28 Litsea – Making The Leap From Counselor to Small-Batch Hero
We last worked with Christine and her amazing brand 28 Litsea back in February 2021 when her Wild Citrus Body Oil sold out almost immediately. This month, we’re incorporating her Red Ginger Body Oil in our box and have taken a deeper delve into her brand and business to see what makes it tick. Read on to find out more :
Hi Christine, we’re so thrilled to have you back on board! To those who aren’t familiar with 28 Litsea, please introduce yourself and your brand.
My name is Christine Cunningham and I am the owner of Boston based 28 Litsea. We offer a line of products that currently consists of small batch lip balms, body scrubs, and body oils made with only clean ingredients.
Creating products was something I started doing about twelve years ago as a way to re-charge from my job as a counselor. At that time, I started becoming more mindful of what I was putting in and on my body. I grew an awareness of the ingredients in many of the products I was using and started researching cleaner alternatives. Making my own products allowed me to hand-pick ingredients and formulate a line of products with the goal of encouraging others to take care of themselves and to feel good about what they were putting on their skin.
How did you come up with such a unique brand name?
I often get asked where the name comes from. Litsea is an essential oil that I have always been drawn to because of its beautiful, bright and uplifting scent. It is an oil prized for its anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and stimulating properties. The positive, uplifting and energizing qualities of this versatile oil embody everything my brand represents.
“The number 28 honors my dad (his birthday fell on February 28th). He was an educator and I followed in his footsteps by receiving my master's degree in education.”
He had a major influence on my life and always supported me. 28 Litsea is my heart and soul that I balance with my full-time work as a school counselor.
What do you think differentiates you from other competing brands out there?
I am proud to be a female founded, small business. Being a one-woman show means that I have the great opportunity to be involved in all aspects of my company from sourcing every ingredient, creating all my products and packaging orders. When someone uses my products, I want them to feel the love and intention that went into making them.
“The goal of my company has always been to formulate a line of small-batch, high quality, multi-sensory products that are effective, affordable, and most importantly free of harmful chemicals.”
My products are simple steps that can be added to any skincare routine.
How do you select your ingredient & packaging suppliers?
With only a few exceptions, I have been using the same ingredient suppliers for years which has allowed me to build close relationships. I know where my ingredients come from and the mission behind the companies I partner with.
I am always researching more sustainable options for my packaging. Right now, Blended With Flowers Exfoliant For Body comes in a jar made from PCR (post-consumer resin). This means it is made from water bottles / soda bottles that are collected and reprocessed into new packaging instead of ending up in landfills. It is such a great option that I hope will be available soon for my other products.
What is the toughest thing about being a small business owner, and how do you overcome it?
There are so many positive things about being a small business owner and creating your own brand. Like many people, I think the biggest struggle I have is with balancing it all. My job as a school counselor can be very draining and there are times when I have had to make hard decisions which have impacted the growth of 28 Litsea. You often have to go with your gut instinct on what is best for you personally and for the brand. Creating products and running my business is something I am so passionate about. Ultimately, taking risks and making those hard decisions is what helps us grow.
How important is social media to your growing business?
Social media has been essential for connecting with my customers, bloggers, retail partners and other brands. Instagram and Facebook are the main platforms I use. Although the algorithm has made it very hard for small companies, I still value social media for the relationships I have developed and the ability to share the spirit around my brand. I would love to have you follow along with our Instagram and Facebook pages!
Do you support any charities or movements?
Animal rights and being a cruelty-free company is very important to me. All my suppliers are vetted to make sure they have this same mission and standards.
I am also fortunate to have connected with an organization called YW Boston. They are dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. Part of the proceeds from the launch of our special recycled canvas bag and body oil go to support their programs.
Who do you admire in the clean beauty space and do you work with any mentors?
Over the years, I have been inspired by so many other brand founders. Josh Rosebrook is someone who I truly respect and admire. I use his entire line of beautiful products and have been grateful for all his guidance and advice. Last November he chose Wild Citrus Body Oil as one of his favorites in the winter issue of New Beauty magazine. This was such a huge thrill for me.