Alexia Wambua couldn’t help noticing the state of her husband’s hands: Dry, cracked and peeling. They were starting to take on reptilian properties.
“He’s a personal trainer,” Wambua explains, “and he would use products on clients [after a workout], and they were just full of chemicals.”
Wambua, 37, who lives in Kansas City and has spent the past 13 years as an aesthetician, knew she could make a product that wouldn’t be so harsh on her husband’s skin. Thus, Recover Balm was born.
This all-natural muscle rub combines a non-greasy shea butter base with menthol (for a cooling effect to constrict blood vessels), capsicum (an anti-inflammatory that gets blood flowing), geranium and eucalyptus.
“Within two weeks, his hands were healed, and his clients started asking for the product to take home,” Wambua says. She knew she was onto something.
That was 2013. Six years later, Wambua’s luxury all-natural skincare line, Native Atlas, is a flourishing business sold through her website and at boutiques across the country. Her Misuli Recover Body Balm ($34) is still her bestseller. Other popular items include the Virdis Antioxidant Toning Mist ($52), Clarifying Face Oil ($68) and the Zahara Enzyme Mask ($68). She credits word-of-mouth with the demand for her product.
“People would be asking me what I was using on their face during our facials, so it’s kind of evolved out of making things for clients and people wanted to take things home with them,” she says. “That’s truly how my business kind of took off.”
Wambua’s commitment to toxin-free products means she only uses therapeutic-grade essential oils and organic plant botanicals. Every item in her line is hand-mixed and poured in her treatment room.
Native Atlas sells products online at nativeatlas.com and locally at Standard Style, Baldwin and Within Apothecary. Wambua likes to introduce her line with Mimea Restoring Cleanser Oil, a facial cleanser which she says is best used at night and will leave all types of skin feeling “clean, not parched.”
“Most people are not using the right cleanser for their skin, and it’s arguably one of the most important steps because you can destroy your skin using the wrong cleanser,” she says.
The hardest part of the business is sourcing raw materials. It’s difficult to find credible vendors supplying truly pure ingredients that don’t have hidden additives, and because Wambua works with plant-based materials, her products are susceptible to variations in weather and growing seasons.
“I use every single product I make every day, and I never want something that doesn’t feel genuine,” she says. “I wanted to make products where people were seeing results and that they could trust. My products are packed with nutrients, and that’s how it should be. Just like you take your vitamins, you have to take care of your skin.”