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Indie Beauty Expo 2017 – Clean Beauty is coming to the mainstream

We visited Indie Beauty Expo this year with our friends from Los Feliz Botanicals (all-natural botanical perfumes). The Los Angeles event was held at the California Market Center in Downtown LA, in the Penthouse on the 13th floor. Glam was everywhere, but with a focus on clean, pure, and natural brands, we can’t help but see the trend of clean beauty becoming mainstream.

Photo wall with real flowers and neon lights

Our first stop was at Los Feliz Botanicals, where founder Krystal Quinn Castro was offering up a free facial mist bar for anyone to make their own customized facial mist/ toner. Using pure organic hydrosols (hydrosols are floral plant waters left over after distilling essential oils), we blended aloe, Frankincense, Myrrh and Rose Geranium in a tiny glass spray bottle. Clear quartz crystals in the bottom helped emulsify the mixture.

Facial Mist Hydrosols using Organic and Wildcrafted Ingredients

The adorable packaging for Krystal’s line has photos of local road trip favorites (Joshua Tree!) and silk-screened bottles with her geo-modern logo.

100% natural botanical perfumes

Packaging aside, her perfumes smell GOOD. Our favorites are the “Los Feliz” (notes of sweet honey, amber and jasmine), and the “Yucca Valley” (roses, leather, tobacco). As with any 100% natural perfume, it won’t last all day, but the fragrant essential oils will stick around for about 4 hours.

Bonus – essential oil based perfumes smell like the pure plants they came from, and will not irritate the skin or nose. If you are allergic to traditional chemical perfumes, give natural ones a try. We now carry all Los Feliz Botanicals perfumes and perfume balms in our No Tox Life retail store in Glassell Park.

Perfume sample cones


Red Rock – a unisex offering

Also in the perfume category, Ojai Wild debuted their line of 100% natural, handmade extract perfumes. These were extremely earthy, masculine-leaning scents made using redwood, local sage, juniper berry, and other plants found on their California farm. Ojai Wild has not yet launched online sales, but you can follow them on Instagram here.

Ojai Wild botanical extract perfume

Several skincare brands at Indie Beauty Expo had a focus on one key ingredient. Love pistachios? A fan of honey? Turmeric-happy? There’s a skincare line for you.

Pistache is a family-owned skincare line made with pistachio oil from their family farm. Pistachio oil is high in beneficial acids. Their line is not 100% natural, but has better ingredients than most drugstore products.

Pistachio oil based skincare line
All the pretty bottles!

The founder of ULIV skincare boldly displayed only one item at the expo, and got plenty of retail and press attention.  She created a beautiful smelling facial soufflé using turmeric root, a key ingredient in her health regimen when she was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease. Yes, you can put turmeric on your face! (We like using our Turmeric Ginger body bar made from upcycled juice pulp).

ULIV skincare featuring turmeric root

Honey Girl Organics products are made in small batches in Hawaii, using organic and natural ingredients. No chemical fillers or toxic ingredients here, plus wild Hawaiian honey! Not vegan, but with the benefits of raw honey (antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and more).

The show had a hangout section in the middle with free water in eco-friendly boxes (no plastic bottles!). Lavender neon lighting set the mood for an elegant event.

Florists Thistle & Seed sponsored a lovely flower crown bar at the event. They were in high demand all day making custom crowns for attendees and vendors.

Thistle & Seed Flower Crowns

Erbaviva skincare has been creating natural & organic products for 20 years – they were also just featured in LeafTV’s Year Of Wellness subscription box, alongside our Aluminum Free Natural Deodorant! Loved their simple and natural take on skincare basics.

Amazonia beauty had the most unique packaging at the expo – wooden bottles laser engraved with the label design and ingredients. The owner said she spent several years developing the products so she wanted a package design that would communicate how luxurious the formulas are. Buying her own laser engraving machine was probably not the most economical choice, but a the final effect was worth it!

Engraved wooden packaging for Amazonia Skincare

One last brand we loved was Crystal Hills Organics – luxurious oils and bath salts infused with crystals. They created a stunning display covered in jewels and crystals to compliment their line. Each product was 100% natural using only essential oils, natural plant oils, clays and salts.

Gorgeous products to make you feel like a goddess

There were around 200 total vendors at the event, so it was a full day visiting each booth. Hair care, nail polish, makeup lines, rockabilly-themed products – so many more vendors we could talk about. Overall, Indie Beauty Expo was a fun event and worth seeing! We are happy to see so many new brands taking the natural route with their products.

Our prediction – in the next 10 years natural skincare will be completely mainstream and you will be able to find truly natural options at any major drugstore and even superstores like Target and Walmart. The sheer numbers of people supporting local, natural, handmade products will force the big brands to adapt to the marketplace demand, or go under.

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A Peek Inside Our New Retail Store

Our No Tox Life retail store carries our own full line of products, plus handmade, local goods. We wanted our store to be perfect for last-minute gifts, in addition to a place to smell, sniff, browse and try our products! The gifts we carry are made by local, sustainable or vegan companies.  Check out a selection of the goods we stock:

Los Feliz Botanicals 100% Natural Perfumes

Los Feliz Botanicals creates 100% natural perfumes blended by hand in Downtown Los Angeles. Each scent is unisex (our favorites are Yucca Valley and Los Feliz), and founder Krystal Quinn has created six scents so far in her line. Full size $55, comes in a beautiful glass bottle and printed box.

AG Standard Smoked Almonds

AG Standard Smoked Almonds come in 3 delicious flavors: Classic, California Chile and Ranch Spice – plus Black Truffle in stock next week! The 4 oz bags are 5.99 each – a great stocking stuffer (and snack! Yes we have tried them, yes they are seriously good). Made locally in Downtown Los Angeles.

Dante Perozzi Handmade Jewelry

Dante Perozzi makes geometric, playful, gold and silver jewelry. Each piece is hand-made using the ancient lost-wax technique, which means individual pieces are completely unique. Handmade in Los Angeles. Prices range from $50-87 depending on the piece.

Smyrna Collection Turkish Towels

Smyrna Collection is created by designer Sedef Culha, a self-described “Turkish Hippie.” Sedef lives and works in Downtown Los Angeles and created her line to bring the luxury of Turkish home goods and decor to the world. Each piece is hand-loomed in Turkey by skilled artisans, creating high-quality textiles that will last for years. Prices range from $18-$52, and the collection includes traditional Turkish body towels, hand towels, terry towels and blankets.

Blue Elf Succulents

Blue Elf Succulents creates her living arrangements in her Echo Park nursery. Each plant is carefully nurtured to live a healthy and full life, and she is available for consultations to help anyone with advice on caring for their new plant. Different size containers and plants are available, mostly succulents and some true cacti which only need watering every 2 weeks. (The perfect plant for a “black thumb” plant owner!) Prices range from $15-65 depending on size and type.

Mystic Blue Pillows – Aromatherapy pillows

Mystic Blue Pillows was founded by Calvert Mota, who grew up in our neighborhood and attended school across the street from our store! Calvert designs and makes the pillows in Los Angeles using high quality essential oils and durable flax seeds. Pillows can be microwaved to use hot, frozen in the freezer to use cold, and can be reused for several years. Perfect for aches, pains, and active lifestyles! $35 each, variety of fabric and scent choices available.

The Ladies of No Tox Life!

We carry many more makers than listed here, and are bringing in new products all the time. Come on by the shop and check out everything, we’d love to see you! Through Christmas Eve, we are offering free in-store gift wrapping for all orders (while supplies last).

For workshops happening in store, visit our events page to sign up.

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No Tox Life’s New Retail Store!

This year, we spent months looking for a production warehouse to move into. Not too big, not too small, central for our customers and our employees, decent neighborhood, easy parking, room for expansion, affordable.

We had completely outgrown our original workspace about a year earlier, but it was beginning to reach ridiculous proportions. To describe it bluntly, we couldn’t walk around without bumping into each other or moving racks full of supplies or products. It was time to move!

Two months ago, we stumbled upon the perfect warehouse in Glassell Park, near Silverlake – and it happened to include a small, separate building on-site for a retail store. We’ve been working the last several weeks on store renovations, including building our own shelving, painting, sewing curtains, installing plumbing… the list of work seemed to multiply overnight.

Painting the storefront!
Sewing curtains
Cutting the shelving wood
Installing floating shelf units

Our retail store is finally complete, and we are very happy to announce that we are open for business! Our new address is 3351 Fletcher Drive, Glassell Park, CA 90065. Our store hours are M-F 11am-7pm, Saturday 10am-4pm, as well as most Sundays (check social media weekly for updates).

No Tox Life New Retail Store in Glassell Park

We are about 15-20 minutes from both the Downtown LA and Hollywood areas, and only a couple minutes from Los Feliz, Atwater Village and Silverlake.

It has been our dream since we started this business to have our very own retail store. Thank you for supporting us and helping our handmade business grow! To celebrate, we are serving up Mexican Spiced hot chocolate lattes all week, plus 20% off our products in-store through Sunday, Dec 4th, and free gifts with every purchase.

Mexican Spiced hot chocolate lattes

In addition to the full line of No Tox Life products, we are also carrying handmade goods from some of our favorite makers. We have a wide variety of local goods including: accessories, artisanal almonds, juice pulp baking mixes, gemstone and crystal jewelry, velvet chokers, rope tote bags, turkish towels, natural perfumes and colognes, aromatherapy pillows, wall weavings, rustic pottery and more. We would love to have you come check everything out!

No Tox Life store – with local, handmade goods!

What’s coming next – we are beginning renovations on our warehouse and production facility next door, and will be opening the space to the public at the end of January for workshops, events, maker nights and soap factory tours!

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How we transitioned a creative idea into a full-time career

Can a handmade business be more than just a hobby?

We started No Tox Life two years ago on Earth Day and we’re taking time to celebrate our journey.

How did you get started?

Short answer: Sandee taught herself to make soap in Fall 2013 and gave them as Christmas gifts. More and more people started asking for them and suggesting she make a business out of it. Reading the labels on store-bought soaps, she was appalled to realize how many unnecessary chemicals were added to most commercial soaps. She got fired up about helping people start a non-toxic body care routine, and No Tox Life was born.

No Tox Life Making Soap Swirls Vegan Soap1

Callie had a full-time job elsewhere, but would give suggestions on design or packaging, and helped with weekend market sales. By mid-2015, she was working full time in our new business. Callie is the creative director and works with all aspects of the business, from product development to package design to photography & social media, ensuring the brand message is consistent.

Where do you sell?

We started online, since we both knew how to build a simple website. We were first accepted to the Hollywood Farmers Market and began selling there. By Winter 2015, we had expanded to 5 local markets a week in the LA area, and had occasional weekends of 7 markets in LA and San Francisco.

No Tox Life Co Founder Callie Ferman

Where else do you sell?

We have online shops on Etsy, Amazon, and of course our own website! We are in some boutiques and grocery stores, and are growing that area this year.

Do you hire anyone?

Yes, we do now. We didn’t for more than a year, and eventually realized we really needed help to grow like we wanted. We started hiring sales assistants, which allowed us to expand into San Francisco. We had a couple part-time production assistants, and now have a full-time production assistant helping us make products.

No Tox Life Handmade Skincare - Diana Aitken

What are your sales numbers?

In 2014, we sold just over 2,000 units of product. Some of our most popular products were our Vegan Body BarsDETOX Charcoal Facial bars, Aluminum Free Natural Deodorants & Vegan Lip Balms.

Units sold 2014

2015 brought a whole new dimension to our business. We sold more than 12,500 units. We expanded our skincare line to include more than 100 different products, which really set us apart from other bath & body vendors.

Units sold 2015

First Quarter 2016 we’ve sold more than 5,300 units, a third of it online. We began shipping internationally, including to customers in Australia, Sweden, Canada and the UK.

Is social media important to the business?

We try to be very active on social media, posting on Instagram, Facebook and even Linkedin multiple times a week. Social media is the only “advertising” we do – and we get tons of customers ordering online and showing up to our markets as a result of social media postings.

One of our biggest opportunities actually came from a Facebook post – we were featured on live TV (Good Day Sacramento & Bay Area). It was a really fun interview and DIY demonstration live in San Francisco, and we drove back to LA to discover we had beat our highest ever online sales in a weekend.


What other press have you gotten?

Sandee was interviewed on two podcasts last year — That’s So Retrograde hit #1 on iTunes and Food Heals was #1 in Health on iTunes for our podcast. They are worth a listen.

We’ve been fortunate to have bloggers, actors and models as our loyal customers, and they have spread the word about how much they love our products. We’ve also had our products highlighted in a few magazines including Into the Gloss (interviewing Tracee Ellis Ross, who says our deodorant is her go-to), and Handmade Magazine.

Handmade Magazine feature1

We’re not shy, so contact us if you have PR or media opportunities we should check out.

What’s the future?

In 2016 we’re moving to a larger production facility because we have outgrown our little workshop!

We’re also getting into more retail and grocery stores, so let us know your preferred places to shop.

And there are some ideas we’re considering — such as a subscription box, more DIY workshops, and more skin care products for men.

Big dream — establishing storefronts in several states. Maybe next year …

Do you have a special skin care routine?


Sandee Ferman No Tox LifeCurrently I use a Shea Butter Exfoliating Facial Bar, a Konjac sponge, and an Illuminating Facial Serum daily. (The Shea Butter Exfoliating Facial Bar and the Illuminating Facial Serum will be released as new products soon.) For showering I prefer mild soaps; one of my favorites is the Peppermint Pine Body Bar, it’s so refreshing! Weekly, I shampoo with our Old-Fashioned Shampoo Bar, use Apple Cider Vinegar Conditioning Rinse, and finish with a few drops of Lavender Hair Treatment. That’s it! I like to keep things simple.



Callie Ferman No Tox LifeI am a soap addict so I’m switching it up each time my soap runs out. My favorite scents are probably the Desert Sage Body Bar and the Grapefruit Mango Body bar. For good exfoliation, the Blacktop Coffee body bar is my go-to.

For shaving my legs I use the Charcoal Spirulina body bar because it has this amazing “gooey” texture that is slippery and perfect for keeping my skin moisturized. Way better than commercial shaving creams or shaving gel.

I wash my face with the Dry/Combo Charcoal DETOX facial bar, it has a nice creamy lather and cleans off my makeup. During the winter when my face gets super dry I will use the Face & Body oil to clean off my makeup. To moisturize, I’m using our new Illuminating Facial Serum, which is incredible.

I recently got my hair bleached and dyed grayish/lavender, so our 3-In-One Hair Treatment has been a lifesaver. I use about 5 drops every day after I get out of the shower and it gives my super dry hair the hydration it needs.

Anything else to say?

Thank you to our unpaid volunteers (Sandee’s husband, Callie’s boyfriend!) for helping us with late nights and early mornings. And to all of our customers for supporting us on this journey, and helping make our business a success. We love connecting with each one of you at the markets and hearing from you!


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The Blacktop Coffee Cold Brew Bar – An Artisanal Collaboration

Blacktop Espresso Bar in Downtown LA was founded by Tyler J. Wells, one of the trio who founded Handsome Coffee Roasters (recently acquired by Blue Bottle Coffee). As Tyler told LA Weekly, “Since the beginning, I’ve always wanted a little 200 foot espresso bar, something truly European, where people can stop in and have a drink, a little two minute bright spot in their day, and go on to whatever’s next.”

Blacktop's minimal menu - with their famed cold brew coffee.
Blacktop’s minimal menu – with their famed cold brew coffee
Blacktop Coffee Barista Nick 3
Nick, one of Blacktop’s expert baristas
Heath Ceramics Cups used at Blacktop Coffee DTLA
Earthy and beautiful Heath Ceramics are used to serve each cappuccino
Barista Measuring Espresso at Blacktop Coffee in DTLA
“I try to measure every time,” Nick periodically uses a scale to measure grounds, ensuring a consistent quality and flavor with each shot of espresso
Blacktop exclusively uses beans from Sightglass, a San Francisco-based roasting company
Blacktop exclusively uses beans from Sightglass, a San Francisco-based roasting company

That is exactly what he has created in Downtown’s flourishing Arts District – a place for the community to gather, enjoy a delicious cup of espresso or their famed cold brew coffee, chat with friends, and continue on with their day. This is not a place to bring a laptop and “pretend to be working.”  The minimal outdoor seating is comprised of tree stumps and small benches (there is no wifi).

Tree stumps make up the seating area outdoors - vegan almond milk cappuccino (with extra thick almond milk)
Tree stumps make up the seating area outdoors – vegan almond milk cappuccino (with extra thick almond milk)

We stumbled upon Blacktop recently and had the pleasure of meeting with the manager, Ryan Judd. He works with a great team of baristas to create a welcoming atmosphere, delicious bites (open-faced sandwiches), and superb coffee every day.

Blacktop Coffee Manager Ryan Judd
Blacktop Coffee Manager Ryan Judd
Farmers Market Nectarines and Burrata at Blacktop
Summer offerings: Farmers Market Nectarines and Burrata. “Nectarines are just fuzzless peaches”

At No Tox Life we make our facial and body soaps using the traditional cold-process method, meaning we make it entirely from scratch by combining oils (the acid) with sodium hydroxide, also known as lye (the base). The resulting chemical reaction converts these substances into a new, stable material known as soap.

Vegan oils used as the base for No Tox Life soap

Some soap makers use animal fats or palm oil as the base of their bars.  We use 100% vegan and sustainable oils – olive oil, rice bran oil and coconut oil.

Adding Blacktop Coffee grounds for exfoliation

In the multi-step soap making process we added cold brew coffee, cold brew coffee grounds, charcoal (activated hardwood charcoal powder), espresso fragrance oil with a hint of mocha and vanilla, and sprinkled coffee grounds on the finished bars.

Blacktop Coffee Cold Brew Bar with coffee grounds on top

Our newest No Tox Life body bar is crafted entirely using cold brew coffee & coffee grounds from Blacktop. It is an exfoliating bar (one of our heaviest scrubs), with a zing of firming caffeine to wake up your skin. It is an ode to artisan craftsmanship, community and damn good coffee.

Blacktop Coffee Cold Brew Bar Exfoliating Vegan Soap
Blacktop Coffee Cold Brew Bar – Deeply Exfoliating Vegan Soap

The Blacktop Coffee Cold Brew Bar is available online and at our weekly markets.