Tamara Brown said she never planned to start her own business.
Her children’s skincare needs are what prompted her to begin the journey that would eventually lead her to open JAK's Essentials in West Columbia.
“I have three children and that’s what the business is named after. They were all born with problematic skin – hypersensitivity, eczema, and psoriasis,” she said. “So, I started studying the art of skin care.”
Brown’s first product was a baby butter, followed by a natural and organic baby deodorant. Friends and family members started reaching out to purchase her items. It quickly evolved into a full line of baby products.
Now a master natural hair and skincare formulator, Brown has educated herself on the components of skin care, hair care and aromatherapy. She signed a lease for her first brick-and-mortar store in February of 2020, and officially opened three months later.
“People ask me, ‘You opened a business in the middle of a pandemic?” Brown said. “And I’m like, really, I didn’t mean to do that. Nobody does that. It just kind of happened.”
JAK's Essentials offers products including moisturizer, lotion, body washes, scrub, body spray, facial care, bath bombs and soaps.
Although it hasn’t always been easy running the store, Brown said she has experienced positive feedback and a lot of business through online sales. “Once you go in and smell everything and find what you like, people can shop online,” she said. “But I’m always seeing new faces, which is a good thing. I know people are telling people.”
JAK's Essentials has been able to stay open and running without pandemic funding or a business loan. According to Brown, the success of her store has come from hard work, saving, and pouring her own money into it.
“I started with two products and $50. I was a stay at home mom,” she said.
Now, the company just celebrated its one-year anniversary in May. Brown said her customers' support of JAK's has truly humbled her. “It almost brings me to tears, because it means that people trust me to be their go-to. They trust me to know what I’m doing and produce quality products. That’s the only way I was able to stay in business - by being myself, connecting with people, and letting them know, hey, this is what I know,” said Brown.
She unveiled a new set of products at her store’s anniversary: a multicultural hair care line with shampoos, conditioners, scalp oil and moisturizing spray.
Brown creates her products in the “lab” on-site at her business. She welcomes students who are interested in taking classes to learn how to become a natural skin care formulator. Virtual classes are also available.
“I want to teach people to make it correctly. DIYs are recipes, and I want people to not follow a recipe but a formula. It’s safer, and it’s just better,” she said.
JAK's Essentials is open Wednesdays through Fridays from 2 to 7 p.m., and Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. The store is located at 114 State St. Product information can be found at JAKsEssentials.com.