Making healing body products from plants must be in Trish Thomas’ blood. One of her grandmothers was an herbalist and naturopath, the other a horticulturist. This native Californian’s mother was a cosmetologist, medical esthetician, and a professor of anatomy and physiology.
“Starting around age four, my abuela (Spanish for grandmother) schooled me in how to heal myself by going into the garden, finding the right plant, and then how to prepare it for the ailment,” explains Thomas.
Thomas and her husband, Chris, have been putting Thomas’ early learning and her later education in such fields as holistic nutrition and herbal studies to good use founding Good Body Products. This company, on their homestead in Guilford, Vermont, makes certified organic, therapeutic body care products in small batches using homegrown and locally-sourced ingredients.
It all began when their newborn daughter’s very sensitive skin broke out in rashes.
“I drew on my own knowledge and experience that I had learned as a child from my abuela to help my baby,” says Thomas. “Using what I made in a few days, her rash and eczema disappeared and never came back.”
Soon some friends and family tried these products and reported back with high praise.
“Very quickly, the praises turned into order requests, and that’s what made us consider creating our own business,” says Thomas.
Using family loans and cashing in a 401K, Good Body Products was born with 16 products in 2013. They soon found their first retailer, the Brattleboro Food Coop.
To achieve greater success, they “harnessed their individual skills,” says Thomas. “I took on product formulation and batch-making. Chris took on most everything else. We used a do-it-yourself approach to many tasks that proves difficult for young companies to do without spending money, such as entering our business plan into a local business plan competition. We won a prize of $10,000.”
They received valuable consultation from several mentors, such as Christine Hume, founder of Green Mountain Salsa; local herbalist, Susan Stanton; and the Brattleboro based Windham Grows business incubator program. Now, they have over 45 different items and 30 retailers.
They employ two people full-time and a part-time farm manager and helpers. They have a medicinal micro-farm and production facilities. Chris and Trish, together with their other employees, do it all, including teaching herbal classes.
Good Body Products pride themselves on what they make.
“Our products are unique because we work with our organic plant ingredients to create powerful oil-infusions that go into nearly every product we manufacture,” notes Thomas. “Most body care makers use existing pre-made oils such as jojoba, coconut, safflower, apricot kernel, etc. We spend extra time, resources, and care to make these infusions in-house. Because we grow many of our ingredients, we are able to keep a high level of quality while maintaining competitive pricing.”
Just as in the early days, Thomas continues to be inspired by her own family’s needs, but also their responsive customers. Their customer base includes Vermont-style “athletes,” meaning loggers, construction workers and farmers. Their program, “Arnica Athletes,” has been endorsed by a professional snowboarder, drummer and ballerina, among others.
This mom and pop “shop” has found success in creating products to address skin issues (such as eczema and burns) and body aches and joint pain, deodorants, body and face scrubs, aromatic mists and more.
To see all their products visit www.goodbodyproducts.com.
Peg Lopata writes from Brattleboro, Vermont.