PHOTO: Courtesy of Duane Antoine Johns

As we continue our quests to find the best skincare routines to keep our skin healthy and avoid manufactured ingredients that do us more harm than good, we are always excited when we discover all-natural products created and sold by black business owners. 

Founder of O-LIV-e A-Peel Co., Rachel McClain, is changing the game of skincare one natural homemade product at a time. As a first-generation American with roots from Trinidad & Tobago, embracing the ideology of natural remedies was abnormal in her eyes. After receiving a Doctorate of Pharmacy, Rachel was not sure how she would combine her love of skincare and pharmaceutical knowledge. Through dedication, trial-and-error and most importantly prayer, she was able to turn a dream into reality that not only connects with her purpose but helps enhance the lives of others at the same time. 21Ninety caught up with Rachel to talk more about how her company came to be and why natural products are so important: 

21Ninety: When you went to school to get your doctorate in Pharmacy, did you ever foresee yourself starting a company like this?

Rachel McClain: I never in a million-years thought that I would have created a skincare line when I went to pharmacy school. When I was in college I wanted to go to medical school and become a dermatologist because I was so passionate about wanting to change the way skin looked and felt. Life circumstances didn’t allow that to happen, so when I did attend pharmacy school I thought my desire for skincare could never be incorporated in with my education background.

21Ninety: How did O-Liv-e A-Peel Co. come to be?

RM: This company was one that I prayed for. I was at a very low point in my life where I felt like I had no purpose and I asked God why He created me. Yes, I was a mom of four amazing kids and a wife to an awesome husband, but this was a void that couldn't be filled. It was through deep prayer where God revealed my purpose. I had been doing research on natural products here and there prior to this revelation; it is truly amazing how you can't even see your own potential until your eyes are open. It lets me know that each and every one of us is born with potential for greatness. For about a year, before I sold my first product, I began writing everything God gave me, from the name of my company to the recipes. Even at the time I sold my first product, I had no intention of selling at that point but God had other plans; so here we are.

We use only the best resources we can find to create an overall amazing product! Know what your putting on your skin! Your skin deserves the best!————————————————————————Don't miss out on these products! ————————————————————————check out our site at www.theoliveapeelco.com or find us on FB at The OLIVe APeel Co. Check out our reviews! To see is to believe!💕 ————————————————————————. . . . #knowledge #knowledgeispowerful #naturalskincare #skincare #infusedoils #handmade #smallbusiness #smallbusinessowners #entrepreneur #femaleentrepreneur #melanin #sheabutter #mangobutter #essentialoils #haircare #oneday #consistency #forhisglory #knowyourproducts #coffeescrub #moringa #neem #licoriceroot #honey

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21Ninety: For our readers who may have never heard of pharmacodynamics, may you explain what that is and why it is important in your process?

RM: In pharmacy school, you take a class known as pharmacology and within this class you learn about the biochemistry behind drugs, as well as the study of drug action. Within this course you also learn about pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. Pharmacokinetics is the process of how the body breaks down the drugs that enter the body and its pathways to being excreted from the body (through absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion). Pharmacodynamics is what the drug actually does to the body, so we are talking mechanisms of actions, adverse effects, all of that. So, through my company, I essentially research herbs, spices and oils and look at how it affects the body and what the benefits are for the body. I always make sure I research it because some herbs can be dangerous.

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PHOTO: Olivia (From Rachel McClain)

21Ninety:  The company's name is a bit of play on words, can you explain why?

RM: Yes, so the company is inspired by my daughter Olivia. Her skin issues are what really propelled me into creating this company. When she was a newborn she had a terrible rash on her neck. When I took her to the doctors they said it was nothing and would reside overtime. Well, my mother’s intuition kicked in and I knew it couldn't have been just "nothing." Thankfully a nurse practitioner mentioned to me it was probably a yeast rash. I began using nystatin [topical cream] on her rash and it did work but it dried out her skin terribly. This is when I really began considering natural solutions for yeast rashes. Coconut oil came up online and I decided to give it a try. Within about 2 days her rash was gone! This really peaked my interest because I felt like I wasn't taught any of this in pharmacy school. I wondered why this natural product worked better than the prescription drugs. Fast forward a few months and she got a terrible diaper rash. Again, I used over the counter drugs and nothing worked! I thought back to her first rash experience and I decided to create my own cream for her diaper rash. Within five days she had brand new, rash-free skin and I never stopped using it! I wanted a unique name for my company that incorporated my daughter’s name and my use of natural products. I went with "A-Peel" because I incorporate fruits and to eat them you have to peel them. The "liv" represents life for me, truly living your best life through skincare that treats and doesn't harm.

21Ninety:  Your goal with O-Liv-e A-Peel Co. is to not only sell products that work but to educate the masses. How do you add an educational aspect for your consumers?

RM: I think that the biggest reason why people chose to not use natural products is because they don't know enough about them. I think it is important for me as one who possesses a healthcare degree to teach others about natural products and their benefits. I find this to be a huge issue especially in the black community and that is why I am so adamant about teaching. I even charge people to do their own research, don't just take my word for it. Social media for me has been an amazing way to reach millions of people from the comfort of home. I utilize Instagram, Facebook, and my webpage to get the word out. Even if I get no likes or comments, I know that someone is watching and taking notes. That's what matters most to me.

It has been a very cold winter this year, and with cold air comes dry skin and hair! There is no better way to defeat dry skin or scalp other than using an extremely moisturizing butter cream, oil or lotion for your body. We offer and array of buttercreams and oils that target dry skin and heals the underlying causes. These buttercreams/or oils: Heal✔ Protects skin✔ Are packed with essential oils✔ Possess mango butter✔ Possess shea butter✔ Are infused with real fruit/herbs✔ Have exotic butters✔ Moisturizes skin & scalp✔ Options are various! Go check out these buttercreams/or oils now and end your winter on a soothing note! #naturalhair #skincare #naturalskincare #buttercream #sheabutter #mangobutter #exoticbutters #brazil #africa #multicultural #dryskin #eczema #dryscalp #hairgrowth #dryhair #winter #moisturizer #essentialoils #psoriasis #acne #soothing #herbaloil #forhisglory #thankyoulord #melanin #caribbean #blackownedbusiness #hardwork #pharmd

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21Ninety: Something we love about your products is they are all natural! How do you formulate what items to put together to achieve the specific results you advertise?

RM: Well as stated earlier, God literally gives me these ideas! I can hear about a plant or an oil and immediately my mind goes into overdrive on the products that I can create with it. The first thing I do before any creation is research! I cannot stress that concept enough. I look at how that plant or herb affects the body, if there are any side effects, as well as if people on prescription medications or with certain health conditions will be affected negatively through its use. I think that is what makes my approach to skincare different. There are companies that put products together because it "sounds good" but realistically they have no clue what it’s doing to the body. Essential oils, herbs, spices and other carrier oils have the ability to absorb into the bloodstream very quickly so my main concern is to make sure that it's doing the body good and not bad.

21Ninety: In addition to your company's products and purpose, you also created a social action initiative for women who feel hopelessness when it comes to their looks and how they feel about themselves. Tell us more about that.

RM: Well I created T.H.R.I.V.E which stands for Taking Hardships and Reigniting Integrity Value and Excellence. I initially created it as a blog but then formed it into a social impact. I did this because I exemplify how hardships can make you or break you. I had my first son in college and it was at a time in my life where I felt like I was really achieving and reaching my full potential. On one hand my son was a gift for me, but on the other hand, I knew my life would never be the same. Life changed and so did my friends. There were times I felt hopeless and times where I felt like I didn't meet the standard of beauty for my husband. In the end, I think it is all about perspective; will you take a failure and give up on life or take your failure and have that be your driving force to be greater. I finished college with a baby on my hip, and I finished pharmacy school with two boys and a baby in the womb. Now I have a total of 4 kids! Nothing can stop you! This social initiative is for women like me who didn't always get the easy stick in life but no matter what they have there are still thriving! My long-term goal is to create an internship for women that want to know the ins and outs of business and really get strong guidance. It is hard being a black woman in business and I ultimately want to help other women of color get their foot in the door because I did not have that experience.

21Ninety: Since the inception of your business, what has been the most transformative story you have experienced/heard from a buyer?

RM: There was a customer whose daughter had a skin disorder known as pityriasis rosea and she had tried everything on the market (prescription and over the counter) to help her overcome this skin problem that was severely itchy and scaly.  At the core, this skin problem has a viral skin component. When I researched this skin disease there was no known cure for it, it is only with time that the symptoms are said to subside. I created a balm that has butters from Brazil that I thought would effectively treat this skin condition because of its anti-viral properties so that is what I recommended. Not more than a week later, she wrote a review raving about its success! It made her skin even more beautiful than it already was. I was humbled and thankful that God would give me this gift to really implement change in the lives of others. I am grateful. 

21Ninety: Something else so special about  O-Liv-e A-Peel Co. is it is the FIRST "female-driven company that is owned and operated by a person with a doctorate in pharmacy." And not just female, but black female! What does that mean to you and what message do you hope it sends to other women of color?

RM: I am so grateful! I am just a girl from Boston whose parents were immigrants from Trinidad & Tobago who instilled within me perseverance and hard work. I am forever grateful to my parents for their Godly wisdom and support which has brought me to this point. I just want to let other women of color know that you can do it too! I have received so many emails from women within the field of pharmacy that want to do what I am doing, and I tell them every time to go for it! Live your dreams. It is amazing how I may not have become a dermatologist but look at what God has done for me! I've begun a journey that I've dreamed of since I was in college. God is good!

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PHOTO: Rachel McClain

21Ninety: What's next for O-Liv-e A-Peel Co.?

RM: I plan on reformulating and developing new and improved buttercreams, oils and balms. In addition, I plan on entering the European beauty industry with hopes of being sold worldwide. No dream is too big. Pushing forward to greatness!

21Ninety: Anything else you want to share or want people to know about you or your company?

RM: I have plans on going back to school to become an organic skin care formulator entrepreneur! I am passionate about my company and I think the greatest business owners are ones that are not afraid to obtain more knowledge to improve their craft. There is always room for improvement.

To learn more about O-LIV-e A-Peel Co. and the products they offer, visit their site here!

black entrepreneurblack-owneddoctorate of pharmacynatural productsnatural skincareo-liv-e a-peel co.rachel mcclainskincare