When Kareen Fagan tells people that she has an AAS in Jewelry Design (2005) and that she runs a body and hair care products business, she imagines them wondering: “How does she go from creating artistic designs to making soaps and scrubs?”
Ms. Fagan, now at work on her BS in Entrepreneurship, tells us how she combines intertwining passions. She also talks about her enduring inspiration, her grandmother Enid, whose name is now synonymous with sweet smelling herbs, scented oils, and healing and beauty lotions.
“While I am an artist, my focus is on making products with nourishing ingredients from the earth to help treat or alleviate conditions such as eczema, sunburn or overly dry or oily skin,” she says.
Ms. Fagan describes herself as “DIY” to the core. “Along with making jewelry, I’ve made hair and body products based on my personal needs since I was a teen,” she says.
Having tried different moisturizers for dry skin, she researched and experimented with plant-based oils in her kitchen. She developed her Shea Body and Hair Butter, which she shared with friends and family who then requested to purchase more.
“I didn’t plan on starting a body and hair care business. My goal since I was a teenager was to have a jewelry company,” she says.
In fact she was selling handmade jewelry when she was only 11 years old. “On weekends I sold my jewelry at craft shows. My parents allowed me to travel from our home in New Jersey to Manhattan to buy my beads and supplies at wholesale suppliers,” she says.
“A couple years ago I became passionate about helping people with my body and hair products. I chose to use chemical- and preservative-free, plant-based oils like raw shea butter, organic olive oil, organic coconut oil and essential oils.”
Ms. Fagan named her company Enid B. in honor of her paternal grandmother. “She first taught me about using medicinal plants to care for our family,” she says.
“The artistry of jewelry making is incorporated in my body and hair care product making in different ways. I consciously choose plants that I infuse into oil in order to get different colors to have as my color palette, much the way I would use colored stones,” she says.
“My Thai Breeze soap is made in two batches and then combined. One batch has no added color, but takes on a cream color from the, which over time fades to a soft brown and then becomes the top layer of the soap.”
For the second batch, the bottom layer is infused with annatto seeds, a natural colorant used in foods like Spanish yellow rice. “It’s inspired by the rich colors of Thailand and the golden architecture that is part of the country’s landscape. Then there’s the blending of essential oils to create imagery I like. I use lemongrass and ginger as the lead scents in my Thai Breeze soap.”
Ms. Fagan began blending oils that she found to have healing properties. “I have taken perfumery courses like Intro to Perfumery.” She takes other courses based on the needs of her business as they arise. For instance, she took Intro to Digital Photography and Still-Life Fundamentals for Fashion Stylists.
“Packaging design has become very important to me. I want the packaging to be an outward extension of the product’s purpose, which the customer will experience upon opening. My products are for the good that they will do, but also they are little luxuries that sit beautifully next to a favorite soap dish in the bathroom, or next to a collection of vintage perfume bottles in the bedroom.”
Ms. Fagan has begun using glass jars for her shea body-hair butters and face-lip scrubs like her Rosemary and Lemon Sugar Scrub.
“There’s a feeling that comes from the coolness as your hand glides over the smooth sides of the jars. There’s also an elegance that plastic cosmetic jars don’t always have,” she says.
With the help of friends and family, Ms. Fagan has honed what she calls her “design eye.” Early on, a roommate she had, pointed out the complimentary designs of materials she had chosen for the apartment. “There was a lace theme in my curtains and a couple of tops and a favorite skirt. The colors in my quilt were the same as my oven mitts,” she says.
Now Ms. Fagan gets feedback from her husband and friends. “They get to be my product test subjects, which they absolutely don’t mind!”
More information on Kareen Fagan’s skin care line can be found on her Etsy shop: Enid B.
All images used with permission.