Shea butter is hard to come by when living in the tri-state area. A few years ago it was difficult to get your hands on a one-pound tub of Shea butter if you lived in Portland, Oregon.
“Then it became apparent to us of a need amongst female prisoners in Bryan Federal Prison Camp, a low level security camp in Texas. A family member had served a two-year sentence there and communicated how there were virtually no natural products and virtually every woman at the facility was natural,” said Lashay Marion, co-founder of ButterUp.
With the federal prison camp being a private and federal institution, Lashay Marion and Dawn Haywood, co-founders of ButterUp took it upon themselves to develop a retail ready product that met the specifications to be added to commissary.
Lashay and Dawn meet through a mutual friend seven years ago after Dawn recommended a hairstylist to Lashay.
The two decided to go into business together after years of sharing their recipes and challenges of their natural hair and body journey with one another.
ButterUp is a company based on providing quality, handmade, natural products. According to their website ButterUp Body, everything that is used in their product is 100% naturally sourced and handmade in a clean sterile environment.
“We pride ourselves on the integrity of the supporting natural blends we use in our products,” they wrote.
Dawn said she thinks they had an “outside looking in” approach to the market.
“We could clearly see the movement and growth of the industry and for me I could see who was still in need of natural lifestyle solutions,” says Dawn.
Both ladies says they plan to continue their push for organic growth for the company in both customer reach and product expansion and defining their volunteer work with young girls and women.
“As we grow, the goal is to empower, encourage, and enlighten young women to the benefits of having a positive body image and the importance of being self sufficient by owning your brand,” they wrote on their website.
In a recent interview with Dawn and Lashay, they said empowering each other and other women inspired them to go in business.
They said the golden rule is to find something you love so much that you would do it for free because you may have to.
“When you find something you are passionate about, stick to it. Allow your business time to grow and give it the space to change directions if need be,” they added.
ButterUp natural and vegan products are created in small batches with hopes to always maintain a high quality feel.
“We love trying different brands, but some have way too many ingredients in them. We think the simpler the better, and we try to honor that in our products,” Lashay said.
Q&A with Dawn Haywood and Lashay Marion
Jar: What can you tell me about each product?
D & L: Soufflé is a whipped hair and body butter. It’s very soft and silky and little goes a long way in hydrating your skin with this product.
Rain’s Palm is a product created by Dawn’s mother, Rain. Rain created the product in 1999 for her natural hair during a time where there were no products for naturals. Rain’s Palm is more astringent. It has a heavier body than the soufflé and that along with the specific essential oils. It’s more aggressive in attacking dry and flaky skin and scalp.
ButterKisses Lip Balm is super light and is a great conditioner for the lips that can be used as a base before applying a lipstick or gloss.
ButterBar is a lotion and massage bar that contains only two ingredients: Shea butter and cocoa butter. The butter melts on your hands and is great to rub directly on the skin.
ButterBomb is a bath soak that fizz and dissolves in your bath water releasing Shea butter, essential oils, and lavender or rose buds turning your tub into a spa.
Jar: What are your thoughts on the beauty industry now?
D & L: We love where the industry is going. We think that the industry has challenged everyone to take a look at how we are treating our bodies. We also love the influx of businesses started by African Americans and other women of color. Before there didn’t seem to be a lot of options for us, and now there are so many to choose from, and we think there is room for everyone.
Jar: What are some challenges you all have faced while in business?
D & L: Like any small business, time management remains a challenge. We are always challenged by the task of the best use of funds, allocation budgets, and not blowing budget is a hurdle and also getting the word out about our products.
Jar: Which product is your favorite?
Dawn: My favorite is Grapefruit Soufflé and ButterKisses. I use them both every day. When I want to really treat myself, I go for the Lavender ButterBomb.
Lashay: My favorite is Lavender Soufflé, which is ironic because I started out hating the scent of lavender.
Dawn: Our most popular items are Lavender and Grapefruit Soufflé. They are the people’s favorites.
Jar: Are you all currently working on creating new products such as shampoos, conditioners, etc.?
D & L: Yes, we are always looking into expanding our product line. We are working on body oils, body scrubs, bath salts, soap, and different scents for the current product line.
Jar: What was the process like creating the products? How long did it take?
D & L: We invested a lot of research and study into our first product soufflé. There was also a lot of trail and error. It took about six months to test different Shea butter companies and merging different butters together.
Jar: What do you want people to know about your brand?
D & L: We want people to know that our brand is simplicity at its best. Simple ingredients, simple process that work in promoting healthy and beautiful hair and skin. We hope to see ButterUp products on the shelves of our own store.
For more information about ButterUp and where to purchase, go to butterupbody.com.
ButterUp Instagram: @butterupbody
“ButterUp is never tested on animals, and we do our best to work with any vendors that uphold the same benefits in sustaining nature and a natural life.”