You Are At The Archives for 2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011 in , , , ,

Higher Ground - Our Commitment


This journey to build and become Blissoma started quite a few years ago. The photo above is from back in 2004 when my hair was short and still brown, I was a brand new mom, and we were located in the basement of a tiny rental house on Mitchell Avenue and still going by Irie Star. What a lot can change!

It has been eight years since I quit my part-time job, quit the extra college courses that would have led to my second Bachelor's degree, and began avidly to pursue this wild idea that I could create my own job.

I was straight out of college, totally fresh. Naive doesn't begin to cover it. I wasn't dumb by any stretch either, but I had never run a business. Therefore the thought that I would leave all other sources of income and employment behind to play with essential oils each day might have seemed a little kooky - maybe even a little dumb. But I was too ignorant to know any better and so I jumped straight in...

Running your own business you find out what kind of metal you're made of, sometimes quickly. My dad made a regular practice of reminding me that most small businesses fail within the first 3 years, and that it was generally 5 years before profitability. He had a right to, as he was my partner in entrepreneurship in the early days.

I love the thrill of making something new and my business gave me that. I also quickly got to know the utter heartbreak of opportunity gone sour, and the extremely real knowledge that the pavement was going to hurt badly if I fell down. This was real life and no one was going to save me, no one was going to do the work for me, and no one was going to toot my horn if I didn't do it first. This knowledge grew even into the tips of my toes and hair as I took on debt to fund expansions of our product line in 2005. Risk was the name of the game, and I was all in.

During those years we went through multiple product incarnations, scrapped many ideas, and had at least a few darn good ones. Most of our soy candle scents were conceived back then, as was our Yoga Mat Cleanser, the bulk votive and tealight collection, and Stress Relief Serum. I worked long, long hours - usually 16 to 18 hours a day. Tru, my daughter, was my cohort in the Port-a-Crib. She's still my helper, seen here stacking items a few years ago. The studio has been her playspace and she has grown up watching me throw myself at life and all its problems with gusto, often tears, and sometimes happy dances.
The entire time I have been in business I have always felt like exceptional products should be accessible to as many people as possible. This to me has always meant keeping our line affordable. I got really good at running a really lean operation. When we needed a bigger space we purchased a building in one of St. Louis' most economically distressed neighborhoods partly because we believe in urban revival, and partly because we needed crazy cheap square footage to keep our costs manageable. We have worked hard to make smart decisions with our budget in so many other ways over the years. It's what you have to do when you're bootstrapping. I started with basically nothing, and to this day the business is my sole real investment of any value.


Some would surely call it crazy. But dreams often are, aren't they? In the midst of an idea you can feel it, smell it, nearly touch it even though no-one else around you has any idea what you are talking about. You have to see the future and decide to head that direction in order to ever get there. I have found that when you display a loving, persistent will and keep your vision in mind the means to construct that new reality come to you. For me that has included the support of so many wonderful customers, friends, neighbors, and family over the years, as each purchase has added up to the ability to reinvest, try new recipes, pay for our space, and keep my family fed. Truly, every person that has ever bought and used a Blissoma product has built this dream with me.

Today I'm writing because we've hit a moment where some adjustments are necessary in order to continue to build the dream that is Blissoma. We've made many adjustments before - added new products, cut old ones (which always hurts a little), changed recipes, changed locations, changed working hours, suppliers and so many other things... but today's adjustment is one our customers might notice a little more than usual, which is why I wanted to explain its necessity.

Over the last 2 years since we introduced our new skincare line the market and sales climate has continued to change and evolve. Really, a lot of the change started back in 2007 when the housing market crashed. The way people buy is always changing, ever more so now with the internet. Traditional retail is experiencing a lot of challenges and in some ways is flailing pretty badly. We had always been sold a lot through the Natural Foods channel which was relatively stable. After all, people need groceries and that is one type of item that it is more difficult to ship, which ensured at least to some degree that people would be in those stores and looking at products. We've worked a lot with Natural Food Co-ops, Independents, and the biggie, Whole Foods Market in the past. I always liked the idea of our products being (hopefully) that easy to find. Our plan was to continue to sell this way when we introduced our skincare line. We were changing the type of product we were selling, but not the way it would reach customers.

Today I know that our sales model will be quite different from what I thought it would be then. Not only that, but many costs have continued to rise. Energy is still way up and will stay that way. Our botanical raw materials often spike in price now driven by climate change and natural disasters which have been on the rise. Our aluminum bottles are up in price by about 25%. Even insurance for our studio building has gone way up (about $700 per year increase from 4 years ago when we purchased), related to natural disasters (tornadoes especially in Missouri) and statewide claims. We're great at being thrifty but we also didn't have a lot of padding to accommodate some of these changes. Most of our ingredients are also Organic, and there is still a much smaller pool of growers and suppliers for those items, meaning costs can be high. For some ingredients I have only one or two trusted suppliers that can actually provide us the quality I expect, and so we pay whatever they must charge with the knowledge that the end result is worth it. What we make is no better than the ingredients in it, so I buy only truly exceptional base ingredients.

These issues alone have been a lot. The changing shopping climate has been a huge one to deal with as well. When massive retailers like Borders are going under, you know things are continuing to change out there. I've seen many of our retail store contacts become ever more rigid, often willing only to purchase whatever was available through large distributors in an effort to save money on shipping or inventory tracking. This limits the variety they have available but they see it as a way to spend less time on orders and data, which in some stores is a huge expenditure of employee time. It also means they miss out on a lot of great options, as not all companies are sold through warehouse distributors. Blissoma distributes our skincare only from our St. Louis, MO studio in an effort to keep inventory as fresh as possible, which means if a store tells us that they only order through distribution we can't work with them.

We are ready to proceed with other routes of reaching people, especially with retailers and sales methods that are a bit more flexible and service-oriented. Expanding our online sales this last year has been amazing as we have grown and gotten to talk to so many of our supporters. Blissoma also finds good success with boutique retailers and with estheticians, both of whom also work closely with us and with their customers.

To expand with the independent retailers that will give our customers the types of experiences and service they deserve we have to make adjustments to how our products are priced. Different industries work at different retail and wholesale levels, and when I priced us several years ago it was for the Natural Foods industry, not for boutique retailers. The important thing about that is that smaller retailers often need a bigger margin in order to pay their operations costs. Quite a few of our smaller retailers already sold our products for more than our Suggested Retail Price in order to be able to make enough money on them. In an age where folks can look up a product on the internet our retailers want to know that our products are not going to be priced at less online than in their store. We have to support their pricing to make it possible for them to carry us.

The pricing adjustments we have made reflect these values:

1. To remain in business so we can continue to serve you and provide a voice and experience of truly natural skincare, which we believe is sorely needed.

2. To purchase only the best quality ingredients we can possibly find so that our products continue to deliver you results. No cutting corners. Period.

3. To make our products available through sales avenues that reflect our values and yours - small businesses especially that are run by people you can trust and who are similarly passionate about why they are in business.

We appreciate your support as much as ever, and I understand as much as anyone what it is like to have to make choices with your resources. We are truly honored whenever you choose our products. I hope we can always deliver you products that heal and help you every day.

To provide you, our friends and fellow builders of our dream, a buffer period I am making a discount code available for you to use through the month of October.
 

Get 15% off your entire order by using code: OCTOBERGRACE15

All products on our home site besides Gift Certificates and the new Travel Skincare Sets are included without limit so you can order at very nearly our old pricing. The discount expires 10/31/11.
 

This post started about me, and ended quite a bit more about you, our customer. Blissoma is only possible with both of us. I'm excited and thankful to have made it this far, and thrilled to see what the future holds. Here's hoping you are as well. This is the stuff that dreams are made of, and I'm going to be dreaming up something good. 


in , , , ,

Higher Ground - Our Commitment


This journey to build and become Blissoma started quite a few years ago. The photo above is from back in 2004 when my hair was short and still brown, I was a brand new mom, and we were located in the basement of a tiny rental house on Mitchell Avenue and still going by Irie Star. What a lot can change!

It has been eight years since I quit my part-time job, quit the extra college courses that would have led to my second Bachelor's degree, and began avidly to pursue this wild idea that I could create my own job.

I was straight out of college, totally fresh. Naive doesn't begin to cover it. I wasn't dumb by any stretch either, but I had never run a business. Therefore the thought that I would leave all other sources of income and employment behind to play with essential oils each day might have seemed a little kooky - maybe even a little dumb. But I was too ignorant to know any better and so I jumped straight in...

Running your own business you find out what kind of metal you're made of, sometimes quickly. My dad made a regular practice of reminding me that most small businesses fail within the first 3 years, and that it was generally 5 years before profitability. He had a right to, as he was my partner in entrepreneurship in the early days.

I love the thrill of making something new and my business gave me that. I also quickly got to know the utter heartbreak of opportunity gone sour, and the extremely real knowledge that the pavement was going to hurt badly if I fell down. This was real life and no one was going to save me, no one was going to do the work for me, and no one was going to toot my horn if I didn't do it first. This knowledge grew even into the tips of my toes and hair as I took on debt to fund expansions of our product line in 2005. Risk was the name of the game, and I was all in.

During those years we went through multiple product incarnations, scrapped many ideas, and had at least a few darn good ones. Most of our soy candle scents were conceived back then, as was our Yoga Mat Cleanser, the bulk votive and tealight collection, and Stress Relief Serum. I worked long, long hours - usually 16 to 18 hours a day. Tru, my daughter, was my cohort in the Port-a-Crib. She's still my helper, seen here stacking items a few years ago. The studio has been her playspace and she has grown up watching me throw myself at life and all its problems with gusto, often tears, and sometimes happy dances.
The entire time I have been in business I have always felt like exceptional products should be accessible to as many people as possible. This to me has always meant keeping our line affordable. I got really good at running a really lean operation. When we needed a bigger space we purchased a building in one of St. Louis' most economically distressed neighborhoods partly because we believe in urban revival, and partly because we needed crazy cheap square footage to keep our costs manageable. We have worked hard to make smart decisions with our budget in so many other ways over the years. It's what you have to do when you're bootstrapping. I started with basically nothing, and to this day the business is my sole real investment of any value.


Some would surely call it crazy. But dreams often are, aren't they? In the midst of an idea you can feel it, smell it, nearly touch it even though no-one else around you has any idea what you are talking about. You have to see the future and decide to head that direction in order to ever get there. I have found that when you display a loving, persistent will and keep your vision in mind the means to construct that new reality come to you. For me that has included the support of so many wonderful customers, friends, neighbors, and family over the years, as each purchase has added up to the ability to reinvest, try new recipes, pay for our space, and keep my family fed. Truly, every person that has ever bought and used a Blissoma product has built this dream with me.

Today I'm writing because we've hit a moment where some adjustments are necessary in order to continue to build the dream that is Blissoma. We've made many adjustments before - added new products, cut old ones (which always hurts a little), changed recipes, changed locations, changed working hours, suppliers and so many other things... but today's adjustment is one our customers might notice a little more than usual, which is why I wanted to explain its necessity.

Over the last 2 years since we introduced our new skincare line the market and sales climate has continued to change and evolve. Really, a lot of the change started back in 2007 when the housing market crashed. The way people buy is always changing, ever more so now with the internet. Traditional retail is experiencing a lot of challenges and in some ways is flailing pretty badly. We had always been sold a lot through the Natural Foods channel which was relatively stable. After all, people need groceries and that is one type of item that it is more difficult to ship, which ensured at least to some degree that people would be in those stores and looking at products. We've worked a lot with Natural Food Co-ops, Independents, and the biggie, Whole Foods Market in the past. I always liked the idea of our products being (hopefully) that easy to find. Our plan was to continue to sell this way when we introduced our skincare line. We were changing the type of product we were selling, but not the way it would reach customers.

Today I know that our sales model will be quite different from what I thought it would be then. Not only that, but many costs have continued to rise. Energy is still way up and will stay that way. Our botanical raw materials often spike in price now driven by climate change and natural disasters which have been on the rise. Our aluminum bottles are up in price by about 25%. Even insurance for our studio building has gone way up (about $700 per year increase from 4 years ago when we purchased), related to natural disasters (tornadoes especially in Missouri) and statewide claims. We're great at being thrifty but we also didn't have a lot of padding to accommodate some of these changes. Most of our ingredients are also Organic, and there is still a much smaller pool of growers and suppliers for those items, meaning costs can be high. For some ingredients I have only one or two trusted suppliers that can actually provide us the quality I expect, and so we pay whatever they must charge with the knowledge that the end result is worth it. What we make is no better than the ingredients in it, so I buy only truly exceptional base ingredients.

These issues alone have been a lot. The changing shopping climate has been a huge one to deal with as well. When massive retailers like Borders are going under, you know things are continuing to change out there. I've seen many of our retail store contacts become ever more rigid, often willing only to purchase whatever was available through large distributors in an effort to save money on shipping or inventory tracking. This limits the variety they have available but they see it as a way to spend less time on orders and data, which in some stores is a huge expenditure of employee time. It also means they miss out on a lot of great options, as not all companies are sold through warehouse distributors. Blissoma distributes our skincare only from our St. Louis, MO studio in an effort to keep inventory as fresh as possible, which means if a store tells us that they only order through distribution we can't work with them.

We are ready to proceed with other routes of reaching people, especially with retailers and sales methods that are a bit more flexible and service-oriented. Expanding our online sales this last year has been amazing as we have grown and gotten to talk to so many of our supporters. Blissoma also finds good success with boutique retailers and with estheticians, both of whom also work closely with us and with their customers.

To expand with the independent retailers that will give our customers the types of experiences and service they deserve we have to make adjustments to how our products are priced. Different industries work at different retail and wholesale levels, and when I priced us several years ago it was for the Natural Foods industry, not for boutique retailers. The important thing about that is that smaller retailers often need a bigger margin in order to pay their operations costs. Quite a few of our smaller retailers already sold our products for more than our Suggested Retail Price in order to be able to make enough money on them. In an age where folks can look up a product on the internet our retailers want to know that our products are not going to be priced at less online than in their store. We have to support their pricing to make it possible for them to carry us.

The pricing adjustments we have made reflect these values:

1. To remain in business so we can continue to serve you and provide a voice and experience of truly natural skincare, which we believe is sorely needed.

2. To purchase only the best quality ingredients we can possibly find so that our products continue to deliver you results. No cutting corners. Period.

3. To make our products available through sales avenues that reflect our values and yours - small businesses especially that are run by people you can trust and who are similarly passionate about why they are in business.

We appreciate your support as much as ever, and I understand as much as anyone what it is like to have to make choices with your resources. We are truly honored whenever you choose our products. I hope we can always deliver you products that heal and help you every day.

To provide you, our friends and fellow builders of our dream, a buffer period I am making a discount code available for you to use through the month of October.
 

Get 15% off your entire order by using code: OCTOBERGRACE15

All products on our home site besides Gift Certificates and the new Travel Skincare Sets are included without limit so you can order at very nearly our old pricing. The discount expires 10/31/11.
 

This post started about me, and ended quite a bit more about you, our customer. Blissoma is only possible with both of us. I'm excited and thankful to have made it this far, and thrilled to see what the future holds. Here's hoping you are as well. This is the stuff that dreams are made of, and I'm going to be dreaming up something good. 


Thursday, September 1, 2011 in , , , , ,

Consult the Herbal Chemist - Teenage Acne Rescue au Natural



Dear Julie,


"For the past year I have been struggling with acne and it has heavily brought down my self confidence. My brother is always teasing me about my acne and makes fun of me for it and it really brings me down. I have tried using drugstore products for my acne and they either have broken me out more, irritated my skin or didn't work at all. I have tried Clean and Clear, Neutrogena, Clearasil, OXY, Boire, Garnier, and a few others which have all wasted my money... School is starting in a few weeks and I want to have clear skin and not have to stress about my skin all the time! School is enough stress already! Thank you for taking the time to read this,

A."
I have been getting many, many emails like this recently from teens stressed out and frustrated by their acne. It really tugs at my heartstrings. I know how hard it is to go through such an important time with skin problems. There's a lot that you can do, and many of your options are herbal and natural, which you won't hear about in ads or from your dermatologist. They are also some of the most effective ways to deal with acne.

Part of the frustration so many teens experience comes from lack of information about remedies that might be available other than mass market drugstore products. Despite the fact that these brands are the most heavily marketed for acne problems, affordable, and the most widely available products they are absolutely NOT what I would recommend that you turn to. In fact if that is what you have been using, please stop. Using something like this is irritating and disrupting your skin's ability to balance itself. Balance is what you are ultimately seeking.


Benzoyl Peroxide is ultimately one of the worst things to use on a pimple. Just do a quick search for Benzoyl Peroxide side effects and you get:
"Dryness; feeling of warmth; irritation; itching; mild peeling, redness, or swelling of the skin." These side effects are very, very common. Ever notice how a pimple gets really dry and the skin peels at the end? This is part of the process when using a Benzoyl Peroxide treatment. By applying it you've further irritated a section of skin that was already in dire straits to begin with. This is just plain wrong.


Acne is a bacterial problem but it is also an inflammation problem. Your skin's natural defenses had to be disrupted and compromised in order for a breakout to ever happen in the first place. What I recommend is a regimen that will restore your skin's ability to protect and heal itself.


- What are the Exterior Triggers for Acne?

1. Blocked pores (from dead skin cells, sebum, makeup)

2. Improper/Basic skin PH (allows acne bacteria to flourish)

3. Too much sebum (feeds acne bacteria)


- What are the Interior Triggers for Acne?

1. Increased androgens (sexual hormones that go way up at puberty)

2. Stress (causes less circulation to the skin and hormone imbalance)

3. Poor diet
Without attention to BOTH of these components your likelihood of success is much lower.

- How to deal with your Acne problem naturally!


1. Eat amazingly healthy, fresh, organic foods.

2. Get adequate sleep and relaxation.

3. Use a gentle, natural cleansing routine daily to exfoliate, balance sebum, kill bacteria, and maintain proper PH.

4. Moisturize and spot treat with something soothing and anti-inflammatory - not drying!!


Surprised to see eating healthy at the top of my list? Eating healthy foods is the best way to get your body to overall health, and that includes skin imbalances. Eating healthy is one of the most mysterious and elusive things in the SAD - or Standard American Diet as it is widely now known.


Being a teen and trying to make the choice to eat organic can be a challenging task. If your experience is like mine was then you are expected to eat with the family generally, which can mean a lack of choice in some situations. School food is generally no picnic either. Most cafeteria attempts at healthy food are a dismal failure for taste, freshness, vitamin content and freedom from additives.
You CAN take control of your food, though! I went vegetarian at the age of 15, and have continued to improve my food habits over my life.


Your effort and desire to be healthy is worth a conversation with your parents. I know talking to parents can be difficult, embarrassing, and it seems like they don't understand. (Been there!) If you ask for a moment of their time to very frankly discuss your concerns about your health and how your skin is really stressing you out I think they'll respond. Ask for their help. Parents actually LOVE it when their kids want their help.


If your parents are not into eating really clean, fresh, organic foods then I'd suggest buying a recipe book or diet book that has information on vegan, raw, or vegetarian eating styles and suggesting trying some of the recipes as a family project.

My mom and I purchased the Horn of the Moon Cookbook when I went vegetarian. My mom was feeling like she couldn't cook for me anymore, which was a problem as she really liked to nurture through food. Getting a veggie alternative cookbook was a good way to help re-establish the family bonds that happen over food. We could experiment and learn together! 18 years later it is still one of my favorite veggie cookbooks and has a place of honor on my recipe shelf. It offers good replacements for many traditional American dishes. It is not a cookbook for gluten-free, raw, or vegan foods, however, so if you are seeking those options you'll need a different book. Thankfully these days there are lots more options out there.

Someplace you can turn online for help and advice with going Vegetarian, Vegan, and organic is The Vegetarian Resource Group. Check out their site for lots of nutrition information, recipes, and even a full page devoted to teen vegetarian nutrition.
Try to eat as many vegetables as possible and cut out most, if not all meat from your diet. Conventional meats are laden with growth hormones, which aren't going to do your androgen levels any favors. Some sources will also recommend that you cut out milk and milk products completely because dairy is essentially a hormonal food, designed to grow babies quickly. I simply recommend you do what you can. Trying to do something too extreme too quickly isn't sustainable, so make small steps that you know you can keep up with. Cutting out or reducing meat is a huge first step for most people. Just do what you can.


The more veggies and fruits you eat. the better. The more raw, unprocessed foods you eat, the better. Stay away from prepackaged foods as much as possible. Food additives can be responsible for a whole host of inflammatory responses including
acne, ADD, even rashes. The more fresh, organic, unprocessed plants you can eat the more your skin is going to glow. By eating fresh fruits and vegetables you are not only eliminating harmful additives but dramatically boosting your vitamin and nutrient intake.


Challenge yourself! See if you can do better than 5 fruits and veggies a day by making fresh produce the center of every meal and snack. Achieving that goal can be as simple as eating an apple instead of a pudding cup, or some carrots instead of crackers.


And, repeat after me: Organic, organic, organic.

Organic produce has been now scientifically PROVEN to be higher in nutrient content than their conventionally grown counterparts. You can see that study, published in 9/2010 for the proof.

There are even MORE studies posted on the Organic Trade Association page.

The more produce you eat, the more pesticides you stand to ingest if you are not eating organic. I know the cost can seem high, but when you consider the amount of money that it costs to fix all the problems that poor diet can cause eating well starts to look like a great value overall.


For information from my blog on dealing with acne and how stress causes it check out my previous post, In-depth about stress and skin problems. There's lots of relaxation tips that should help you with your school routine, social stress, and yes, even brothers.


For some great further reading on how food can affect your acne check out these posts on other sites:

Crazy Sexy Wellness: Do Milk and Sugar Cause Acne?

Epic Beauty Guide: 3 "Secrets" to Clear Skin (No More Acne!)

I have also found a lot of helpful info on discussion threads in the Acne.org forums. You can view threads for information even if you don't join.

I'll cover topical treatments in my next post. For now, get out and get yourself some healthy foods. If you want, comment and tell me a fresh food you are going to add to your diet, your new healthy, portable school snack, or a recipe you are trying. I love to hear from you! 

 


in , , , , ,

Consult the Herbal Chemist - Teenage Acne Rescue au Natural



Dear Julie,


"For the past year I have been struggling with acne and it has heavily brought down my self confidence. My brother is always teasing me about my acne and makes fun of me for it and it really brings me down. I have tried using drugstore products for my acne and they either have broken me out more, irritated my skin or didn't work at all. I have tried Clean and Clear, Neutrogena, Clearasil, OXY, Boire, Garnier, and a few others which have all wasted my money... School is starting in a few weeks and I want to have clear skin and not have to stress about my skin all the time! School is enough stress already! Thank you for taking the time to read this,

A."
I have been getting many, many emails like this recently from teens stressed out and frustrated by their acne. It really tugs at my heartstrings. I know how hard it is to go through such an important time with skin problems. There's a lot that you can do, and many of your options are herbal and natural, which you won't hear about in ads or from your dermatologist. They are also some of the most effective ways to deal with acne.

Part of the frustration so many teens experience comes from lack of information about remedies that might be available other than mass market drugstore products. Despite the fact that these brands are the most heavily marketed for acne problems, affordable, and the most widely available products they are absolutely NOT what I would recommend that you turn to. In fact if that is what you have been using, please stop. Using something like this is irritating and disrupting your skin's ability to balance itself. Balance is what you are ultimately seeking.


Benzoyl Peroxide is ultimately one of the worst things to use on a pimple. Just do a quick search for Benzoyl Peroxide side effects and you get:
"Dryness; feeling of warmth; irritation; itching; mild peeling, redness, or swelling of the skin." These side effects are very, very common. Ever notice how a pimple gets really dry and the skin peels at the end? This is part of the process when using a Benzoyl Peroxide treatment. By applying it you've further irritated a section of skin that was already in dire straits to begin with. This is just plain wrong.


Acne is a bacterial problem but it is also an inflammation problem. Your skin's natural defenses had to be disrupted and compromised in order for a breakout to ever happen in the first place. What I recommend is a regimen that will restore your skin's ability to protect and heal itself.


- What are the Exterior Triggers for Acne?

1. Blocked pores (from dead skin cells, sebum, makeup)

2. Improper/Basic skin PH (allows acne bacteria to flourish)

3. Too much sebum (feeds acne bacteria)


- What are the Interior Triggers for Acne?

1. Increased androgens (sexual hormones that go way up at puberty)

2. Stress (causes less circulation to the skin and hormone imbalance)

3. Poor diet
Without attention to BOTH of these components your likelihood of success is much lower.

- How to deal with your Acne problem naturally!


1. Eat amazingly healthy, fresh, organic foods.

2. Get adequate sleep and relaxation.

3. Use a gentle, natural cleansing routine daily to exfoliate, balance sebum, kill bacteria, and maintain proper PH.

4. Moisturize and spot treat with something soothing and anti-inflammatory - not drying!!


Surprised to see eating healthy at the top of my list? Eating healthy foods is the best way to get your body to overall health, and that includes skin imbalances. Eating healthy is one of the most mysterious and elusive things in the SAD - or Standard American Diet as it is widely now known.


Being a teen and trying to make the choice to eat organic can be a challenging task. If your experience is like mine was then you are expected to eat with the family generally, which can mean a lack of choice in some situations. School food is generally no picnic either. Most cafeteria attempts at healthy food are a dismal failure for taste, freshness, vitamin content and freedom from additives.
You CAN take control of your food, though! I went vegetarian at the age of 15, and have continued to improve my food habits over my life.


Your effort and desire to be healthy is worth a conversation with your parents. I know talking to parents can be difficult, embarrassing, and it seems like they don't understand. (Been there!) If you ask for a moment of their time to very frankly discuss your concerns about your health and how your skin is really stressing you out I think they'll respond. Ask for their help. Parents actually LOVE it when their kids want their help.


If your parents are not into eating really clean, fresh, organic foods then I'd suggest buying a recipe book or diet book that has information on vegan, raw, or vegetarian eating styles and suggesting trying some of the recipes as a family project.

My mom and I purchased the Horn of the Moon Cookbook when I went vegetarian. My mom was feeling like she couldn't cook for me anymore, which was a problem as she really liked to nurture through food. Getting a veggie alternative cookbook was a good way to help re-establish the family bonds that happen over food. We could experiment and learn together! 18 years later it is still one of my favorite veggie cookbooks and has a place of honor on my recipe shelf. It offers good replacements for many traditional American dishes. It is not a cookbook for gluten-free, raw, or vegan foods, however, so if you are seeking those options you'll need a different book. Thankfully these days there are lots more options out there.

Someplace you can turn online for help and advice with going Vegetarian, Vegan, and organic is The Vegetarian Resource Group. Check out their site for lots of nutrition information, recipes, and even a full page devoted to teen vegetarian nutrition.
Try to eat as many vegetables as possible and cut out most, if not all meat from your diet. Conventional meats are laden with growth hormones, which aren't going to do your androgen levels any favors. Some sources will also recommend that you cut out milk and milk products completely because dairy is essentially a hormonal food, designed to grow babies quickly. I simply recommend you do what you can. Trying to do something too extreme too quickly isn't sustainable, so make small steps that you know you can keep up with. Cutting out or reducing meat is a huge first step for most people. Just do what you can.


The more veggies and fruits you eat. the better. The more raw, unprocessed foods you eat, the better. Stay away from prepackaged foods as much as possible. Food additives can be responsible for a whole host of inflammatory responses including
acne, ADD, even rashes. The more fresh, organic, unprocessed plants you can eat the more your skin is going to glow. By eating fresh fruits and vegetables you are not only eliminating harmful additives but dramatically boosting your vitamin and nutrient intake.


Challenge yourself! See if you can do better than 5 fruits and veggies a day by making fresh produce the center of every meal and snack. Achieving that goal can be as simple as eating an apple instead of a pudding cup, or some carrots instead of crackers.


And, repeat after me: Organic, organic, organic.

Organic produce has been now scientifically PROVEN to be higher in nutrient content than their conventionally grown counterparts. You can see that study, published in 9/2010 for the proof.

There are even MORE studies posted on the Organic Trade Association page.

The more produce you eat, the more pesticides you stand to ingest if you are not eating organic. I know the cost can seem high, but when you consider the amount of money that it costs to fix all the problems that poor diet can cause eating well starts to look like a great value overall.


For information from my blog on dealing with acne and how stress causes it check out my previous post, In-depth about stress and skin problems. There's lots of relaxation tips that should help you with your school routine, social stress, and yes, even brothers.


For some great further reading on how food can affect your acne check out these posts on other sites:

Crazy Sexy Wellness: Do Milk and Sugar Cause Acne?

Epic Beauty Guide: 3 "Secrets" to Clear Skin (No More Acne!)

I have also found a lot of helpful info on discussion threads in the Acne.org forums. You can view threads for information even if you don't join.

I'll cover topical treatments in my next post. For now, get out and get yourself some healthy foods. If you want, comment and tell me a fresh food you are going to add to your diet, your new healthy, portable school snack, or a recipe you are trying. I love to hear from you! 

 


Wednesday, August 3, 2011 in , , , , , ,

Restore Oil Serum - New addition to Blissoma SOLUTIONS skincare

Nothing excites me more as a formulator than launching a new recipe. Like a chef I love to tinker, to test, and to explore the smell and feel of ingredients. 

Our latest addition to the Blissoma SOLUTIONS skincare range is our new
Restore Deep Moisture Oil Serum. It rounds out our facial skincare range and offers a great, 100% Vegan moisturizing option as well as a one-two punch to take on extreme dryness, aging skin, hormonal fluctuations, and any irritations. Like many of our products this serum offers intensive benefits while still remaining ideal for all skin types. How do we do it? With a deftly balanced blend of super nutritional seed oils the likes of which you'd normally find in the finest internal supplements. Essential fatty acids? Check! Antioxidants? Check! Natural vitamins and minerals? Check! Skin conditioning, emollient lipids? Check! Will your skin glow like crazy from using it? CHECK! :)




See the full description on our website.




in , , , , , ,

Restore Oil Serum - New addition to Blissoma SOLUTIONS skincare

Nothing excites me more as a formulator than launching a new recipe. Like a chef I love to tinker, to test, and to explore the smell and feel of ingredients. 

Our latest addition to the Blissoma SOLUTIONS skincare range is our new
Restore Deep Moisture Oil Serum. It rounds out our facial skincare range and offers a great, 100% Vegan moisturizing option as well as a one-two punch to take on extreme dryness, aging skin, hormonal fluctuations, and any irritations. Like many of our products this serum offers intensive benefits while still remaining ideal for all skin types. How do we do it? With a deftly balanced blend of super nutritional seed oils the likes of which you'd normally find in the finest internal supplements. Essential fatty acids? Check! Antioxidants? Check! Natural vitamins and minerals? Check! Skin conditioning, emollient lipids? Check! Will your skin glow like crazy from using it? CHECK! :)




See the full description on our website.




Wednesday, July 27, 2011 in , , , ,

Skincare Questions Answered - Consult the Herbal Chemist at Blissoma! The difference between essential oils and "fragrance" in your skincare.

As the chemist and founder for Blissoma I often consult with customers to help them find the right products from our line for their skin. I also am frequently asked about our ingredients, one of which being the scents in our products. There is a lot of concern out there about scent in personal care, and rightly so. This article should illuminate some key differences between Blissoma scents and many other scented personal care products.
Almost all of our Blissoma skincare line currently includes some scent in each recipe. Many personal care products available on the market do contain a scent. In fact, visit any average drugstore and you'll have a truly difficult time finding a shampoo, conditioner, lotion or cream that doesn't have aroma. For most of these products the purpose of the scent is to perfume the user, eliminate negative odors, and create an encompassing product experience. Many times customers purchase a particular product partly because they have formed a positive association with how it smells when applied.


For most products the aroma is like a decoration - perhaps pretty, but without function beyond aesthetics. You will see it in the ingredients lis
t as "fragrance" and generally it is a trade secret ingredient. Manufacturers are not required by the FDA to disclose ingredients in their scents, meaning that up to hundreds of individual scent ingredients may be contained under that simple fragrance wording. Regulation is very loose and so truthfully you have no idea what may be in your fragranced bodycare. Some ingredients may include pthalates which have become a focus of great scrutiny as they have been found to disrupt endocrine function in the body, which is a technical way of saying that they interfere with your normal hormone functions. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has a page of information on fragrance in personal care that is useful to review.


I began my career in herbals working with essential oils and aromatherapy, so I do have an affinity for sce
nt. However, I work with a very strict palette of 100% botanically sourced essential oils.

There is a great difference between an artificial, lab-produced fragrance ingredient and an essential oil that is coming directly from a plant. One of the key differences is that an essential oil has inherent medicinal action on the body whe
reas a fragrance compound is at best inert and if you fall into the purist camp it is seen as a source of toxin load for your body as it is bringing you in contact with potentially irritating and unknown ingredients that may aggravate allergies and build up in the body over time.


The essential oils in our products are indeed part of the
total wholistic action of Blissoma products. They provide actions that detox, clear pores, soothe, and cleanse. So the inclusion of them goes far beyond an aesthetic experience and works with the total herbal effect of each product.


You may also notice that we disclose all of the individual essential oils used in each formula. This is so you can identify any ingredients to which you may be sensitive and make educated decisions about which of our products will be right for your skin.
As an example look at our Peace Evening Facial Créme

The ingredients list consists of:

Infusion of Rhodymenia palmata* (dulse seaweed), Porphyra umbilicalis* (nori seaweed), Plantago major* (plantain), Taraxacum officinale* (dandelion), Lavendula angustifolia*, Water, Butyrospermum parkii (shea) Butter*, Glyceryl Stearate and Cetearyl Alcohol and Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Cucurbita pepo (pumpkin) Seed Oil*, Cocos nucifera (coconut) Oil*, Extracts of Symphytum officinale* (comfrey) and Ginkgo Biloba*, Soy Lecithin*, Cannabis sativa (hemp) Seed Oil*, Retinyl Palmitate/Carrot Polypeptides, Ascorbic Acid/Citrus Polypeptides, Tocopherol/Wheat Polypeptides, Euterpe oleracea (acai) Oil, Essential Oils of Lavandula angustifolia, Cymbopogon martinii (palmarosa), Canarium luzonicum (elemi), Boswellia carterii (frankincense), Vetiveria zizandoides (vetiver), and Achillea millefolia* (blue yarrow), Matricaria chamomilla (german chamomile) CO2 Extract, Xanthan Gum, Rosemary Oleoresin Extract, Chlorophyllin, Grain Alcohol*, Glucose, Glucose Oxidase and Lactoperoxidase, linalool**, geraniol**, limonene**

*from Certified Organic Agriculture

**natural components of essential oils


Each essential oil is declared so you know exactly what you are using. The oils in this formula contribute directly towards the calming effect of the product. German Chamomile and Blue Yarrow are filled with Chamazulene and Matricin which are potent anti-inflammatory constituents. The product has a deep, honey-like smell which is a great deal due to the German Chamomile.



As long as none of these plants is an allergen for you then you should be able to use this product without trouble. Even people who normally have a sensitivity to "fragranced" skincare generally do well with our products. Only if you are sensitive to a specific herb or essential oil should any of our products be proactively avoided due to scent ingredients.



There are individuals who react to even essential oils. For you we hope to create a collection of products someday that will specifically exclude all aromatic/essential oil ingredients.



Do you have a question you'd like me to answer about our products or about natural skincare in general? Write me at jlongyear@iriestar.com and ask away! I'm happy to help you find answers that will be truly beneficial for your total health and beauty routines.



in , , , ,

Skincare Questions Answered - Consult the Herbal Chemist at Blissoma! The difference between essential oils and "fragrance" in your skincare.

As the chemist and founder for Blissoma I often consult with customers to help them find the right products from our line for their skin. I also am frequently asked about our ingredients, one of which being the scents in our products. There is a lot of concern out there about scent in personal care, and rightly so. This article should illuminate some key differences between Blissoma scents and many other scented personal care products.
Almost all of our Blissoma skincare line currently includes some scent in each recipe. Many personal care products available on the market do contain a scent. In fact, visit any average drugstore and you'll have a truly difficult time finding a shampoo, conditioner, lotion or cream that doesn't have aroma. For most of these products the purpose of the scent is to perfume the user, eliminate negative odors, and create an encompassing product experience. Many times customers purchase a particular product partly because they have formed a positive association with how it smells when applied.


For most products the aroma is like a decoration - perhaps pretty, but without function beyond aesthetics. You will see it in the ingredients lis
t as "fragrance" and generally it is a trade secret ingredient. Manufacturers are not required by the FDA to disclose ingredients in their scents, meaning that up to hundreds of individual scent ingredients may be contained under that simple fragrance wording. Regulation is very loose and so truthfully you have no idea what may be in your fragranced bodycare. Some ingredients may include pthalates which have become a focus of great scrutiny as they have been found to disrupt endocrine function in the body, which is a technical way of saying that they interfere with your normal hormone functions. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has a page of information on fragrance in personal care that is useful to review.


I began my career in herbals working with essential oils and aromatherapy, so I do have an affinity for sce
nt. However, I work with a very strict palette of 100% botanically sourced essential oils.

There is a great difference between an artificial, lab-produced fragrance ingredient and an essential oil that is coming directly from a plant. One of the key differences is that an essential oil has inherent medicinal action on the body whe
reas a fragrance compound is at best inert and if you fall into the purist camp it is seen as a source of toxin load for your body as it is bringing you in contact with potentially irritating and unknown ingredients that may aggravate allergies and build up in the body over time.


The essential oils in our products are indeed part of the
total wholistic action of Blissoma products. They provide actions that detox, clear pores, soothe, and cleanse. So the inclusion of them goes far beyond an aesthetic experience and works with the total herbal effect of each product.


You may also notice that we disclose all of the individual essential oils used in each formula. This is so you can identify any ingredients to which you may be sensitive and make educated decisions about which of our products will be right for your skin.
As an example look at our Peace Evening Facial Créme

The ingredients list consists of:

Infusion of Rhodymenia palmata* (dulse seaweed), Porphyra umbilicalis* (nori seaweed), Plantago major* (plantain), Taraxacum officinale* (dandelion), Lavendula angustifolia*, Water, Butyrospermum parkii (shea) Butter*, Glyceryl Stearate and Cetearyl Alcohol and Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Cucurbita pepo (pumpkin) Seed Oil*, Cocos nucifera (coconut) Oil*, Extracts of Symphytum officinale* (comfrey) and Ginkgo Biloba*, Soy Lecithin*, Cannabis sativa (hemp) Seed Oil*, Retinyl Palmitate/Carrot Polypeptides, Ascorbic Acid/Citrus Polypeptides, Tocopherol/Wheat Polypeptides, Euterpe oleracea (acai) Oil, Essential Oils of Lavandula angustifolia, Cymbopogon martinii (palmarosa), Canarium luzonicum (elemi), Boswellia carterii (frankincense), Vetiveria zizandoides (vetiver), and Achillea millefolia* (blue yarrow), Matricaria chamomilla (german chamomile) CO2 Extract, Xanthan Gum, Rosemary Oleoresin Extract, Chlorophyllin, Grain Alcohol*, Glucose, Glucose Oxidase and Lactoperoxidase, linalool**, geraniol**, limonene**

*from Certified Organic Agriculture

**natural components of essential oils


Each essential oil is declared so you know exactly what you are using. The oils in this formula contribute directly towards the calming effect of the product. German Chamomile and Blue Yarrow are filled with Chamazulene and Matricin which are potent anti-inflammatory constituents. The product has a deep, honey-like smell which is a great deal due to the German Chamomile.



As long as none of these plants is an allergen for you then you should be able to use this product without trouble. Even people who normally have a sensitivity to "fragranced" skincare generally do well with our products. Only if you are sensitive to a specific herb or essential oil should any of our products be proactively avoided due to scent ingredients.



There are individuals who react to even essential oils. For you we hope to create a collection of products someday that will specifically exclude all aromatic/essential oil ingredients.



Do you have a question you'd like me to answer about our products or about natural skincare in general? Write me at jlongyear@iriestar.com and ask away! I'm happy to help you find answers that will be truly beneficial for your total health and beauty routines.



Tuesday, July 26, 2011 in , , ,

Inspiration - sprouting something beautiful....

A week or so ago I walked out to water our garden, as is my daily task in the intense summer St. Louis heat. As I was fussing over my plants, checking them and crushing bugs my daughter said "What's that??" and pointed to the corner of the plot.

Something had sprouted - and it wasn't a plant!

This was what we saw:
Without prior announcement an almost life-size painting of me had appeared to embellish the garden. I was tickled to my very core. The neighbors have certainly taken note but this was one of the first big additions made by another household to the space.

It was created by my neighbor Nancy Dylewski who has been a resident of Hyde Park for approximately 30 years, going back to the initial push for historic restoration in the late 1970s. She and her husband Don are familiar with the challenges of remediating a city lot. After the house next to hers burned down the city leveled that lot and sprayed it with defoliant (brilliant, right?). After a few years they began to try and grow things on the land with very frustrating results at first. Everything died due to the defoliant. They brought in professional help a few times to work on the dirt and after many tries have turned what was just barren land into a park-like setting with hostas, trees, and now their own vegetables growing some from seed I shared with them.

Nancy's artwork was one of the nicest surprises I've ever received. It was inspired straight from the heart. The gift bolsters my enthusiasm and energy for continuing to remodel our plot.

So now you can see "me" in the garden all day and all night. Now if only I looked this cute while actually working out there. ;)


in , , ,

Inspiration - sprouting something beautiful....

A week or so ago I walked out to water our garden, as is my daily task in the intense summer St. Louis heat. As I was fussing over my plants, checking them and crushing bugs my daughter said "What's that??" and pointed to the corner of the plot.

Something had sprouted - and it wasn't a plant!

This was what we saw:
Without prior announcement an almost life-size painting of me had appeared to embellish the garden. I was tickled to my very core. The neighbors have certainly taken note but this was one of the first big additions made by another household to the space.

It was created by my neighbor Nancy Dylewski who has been a resident of Hyde Park for approximately 30 years, going back to the initial push for historic restoration in the late 1970s. She and her husband Don are familiar with the challenges of remediating a city lot. After the house next to hers burned down the city leveled that lot and sprayed it with defoliant (brilliant, right?). After a few years they began to try and grow things on the land with very frustrating results at first. Everything died due to the defoliant. They brought in professional help a few times to work on the dirt and after many tries have turned what was just barren land into a park-like setting with hostas, trees, and now their own vegetables growing some from seed I shared with them.

Nancy's artwork was one of the nicest surprises I've ever received. It was inspired straight from the heart. The gift bolsters my enthusiasm and energy for continuing to remodel our plot.

So now you can see "me" in the garden all day and all night. Now if only I looked this cute while actually working out there. ;)


Tuesday, June 28, 2011 in , , , , ,

Blissoma Organic Community Garden Updates and Photos

Beautiful friends,

As you now know Blissoma is sponsoring the start of a community garden in our urban neighborhood in St. Louis, MO. This community garden is redeveloping a vacant lot that otherwise was a neighborhood problem - a haven for scattered trash and weeds.


We are pleased to show you some of our progress to date on our garden plot. You are our supporters on this journey and without the involvement of our customer base this endeavor would not be possible.
To date this spring your purchases have directly supported more than $400 in cash garden investments including:

- over $100 in organic and heirloom seeds purchased entirely from independent, Monsanto-free seed suppliers

- new hoses to supply water to the garden

- stakes to support the green bean and tomato crops

- manure and other organic soil amendments for the crops

- composting supplies for garden waste so that we can generate organic, nutrient-rich soil through outdoor composting and vermicomposting


Your support has also enabled me to donate more than 360 service hours to the garden from just April to today alone. This does not include the initial plowing and care we did for the starting plot last fall (which would easily drive the total to 500+ hours). While I am out working the garden Frank has been dutifully serving your orders, making products, and answering emails and calls.


The soil was difficult to work due to piles of buried bricks and concrete. Just to break ground for the new 20' x 40' strip that became the tomato rows and melon/pumpkin patch took approximately 2 1/2 weeks of hand digging. The soil is clay and filled with construction rubble so we trucked in and spread more than 5 dump trucks worth of fresh dirt and 3 pickup loads of manure to build freeform raised beds.


So far we have been visited by numerous neighborhood residents as we work. Neighbor children have planted seeds with me and the Envisioning Hyde Park photography project stopped by with about 10 local youth to learn about what we are doing. We plan to launch a local awareness campaign to build involvement as the summer progresses and the "fruits" of our labor become more evident.


You are directly supporting organic awareness and empowerment to a community that was previously a fresh food desert. You are supporting positive action in a place that was known for gang violence, drugs, and decomposing architecture. You are helping us show a largely forgotten community in St. Louis that real change is possible with a dream and hard work. Each time you support Blissoma you support positive values and healthy evolution. You can feel good about your purchase in every way.


We will continue to share progress with you as we "grow". Thank you for all you do. Enjoy the pictures of our beautiful plants! :)

rows in the sunset


leeks about to flower and baby romaine


red cabbage

carrot flower buds


bok choy in bloom


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