand, foot and body — and sold them every Sunday at the Mount Dora Farmers’ Market. They were popular with the shoppers, so she expanded to a booth at the farmers market in Winter Garden, setting up her display of soaps and crèmes and lotions every Saturday.
“All products are made by hand, from scratch, of the highest-quality 100% natural and organic ingredients without chemicals, additives, preservatives or synthetics,” Collins said.
And although she continues to use olive and coconut oils in her products, Collins said the ingredients are much higher in quality than the everyday cooking oils with which she first experimented.
She has done extensive research, learning about every ingredient that is in commercial lotions and crèmes, and she was surprised to see so many chemicals added.
“Some of the ingredients are illegal to put in cosmetics in other countries, some that when used long-term can actually cause developmental issues for pregnancies, cancer-causing agents,” she said.
When she looked at the ingredients label for a popular face crème on the market, she discovered chemicals such as petrolatum (which comes from crude oil), dimethicone (a derivative of silicone), sodium hydroxide (which can cause organ system toxicity and is restricted in use in cosmetics) and PEG-100 stearate (which is a suspected environmental toxin).
Collins said that is in stark contrast to her products, which contain no artificial fragrances, preservatives, chemicals or additives.
Maintaining two market booths and a full-time job at Full Sail University and also finding time to make her products became too much, so she dropped the Mount Dora booth to devote Saturdays to making her product.
After 18 months at the Winter Garden market, Collins was ready to expand; she opened a small shop last month at 100 W. Plant St.
Her shop, Wildflower Beauty by Jessica, has a calming aesthetic, with its lavender wall, pastel-colored cleansing pouches, gift baskets, an antique desk and — the store’s statement piece —a 1920s-era claw-foot bathtub.
Collins said she struggled with naming her company.
“I didn’t want the words skin, body or bath,” she said. “I wanted the name to be feminine fun, natural.”
She settled on the Wildflower Beauty name after hearing a song in which the man called his love a beautiful wildflower. Collins added “by Jessica” to give the name a personal touch.
Her handmade product line includes Country Cottage soaps (such as coconut milk and lemongrass, honey almond goat milk, shea butter rose and lavender and Southern gentleman’s cedarwood vanilla), lip balms, face and foot crèmes, salt scrubs, sugar scrubs and Mud Puppy dog-washing soaps, all of which can be put into gift baskets. Additionally, the shop offers gift items such as candles, locally crafted jewelry and one-of-a-kind pottery.
To introduce her business to the public, Collins, a 2004 graduate of Dr. Phillips High School, is hosting a grand-opening party from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, July 10. Guests can enjoy snacks, learn about the Wildflower Beauty products and their benefits and sample some of the crèmes.
“What goes on our bodies ultimately goes in our bodies,” Collins said. “Your skin is your largest organ, and it should be treated with great care, not with chemicals.”
IF YOU GO
Wildflower Beauty by Jessica
ADDRESS: 100 W. Plant St., Winter Garden
PHONE: (407) 415-9422
SUMMER HOURS: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays; 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays; closed Mondays
WEBSITE: wildflower beautybyjessica.com
Contact Amy Quesinberry Rhode at [email protected].