My love for lingerie was still present, but the business side of things rubbed me the wrong way. This may come as a surprise to some people, but the lingerie industry is male-dominated. So, to be frank, as a black woman working under white men, I was not getting paid what I was worth. I actually found out that the person next to me was getting paid a heck of a lot more than me, even though we were on the same level. In fact, I actually had more experience than that person. So, I decided to take a step back.
While all of this was going on, I was commuting back and forth daily to Manhattan from Long Island for work, which led to my life becoming very stressful. It took a toll on me mentally and physically. It got to the point where I became ill, my skin’s health declined and my eczema became dramatically worse. I started using every over the counter drug available to try and heal myself, without any success. Eventually I got tested and found out that I was allergic to coconut oil, which was eye opening. So, I was in a bad place with my health and then mentally, I wasn’t in the right mindset, either. I felt like I wasn’t doing my part to contribute to society as a whole and that I was just on a cycle of building other people’s dreams and not my own. So, through all of this negativity is where my business, an extremely positive pillar, TERRA-TORY was birthed.
My mom ran her own soap business twenty years ago, so when I was around nine or ten years old she began teaching me the trade.
She would teach me all about different herbs and chemicals and I was constantly immersed in that botanical world. As I grew up and was out on my own in the free world, it’s surprising how quickly I forgot all of those childhood lessons and my values began to skew the complete opposite direction.
When I was concepting TERRA-TORY, I went back to my roots and reevaluated what my core values were. I wanted to break through all the noise of commercials and ads that are constantly telling us to buy ineffective products for the sake of consumerism. I wanted to create a product that elevated natural healing and herald back to the practices that my mom had mastered so many years ago. And as a lot of businesses begin, I wanted to create a product that I myself could use. I needed a natural soap that was coconut oil free and that would help get my eczema under control. And so far, it’s done just that.
TERRA-TORY’s name is simple, but holds a lot of meaning. As you can probably guess, TERRA comes from the latin for earth. This speaks to the Earth-grown, natural ingredients I use in my products like aloe, plantains, coconut milk (not to be confused with coconut oil) and sea moss. And then TERRA-TORY together is a call out to the word territory, which is your space, your body, everything around you.
So soapmaking, what even goes into it? There are three main components that you must combine in order to make soap: a fat, base and liquid. What I do is pick out oils that are one, low on the non-comedogenic rating, either a 0 or 1, and two, are high in fatty acid, like hemp and avocado oil. Then comes the base, which is always lye. Lastly is your liquid, which can be anything from aloe juice to wine if you even wanted it to be. Once you have all three, you combine them and they result in a salt product, or soap. Fun fact, soap is a salt product. Then you’ll need to allow your product to cure for 4 to 6 weeks before you use it on your body. That’s a crash course for you.
Sea moss is definitely an up and coming ingredient that you’ll see popping up in other wellness products soon.
People are beginning to see dramatic improvements to their health and quality of lifestyle when they incorporate sea moss into their routines. I love to use food in my soap because my philosophy is that if you nourish yourself internally by eating the right food, your skin will be better externally.
So, to dive into my love of sea moss for a second, it’s a super nutrient dense food. It’s considered a seaweed and grows on the surface of water, typically in the Caribbean. It contains 94 nutrients that our body already produces, so eating it just amplifies those naturally occurring vitamins and minerals. Sea moss is great for so many ailments, like gastrointestinal issues, anemia, it’s even great for weight loss and, of course, is excellent for your skin. I keep it in my house even if I’m not making soap with it and take a spoonful of it as if it were a multivitamin. I may even make a face mask out of it today for myself. One of my favorite products to make from it is my Sea Moss and Oatmeal Cube. It’s a big seller and has been helping a lot of people get their eczema under control, which makes me so happy.
To start your own business you have to be insane, like completely out of your mind.
So much so that you don’t care what anyone else is doing or saying, you just have complete tunnel vision on your goals and dreams. That was probably what I struggled with the most when I started TERRA-TORY, letting other people’s opinions of my business affect me. I’ve since overcome that and am so much better for it. But yeah, you have to be obsessed with whatever you’re building. If you’re not obsessed, there’s no fuel behind your dream. I’d tell my younger self that this is no get rich quick scheme, it’s for the long haul, so get comfortable being uncomfortable.
The main message that I want to get through to people concerning their health is that the best kind of healthcare practice is being honest and genuine with the people around you. Natural skincare, exercise and all that is amazing, but if you’re not teaming that with being good to others, you’re cheating yourself. Being kind to others is actually the best gift you can give yourself.
Portraits captured by: Viewsfromthetrap