Bear’s Beauty is a brand that grew out of a strong desire to solve common skin problems. Jerra, creator of the brand, had been suffering from problematic skin most of her life and conventional skincare only made it worse while makeup merely covered rather than solve the problem. Out of a passion to heal her own skin, she developed a skincare line that not only did that, but helped others as well to overcome their years of struggle with acne. Jerra opens up freely and honestly about the challenges as a beauty entrepreneur and reveals just why Bear’s Beauty is so unique in the cruelty-free & vegan beauty industry.
How did your journey to become a natural beauty guru begin?
Hello Nourish Beauty Box subbers! I’m Jerra, owner and alchemist here at Bear’s Beauty. My journey to become a formulator actually began years before I started making products. In 2007, after the loss of my grandfather to Lymphoma, I started to research chemicals in our food and skincare.
“The more research I did, the more I felt that traditional chemical-filled products were more the problem than the solution.”
I struggled with acne pretty much from the age of 12 on through my mid-twenties. My skin was always oily and breaking out. I became obsessed with makeup and eventually became a bit of a guru in my circles, when it came to skin and hair. When I was younger, I wanted to be a vet and then a nurse, but eventually realized my desire to not touch gross stuff ruled out both, but I always hoped to find a career where I could do good and make a difference in the lives of those around me.
I eventually started beauty school, to no one’s surprise, but it was not quite what I expected. In 2012, after years of working in the salon industry, I hated my job and I was always sick. If it wasn’t the daily migraines, it was a sinus infection or my skin freaking out. On a whim, I picked up a book about natural skin solutions my mother had gotten me in 2010.
“Funnily enough, for most of my life and well into my twenties, I was very much “against” green beauty. My past experiences with “natural” skincare had left me with a negative feeling about them.”
I had tried the few brands on the market and none of them worked for my sensitive skin. For whatever reason, that night, something clicked for me. I decided to quit using anything that wasn’t edible, including perfume for one month. Through my research, I found that Hemp Oil might work for me. The rest, as they say, is history. Hemp Oil helped clear my skin, but purging the chemicals and fragrances also got rid of my migraines. Soon people started to notice that my skin was clear and I was happy. About this same time, I realized that I had to quit working in salons. I started to see the products I was using on customers as doing harm, and that was just not my jam.
“I borrowed $500 from my mother and we went to the local natural market. I took that $500 worth of bottles, oils, essential oils, and a few other magical herbs; and started creating.”
As fate would have it, I had a knack for organic chemistry and natural formulation. Within a few months I started my Etsy shop, and it has been my full-time gig ever since.
How does your company operate?
I am currently a one-woman operation day-to-day. My mother, a nurse of 40 years, helps with larger orders and the occasional project. I am also blessed with the help of my youngest brother. My youngest brother has epilepsy and cannot maintain a regular job. For me, being able to provide him with not only work, but a sense of purpose, is my biggest accomplishment to date. A little over two years ago, I moved from Atlanta to Indiana to be closer to my family and start building a dedicated studio. I now operate out of an almost 1800 square foot dedicated production studio in the Midwest.
“I make a range of over 200 items from scratch, using only the finest Organic and Wild-harvested botanicals available. My expertise is troubled and acne-prone skin, as well as inflammation and pain management.”
My wish is to share the love I have for natural & vegan products. These goodies have greatly increased my quality of life, that I cannot imagine not sharing them with the world.
More than that, I feel that products like deodorant and toothpaste, while they are not glamorous, have a huge impact on the daily burden on our bodies. As a brand, I am just starting to formulate a more cohesive strategy, but in general, I work hard and stay honest.
What’s behind your unique brand name?
For all my life, those closest to me called me “Jer-Bear.” Much like natural products, I rebelled against that name during my early years. I hated when my mother would call me “Bear” in front of people, and I hated even more when she would suggest that I try the “natural version.”
“When Bear’s Beauty was born, it was by the acceptance of who I always was, deep down; Bear.”
This approach to naming is also reflected in the way I select product names. I want people to easily recognize my products and what they are for. Bear’s Beauty products are so clean, and use synergistic combinations of botanicals that can have multiple benefits. Such as in the case of the Feminine Deodorant Spray currently featured in your boxes. I am a bit of a pragmatist when it comes to names.
“I think the ingredients are the stars really, and many names are simply homage to the stars of that formulation.”
To whom would you recommend your products?
My target audience is anyone who is tired of fighting with their skin. My struggles with acne really made me aware of just how detrimental it can be.
“I really want to show people that you can take good care of your skin, gently.”
I really love when customers come to me for help at their wits end, having tried everything on the market, and feeling frustrated. I know that I will have something that works for them, and if I don’t, that I can create something.
Since I’m focusing on people with problematic skin, it is extremely important that the ingredients I use are the best, organically sourced, vegan materials ever. I tend to source from a select group of sustainable organic suppliers.
“I use family-owned and small business suppliers anywhere I can. As I scale, I want to seek out as many small farmers and co-ops as possible, and ideally have a farm of our own one day.”
I want to start a sustainable farm project in countries where there is a shortage of resources. My hope, is that over the years, Bear’s Beauty will create jobs and food for people in need.
What kind of difficulties did you have to face while building your brand from the ground up?
I think the biggest hurdle was deciding if this was a business or a hobby. My family was supportive, but they all have traditional jobs.
“Quitting my job with only $500 and a dream was not exactly well received, less so when I chose hemp for the heart of my line.”
I think, like most entrepreneurs, I myself was my own biggest enemy and mostly I had to silence my own fears and just go for what I believed was right. This business became something that I loved, that I would do whatever needed to be done. It helped me grow up and find purpose in my life.
Bear’s Beauty became this gift the universe gave me, and one that I try daily to be deserving of. It has helped me to get sober, to move on from past trauma, and even brought me closer to the ones I love. More than that, I get to touch people’s lives in a positive way, and I get to play in sparkles and essential oils while I do it!
“One of the biggest obstacles has been keeping up with demand. The natural beauty market has grown so much over the last two years that I am forever working to scale to meet demand.”
I have been working on a plan for the last year that is coming to fruition as we speak, and will be the beginning of the next chapter in the evolution of Bear’s Beauty.
You have to love what you do. Whatever you choose to do in life you must believe in, and then you are unstoppable. Just know that there will be failures, but that each one has a lesson that you only have to learn once.
I also wanted to share a few interesting info about how we are scaling the business. Soon you’ll find us in Vosenna and our Etsy Store is also expanding. We also recently renovated our whole studio and upgraded the equipment we are working with. After the legalization of CBD (it’s a cannabis compound) in Indiana my wish to extend our hemp skin care line is becoming a reality and I cannot wait to see what the next year brings.
“Head to our website at bearsbeauty.com and use the code NEWBEAR15 to get 15% off your first order.”
Don’t forget to leave a feedback here at the Nourish E-shop, or on my site and if you have questions or special product wishes to treat your problem skin just shoot me a message!