Gwyneth Wallace, an Edgartown native and mother of five, had her own bath and body shop five years ago. She was always interested in cosmetics, but mass-market products she tried weren’t … quite right. So she decided to to start making her own. (How very Vineyard of her.) She began with a trial lotion for her son’s eczema, and when that worked, she realized she might be able to start a business.
“I researched it to death, watched a million YouTube videos, and it took off from there,” Ms. Wallace said in a recent conversations with The Times.
Now Ms. Wallace has her own all-natural cosmetics line, Bluewave Body Co., featuring Island-inspired beauty products — lotions, salt sprays, sugar scrubs, toners, oils, balms, masks, and more. All ingredients are fair trade and FDA-approved. And as of last month, many of them are local.
“I wanted to have more control over the ingredients going in,” Ms. Wallace said of her decision to include ingredients from Martha’s Vineyard.
Two of her most popular products are the sea salt hair spray and the coffee scrub (the caffeine in coffee scrubs has been shown to exfoliate and stimulate blood flow, which helps eliminate wrinkles). So she figured, why not involve Island vendors? She reached out to business owners Todd Christy of Chilmark Coffee, and Heidi Feldman and Curtis Friedman of Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt, and is now using their products in hers.
“They loved the idea of collaboration. We’re promoting each other,” Ms. Wallace said. Now that the businesses work together, their logos appear on each other’s products and their products appear at one another’s stores.
The collaboration officially rolled out a month ago, after a crazy summer on all ends. Now that things have slowed down, Ms. Wallace plans to further promote and fundraise within her community.
“One of my part-time helpers has a daughter on the field hockey team,” Ms. Wallace said. “Many of the girls have sore feet, so I put together a little trial pedicure set for them. Now any sales for the pedicure sets go to the MVRHS booster club for the field hockey team.”
She’s hoping to carry out more Vineyard partnerships.
“I’d love to start working with farms to source dry herbs and flowers,” she said, “I infuse my own oils from rose petals and chamomile flowers into my lotions, so it’d be great to source these locally.”
Ms. Wallace oversees production and packaging of every product from start to finish. Each product takes about two hours to make, and is punctuated by a process of cooling, settling, and stirring.
“The best part is when you get the oils and waters to come together to actually make a lotion. I’m still humbled and awed by the process, and the public’s reception of it,” she said. According to Ms. Wallace, nothing hits the shelf until it’s been thoroughly tested.
“I don’t test on animals, I test on my children,” she laughed.
According to Ms. Wallace, 80 percent of people who buy from her at the Vineyard Artisans shows end up later returning or ordering something online. Now she has to keep up with the demands of a growing business, which means restocking, refilling, and remaking her products at a more rapid pace.
“The business part is the most challenging part,” she said.
She keeps her ideas fresh by following artists of similar work, reading magazines, and simply observing.
“If I read an article in a fashion magazine about a certain color that’s very popular, I think, Wow, that’d be a great color for a new lotion line,” she said.
Some big ideas will carry Ms. Wallace into 2017. She plans to create subscription packages, open an Etsy store, and add mineral makeup to her line.
“Luxurious but affordable. Chic but beachy,” said Ms. Wallace. “I want to make sure everybody finds something they love, and they’ll want to come back for more.”
Bluewave products can be found at the Vineyard Artisans Festival on Oct. 8, as well as at the Made MV artisans store on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs. Ms. Wallace’s products can also be found online at bluewavebodycompany.com.