Made in New England: Meet Janis Covey of Kosmatology
As a pharmacist, Janis Covey never imagined she’d be starting her own green beauty brand. But that all changed when her daughter suffered severe eczema as a baby. At the time, she didn’t realize how many chemicals were in the skincare and bath products she was using on her daughter. That’s when she made the switch to DIY products made with gentler, natural ingredients and what is now the bestselling Goody-Goody Grapefruit Lotion Bar was born. Since then, clean beauty brand Kosmatology has grown to offer a variety of products—from bug repellant to foaming hand soaps. We got to chat with founder Janis to discuss ingredient sourcing, her number one cheerleader, and a product she thinks everyone could use in their household!
R.K.: What made you start your brand? How did you first get the idea?
J.C.: I’m a pharmacist and have my doctorate in pharmacy, so I never expected to start a green beauty brand. When my daughter was three months old, she had severe eczema. Here I am with a kid covered in eczema and the doctor was prescribing really potent steroid creams, which I wasn’t comfortable with for a few reasons. For one, it can stunt your growth and thin your skin.
I started doing my own research, cut stuff out of my diet, and even switched over to a better laundry detergent but nothing was working. I then noticed that while I was buying organic lotions, everything had alcohol in it, which can be drying for sensitive skin. So I started playing with my own stuff, and our Goody-Goody Grapefruit Lotion Bar was born. I was able to avoid using all the harmful preservatives [in traditional cosmetics], and within a week my daughter’s skin looked so much better. As long as she’s using it, she’s good to go! The brand has branched from there.
R.K.: How do you source your ingredients?
J.C.: It’s all trial and error! I want to keep it as organic as possible, so I’m always looking for good companies that are USDA Certified. It takes a lot of research! We just turned four, so I now know which companies I trust and I always go to them first. You want that transparency. If you go to my website, you will find every ingredient list, which is important to me!
R.K.: What’s your favorite “must have” product?
J.C.: Our hand soap! Everybody uses hand soap, and you wash your hands eight to 10 times a day, so you don’t want to be washing them with harmful chemicals. It’s one of the easiest switches that everyone can make in their home!
R.K.: What did you have to learn the hard way? Any particular challenges along the way?
J.C.: I come from the science background, so the world of retail and starting a business was all so new to me! The good thing was that I already knew good manufacturing processes, but labeling and all of the backend stuff was a lot of time and effort. Every day, you’re learning something new!
R.K.: Has there been a benefit to starting your business in the New England area that you don’t think you’d get elsewhere?
J.C.: Yes! I feel like the whole New England region seems to be more aware of what’s in their products and what they’re eating. People seem to be more health conscious in this area at this point. It’s much easier offering a clean product to people who are already aware! People are even aware of how far their products travel these days, so being local to the area is a great perk.
R.K.: What would you love to see in the New England food and wellness scene that you don’t now?
J.C.: I’d love to see more clean eating establishments and food sourced locally! In the bigger cities, the farm-to-table movement is more widespread, but it’d be nice to see more of that here in the suburbs. We need to vote with our dollars!
R.K.: What other local food and wellness brands are you a fan of?
J.C.: I like FaceFood, who is out of Massachusetts. There’s a cool clothing line in Connecticut called The Two Oh Three, with hoodies and comfortable clothes all based on the 203 zip code area. I also love Maple Craft in Newtown, Conn. He does all flavored maple syrups like Bourbon Barrel.
R.K.: Who has been the greatest influence or role model in starting your business?
J.C.: The greatest influence to keep going is my mother. She’s my cheerleader, pushing me to do more. She’s always like, “Gotta keep going! You’re doing a great job!” If I need extra help or we’re completely overwhelmed, she’s always willing to help out or pack boxes.
R.K.: Where do you hope to see your brand in the next two years?
J.C.: I’m happy with how it’s growing! I want to keep growing slow and easing into it. I’d love to see us expand into some of the other green beauty retailers eventually, but I’m happy with where we are. It’s not overwhelming. Right now, we manufacture everything ourselves and I’d love to keep it all in house so I can ensure it’s made properly and no corners are cut. I don’t feel like we need to be a Blockbuster brand!
One of my goals is to keep the brand as affordable for families as possible.
R.K.: What advice would you give someone looking to start their own wellness or food business?
J.C.: Be patient, because success does not come overnight. The company you think has become an overnight success has probably been around for ten years. You’re not going to get discovered in a day! It’s a lot of work, a lot of time, and a lot of patience.
R.K.: Here at the W.E.L.L. Summit we like to say, “Your vibe attracts your tribe.” How would you describe your vibe?
J.C.: It’s the “mom vibe.” I’m a mom with two girls, eight and nine. A lot of my free time out of the business is for them. I love surrounding myself with other moms who want to do right by their kids and give them a great childhood!
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