We had the good fortune of connecting with Lydia Gibson, owner of Eva Jenae Naturals, and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Lydia, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
This all actually started out of a need. My daughter began experiencing dry, scaly skin when she was about 1 year old and was diagnosed with eczema. Her doctor prescribed greasy, messy creams that weren’t helpful which lead me to exploring more natural options to soothe her skin. What I learned was that even some products labeled “all natural” still contained chemicals, perfumes, and other ingredients that further irritated her delicate skin. I wanted to trust what I was putting on her skin and I felt the only way to do that was to create my own plant-based products for my family to use. I started sharing these products with my friends and coworkers who loved them and encouraged me to sell them rather than just giving them away.

At that time, I was working full time and in graduate school with two small children, so starting a business didn’t even seem possible. I jumped at the chance to launch Eva Jenae Naturals after I had to resign from my job and move from Florida to Ohio because of my husband’s military orders. Though I officially launched the business in 2011, I’ve been making products since 2006.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?

Eva Jenae Naturals is all about promoting beautifully healthy skin and hair with nourishing, plant-based products. I pride myself on creating products that soothe as well as nourish the body from head to toe.   My brand is proof that products can be simple, yet effective. I thrive on the belief that nature provides all we need to achieve our healthiest skin and hair. All the plant-based ingredients used have a purpose, are purchased from responsible suppliers, and are 100% natural and/or organic. No synthetic fragrances, parabens or petroleum are ever used and we never test products on animals.
The journey has been far from a cakewalk and I was forced to be resourceful from day one of launching my business. Initially, a lack of funding was a major issue. I had to resign my job and was unemployed when we moved due to my husband’s military orders, so it wasn’t possible to take funds from my household to start the business. I had to start other “side-hustles” and withdrew money from my retirement account in order to fund my start-up. I started my inventory slowly and even built some of the equipment I needed rather than purchase new items. I learned early on how to be creative with sourcing raw materials and getting the equipment needed to be successful.

That was over 10 years ago. Today Eva Jenae Naturals has grown from one body butter recipe to over thirty products. Our product line includes five collections: Skin, Face, Handcrafted Soaps & Shampoo Bars, Hair, and Men’s Grooming.

The transparency in my story separates my business from others in my industry. I encourage my customers to read labels and educate themselves on what they are putting on their skin. I don’t sell the unrealistic fantasy of perfect skin, I encourage my customers to strive for their healthiest skin instead. My story also makes my business different. I use my story of overcoming a painful childhood riddled with physical, sexual and mental abuse; a drug-addicted mother; and homelessness as a testament to overcoming the odds.

At first I was just looking for something to soothe my daughter’s skin. That lead me to a passion for helping others to achieve healthy skin by creating plant-based skincare products that people could trust. Encouraging them to know what they were putting on their skin became empowering. Now I realize that my business can be much more than producing and selling skin and hair care. My vision is to use Eva Jenae Naturals as a platform to promote self-love, empowerment, and community involvement.

The defining moment in my entrepreneurial journey was when I realized that I could create the life I want to live through entrepreneurship. That’s what drives me daily. I want to work on my own terms to promote my own vision, not someone else’s. Not saying there’s anything wrong with working for someone, we all do what we have to to provide for our families, but I just know that that does not fulfill me.

In the next 5 to 10 years I see myself retiring early as an employee from my current position and working on my business full time. I’d love to open a store that not only sells my products, but educates others on how to properly care for their skin and hair with classes and other events. I see Eva Jenae Naturals not only thriving as a skincare company, but embedded into a community as a change agent. I also want to be able to use my lessons learned to help other small business owners on their entrepreneurial journey.

I’ve learned two vital lessons on my journey. The first is that people don’t buy the product, they’re buying your story. There are tons of companies selling the same types of products, but MY story draws them in. The second is to be your own damn cheerleader! Not everyone will see your vision or understand your why, so stop trying to convince them. It’s YOUR vision, so it’s up to you to execute it! Wake up and work towards your goals EVERY day!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
First of all, we’d take daily walks (weather permitting) through Piedmont Park or the Botanical Gardens and just take in all the beautiful greenery! Centennial Olympic Park would also be an option. The National Center for Civil and Human Rights always makes the list. I’d make a couple of trips to explore the New Black Wallstreet Market. Bruch would be a must and we’d explore Breakfast at Barney’s, get into some Jamaican cuisine at Dat Fire Jerk Chicken, and sip a cup of tea at Just Add Honey Tea Shop.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Definitely my husband Brandon and our kids Brandon II and Eva for being my support system. They’ve stepped in to pack orders, pick up supplies, and even help with shooting and editing videos and music. I’d also like to thank my siblings who were instrumental in developing my perseverance and drive as a youngster.

Website: https://evajenaenaturals.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/evajenaenaturals

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EvaJenaeNaturals

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw8e_EjbpnKj51L5XaTpx6w

Image Credits
Ali Wolfe Photography (1st 3 images) Tiffiney Cornish (last 3 images)

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutAtlanta is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.