Meet: Skin Scholars, Our First Place Winners!
Fun fact: when Marie Plishka-Spittal and I were evaluating the many, many amazing business submissions we had for our Summer Pop-Up contest, we shared a spreadsheet where we could see what the other’s rankings were in real-time. While working I kept Marie’s input hidden from my own so that I wouldn’t be influenced by her conclusions, so when I finished my review and expanded Marie’s tab to see where we synched up I was surprised to see there was a single solitary business that received a perfect score from both of us: Skin Scholars. And, when you take a look at what these amazing women have built over the last four years of their natural skincare company’s existence… you’ll see why.
I chatted with Skin Scholars founders (and sisters) Alysia and Elaina in preparation for their upcoming week-long pop-up at The Seedling Collective and learned a bit more about what drew them to create a natural skincare company and what it’s like working with your sister. Read on to get to know these talented women - and take notes about the specials they’ll be running exclusively at The Seedling Collective!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your business. I think it’s amazing that you work together as sisters!
Alysia: We are a sister (family) owned Skin Care company. We are the product of military parents, so global travel babies. Elaina was born in the great state of Alaska and I was born in Germany. We learned how to work well together because we where always together and moving every 3 years or so! Any military child will tell you they only had their siblings growing up.
Elaina: August will mark 4 years of business for us, so this pop up is perfect timing as a celebration of Skin Scholars! We are mainly based online on our website www.skinscholars.com.
It’s clear that the natural world and indigenous culture have a huge impact on your business ethos.
Alysia: That’s correct. Skin Scholars is not just a skin care company, we encompass our indigenous traditions and principles that we grew up with. We take all the knowledge that has been passed down to us for over 7 generations and package it in earth friendly sustainable products that people can feel good about using. Elaina and I come from a very long line of indigenous Medicine Women, midwives, and healers, our tribal roots go back to numerous Southeastern Virginia, and Northeastern North Carolina tribes like the Cheroenhaka Nottoway, Nansemond and Meherrin.
Elaina: We currently live in a small beach town on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, I am completing my Masters Degree from Maryland University of Integrative Health in a MS Therapeutic Herbalism and Alysia enjoys researching indigenous herbal practices around the world and how they are similar or different to the indigenous Herbal practices of our people.
What drew you to create an all-natural skincare line?
Alysia: Before Skin Scholars I was a police officer in the US Navy, after my tour I returned home and started working for the FBI, I enjoyed the work but I wanted to do something more meaningful and that allowed me to express my creativity. Growing up we would spend many summers with our grandmothers and great grandmothers learning about indigenous plant medicines, herbs and how to make medicines and skin care products for our family. One day while making a batch of herbal cream we decided to turn it into a business and share our gifts with the world.
Before Skin Scholars Elaina worked in International Higher Education in the US and abroad. In her work, she traveled to over 10 countries to recruit students for US colleges and universities. She, too, was ready to start something new so we decided to do it together!
Have you ever done a traditional retail concept before? Why did you decide to do apply for a pop-up spot with Seedling?
Elaina: No, we've never done a traditional retail concept before, we decided to just go for it when we found out about the Seedling pop up competition. We've done a lot of regional shows in the past and thought this would be a really good experience in what is possibly next for Skin Scholars.
What type of experience can we expect to find at your pop up?
Alysia: Skin Scholars has a unique Beauty Bar concept that gives the customer the ability to take back control of their skin care routine and create something specifically for their skin. Our Beauty Bar series consists of 3 Bars; The Soaking Salt Bar, Luxury Clay Mask Bar, and our newest Decadent Body Scrub Bar. Each Bar has a distinct theme that gives the customer the space to be creative and focus on what their skin needs, and not what some corporation thinks they need. We want our customers to feel free to ask questions and have a personal shopping experience.
Any special promotions or workshops going on while you're here?
Elaina: We will offer Happy Hour everyday from 2-5 BOGO 1/2 off on the Beauty Bar Series. We will also offer consultations for customers that help them define their skin needs and make or choose the perfect product.
1) Favorite neighborhood in Alexandria and why?
Del Ray, it is so community based. They have events for their community to get them out and about to socialize and meet their neighbors. They also have some really good food spots.
2) Favorite part about living/working in Old Town?
We can’t wait to find out during our week here! Open to suggestions…
3) Favorite thing to do in Alexandria on a free day?
We love to walk King street and shop at the small business, we like to support other small businesses and mom and pop shops.
4) Favorite spot to grab a drink?
Bread and Chocolate
5) Favorite day trip outside of Alexandria?
A day trip for us is to head south to Southampton County, VA and spend time with our family or going to a Pow Wow.
Thank you, Elaina and Alysia! We’re looking forward to hosting you at The Studio.