Olio Skin & Beard Co.: Building Mindfulness and Self-Care in Sugar House
For nearly eight years, Derek and Jennifer Williamson have been using natural, organic and predominantly vegan processes to create their Olio Skin and Beard Co. products. “We’re mindful of what we’re making and how we’re making it,” Derek says. As Co-founders of Olio, they provide Salt Lake City residents and visitors with beard oil, face and body oil and salt scrubs. Their modest beginnings at a booth at the Wheeler Sunday Market have evolved into a Sugar House studio housing a greatly expanded self-care product line, including products for skin, tattoos, babies, beard and hair as well as soaps.
The Williamsons spend roughly a year creating each new product, from initial concepts to store shelves, with three-to-four products in the creation process at any given time. What the product will be used for is the first question they ask themselves, and this affects the decisions taking place afterward. For instance, will it be for cleaning or moisturizing?
“That’s where our science comes in, is figuring out how deep in your skin we want the product to sink,” Derek says. Each oil in consideration is judged by its absorption rate and molecular size, not just for its aroma. These considerations aid in eventual use, such as skin preparation for shaving or scalp rejuvenation. Most components that go into each product are sourced locally, with many of the minerals coming from the Redmond Minerals mining company and other components, such as beeswax, from local suppliers.
“We look at [Salt Lake City] as a stronger community when more people are doing what we do.”
Once construction of a new product has met the desired criteria established by Olio Skin & Beard Co., Jennifer and Derek begin the initial testing and include family and friends in this process. They then provide it for regulars, and it’s finally considered ready for sale “when our regulars come back to us and want more,” Derek says. At this point, routine manufacturing begins but is never rushed, regardless of demand. The Williamsons place a great deal of attention on having a small environmental footprint and manufacturing in the “cleanest, most sanitary and eco-friendly way we possibly can,” Derek says.
In an effort to teach the community about natural products that can replace the commonly used, chemically laden ones within many homes, Olio Skin & Beard Co. provide a DIY
line as well as construction workshops (on hold during COVID-19). The motivation for this is two-fold. First, “We look at [Salt Lake City] as a stronger community when more people are doing what we do. It’s educating more people [and] there’s enough business for it to all go around,” Derek says. Second, mainstream products are often harmful to the environment and neither organic nor natural, even when they’re labeled as such. The DIY products and classes help educate customers, reduce chemicals in the environment and assist in the mindfulness that self care provides. An additional benefit that the workshops have created is customers starting their own businesses with the craft they learned.
Soap is a relatively recent addition to the Olio product line and is now one of the most popular. It found its way into the store from a collaboration with Amin Kees (@bee_smooth_skincare) who taught Olio Skin & Beard Co. the ropes of soap crafting. When moving away from Salt Lake City, she simply said, “You guys are going to do this now.”
“Breathing and mindfulness is paramount to the quality of our products.”
This became the medium that allows for most Olio Skin & Beard Co. artistic features to truly shine through. Each piece has varied earth tones and unique changes over time from use. “Every bar of soap is a piece of art; every bar of soap is like a fingerprint,” says Derek. These fingerprint creations are assisted by day-to-day motivation from Jennifer’s meditation teachings and the Jimmy Buffett tracks that are usually playing in the studio. “Breathing and mindfulness is paramount to the quality of our products,” Derek says.
The newest addition Olio Skin & Beard Co. has made available to the community—and arguably a culmination of everything they have learned thus far—is their Live Skin Care line, a set of self-care products composed of all-natural ingredients such as carrots, rosemary and ginger. “It’s made from the same stuff we’re eating, so we need to treat it as such,” says Derek. The first member to this line is a nourishing tonic, and other products will soon join the team. Skin and scalp sprays have completed their initial testing and received positive feedback from their trial runs. Customers can also look forward to seeing more botanical and herbal sprays, leave-in conditioners and moisturizers with raw botanical infusions.
For further information on Olio Skin & Beard Co.’s products and creative processes, head to olioskin.com or visit their Salt Lake City shop at 2157 E. 2100 S., Ste. B. The shop requires masks to be worn and only two customers at a time, and the team sanitizes the shop between customer visits.