I sat down for what felt like a major catch-up session with LC right before her three week escape to Vietnam and Thailand. (Jealous? I second that.) LC is the founder and maker behind Butter Love skincare products. She gave me a quick tour of her apartment, which was uber zen complimented with perfectly manicured vintage furniture. If I’m a sucker for anything it’s hardwood floors, tropical plants, and great natural lighting- this place had it all. With drinks in hand, we sat across from each other on her cozy sectional to dive into the mind behind a rising business.
Shayba: Just to cover the basics, what is Butter Love?
LC: I don’t even know how to answer it. [laughs] I would say that it’s just a natural skincare line that’s handmade with some of the richest ingredients found in St. Louis. The Shea butter is from Ghana, it’s Fair Trade. It’s Shea butter in it’s purest form, no nutrients sucked out. I don’t do anything to it but whip it.
S: So everything is sourced here, except the Shea butter?
LC: Yeah, everything is sourced here- my coconut oil, tea leaves, my essential oils, everything is sourced in St. Louis. My suppliers are awesome… I’m good here. My resources here are so easy to get to, I don’t struggle to get anything.
S: You have one of those products that you have to get refills on too. I mean, your customers aren’t going anywhere.
LC: Hopefully. [laughs] I really like my customers, they’re awesome. I love when I’m at my booth and someone’s like ‘I came because I saw that you posted about this’. I was in Webster Groves and a girl said ‘Oh my god, I saw your post on my way and I’m so happy you’re here!’ I asked her where she was coming from and she said Tower Grove! That’s all the way across town! But that’s beautiful, that’s such a beautiful thing.
S: I’m sure that made you feel good.
LC: It makes me feel SO good when people are amped to see my booth. I don’t even know how to describe the feeling. Like, you like my products, like something that I created you’re willing to pay for. That’s awesome, I want more of that. I want everyone to try it, it’s like a high and I just don’t want to come down.
S: I’ve been thinking about your products for a while. I remember the last time we spoke I found out Lush wasn’t as clean as I thought it was and I’ve literally never bought anything from there after that. I’m really trying to avoid stuff with added fragrances anyway. I definitely had to make my way to you to get some more products. What do you have new coming?
LC: I want to do bentonite clay masks and different clay masks. I also want to do a face mist, which I’ve already started working on. That’s why my face is like glowing right now. [laughs] I use this toner with just the simplest ingredients. [Wait] I’ll show it to you…
LC: So, I made this toner I’m almost about to run out. It’s just witch hazel, rosewater, rose absolute essential oil- a few drops of that and tea tree essential oil because it helps with my acne. So, I bought these bottles because I wanted to do actual body mists and I don’t know if I like the tops so I never started it. But it’s so good, you just mist it on you. You wanna try?
S: Just mist my face? [I mist my face] That feels nice! It smells really good too!
LC: I do it when I get out of the shower, it makes your skin glow and I’m not kidding. I remake it every time I run out- this stays filled. So I wanna do that and get into more facial care because I have acne prone skin and want to clear my skin of those dark marks. I wanna help other people because it’s definitely a journey and it’s not the easiest one.
LC: I want to do like a wellness blog. I got a camera and I wanna do my own shoots. I kind of want to do everything. I want to do my photos for my website, my videos for my blog, I wanna do videos for Instagram. I want to be able to edit things and do them myself and teach myself how to do those things. Just like in the beginning I taught myself how to make body butters. So that’s what I’m working on… I wanna do more web series, educational videos, just how-to’s and DIY’s ya know? I made these little framed [plants]. It was a quick project, a $10 project.
S: How would you say Butter Love has evolved?
LC: [With] my first show… I didn’t know what the hell I was doing! I was freaking out, I had so much anxiety, I was stressed out and I didn’t know what presentation was. I didn’t know what aesthetic was. I just knew I had this thing I created and I had to share it and see how it would do. This is my first packaging… it’s so different now, it transformed. I remember taking bits and pieces of what I had to make my table and now it’s just like I have a flow and I have a set up that I really really like. It’s just grown into something that people just like really love and I really love.
S: You know what I feel like when you start from the bottom like that, it’s so much more authentic. Kudos for even getting started because there are so many people who I feel like can be talented but they have analysis paralysis. They feel like they need all of the best equipment before they get started.
LC: I started with a whisk!
S: Yeah, you start with what you have!
LC: I was getting carpal tunnel- like arthritis was kicking in! Then I got a hand mixer and [figured] out the best way to do it. I just started ordering stuff off of Amazon, I didn’t have to have to best of anything- I just wanted to see what it would make… I was ordering all of this stuff and getting it delivered to my dad’s house and mixing it in my room before I ever went down to the kitchen.
S: You earned your lane!
LC: It took me 3 or 4 months just to get the consistency right. Even now, I still work on it. I’m still perfecting it and getting it to something that I really like. I’ve tried so many different recipes, I have a folder full of different things that I’ve tried.
S: Have you had mentors or anyone you’ve looked up to through it all?
LC: …It would’ve been nice- it still would be nice to have a mentor or someone who’s just like that person to keep me inspired or just be there when I need to talk about what’s my next move. Just for me I’ve never had it so I just had to do all these things by myself… [for example] figure out how to get my labels together. Luckily, we went to Columbia and we know people so my friend Eddie from college told [someone] what was going on and he was savvy in photoshop and we made my labels together. We made the first batch and he taught me how to make my own and gave me a template to work with. So now I create my own labels, I print them out and now… You have an idea and you want it to be something amazing- you do a lot of trial and error.
S: Are there any cultural influences that inspire your work?
LC: As far as culture, my culture runs through me and even if I don’t know it- it comes out. I can’t really give credit to any other culture but mine. It’s what I’m a product of. Who else can I give that to other than my roots?
S: Would you say there are any cultural touchstones- like films, books, artists, etc that have been influential on shaping you?
LC: I feel that Disney movies help me understand life. I know that sounds crazy but… Disney movies are it! I learn so much from Beauty & The Beast, Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo, Goofy Movie. We watched Beauty and the beast last night, a couple of my friends came over. We got a VHS player and we watched Beauty & The Beast. The whole thing about Beauty & The Beast is it’s about understanding that you can’t judge a book by its cover and you can love. It doesn’t matter what the person looks like, it doesn’t matter what you’re conditioned to think or how you were raised. You love what you love. The whole thing about the town trying to kill the beast because… anything that’s not like us we have to fear, we have to destroy. So learning how to accept people and that everyone has a story.
S: Acceptance is important, what abut support?
LC: The support, that’s what really got me here. The support from my family, the support from my friends- the support from people that I don’t even know who just believe in me. I think it just takes one person to believe in you to get you going.
S: Does it catch you off guard?
LC: Exactly, I remember the first moment I realized this is something that I should be doing. I went to Afropunk in 2014-
S: I wanna go!
LC: I’m going this year! Afropunk is just like a really dope platform for black people. Black artists, black music, there were just so many beautiful things there. So many people to see, the fashion. [So] I took a jar with me… I showed [my ex] the body butter and rubbed it on his feet because they were so dry! I’m like: you need this! He said ‘this is so good, you should sell this!’ I kinda just got inspired from that trip and him pushing me to actually understand what I potentially had. I went home and made business cards, got a website together, made more products. I just kinda went in and it kind of just took off from there.
S: What led you to try making products to begin with?
LC: When I was younger my skin would be so dry. I would scratch and I would make myself bleed because it would be so dry and itchy. So just growing up with dry skin and my mom actually taught me about the benefits of Shea butter. We would go to the African Arts Festival here and stock up. I would use that on my skin and black soap. That would subside my dry skin. So I know the benefits of [that]… I want this in my product because I know that it works. When I was in college My friend Lorelei were staying together. We would make these mixes in my hair because of course we were going natural and trying to make like good products to do twist outs and things like that. So how I really started mixing was in the bathroom with her. Putting argan oil and coconut oil and shea butter and whipping it and putting a little bit of fragrance and just twisting our hair with it. Once I knew the benefits of that (because my twist-outs would be on fleek) I moved back home. I started kind of experimenting and mixing. Ever since I was a little girl I would be mixing things together to see what the outcome would be.
S: It’s funny how that happens. Our passions always connect to our childhood I think.
LC: Dude, I didn’t even peep this until like a year ago. But when I was a child I used to mix different chemicals in my house and store them in my closet to see if something would happen. Would something grow? I would always get in trouble because my mom would find it every single time. I don’t know if it was the smell- of course it was probably the smell. I would hide it in the cut and she would find it every time. Moms be knowing. [laughs] I think it just comes natural to me.
LC: So it was mostly just trying to help myself and then helping other people in the process. It’s not like a big inspirational story, it was just something that kind of happened.
S: I feel like that is inspiring though, because there are so many people who think they have to have this extraordinary, million dollar idea that’s never been conceived of before. I feel like you should to keep it simple- do what speaks to you and it’ll evolve from there.
LC: Exactly, I don’t think I could do anything else. I don’t think I can make jewelry… I mean I could try- but its just not my calling. [laughs]
S: I think that’s where the inspiration lies, in doing what speaks to you. People need to hear that. I think a lot of people need to think about that and internalize that. You have to do what’s for you, that’s what’s inspiring because a lot of people don’t do what’s for ‘them’. How do you avoid obvious trends?
LC: I don’t care about staying relevant as far as trends. I see myself being aware of my body. I know that eating clean is a trend right now, but I don’t see it as a trend. It’s a lifestyle. I have completely changed my body. Cleansing your body of parasite, detoxifying your body is a major thing. When we drown it with [so many] bad things, it’s depletes. So… eating clean, juicing on the regular- I don’t understand why it would be a trend. This is what hunter gatherers [and Native Americans] were doing the entire time. I took [an Anthropology] class in college and read this book called Ishmael. It really changed my outlook on life and the world. I know some people see it as a trend, but don’t feel like it’s a trend, I feel like it’s a lifestyle. I know from detoxifying my body what that feels like. I haven’t had pork in like 6 years! I haven’t had beef in years.
S: I still need to let go of beef!
LC: It [can be] a slippery slope, don’t get me wrong. I still love… everything! I still love those guilty pleasures, but it’s really just empty eating and I know there’s no benefit to it. I know it’s going to cause my stomach to be messed up so do I want that? …It’s uncomfortable and I got things to do.
LC: That kind of inspires some of the products that I make. Like my Detox bath salts have dead sea salt, himalayan sea salt, and epsom salt. Those two sea salts are going to detoxify your body. That epsom salt is going to relax your muscles and calm you. We go through so much traumatic stuff throughout the day our body just feels like it’s being attacked sometimes and it doesn’t know how to relax. So that’s bath salts are made to detoxify. Then I put the tea leaves in the salts because tea detoxifies you. There’s also a little baking soda to balance you ph, all these good things. Once you get out you’re drained, you don’t do it every day. But it’s so beneficial, you do it like once or twice a week. I’m getting into these milk baths… it makes your skin so smooth. [But] that’s a whole new realm. I have a whole like of bath salts that I’m going to expand.
S: What else in your life that helps you thrive?
LC: You’re home is your oasis. The outside world can be so cruel and unruly and painful. When you come home this is your place of release. This is your place to be calm and to be who you are. I need it to be a peaceful place. I work in support [at my other job], so I get ridiculed and talked down to all day. So when I come home I don’t none of that. I don’t want any of that here. So yeah I took the time and put the effort into making something that I really liked. It’s not perfect, but it’s mine.
S: What are some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned?
LC: I work at Square full time and we have a lot of people who come from our SF office to speak to us. There’s a lady that came, who’s head of HR and her previous job was working with top CEO’s and giving them information on how to run their business and take it to the next level. So I pulled her aside and I talked to her just to see if she had any feedback for me. She said ‘read their stories- don’t just read their stories just for the sake of reading, but learn from their mistakes. See what they did to get where they are so we you do it you already see what mistakes to kind of shy away from. So that’s what I’m doing right now, I’ve been researching to see what would best reflect what I have going.
LC: Last year I was really into self help. I was reading a lot of Deepak and Don Miguel Ruiz learning the Four Agreements and the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. I read it in college and was so inspired by it but rereading it definitely gives me those life lessons to apply every single day of my life and my business as well. Do your best, that’s all that you can do. That’s one of the four agreements, do your best. Even though you were taught certain things that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re right. Just figuring out what you feel is right or wrong and doing that. No one can take that away from you. No one can take your growth away from you. They can’t steal your vibe. No one can take away from me what I built.
S: Because it’s intangible.
LC: It’s intangible and you put the work in, this is like your baby. I had a friend that tried to take credit for what I did and I had to let her know. She’s very talented but you have to remain humble and know that you can’t take credit for other people’s work. I feel like I’ve become such a strong woman in knowing what I want and putting in the work. You can’t take what I’ve built… I’ve learned that I don’t have to raise my voice for my voice to be heard. Before I used to just write, I didn’t think that people really wanted to hear what I had to say. That’s not me anymore, I definitely have a voice and I use it when I need to. I have a strength behind me to back it up, this is what I created.
S: What are your intentions for the future with Butter Love?
LC: I’m trying to figure out how to get it to that Carol’s Daughter status. How to get it to where L’oreal is trying to buy my product for $127,000,000. That’s how much she sold it for! I’m just trying to figure out if I need to get a manufacturer- or if it’s even at that point right now to where I need it. I feel like everything has presented itself… I put the work in then things started presenting itself. As long as you put the work in and you put that intention out [with] those manifestations, then those things are going to come to you…
LC: I think that I got this far because I put the energy out there and I put the time out there and the effort out there.