ALEX: Hello, today’s Deaf Business Spotlight is… “JeZoe for a Happy Skin!”, a homemade natural skin care and soap business, with everything “homemade” by Jesica Rodriguez in Puerto Rico. All of her products are natural and uses various oils, herbs, spices from the island. Check it out!
ARLENE: Hello! I’m Arlene Ngalle, the Community Curator for Convo in DC Metro area. Today’s a very different and a special day because I’ve flown here to Puerto Rico to meet this Deaf business owner!
JESICA: Hello! Welcome to my home. Would you like to see my workplace in making soap? Come on in!
Here it is!
ARLENE: I’m thrilled to be finally in this room! This is the place where Jesica makes soap, lip gloss, lotion, and much more.
JESICA: I’m Jesica Rodriguez! I’m happy about this visit!
ARLENE: Yes, thrilled to be here, too! Now i’m curious, what’s the name of your business?
JESICA: It’s JeZoe, because my first name is Jesica and my second name is Zoe. So I combined both together. The full business name is JeZoe for a Happy Skin. Why “happy skin”? Because my products are chemical-free. As you use my products, you’ll notice a glowing change in your skin and become inspired to use chemical-free products!
This is the mint soap.
After I pour the soap in the container, I store it away to firm up for 24 hours. Then after that, I take it out to cut into shapes. Once they’re cut, I put them on the shelf to harden for 4 weeks. Then they’re ready to be sold!
I use butter like shea, cocoa, mango, and kokum. I just can’t use any kind of butter, they have to be from specific regions. Like kokum from Africa for example. See this logo that shows it?
The butters I buy support the workers who produce them. They often don’t have work benefits, so I buy from them to support their living and their equality. That’s very important for me to support!
This is good for people who are stressed and over-worked. After they get home to shower, they can rub it on their skin and wait for a few minutes before rinsing off. This will help them feel fresh and sleep better. This is an important benefit. This product has sea salt I bought from the west coast of Puerto Rico. It also has sugar - just regular sugar - coconut oil, and essential oils. These essential oils are homemade here in Puerto Rico so I support them. They’ve got health benefits.
This soap is from this aloe plant. I extract it myself, take the flesh out and blend it to combine with the water from aloe. That’s how I make this cool soap. I also add aloe perfume to make it smell good. It really benefits the skin.
I have people tell me that the soap is a bit soft, or that it runs out fast. I’ve learned that natural soap works differently than high-chemical soaps. The chemicals are added in other soaps to make them hard, while with natural soaps they do soften up a bit. But here’s a solution to this. Buy this wooden soap dish, or any dish that have gaps to allow air to circulate from the bottom. After you use the soap, put it on this dish to allow it to dry properly and to help it stay firm.
All of these products are not tested on animals. It’s all cruelty-free. I even take the risk on using the products on my own skin. If I get a skin reaction from it, then I’ll know. I rely on myself, not on animals so it’s not abusive for them.
For Vegans since they do not eat honey, I’d like to show you something for them. This is beeswax honey, and this is carnauba wax. Caraube comes from a tree so it’s good for Vegans. If there are an exceptions you’d like, just contact me and I’ll make it special for you! This goes for lipglosses, deodorants, soap, and whatever else. Just contact me!
ARLENE: What inspired you to make soap and these other products?
JESICA: About 5 years ago, I graduated from school teaching children, then as a wife I moved out west. I was alone without family nearby, and couldn't work because I didn’t have them to watch my kids. I was becoming depressed and stressed in my loneliness, so I started to eat healthier. Then I thought how I could make my skin healthier? So I did some research online and learned that you can become healthy not only by food, but by the things you put on your skin.
I took classes without interpreters present (imagine that!) I paid out of pocket and interacted and communicated on paper with people. It was a challenge and I learned a lot. Then as I started out on my own I became inspired and motivated, and my stress, anxiety, and depression went away. I was able to keep busy and balance with my work and family. I decided to start up this business to share my love and energy to people. I value all people. Like me in the beginning, many Deaf people don’t know about skin care. Because I’ve learned about it, I have to pass this knowledge to others.
This is my business logo. It’s beautiful!
ZOE: Hello! I’m Zoe, I’m Jesica’s sister.
YAMIL: And I’m Yamil, Jesica’s husband.
ZOE: How did I see Jesica boom with her business? I was living in DC as a Gallaudet student, and Jesica contacted me asking what she should do with her life. People in her life were leaving for a golfing trip, so she wanted to do something. She thought about making soap. I told her to do it. When I visited Puerto Rico later I saw her take classes and communicate on paper with hearing people. She had the patience for it, especially with a sleeping baby she’d bring to class, too. After she made the products she sent them to me. They were all great, so I suggested to sell them for her at a festival at Gallaudet. She was hesitant, but I encouraged her to take that first big step. Her products had been used within the family, and now she’d be selling them out to the public at Gallaudet? At my encouragement, she sent me a bunch more products and they were all sold out! I had the booth from 10am to 3pm, but they were sold out by 12pm. There were a few lipglosses left, and they were gone, too. It made us realize this was worth it so I became inspired to sell it at the festival every year. I still do it even after I’ve graduated. I’ll keep selling them in DC and in Puerto Rico.
YAMIL: Her comments made me remember a time in the past when my wife said she wanted to start a business related to soap products. I asked her if she liked soap products and she said she really liked them. So I said, “Sure, go for it.” I was always there to support her. She took classes and I was just supportive with whatever she needed. I have been encouraging her and now she is really doing great. It’s touched me.
ARLENE: Do you have any advice for the Deaf community related to business?
JESICA: Yes, this is important -- I must share this advice with you all. I’m giving you an example -- if a person said she wanted to start a cupcake business -- and asked other people what they thought of it. Then suppose the other person said it was not a good idea, that it was too hard, you would lose money, or that there are communication issues. It might deflate you and cause you to drop your dreams. Don’t let this happen! Follow your instincts.
ALEX: Wow, what a talented woman and it is a wonderful business. You can check out her Facebook page at @JeZoe3 or Instagram @jezoe_for_happy_skin.