Leslie Renken Journal Star, Peoria, Ill.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) "What began as a quest for healthier skin turned into a business for Xochitl Stafford, who is opening Succulent Skin Care in Peoria's Sunbeam Building."
Xochitl (pronounced "Sochi") Stafford had always struggled with acne-prone skin, but it wasn't until she was pregnant with her first child that she decided to take the bull by the horns. Once she started doing the research, Stafford was horrified by what she learned about the ingredients in most skincare products.
"There is little to no regulation when it comes to ingredients, especially with fragrance," said Stafford, 38. "One fragrance can contain up to 3,000 ingredients, and a lot of people don't know that. And they can disrupt your hormones and wreak havoc on a lot of things in your health, not just your skin."
For Stafford, a Trivoli resident who has been selling her all-natural products online and at one-day markets for a couple of years, the shop is a natural progression in an effort to make the business a full-time endeavor. Stafford's first skincare products were made using do-it-yourself recipes found on Etsy.
"Then from there it just kind of snowballed into me making stuff for my family and friends, and me testing it out, getting feedback from them," she said. "Then I wanted to start making the products for a wider audience, but before I did that, I wanted to make sure I knew exactly what I was doing, so I went to school and got certified in natural skincare formulation."
Stafford took online courses with the School of Natural Skin Care, where she learned a lot more about the physiology of skin and the business of making skin care products. She also learned how to create a preservative ecosystem in her products so they would have a longer shelf life.
"Radish root ferment is a preservative that is going to protect against microbial contamination, and so is sorbic acid, which is sugar cane-based," said Stafford.
Stafford's products range from moisturizing body butters to toners and cleansers, which contain ingredients like mango butter, sweet almond oil, eucalyptus and jojoba oil. She also has products for men, like beard oil, and she's soon to release a new line for children. Named "Willola," the line was inspired by her daughters, Willow and Isla.
"My kids saw me get into this skincare routine, and they wanted to do it, too. So when I put face masks on myself, I put them on my kids, too. It's a really good bonding moment," said Stafford. "When I did the research on it, I saw that it really is a big benefit for them to start taking care of themselves, even at 5 years old."
She sees many benefits to opening a brick-and-mortar store. It will make it easier for customers to recycle containers by providing a location where they can drop off the empties. Stafford wants to create a refill program or a discount to customers who return used containers. A permanent location will also make it easier for Stafford to educate her customers.
"I want coming here to be an experience," said Stafford. "I really want this to be a space where people are educated on the benefits of natural ingredients versus what they can get over the counter. And I want them to feel empowered and confident, because I was in that place where I was really uncomfortable with how my skin looked. I couldn't really look at somebody and have a conversation without thinking, 'what are they judging me on based on my skin. And since doing this, Succulent has removed a lot of that. It's moved me to embrace the skin type that I have."
Succulent Natural Skin Care will host a grand opening event on August 7 from 12 to 3 p.m. Normal hours after that will be 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Learn more at www.succulentnaturalskincare.com and www.facebook.com/succulentskin4u/. ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.