Q&A | An uplifting convo with the founder of Elle Jae Essentials, La'Asia Johnson
On La'Asia Johnson's quest to find the best products for her sensitive skin conditions, she was often left disappointed until she took matters into her own hands. The Flint, MI native decided to whip up a special body butter for herself using all-natural ingredients which ended up not only feeling great on her skin but also smelling amazing.
As she mixed up different blends of body butters for friends and family, she found herself fulfilling a significant need which led to her establishing the all-natural skin, hair, and body care line, Elle Jae Essentials, in 2017.
Since its launch, the reception has been positive and quickly garnered repeat customers who can't get enough of the natural stuff. The brand has expanded from body butter to body wash, lotion, body scrubs, oils, lip butters, room sprays, candles, and hand sanitizers.
La'Asia also offers business resources to entrepreneurs on the website such as a list of beauty business vendors as well as a webinar on how to make your own product labels.
We recently caught up with the busy businesswoman while she was preparing for the launch of Elle Jae Essentials' special Queen Collection. During our conversation, she shared the origin story of the company, how she's pulling through the pandemic, giving back to the community, and much more. Keeping reading to get "the goods" on La'Asia Johnson.
The GOODS: What inspired you to create Elle Jae Essentials?
La’Asia Johnson: “I was inspired to create the business because coming from Flint, I found it very hard to find products that were safe, healthy, and healing for my skin. I had a lot of trouble just having access to resources and really struggling to buy products that actually use ingredients that will make me smell good and still feel good. Being unable to do so, I started creating things for myself and my little hobby turned into a business right before my eyes.”
TG: When did you know it was time to turn your hobby into a business?
LJ: “It was immediately! Once I made that first jar of body butter, I made some for myself, my mom, I gave some to my siblings, because you want to take care of your family, too. Before I knew it, my mom was passing out samples at her job, and I'm wondering, “how are you going through this body butter so quickly?”
I found out she shared it with all her friends because she was so proud, and that was a large part of how we got started — word of mouth. My man was passing out samples at his job, I was sharing with my co-workers at the time. The feedback that came was super, super good, and I took it and ran with it.”
TG: What has kept you going strong through the pandemic?
LJ: “The need. My purpose is to serve my people, I call my people my SunflowHERS (sunflowers) and when I say I stand by them, I stand by them. If there's something that I can do to assist them in any way, that's what I'm going to do. Whether it's inspirational words on social media or these body butters that are transforming people's confidence, I can't give up because it's not about just me. I can see if I was just making things for myself but I've built a community of people who support the business consistently and look forward to having their products.
What do I look like putting it out there and then just disappearing and abandoning all these people who trust me? That's not right. My customers, my SunflowHERS, are the people who keep me going, not just financially, they send encouraging words. I got a couple of cards in the mail actually from people saying they’re praying for me during the pandemic, praying for my business. That really encouraged me and motivated me to keep going.”
TG: You share a lot of the behind-the-scenes parts of your business on social media which is incredibly inspiring. What made you decide to share the business side with your audience and customers?
LJ: “I think it's important that as we grow, we reach back to pull people up with us so my goal is always community building. I love to be able to give back to the community that raised me. I was born and raised in Flint and it means the world to me to be able to have a large support system in my own city. I would be remiss to be so successful in my city and not give back to the people of my city.”
TG: Okay, let's talk about Elle Jae Essentials products! What's your absolute favorite product from your company?
LJ: “Oh my gosh, I have to say my favorite product is the body wash. Body wash, definitely. It’s more so because finding body wash that doesn't dry you out, that smells good, still makes you feel soft, and you still want to be clean. Honey, when I tell you I wasn't able to find nothing, nowhere in Walmart or Target; I wasn't able to find what I was looking for. So, the body wash is hands down my favorite, and next up would have to be the butters.
TG: If you could send a care package to anyone in this world, who would it be?
LJ: “I would have to say Megan Thee Stallion! She’s confident about herself no matter what's going on and I love that about her.
TG: What advice do you have for someone aspiring to grow their small business in 2021?
LJ: “Don't wait for the perfect moment because the perfect moment will never come. If you're not feeling motivated now, motivation is not just going to appear. You have to just start and keep going, do the work. stay consistent, and don't give up on yourself. And remember, Google answers everything.”
TG: Any shout outs?
LJ: “Yes, I would like to shout out my fans, my sorority sisters Kiara and Tiffany because they keep me sane. I would like to shout out my former business coach Ebonie Gipson because she definitely helped me set the foundation of my business. I would also like to shout out to my family because without their support, I definitely couldn't do it. It's been a hard hard road, but I couldn't get through it without them.”
To stay up to date with La'Asia Johnson, follow her on:
Also, visit, shop and support Elle Jae Essentials: ellejaeessentials.com
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