We believe that how we care for ourselves matters. So, when we learned about a growing company that specializes in natural hair and body care, we had to sit and talk with them. Belle’s Essential is a growing family business owned by Kerene Edie (KE) and her daughter Isabelle Ellis and is based out of the Bronx with significant ties to Jamaica.
Janeth Benjamin: Tell me about Belle’s Essential’s story.
Kerene Edie: It all started with a gender reveal. The name Belle’s Essential was inspired by our daughter, Isabelle. We are a small family-owned castor oil-based business based in the Bronx. In 2018, we found out we were having a daughter and wanted to lay a foundation as a first generation African American. While brainstorming and researching, we thought, what better way to leave a legacy, but to bring her back to our roots and teach her the importance of self-care? As Jamaicans we understood the power of using herbs for every kind of ailment, so we wanted her to learn to love herself first and give her the resources to care for her body using Jamaican herbs and natural products. Whatever decision she makes with her body is an option, not a defined choice. We returned to Jamaica and began working with some of the best manufacturers for natural hair and skin care.
We want to reach people of color who aim to live healthier lifestyles not only through eating healthy but using vegan and chemical-free products. We also want to cater to beauticians, community markets, stores and most importantly black families, men women and children who practice healthy lifestyles and take pride in self-care.
Why use castor oil as the base for your products?
We use Jamaican Black Castor Oil as the core ingredient for the products because of its numerous benefits. It helps in strengthening hair, stimulating hair growth, solving dryness and dandruff, conditioning the scalp, curing acne, relieving inflammation, promoting skin healing, and serving as an antioxidant. Our aim is to create and specialize in African American hair and skin care so we want to use a base ingredient that helps with any issues they might have, whether they use it for skin, hair or digestive issues.
What are some of the products you carry?
Our products include but are not limited to scrubs, hair and body butters, hair growth oils, eczema /psoriasis products, herbal soaps, and hair bonnets. They are all designed to combat ailments such as balding, hair loss, eczema, psoriasis, extreme dry skin and dullness, flaky scalp, dandruff, product overload, detox and maintain skin and hair moisture.
We do months of intensive trial and error when we create our products and allow customers to try and give feedback based on their experience before releasing it to the public. Our best sellers are our turmeric oats soap, eczema butter, Lemon Eucalyptus Castor Oil and hair and body butters.
What makes Belle’s Essential the brand to support.
Belle’s Essential stands out because all our raw ingredients come from “back a yaad” where we can trust our local farmers to produce organically grown ingredients. Our shea butter comes directly from Sierra Leone from local farmers. That’s what’s most important because we support our local entrepreneurs, the same people that support us. All our products contain Jamaican Black castor oil. Our manufacturers in St. Elizabeth, and Manchester Jamaica, they produce our herbal soaps, the castor oil, and powdered ingredients. Our supporters connect with our products because we use familiar ingredients. They don’t have to guess and research what is in their products as they usually do for bigger brands.
There are many products that claim to be for people of color, but these are often created by other non-black people trying to build products based on what they think they know. A lot of the big brands are taken over by big corporations and they have changed the entire makeup of the products including using harmful chemicals. It only takes 26 seconds for chemicals on the surface of the skin to enter the blood stream, so we always educate our clients to teach the importance of having natural and safe hair and skincare.
Our biggest support is in the United States, specifically New York, and we’ve been requested to send samples abroad to Italy, Canada and most importantly, Jamaica so we can grow but we can’t do it without the support of our people and everyone.
You can follow Belle’s Essentials on Instagram @bellesessential or visit their website at www.bellesessential.co.
Janeth Benjamin is a freelance writer, author, and poet in the Bronx. She is a writer and Managing Editor with WhereItzAt Magazine. You can follow her @themikichronicles on Instagram.