Today I have the pleasure of presenting Tisha Howell of Skinfolk. Not only does she craft divinely decadent multi-purpose, creamy butter blends (can you tell I’m a fan?), but she also makes bath and foot soaks, and offers genuine African black honey and African black soap. Thanks to Tisha for sharing her craft with us.
1. Please describe your background. How did you come to make such decadent body and hair butters, soaks, and other products? What do you do when you’re not making them?
My background is similar to many others… following a well beaten path to the cubicle after I didn’t discover my calling within the parameters of time set forth by western society.
By my early 20’s acne was destroying my face AND self-esteem. I tried everything from expensive dermatologists to inexpensive infomercials…. Still breakouts! Makeup and cover up, still redness, pock marks and oily but dry skin that was wrinkling before its time. I finally decided to take action into my own hands! So I began reading and ordering anything and everything natural that promised to work. Once I started using a pure African Black Soap and Shea Butter I was hooked… my face glowed and my lesions began to heal, I was amazed. Only one problem… pure and true indigenous products are extremely hard to come by, and when you do, VERY expensive! I decided that I had something to offer… to humankind by offering a better way of life to villagers who have no other means of making money, to the environment to encourage rain forest conservation, and to others like me suffering with angry skin.
When I’m not creating I don’t get a chance to do very much with downtime… between raising a son, keeping a house, and maintaining my sanity… yeah, not much time!
2. What is your favorite butter and why? (Feel free to name a few if you cannot decide.)
My products are like my children, I try very hard not to play favorites. 🙂 It actually varies from day to day depending on what I’m working on at the time. I’m fickle like that!!! But right now, it is Eden. I have added a bit of resins to the aromatherapy and it has a sweet, spicy sensual smell that makes you feel like a lady… sexy!
I would say that a client favorite has to be Superfruit! The sweet and citrus essential oil blend calls, and the softening mango butter always pleases!
3. Describe your creative process. How do you usually get ideas for a new product, and what is your process for creating and testing that product?
My creativity comes and goes similar to the wind. It will come in waves of emotion and will take up full days with mixing and matching precious oils with butters, or days that are dry as the desert and I can’t pray for an idea. I try not to get ahead of God, I am chosen to walk this path by Him and try not to make things just to please man, but do my best for the lives I’m destined to affect.
I test the products on friends and family who have lovingly encouraged me from the start. They have learned to be painfully honest when I need to begin again!
4. What I love about your butters is that they are all natural with raw and organic butters, organic, unrefined oils, and your own unique oil infusions and essential oil blends: truly synergistic healing and nourishing products that can be used for hair, face, body, feet, and more. Can you talk a bit about the history and traditions you draw on for making such intentional and powerful products?
Prior to Skinfolk, I tried out the name Common Scents. I used that name to explain my basic approach to skin care. Why continue to reinvent the wheel? Nature got it right the first time. My opinion is to keep it simple and rich at the same time. Seemingly simplistic butters and salves, yet rich in love, prayer, and healing power. With my intentions lined up with the Greater Good, how can I fail?
Also, my grandmother. She always wanted to become a business woman, but being born into the segregated south before the 1920’s didn’t really allow that. Even so, with 7 children in tow, she tried an ice cream shop and a hamburger joint! I am so very proud of her relentless, never give up spirit, and although she has passed on and never got to physically see that her passion lives on in me. She was an expert baker, and I use a lot of her techniques in my creations. Ashante!
The Balm hands down! I am so proud of that product… many people have received relief from this amazing healer and I am just proud to have been a part of its creation.
6. Can you describe the best feedback you’ve ever received, or describe an interaction that you had that made you feel good about your creations?
Each and every interaction in which a person actually sees my light shining, and values my creations as gifts from The Creator. The meeting suddenly takes on new meaning and it transcends above a simple money transaction. Once while at a farmer’s market, a sister walked up rather sheepishly (because of her dress, I understood she struggled with homelessness) and showed me her cracked and oozing fingertips and asked if I had anything for healing and pain. When I gave her a jar of Karite, the look of appreciation and common understanding was the best feedback EVER. I try to always remember why I began this journey in the first place.
7. What plans do you have for your shop in 2011? What should we be looking out for?
Just keeping it open… I have several ideas that have been pressing me for months, but like pregnancy, you can’t rush the process. A couple of items will be added to complete the perfect organic home facial, as well as a foot scrub, … perhaps a healthy breast salve…lol, just one breast!
For beautiful handcrafted purses…Jacobseye
For amazing earthy jewelry…..Lunaversoul and PeaceImages
For amazing smelling soy candles…. Zabanaessentials
For cleverly recycled burlap coffee bags….CleverCatBags
Apologies for those I hadn’t the room to list… but my Etsy favorites are FULL!
9. What advice would you give to budding artisans who are looking to present their wares to the public?
Make sure this is what you are called to do! If you aren’t generally a people person, don’t do it! If you don’t like sleepless nights AND mornings, just say no! But, if you are aligned with your purpose… don’t prepare, just follow! All will work out for your good. Advice from other (especially naysayers) won’t help you on your unique path. Love yourself and KNOW!
My deepest gratitude for sharing with me… blessings!