We had the good fortune of connecting with Anna Jackson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Anna, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I started Ocean House Apothecary because I saw a gap in the marketplace for fun, safe, effective skincare products for kids. I had built a community of women who looked to me for recommendations for high-performance, toxin-free personal care and household products and I consistently struggled to find kids’ products that met these requirements. I started out by making body and facial balms, lotion bars, and lip balms and tested everything on my own two kids (as well as my husband and myself — and any willing friends and family!). I knew I wanted to use only simple, safe, high quality ingredients, but I also wanted them to be FUN so that kids would actually want to use them, rather than having it be a chore. So I found some cute animal-shaped molds for lotion bars, and picked scents that kids like to lightly scent my products. They were such a hit that soon adults started asking for more scent options and additional products, so I started experimenting with things like whipped body butters, facial serums, bath bombs, sugar scrubs, lip gloss, highlighter sticks … and I’ve never looked back!
From the beginning, I have focused on keeping my products as affordable as possible while not compromising on the quality of my ingredients, and on using reusable or recyclable packaging where possible. I believe that everyone should have access to great skincare, because what we put ON our bodies – not just what we put IN them – impacts our health and overall well-being, We all deserve simple, fun, safe skincare!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
There are a lot of handmade, “natural” products out there these days, but what I hear consistently from my clients is that they appreciate having products that are truly safe and easy to use that also smell amazing, and that I offer a variety of scent combinations and seasonal options. As one person put it, “I mean I like lavender but sometimes I want something different!”. I personally love having options when it comes to skincare because our skin changes with the seasons and as we age, and aromatherapy can have a significant impact on our mental and emotional well-being.
I have always loved bath and body products and skincare in general. I recall going into a Garden Botanika store in junior high and falling in love with smelling and testing all of the products. I’ve also always had a strong creative side that I realized after having my children had been neglected for far too long. But I’m actually an attorney by training, and I never dreamed that I could turn what I had always viewed as just a hobby into a way to help support my family. After having my second son, the idea of returning to a job with unpredictable seasonal hours just didn’t fit into the type of parent I wanted to be. My husband and I were able to figure out a way for me to continue to be home with both of our boys, and while I loved the time with them, there was a part of me that yearned for more connection with other people, to help other people, and to offer something to the world that was truly my own.
A good friend suggested I become an advocate for a new toxin free, high performance clean beauty brand started by two moms, and after sampling the products and learning more about the company’s mission of spreading ingredient education I was all in! I learned so much about ingredients, product formulation, and the negative health impacts most main stream beauty products can have, and I slowly cultivated a community of women who looked to me for recommendations for clean beauty and household products. I’m still an advocate for this company – Crunchi – today, and cannot stress enough what an impact this incredible community of women and education has had on me, and on me taking the leap to start my own skincare business.
When I realized I wasn’t able to provide good recommendations for kids’ skincare products, I started experimenting with making body balms, lotion bars, and lip balms in my kitchen at night after putting my kids to bed. I would spend hours every night testing different formulations and scent combinations, and after a few months felt confident enough in what I had created to offer samples to friends and family. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and with the help and support of my husband, I had some professional product photos taken, got a website up and running, and Ocean House Apothecary was born.
One of the biggest things I want to share with other aspiring creatives is don’t let a lack of formal training or education hold you back from starting your dream business! I have a law degree, as mentioned above, but my true passion has always been in skincare. I did my own initial ingredient and product formulation research, but mostly I did A LOT of trial and error testing and have been learning as I go ever since. I might pursue further education in herbalism and skincare formulation someday, but If I had waited to start my business until I did so I know I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live with my husband, two sons, and two cats in beautiful Olympia, Washington. Where I would take a dear friend depends in part on the time of year – if she were visiting in the summer, for example, we would spend time on the water and dining al fresco, but if it was near the holidays we’d be doing more things like wine tasting and visiting a Christmas tree farm. But let’s say it’s spring time, just for fun! I would start by taking her for coffee and the best French pastries in town at Left Bank Pastry, and then we would head over to the Olympia Farmers’ Market for some shopping. Afterwards, we’d do lunch at Mercato Ristorante in the Market District and then rent kayaks from Tugboat Annie’s and explore Bud Bay.
I’m definitely a “foodie,” so we would spend a good chunk of time hitting up my favorite local spots! Mandatory stops/visits would include breakfast smoothies and bowls from Stellar Juices, coffee and mini-cheesecakes (from Teasecakes by Francesca) at Ebony & Ivory Coffee, margaritas and poblano enchiladas from Koko’s Lounge, local oysters and hand-crafted cocktails from Chelsea Oyster Farms, handmade gelato from Sofie’s Scoops, French onion soup and baguette from The Bread Peddler, seaweed salad and sushi rolls from Asahi Sushi, and amazing wood-fired pizza and espresso martinis from Pizzeria La Gitana.
Other activities we’d do include taking a long walk at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, viewing cormorants’ nests along the Woodard Bay Trail, taking our boat out along Henderson Inlet and stopping at nearby Boston Harbor Marina for a beer or soft serve ice cream cone, and cooling down by the waterfalls at Tumwater Falls Park.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I could not have started Ocean House Apothecary without the help and incredible support of my husband, Dennis. He was the one who urged me to start a real business, rather than just continuing to make skincare products as a hobby. He helped create my website, business name and logo (and even got it copyrighted), and has been my biggest cheerleader from the beginning. His entrepreneurial spirit and drive have been a big source of inspiration for me, and it’s been so fun to watch it rub off on our kids as well.
Keith Fisher of 1up Creative Media