‘I might as well make my own’
Jess Winns, founder of Ari Rose Body Care, had always been pretty conscious of what she and her three daughters put into and onto their bodies, she said.
However, as she researched more about holistic wellness while pregnant with her second daughter, Winns read about how more than 280 toxins can be found in the umbilical cord of newborns, she shared.
“That was just a complete shocker to me because I was totally unaware of how many toxins and chemicals are in our environment all around us,” said Winns, describing the consequences of substances absorbed through a mother’s body during pregnancy. “And when I looked up the list of chemicals that are often found, some of the most prevalent were different toxins that are found in body care and skincare.”
With that, Winns began the process of turning her passion for wellness into a profession, eschewing the “natural” skin care brands she owned to instead make her own.
“At that point, I became really disenchanted with the whole industry and went the extreme route of, ‘If I’m going to use anything, I might as well make it. I’m already in the kitchen making green juices, smoothies, and healthy meals, so I might as well make my own soap and body care,’” Winns said.
She taught herself how to make safe skin and body care products using “ingredients you can eat,” including coconut milk, raw honey, and cinnamon, as well as essential oils.
After Winns posted her creations to Facebook, people began offering to buy the products from her, something she hadn’t initially anticipated, she said.
“I sold maybe 20 different orders, and then I hid,” Winns recalled. “I didn’t even want to know what anybody thought. I was so afraid of people not liking it and wanting their money back.”
“A few days went by and I started getting all these messages like, ‘This is amazing. This helps my eczema. I was finally able to use a product on my child and their inflammation went away,’” she continued. “At that point, I realized there’s something bigger here. This is bigger than me — I’m being called to do this.”
Click here to shop Ari Rose Body Care.
Generational lesson in building a business (at home)
Ari Rose Body Care, officially founded in 2016, offers a wide array of products, including handmade soaps, body creams, aluminum-free deodorants, and feminine care products.
All products are water-free, cruelty-free, and plastic-free, Winns said, including the company’s biodegradable refill containers.
“I’ve had a lot of opportunities to just make what sells or cut corners and bottle our products in plastics or cheap packaging, but I’ve always maintained our core values which put our customers’ health and the environment’s health as top priority,” Winns said.
Through a combination of organic, locally sourced, and fair trade ingredients, Winns makes all products in-house at her Overland Park home, often with the help of her oldest daughter.
“It’s very much a generational brand,” Winns said. “It’s a family owned business. It’s a vehicle for my children to understand how business works, how to take something that you are passionate about, a skill set that you have, and be able to monetize it.”
Nearly every aspect of the business is about family, Winns said, right down to the name: Ari and Rose are the middle names of her two oldest daughters.
“They were the catalysts for my health and wellness journey, so it was only right that they were the name of the company,” Winns said.
Winns grew up in Chicago and was raised by a single mother. She moved around to several places — including a brief stint in Costa Rica — after graduating college in 2008, ultimately moving her family and business from Chicago to Kansas City in 2020.
“As much as I love Chicago, I absolutely wanted a more small city vibe,” Winns said. “I wanted to raise my kids in that kind of environment. I was raised in the inner city, so I wanted something different for my kids.”
Winns also sees Ari Rose Body Care — which she said will one day be passed down to her daughters — as another means of showing them opportunities that weren’t presented to her as a child.
“Growing up, I thought my only option was to get a good job and make money,” Winns said. “I never even knew it was possible that I could start a company of my own. I didn’t even know how that could happen. … So this is something that my kids need to know and understand how to do and see an example of it.”
On the other side of imposter syndrome: An amazing version of you
Although Ari Rose Body Care is Winns’ primary entrepreneurial endeavor, she holds many other titles, including holistic health practitioner, functional nutrition counselor, leadership coach, motivational speaker, and author.
Published earlier this year, her book “Beneath the Skin” details her journey of becoming pregnant as a 19-year-old college student and overcoming adversity in spite of the criticism she faced from many in her life, Winns said.
Click here to learn more about “Beneath the Skin.”
“Everyone around me was writing me off,” she said. “A lot of my family members were saying mean things, assuming that I wouldn’t graduate college, and that I would end up living in the projects or living on welfare.”
Still, Winns maintained her resolve to silence the voices that doubted her, she said.
“I could have allowed my circumstances and situation to define me and to define the trajectory of my life,” Winns said. “I could have just succumbed to the criticisms and said, ‘Well, no one else believes in me, so why should I believe in myself?’”
“Instead, I said, ‘No, screw that. These people don’t have a right to limit me and say what I’m capable of just because I’m having a child,’” Winns continued. “I’m not a victim of my circumstances. I’m not the product of my circumstances. I define who I am and what I’m capable of in my life.”
Winns hopes that readers will take that lesson of persistence in the face of adversity with them after reading, she said, adding that “Beneath the Skin” comes with a free downloadable workbook that offers questions and prompts following each chapter.
“This book is a testament to transmuting that pain, and alchemizing the struggle and the darkness into something that can propel you forward in life, and discovering the magic and the power that you have within you to create whatever you choose in your life,” Winns said.
Moving forward, Winns hopes to continue coaching and speaking to people — especially young women and mothers — to better understand their subconscious motivations so they can achieve their goals and free themselves of whatever holds them back, she said.
“Every fear, limiting belief, and self-doubt when you’re up against a challenge, the words that you speak to yourself, everything beneath the skin, we are so held back by that,” Winns said. “We are in our own way.”
Her coaching focuses on addressing those fears and conquering them, Winns said, so that her clients can become the best version of themselves.
“On the other side of impostor syndrome, or your self-doubts, or the fears, or the limiting beliefs — on the other side of that is the most amazing version of you,” she said. “It’s a totally different version of the person that you know.”