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Company: One Love Organics
What: 100% organic, preservative-free skincare products
Founder: Suzanne LeRoux
CFO & husband: Chase LeRoux
Children: Chip and Hayes, ages seven and eight
Made in: St. Simons, Georgia
One Love Organics founder Suzanne LeRoux quit her job in law after she had her first son to focus on being a mom and developing her own natural line of skincare products. A few years—and another son later—she's running the show with her CFO husband Chase out of a manufacturing facility on St. Simons, a barrier island off the coast of Georgia. What's more impressive? She's producing an award-winning product line that's so natural you'd feel comfortable putting it on a baby's skin—all by word-of-mouth. We talked about why she left law, the moment she realized she'd "made it," raising two helpful sons, Chase's inspiring and philosophical approach to life, and what's-to-come for the ever-expanding company.
What kind of law were you practicing and what inspired you to switch gears?
I was in estate and small business planning. When my first son was born, I had a super nesting instinct and I knew I couldn't go back. I just didn't have it in me anymore to keep practicing law. I began making recipes out of our garage, which we outfitted into a clean room, and people loved them.
Beauty was always my hobby, kind of like how some people quilt or garden. After I graduated from law school, I started studying holistic nutrition, herbs and aromatherapy on the side.
It must've been incredibly difficult starting up a business with two boys so close in age!
It was. I will laugh and tell anybody: If you want more than one, space them out! Having them 19 months apart just about killed me. But, now they're seven and eight and it's so much easier. They fight a lot, but they're my buds.
Do they help?
Yes, they come up here to make sample packs for (allowance money) and they love it. It's hectic, but we're all here together, and that is what has been truly fun and amazing about our story. My sons were the ones to give me feedback on all the scents. I would put a fragrance up to their noses and their reactions were just as genuine as you could possibly get. They either liked it and wanted more, or they'd wrinkle their noses. No agenda, no preconceived notions.
Are you still working out of the house?
We grew out of our home within six months. We have the cutest little micro manufacturing facility on the industrial part of our island, which is where we put our time and money. There are seven of us now.
When did Chase leave the law firm and join you full time?
Last March. We missed each other. It's hard working with your spouse, I'm not gonna lie about that, but after a few years where you know each other's day and you go to lunch and all that, it's hard not to.
I bet you still practice a ton of law as entrepreneurs.
We do! We read legal contracts every day. It's not easy working a small business, but I knew the pros and cons going into it because my parents ran a small drugstore when I was growing up.
Do you think your exposure to their store had a direct impact on you going into the field?
Not directly, but beauty was always my thing. When I was 13, other girls might've saved up for the new Def Leppard album, but I saved up for a new lip gloss. Beauty was always my escape. I loved the packaging and the smells.
Do you remember the first product you ever owned?
My strongest memory is the Vidal Sassoon shampoo at the drugstore that smelled like cherries.
Where does the name "One Love" come from?
Once I became a mom, I realized that whatever we do can have a complete and total effect back on our children, and that was really heavy for me. It felt like a big responsibility. Negativity is a cycle, and it made me want to congregate love; that the best thing that we can do with our days is to love one another. I very much teach my kids to be good to each other and to other people.
What was the first product you made for the company?
The Skin Savior balm, which is our hero product and best seller. It's a "do-it-all" cleansing and moisturizing balm, and a family product that you can leave on the counter or on the side of the tub. Fun story: Rachel Zoe ordered some without us knowing, and she wrote about it on The Zoe Report back when they only featured one product a day. So I'm home with the kids, and I'm in an apron, and the orders start coming in like ticker tape. I'm like: "What is going on?" And then the site shut down.
Rachel Zoe shut down your site! What did you do?
We got it back up.
Was that the moment that changed everything for you?
It was. I'm so grateful to her.
What makes that product so successful?
Honestly? It works. We have this rare little formula. It has supercritical chia extract oil made for us in Germany, which is extracted through carbon dioxide. It's one of the most advanced techniques on the market. We work hard to create or collect ingredients that are out of this world from around the world.
Where do you scout ingredients?
That's the fun part—that's my passion. I look everywhere all the time. I do the shows and conventions and meet with ingredients suppliers, but I also look in unexpected places as well.
Top secret spots?
Yes. I like to keep a little mystery. There's a lot of competition. People are always like: "Where does One Love find their ingredients?" All I'll say is: I look everywhere and I'm always shopping.
What's a typical day like for you?
We get in and we make a run every single day. We have our shipping in-house. We answer customer service questions. We try to do a little bit of PR every day to keep ourselves out there. We work with retailers. I do all the retailer training.
How are you building out the brand?
Really through word-of-mouth. We don't have an advertising budget, so again, it comes down to products that work. And we knew they'd have to. When we sat down, we knew this was a crazy industry and that people spent millions of dollars on their products and packaging, so we knew we had to focus on products that work and excellent customer service. We must spend 10-20 times more on our ingredients than a big company. If you buy from us, you're getting tons of concentrated ingredients in amounts that larger companies wouldn't dare.
How can you get away with it?
Because we're making them ourselves.
Do you have any new products coming out?
Our Vitamin C body oil just launched last week as part of our ongoing collaboration with beauty blogger Elizabeth Dehn. This is the first product for us that our customers dictated. It's super hydrating. It has Vitamin C ester that will help lighten skin and fade dark spots gently, and it's a powerful antioxidant which is very important. People wear and talk about sunscreen, but they don't talk about antixoidants, and that's the main thing that fights the free radicals.
Which products would you recommend for someone who's unfamiliar with the line?
Our Skin Savior balm and Easy Does It foaming cleanser. If you've got hormonal issues and oily combo skin and everything's going crazy but you want your routine to be super low-maintenance, those are all you need. You can use Easy Does It as a hair and body wash, moisturizer, or mask. And you can do everything else with Skin Savior. When I travel, it's all about those two products. But if your skin needs extra attention, like if you live in a dry or windy climate, then Elizabeth's line is absolutely the answer.
The first ingredient in Skin Savior is coconut oil and yet it's touted as being excellent for clearing up acne. How does that work?
People are so afraid to use it, but they get great results. Why? You have this powerful combination of Vitamins A, C, and E, Omega 3s and Zinc.
Do you test out products on your friends?
Yes! We test, test, test. Chase and I test everything first, but all the ingredients we use are already recognized as safe on the GRAS list.
Would you ever branch out into makeup?
No. I think there are companies out there who do makeup amazingly well. Blending colors for skin type is an art. I paint with watercolors and makeup companies paint with oils, and it's just a different medium. But I'm happy to revel in theirs and not want to get into it.
Are there any products you're not currently producing that you'd like to visit down the road?
I want to do a good sunscreen, so that is something we continue to work on behind the scenes, but it's classified as a drug, so we'll have to go through testing and work with a federally recognized drug lab.
How do you find balance?
We don't. I feel like the one thing I can do for people is at least tell the truth and not try to run a PR campaign on my own life. So I will tell you that the kids are up here with us frequently. We eat yogurt a lot for dinner. It's all very hectic.
I love Chase's equation to a better life: Consume less + spend less = freedom.
I'm so proud of him and his philosophy, and my quality of life has definitely improved since I met him. Before he started, he said: "I don't want to be a part of anything where we're enticing people to buy things they don't need. Whatever we do, it has to be the highest quality and a real value. They can get mediocre somewhere else." He uses and tests everything with me. He is definitely our quality control guy. He's the same with his jeans and his shoes. He says that when you buy the best, you buy it one time.
Can you please share a few words of advice for young entrepreneurs?
Have patience, diligence, and a good sense of humor. Those three things will carry you and your business.
Thank you so much, Suzanne! Below are a few of her favorite things.
Suzanne LeRoux's Favorite Things:
Favorite thing about living in St. Simons?
Its mysterious beauty and warm weather. St. Simons has amazing and rarely crowded beaches, moss-draped great oaks, sandy lanes and creek-fed pockets of marsh. We also have a lot of wild animals that are fun to spot: turtles, marsh hens, heron, deer, alligators, dolphins, armadillo, wild boar, and we do occasionally see a bald eagle.
Favorite trip in the U.S.:
When I graduated from law school, my older brother and I went to Arizona for a week. It was immediately after I took the Georgia bar and I was in desperate need of R & R. We had so much fun discovering the spa scene in Scottsdale, the vortexes in Sedona, Montezuma Castle, the Grand Canyon, and America's largest ghost town, Jerome. The main reason it was my favorite trip is that my brother and I had that time together. We were too young at the time to understand that once we had families, careers, and time constraints that it would be impossible to take off on a road trip with just the two of us, so I really treasure those memories.
Favorite American-made brand:
I am a big fan of Wondermade Marshmallows. They are crafted by a husband and wife team in Orlando, Florida. They constantly have new flavors and they say they are made with "100% sweet magic air," and darn it, I believe them. On holidays and special occasions, you will find these in our home.
One American-made product you own and love:
We have a Vitamix and we use it all the time to make smoothies, soups, and homemade dressings. It is 5 years old and we have certainly have put it to the test.
Five things that make you happiest:
My husband, Chase. I consider my marriage to be the true treasure of my life. My two sons, Chip and Hayes. I really enjoy watching them grow. My dog Maggie. She is a 10 pound little ball of white fur and our whole family treats her like a baby. Finally, my job. I am so blessed to go to a job everyday that I love.
Most treasured possession:
My favorite saying is that I treasure the people in my life, not the things. I think people are often the most overlooked asset in life. I cannot name one thing that I cannot let go of as long as I have my people (and animal). Nothing.