Meet Alana Rivera, the founder of Etta + Billie, a natural bath + body product line. Alana speaks to us on what inspires her, how she comes up with her scented combinations, and her personal favorites of her collection.
1. How do you dream up the mixtures for your bath + body combinations?
The majority of my creations are inspired by food. I’ve always been a food lover so it’s very natural that my creations and combinations are centered around food. Inspiration might come from a recipe I find on Food 52, some photos from Bon Appetit, or a cocktail combination at a local restaurant. I love being able to combine my two passions.
2. You named your business after your grandmothers. They must have played a very special role in your life. How did they influence you to be the woman you are today?
Both my grandmothers were an important part of my life. My grandma Etta showed me that you can teach yourself almost anything and you should always follow your passions. She was also a darn good cook (but a terrible baker). My grandma Billie was incredibly patient, a lover of plants, a loyal friend and showed me that you could always find ways to have fun if you used your imagination. Both were very supportive and loving. I am so thankful that they were a part of my life when I was growing up.
3. Have you always lived a natural lifestyle?
I’ve lived varying degrees of a natural lifestyle but never strictly. When I was young, my family always had a vegetable garden and lots of home cooked meals but I also used a ton of bath products from places like Bath & Body Works and loved soda. As I got older and began to educate myself about ingredients and farming practices, the products that I chose to put on my body, and the food that I chose to put in my body, became more and more local, organic and natural. Now, I’m hyper-conscious of ingredients both in food and body products, though I also cheat from time to time and drink a Mexican Coke or use non-natural products. I think it’s all a balance.
Founder of Etta + Billie, Alana Rivera
4. Do you have any personal favorites from your collection?
Definitely! I am a daily user of the body oil in the Clary Sage Black Pepper scent. I apply it as a moisturizer to my body after a shower, put it into my hair and use it on my face at night. It’s such a great multipurpose product. The combination of oils hydrate, sooth skin and absorb fairly quickly so it’s great for day to day use. My other fav is the Grapefruit Cardamom Skin Balm. I keep one with me at all times. I find the scent both uplifting and soothing. Plus, I can give my hands and cuticles a moisture boost while I’m out and about. I always seem to notice how dry my hands are AFTER I’ve left my apartment.
5. How important is it to be knowledgeable of what we use on our skin and which items do you recommend newbies to the natural soap scene?
I think its a great idea to research ingredients and have an idea of what feels ok and what you’re not willing to budge on. Get to know ingredients that work well with your skin (like coconut vs jojoba). As I mentioned before, I think it’s all a balance. For me, the most important thing is to figure out which ingredients I want to limit my exposure to. I generally stay away from products with synthetic fragrance (typically written as “fragrance” or “parfum” on labels), synthetic color (if I won’t eat blue die no 5 everyday why would I put it on my body sort of thing), intense detergents (such as Sodium Laurel Sulfate), and paraben preservatives (propylparaben and butylparaben specifically). If you really want to stay away from preservatives in your cosmetics, choose products with no water based ingredients. These do not require a preservative to keep them safe for normal use, though they will need to be used up within a specific time frame. For soaps, try to choose handmade varieties, but most importantly, check out the ingredients label. Look for oils like coconut, olive, sweet almond, sunflower, shea butter, cocoa butter with essential oils as scent. I think one of the best things we can do is read ingredients labels.
Special thanks to Alana Rivera, Founder of Etta + Billie