Get beautiful naturally with local, great-smelling products

Kate Campbell and Allie McKeachnie like to keep things simple. If they can’t recognize or pronounce the ingredients in a product, they typically don’t buy it. That led them to create their own line of body care products, Kate and Allie’s Beauty by Nature, in the summer of 2007.

Kate told me that, “With allergies and sensitive skin, we can’t buy all the mainstream stuff that smells so good. Even many health store ‘natural’ products have potentially irritating ingredients or are priced out of reach for most consumers.”

Kate worked in a health store for two years and had a lot of time to research what products were available, with what ingredients, and at what price points. She was sure they could make better products for less — that also smelled great — so they did.

I marvel at these two women: young, entrepreneurial, and already very busy with full-time jobs, yet committed to showing everyone that beauty doesn’t have to be unnatural.

They developed a line of natural products with an average of five ingredients — pronounceable, recognizable ingredients. “We use as many unprocessed, unrefined, organic ingredients as possible, including local beeswax,” Allie mentioned. “Our latest product, Ain’t No Better Body Butter has cocoa butter, shea butter, coconut butter, and macadamia nut oil as the ingredients.”

Sounds good enough to eat, doesn’t it?

Some of their products took longer to refine than others, and a couple had side benefits they hadn’t expected. “Our body butter smells like chocolate, and the sugar scrub smells like cookie dough,” Allie said.

(I was dying to smell this stuff, and was mentally placing an order on their website).

Allie designs the labels and Kate names the products, from Gimme Some Sugar, an exfoliating sugar scrub, to Bare Naked Balm, an unscented version of their Luscious Lips line. I suggest their “Ain’t No Better Body Butter” could be renamed to “Ain’t No Body Better Butter”. They humour me with a giggle and a nod.

The friends, who met working retail, started by selling their products at the local farmers’ market. That’s where I first met them, and I purchased the chai-scented lip balm after one sniff. They were also selling Dirty Hippie perfume, but I can’t say their signature scent appealed to me. Clearly, I was meant to stick to their sweet-smelling food-related products.

Both in their 20s, they delayed their move to the online world for more than a year. They wanted to make sure they had a sufficient variety of products, and that the products could sell themselves online. They launched www.KateandAllies.com in October.

Ranging from $4 to $18, their products are available individually or in gift baskets, with basket orders currently only available by e-mail. Customers can pay with PayPal, and items are shipped in 48 hours.

The site admittedly needs work, with some of the products still not listed, but it does the trick, especially in time for the holidays.

They are working on the next version of the website, so I hope they make sure that the description for the body butter includes that it smells like chocolate, since it will probably be one of its strong selling features.

I place my order online painlessly, receive a confirmation e-mail right away, and a call from Allie the following day to book my delivery time. Fortunately for me, Sault Ste. Marie customers have the added bonus of free personal shipping, and the option to pay cash on delivery.

My order is being delivered today, so I’d better run to the bank machine, since I don’t carry cash and they don’t take Visa.

Here are a few other practical, locally-made, gift ideas.

To put a sparkle in someone’s eye, buy stunning jewelry made by Jude Ortiz at the Art Gallery of Algoma.

If the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach, consider a gift certificate from one of our great local coffee shops or restaurants or buy Grade A beef from Penokean Hills Farms Inc www.penokeanhillsfarms.com (971-MEAT).

For music to their ears, think Bliss Media for hand-crafted speakers (253-3517).

To have them singing your praises, how about gift certificates for music lessons at the Algoma Conservatory? www.algomaconservatory.com (253-4373)

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