“True. Pure. Renew. Authentic. Fresh. Real. Timeless. Simple.”

When Jennifer Garcia, 31, of Rupert, Idaho saw a designer fabric with these words printed on it, she knew she had to have it – at least enough to make an apron for her booth at the 2010 Mini-Cassia Craft Fair. To Jennifer, these words perfectly describe her home-based business, Simply Jen Naturals, which creates natural, handmade personal care products. “The only word missing is ‘inspired’ because from day one, this journey has been guided by one inspired thought to the next,” she says.

Photo © Jason Lugo

Jen with her display of the Cosmetics Database Hazard Scale.

While pregnant with her third child in 2008, Jennifer read the ingredients listed on the bottle of a popular name brand lotion and baby wash. Skeptical about all the long-named and abbreviated ingredients, she turned to the internet to research. This is when she first found the Cosmetics Database – an online safety guide for personal care products.  “I’ve always been interested in a natural and healthier approach to my life. Past health issues have made me more cautious of the foods I eat as well as taking a more naturopathic approach to my family’s health. But my interests were always focused on inside the body and not so much outside the body until I discovered the Cosmetic Database. “

Jennifer’s world was turned upside down when she learned of the harmful ingredients used in everyday products that she was using on her two young children.  Extensive research soon turned her fear into knowledge as she began formulating her own baby lotion for her family. Immediately, a new passion was born. Jennifer’s mind was incessantly occupied with learning more about the safety of ingredients, and creating formulas that were not only safe, but effective and luxurious.

Photo © Jason Lugo

Simply Jen Naturals product line.

As her enthusiasm and passion for safe personal care products grew, her graphic design business of 13 years took a back seat. But it still remains a great asset for marketing and building the brand of her booming business.  Not only has Jennifer carefully formulated every one of her products, she has designed everything from her logo and labels to the Simply Jen website.  “Having the ability to do my own graphic design has really saved me a bunch of money in my business,” she says.

It didn’t take long for her products to gain the attention of those outside her family, and soon she was receiving requests for her products to be made available to the public.  “Three years ago, I never would have thought I would be running a small personal body care business out of my home,” she says. “I didn’t know the first thing about this industry.”

As of December, Simply Jen Naturals has been available to the public for just 16 months and is growing so fast she can barely keep up with the orders.  The frenzied popularity of the Simply Jen line was evident at the Mini-Cassia Craft Fair in October, where Jennifer proudly wore her “wordy” apron. The beautifully designed Simply Jen booth was jam-packed with customers.

Photo © Jason Lugo

Some of Simply Jen's Flagship Products: Immunity of Thieves Line

“After spending just a few minutes with Jen, it is easy to see she knows her stuff,” says Kim Kidd of Declo, Idaho, who is a faithful Simply Jen customer. “Jen can read any commercial product label and explain what each ingredient’s function is and its safety status. You can tell she has really done her homework and her customers feel comforted by her knowledge.”

More than anything, Jennifer says her passion is about educating others and making a difference.  “Most people don’t realize how much the skin absorbs topically applied substances into the bloodstream and how certain ingredients can affect our overall health. With a better understanding, consumers can be more selective about what products are safe to use.”

The Simply Jen online store is easy to navigate and receives orders from all over the country. The product line consists of all-natural homemade moisturizers, sugar scrubs, lip balms and deodorant, as well as essential oils, and diffusers – with a laundry list of products to be added in the next year. Her flagship products include her First Aid Stick (nicknamed “Miracle Stick” by customers) and her Immunity of Thieves oils, which have offered customers an alternative to antibiotics and over-the-counter medicines.  These two products have become absolute necessities in many Idaho households and continue to fly off the shelves.

Photo © Jason Lugo

100% Natural Sugar Scrubs available in Grapefruit, Peppermint, French Lavender, Fresh Scent.

Everything is carefully manufactured by hand in Southern Idaho – to the surprise of many. “Often people ask where my products are packaged. It always amuses me how surprised they are to find that I do it all, with the help of my mom and sister-in-law – from formulating and making the products by hand, to designing the labels and packaging everything right from my little Rupert, Idaho kitchen.”

NOTE: Shortly after this article was published, Simply Jen soon became a national company called Verefina. You can find all their wonderful “Toxin-Free” health and beauty care products online at www.verefina.com or visit them on Facebook.

Verefina products are made with all-natural ingredients and never contain:

• Dioxin • Triclosan • Pthalates • Benzoyl Peroxide • PEG (Polyethylene)• DEA, MEA, TEA • FD&C Color/Pigments• Parabens (Meth, Butyl,   Ethyl, Propyl) • Petrochemicals:   Mineral Oil, Paraffin,   Petrolatum, Petroleum • Propylene Glycol (PG) and   Butylene Glycol • DMDM Hydantonin & Urea   (Imidazolidinyl) • Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS)   & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) • Sunscreen Chemicals:    Avobenzone, Benzphenone   Ethoxycinnamate, PABA