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OKG Shop: Simply relaxing

A metro entrepreneur built an entire brand out of a desire to be more mindful about what products she brings into her home.

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BodySpyce’s body washes, fragrance sachets, soaps, bath bombs, candles and other items are made with simple, clean ingredients in small batches. - ALEXA ACE
  • Alexa Ace
  • BodySpyce’s body washes, fragrance sachets, soaps, bath bombs, candles and other items are made with simple, clean ingredients in small batches.

Relaxation doesn’t come easy in the modern world where billion-dollar companies are battling for screen time on smart phones designed to listen to every word we say (though companies deny it) and respond with targeted ads, news flashes and social media updates. Tuning in has become way easier than tuning out. Add kids into that mix and finding quiet moments in a very loud world often seems impossible. That’s where Keisha Cornelius and her company BodySpyce Luxe & Candle Co. comes in.

“It all started as a process for mothers and fathers to find relaxation time,” Cornelius said. “You light a candle, you get the bath started, have a bar of soap or a bath bomb. Afterwards, you put on body butter. It’s a full, start-to-finish relaxation process.”

She built the BodySpyce brand as a way to provide products that help make space in busy lives for a calming recharge. The inspiration came as a reaction to the cryptic ingredient lists she found on mass-marketed bath products and candles.

“I figured let me take a look at the ingredients that I’m buying for my own home,” Cornelius said. “I started seeing things like paraffin, which is essentially petroleum fuel, something I didn’t want to be burning in my home or putting out into the environment. It’s the same fumes you breathe in while filling up at the gas station.”

Cornelius began experimenting just for her own family, starting with simple and safe ingredients she could trust.

“I wanted to be more environmentally conscious and look for options to make myself so I knew they burned clean and my children wouldn’t have allergic reactions,” Cornelius said. “With BodySpyce, I wanted to create something that I knew exactly was in each candle.”

Cornelius describes herself as a small-batch company and limits her output to about 100 candles a month on top of the body washes, fragrance sachets, soaps, bath bombs and other collections in her line.

BodySpyce Luxe & Candle Co. candles are made with a coco-soy blend that is vegan and clean-burning. - ALEXA ACE
  • Alexa Ace
  • BodySpyce Luxe & Candle Co. candles are made with a coco-soy blend that is vegan and clean-burning.

“I actually started with bath products in 2015, and the candles were an afterthought,” Cornelius said. “I started out making loaves of soap for my family to use, and it kind of expanded out from there. My son has allergies, so I needed to make something that he could use.”

BodySpyce’s top-selling products are the bath bombs, candles, wax melts and whipped sugar scrubs, all handcrafted using simple ingredients. This might make upscaling production difficult, but it pays off for Cornelius through the level of trust she has with her clientele. She also has been able to shift completely over to a full-scale vegan line and all sustainably sourced.

“Twenty or thirty years ago, doing it this way might not have been as easy, but now you can find all these ingredients at Sprouts and Whole Foods [Market],” Cornelius said. “When you think about vegetation, something as simple as olive oil or spinach or kale, these are things you can go to any market and find. You take those products and mix them with other ingredients you want to use in your care line and end up with a beautiful product.”

She only expanded into candles last year, starting with a soy wax but moving to a coco-soy blend that is vegan and clean-burning.

“The wax lasts a lot longer, the scents the candle throws are better and it’s environmentally conscious,” Cornelius said. “We’re not using ingredients from countries where there may be child work issues. I want anyone who buys our product to be confident that it really is vegan.”

Keisha Cornelius started BodySpyce in 2015. - ALEXA ACE
  • Alexa Ace
  • Keisha Cornelius started BodySpyce in 2015.

BodySpyce sales come mostly from Cornelius’s website and pop-up shop opportunities around the city, but she does envision in-store opportunities down the road.

“I actually have products in the Hampton Inn lobby in their Made in Oklahoma section,” Cornelius said. “Placement in stores is a goal, maybe not a strong goal, but is something I’m looking into. I’m being very careful because wholesale accounts require large amounts and I’m still just a small-batch provider.”

Since quality control is so critical to her brand, she doesn’t want to increase production until she feels like BodySpyce is ready.

In the meantime, she wants to continue expanding its presence in the city and get a better feel for how to expand demand.

“I run analytics on my website and social media, and the demographics are all over the place,” Cornelius said. “With the popular brand of Lush cosmetics, the millennials are a big market for the bath bomb craze because they came up as that was becoming a thing. But I also have customers ranging from 75 years old to 7-year-olds assuming they can get their parents to buy it for them.”

Cornelius said her story tracks with the modern trend of female-led entrepreneurship.

“More moms are jumping out of corporate America and are wanting to create businesses where they are able to provide a life for their family and still be able to do more things focused on children,” Cornelius said. “I still do have my day job, but BodySpyce allowed me to focus more on what products my own family was using and what was absorbing into our skin, the largest organ on our body.”

Visit bodyspyce.com

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