The new decade has dawned and so many of us have big goals and are keeping our fingers crossed. But instead of making a lot of empty insurmountable resolutions, we are sticking with ones that are actionable and soothing i.e. a nighttime bath, a consistent skin saving routine, more hydration, and supporting small brands. Taking that to task, we admit that the skin salves and oil-based products from Nucifera, an LA-based brand, are helping us glide into 2021 a little more smoothly.
Melissa: As we navigate through this unprecedented time how has Nucifera shifted as a business to accommodate this ‘new normal’?
Meredith: We were lucky to have a silver lining within this bizarre situation. My husband was able to help more this year than ever, so we have had the opportunity for both of us to be “all hands-on deck” for Nucifera. He has always helped do our branding and advertising, but now he has been able to help me focus on the business and do some of the things that I would have had to hire someone to help with. We have had this unique opportunity to divide the work for our brand. Normally, it is just me but now that we are both at home with our office set-up we have been able to put full efforts into Nucifera. We have been able to get our newsletter and social media strategy more dialed in, and we have become more strategic holistically. We have this asset that is so much greater, and this has given us the time to push it more. Prior to Covid-19 our business was 70% wholesale and we have been able to transfer this to direct to consumer sales, and honestly, we have been doing better this year than we have any other year.
Melissa: That is incredible. Did you start Nucifera out of your own personal health journey? Can you tell us about Coconut Kitchen and your journey with the superfood movement?
Meredith: My background is in the plant-based food world, I have written and co-authored several cookbooks in the vegan space. I am from the South and am very used to the humidity, and although I was already on the health food path of eating really healthy, I started suffering from really bad eczema and psoriasis and that was the turning point when I started diving into skin-care. I started to realize that all these plant-based oils, essential oils, and butter affect our skin. I was really interested in the holistic aspect of that and how it ties together with food. Having the opportunity to write Coconut Kitchen and how it focuses on one ingredient, allowed me to be inspired by the oil and how it is so versatile for your body that you can use it all over. Combining that with other plant-based oils and butters to have the same multi-purpose and versatility, was so important. For me, and many women coconut oil does not work on its own for most of us, you need to combine it with other ingredients to make it more effective. This is how I started I formulated the balm. I started giving the balm to my friends and told them that I planned on selling it. The feedback I got was really positive and that gave me the motivation to start it. At first, it was really small, we are still really small but now we have more products. For me, it was that sound founding principle to ensure that everything is clean, food-grade, and is multi-purpose.
Melissa: When you find something simple that works, it goes the mile. How do you manage to test all the parts of the products? What is your whole testing process?
Meredith: The balm formula was never intended to sell when I originally started curating it, it was just me experimenting with the oils and butters that worked best for me. I was really selective with the products I chose, I started to experiment with hundreds of oils and butters that worked best and that was basically the criteria for it. People always thought that the balm was merely made out of coconut oil, but it has a ton of different oils that I selected. They are all very unique in their properties and are all very nutrient-dense. Coconut butter you can’t just apply topically you need to whip it with other ingredients for it to absorb in your skin, and it is amazing for inflammation. Each product is a variation of that, especially with the essential oils, they are really popular, but they can be incredibly irritating for some.
Melissa: You have a very specific point of view and a tight collection–what are your thoughts on product developments and roll-outs? How do you do this? Do you hold back to release when you have things ready? How do you do this organically?
Meredith: For us, our goal has never been to launch a ton of products, but the silver lining with COVID has been the launch of two products that have been in the queue for a while—the stick formula which is similar to the balm but in stick form and our oil. I am kind of anti-beauty industry in that way as there is always a push to generate more products to keep the news going and so many industries are based on that model, which I find wasteful. The industry feeds the beast of thinking that you need to continue launching products. My goal is to give people products that they need and that they will actually use. We are kind of done, I know we wanted to do a stick formula that is in a waste-free container, it is extra hydrating, lightweight, and package free. The oil version is more of an oil-based product, whereas the balm is creamier. The oil is more a little more lightweight and you can layer it up for extra hydration. I have been making it at home and have been experiencing with different ingredients. We kept it simple, it feels and smells amazing and better, yet it is so easy to use. We have the balm, the stick, the oil, and lastly, the mist. The mist we launched about two years ago and is super refreshing and hydrating.
For me, and many women coconut oil does not work on its own for most of us, you need to combine it with other ingredients to make it more effective.
Melissa: I love that, also that all your products are unisex. There is so much out there and the more we consume the more plastic we throw away. Walk us through your shower/bath routine? Give us an insider peek at how you use your products?
Meredith: I take a bath at night as my daily ritual, and I put the balm on to shave my legs and will put the balm or oil in the water to make it more hydrating. I put on the oil and mist in the morning to give my face a massage to wake up, which I also do sometimes while I stretch just to start my day off on the right foot. It is nice to have intention during these times.
Melissa: I see you have stunning jewelry pieces on. Is there any piece that is special to you that you never take off?
Meredith: I am a habitual wearer of my stuff. I wear these gold bracelets that I wear every day that was the first Christmas gift from my husband. My friend is a jewelry maker and I wear some of her rings every day. I also have an older ring from my mom which I just refilled with the turquoise stone which is my husband’s birthstone. Also, my wedding ring. I love jewelry and I definitely have certain pieces that I wear for special occasions, but I am not super precious about it. I love accessories, hats…etc. but like to keep it simple beyond my main pieces.
Melissa: With winter finally here, is there anything else exciting about the brand that you want to share?
Meredith: I think people think that they need to support small businesses by shopping, and social media has allowed it to seem super easy to start a business, but it has not been very easy to stay afloat or visible and I think we underestimate the value of interacting with brands that you like. Commenting and liking and seeking them out if they are not in your feed. It is all” advertising now, and the “punk-rock” aspect of social media is getting diluted. The fun thing about it is the discovery and seeing what you want to see and not being bombarded with advertisements. I personally have been emphasizing writing positive reviews for brands as I think this is so important.
Melissa: Totally. It makes a huge difference for small business to survive and to support one another. People are doing incredible things and we need to continue to lift each other up. I love your brand and what you are doing.