For most of her childhood, Nieves Rathbun traveled the mountain ranges of the West Coast led by her bohemian father. After starting out in natural body care at V'Tae Parfum and Body Care custom-blending perfume and aromatherapy blends, she donned various hats at Zia Natural Skincare. Rathbun started making her own products in 2001 and eventually founded By Nieves in 2008.The company creates handmade body care comprised of organic ingredients, and has recently rolled out some innovative new SKUs.
By Nieves’ latest rollout is Face Fix, a clay facial scrub/mask made with organic herbs such as willow bark, comfrey root, licorice root and rose petals. Her products are available online (www.bynieves.com
) and at independent spas and boutiques in California.
Rathbun took time to chat with Happi about her unique personal care collection.
Happi: How did you start the company?
NR: I’ve been in the industry for 17 years. I first became interested in herbal medicine as a teen, started my career in natural body care at V'Tae Parfum and Body Care (in Nevada City, CA) where I managed their retail store and scent bar, I did perfume and aromatherapy blends on the spot with essential oils and fragrance oils, what a great entry into aromatherapy!
I then spent some years at Zia Natural Skincare where I did consumer education and dabbled in marketing and product development. I made the scent for their body butter.
I have continued to educate myself and have studied with Jeanne Rose (founder of New Age Creations, the first body-care company in the U.S. to use aromatherapy and director of the Institute of Aromatic Studies) and Mollie Jensen (another aromatherapist). After a certain point it was hard to buy products. You start to know how formulating works and what the ingredients are and it isn’t very appealing. I wanted products that I could really feel good about using and also of course I wanted results. I started making products for myself and found that my friends wanted similar solutions so after enough great response and results from friends and family I started By Nieves.
By Nieves recently rolled out Face Fix.
What are the key ingredients in your products and why?
NR: I use simple nutrient rich oils such as jojoba, evening primrose and coconut oil, which are all very stable and have great benefits for the skin. Essential oils like benzoin, cedar and juniper also provide stability to the oil-based formulas as well as providing aromatherapy qualities. Because I don’t try to mix oil and water I don’t have to use any emulsifiers, surfactants or synthetic preservatives. I use organic ingredients wherever possible.
Happi: Do you have plans to expand distribution soon and add more products to the brand?
NR: I have fairly humble plans for expansion I’d like to have more independent spas and boutiques carrying my products, I’d like to have more internet retail orders but I’m not really hunting the big guys, slow expansion feels right to me.
As for new products, I just launched Face Fix (a facial scrub and mask made with organic herbs and clay), which took about two years of research, formulating and testing. I’m still in the afterglow of getting that baby out of the house.
Happi: How has the industry responded to your products? How about consumers?
NR: I’m not really sure that the industry has noticed me, I’m pretty small beans. Friends I have in the industry all love my products, which is very validating. As far as consumers go, I get great feedback. I love getting the glowing emails with lots of exclamation points. It’s also really gratifying when folks have great results and can feel good about their skin, sometimes for the first time in a long time.
Happi: What makes By Nieves products unique from others in the marketplace?
NR: By Nieves products are simple yet effective formulas that produce great results. For an ingredient savvy person, it’s a relief to read the contents and be able to understand what’s in the products. I think another thing that sets the company apart is that I’m very sincere and serious about the natural aspect but I’m not overly sweet about it.
Happi: Do you have a favorite By Nieves product? If so, why?
NR: I love all the products of course, that’s why I make them! But I’d have to say the C Perfect Skin is the most indispensable. It has really improved the health and clarity of my skin. I wish I would have had it in my twenties when I was breaking out worse than my teen years!