Janice Francisco is an accountant by trade, but her passion is skin care.
The Andover, N.J. resident is especially fond of scented body scrubs: cool, slushy mixtures of oils and salt crystals that make a great moisturizing and exfoliating agents.
Francisco struggled for a long time to find body scrubs free of chemicals and artificial ingredients. Then, eight years ago, she taught herself how to concoct her own, all-natural version of the product she loved.
She’d been refining the mixture for years, but it wasn’t until 2009 that she decided — at the urging of friend and co-worker Tracey Amadi — to sell her product to the public.
Amadi, who has since become an Entrepreneur University graduate, teamed up with Francisco to create Skin Arise, which sells the scrubs Francisco designed as well as natural soaps and body oils.
The fragrant scrubs, made from natural oils and Dead Sea salt, come in a range of scents including orange, lemon-lime, lavender and peppermint.
Amadi and Francisco make most of their sales at farmers markets and street fairs, where potential customers can try before they buy.
“A lot of people don’t know what it is at first,” said Francisco, “then they try it and they’re like, ‘Oh wow, this is great.’”
Francisco hopes Skin Arise will someday earn enough of a profit to support her, but she’s opted to keep her day job for now. She prepares her body scrubs by night and sells them at weekend vending events.
Amadi is the inveterate entrepreneur of the two. Before co-founding Skin Arise, she sold Mary Kay makeup and made a foray into the vending machine business. Both ventures yielded some success, but neither inspired her.
Skin Arise, Amadi said, is different: “This, I believe, benefits people,” she said, “I really like it.”
She likes it so much, in-fact, that she decided to pursue it full-time, leaving her safe, corporate accounting job for the entrepreneurial life. It was a decision uncharacteristic for Amadi, who long considered herself risk-averse.
But in 2008, two life-changing events made her reconsider her priorities. First, Amadi’s husband died suddenly. Then, doctors told her a renal disease with which she’d long fought had caused her kidneys to fail.
At that point, Amadi said, “I realized money isn’t everything.” She wanted to spend more time with her kids and fulfill her lifelong dream of self-employment.
Since starting Skin Arise, Amadi and Francisco have worked tirelessly to make a name for their unique products.
They have manned tables at dozens of vending events, selling approximately 100 jars of body scrub, and nearly as many natural soap bars and body oils.
In the process, they have attracted a small but devoted following.
Francisco said one man who purchased Skin Arise body scrubs at a vending event last fall drove an hour and a half to the next, purchasing several jars as Christmas gifts for friends and family.
The duo’s next step is selling Skin Arise body scrubs wholesale to local hair and nail salons, but their ambitions go further:
“I don’t know how long it will take,” said Amadi, “but Skin Arise will be a multimillion dollar company.”