By All Things Writing, LLC
When Kristi Murphy started making natural body care products for her family, she didn’t realize it would lead to running a full-time business.
Her venture began simply enough. “I wanted to remove all the additives and harmful chemicals from the products my family used,” she said.
Several years of success later, Murphy has evolved from making those products for her family to selling them at the farmers market and operating a retail store, Calico Jack’s, an organic bath and body company in Manassas.
Made the Old-Fashioned Way
Murphy’s journey started with crafting her own deodorant, soap and candles with her husband and three children in mind. Eventually, she branched out to salves, facial oil and various other home and body products.
All of Murphy’s products were inspired by her past: “Basically, [I started with] anything I could remember my grandparents talking about making from scratch in the olden days,” she said.
After about a year of making those products for family and friends, Murphy became adept at the process. Because the products had become so popular with those she knew, she decided to try selling them at the Manassas Farmers Market.
“We’re on a mission to provide healthy alternatives to the harmful body and home products used regularly by consumers,” she said. “All of our products are free of harmful chemicals, made with organic ingredients and packaged in recycled materials.”
After only two years of selling the products at the farmers market, they became so successful that Whole Foods Market began carrying them in their stores including Ashburn, Fair Lakes, Tysons Corner and Vienna. That growth allowed Murphy to open a storefront in Historic Downtown Manassas located at
9115 Center Street.
As the store’s Facebook page explains, it’s “a mercantile of all things local.” Along with the signature candles and body care products, Calico Jack’s offers other local wares as well as Virginia peanuts, coffee and tea.
“We work with a number of talented artisans who provide the shop with a variety of locally handcrafted items, making the place unique,” she said.
Successfully Betting on Herself
Over the years, Murphy has picked up several titles: Navy veteran, wife and mother, and business owner and operator. She feels a special kinship with other entrepreneurs.
“We’ve all taken a leap of faith and bet on ourselves and our communities,” she said. “Having served in the military for ten years, I may be a little more regimented. I am very schedule- and process-oriented.”
Murphy’s husband is also accustomed to the military life. He recently returned from a two-and-half-year tour in Bahrain.
Although she spends most of her free time with her three young children, the Bristow mom recently added another title to her resume: college student. She plans to earn a degree in alternative medicine and obtain a natural products manufacturing certification.
Launching her business has been “a scary endeavor” that required a significant time commitment. With that experience in mind, she offers guidance to others who want to open their own businesses.
“If I were to give anyone advice on beginning the adventure of entrepreneurship, I would tell him or her to be prepared to put in a lot of long hours—especially in the beginning,” she said. “When things seem overwhelming, it definitely helps to have a strong support system to remind you that you’re working toward your dreams.”
For more information about Calico Jack’s, visit the shop’s website at calicojacksnaturals.com.
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