Twenty-four years ago the concept of plant-based skincare was foreign to most. That didn’t stop Heather Rosencrantz, founder of Dirty Girl Farm (DGF), from turning her degree in botany, her need to help heal her then baby daughter’s skin rash and her love for farming into a viable natural skincare line that now sells over 400 products. This vegan and organic plant-based skincare line and lifestyle brand is dedicated to improving wellness naturally.
CEOMOM caught up with Rosencrantz to learn more about how she got started as a farmer and her innovative approach to skincare.
How did your career as a farmer begin?
The idea of becoming a farmer began when I was old enough to walk. My grandparents farmed strawberries and an assortment of vegetables. I spent many days camped out in the strawberry patch eating more than I was picking! My family preserved everything they could — jam, jellies, frozen vegetables, and canning (lots, and lots of canning, which I still really love to do). I have always appreciated growing what you consume and believe it is a great privilege to be able to do so.
Medicinal and botanical herbs became my “favorite” thing to grow and learn about.
You started making plant-based skincare products when it wasn’t as popular. What inspired you to create an organic skincare line when virtually no one else was doing it?
It wasn’t easy making plant-based skincare in the beginning (24 years ago) because no one was doing it. I had some really old herbal books that had basic salve recipes and simple emulsified lotions and I expanded upon those simple recipes for everything. Then my botany and herbal studies came in with the different properties of plants. I also studied wild living in Alaska, aka: living off the land. You had to make your own remedies if you were living in the bush, which I was doing while in college.
From early in my career I worked with botanicals and learned the incredible healing qualities of plant-life. In fact, after graduating from college with a degree in botany I grew plants and sold them at a farmer’s market. It was during this time that I started to blend my own skincare products at home – taking my knowledge of plants to help heal my then baby daughter’s skin rash. This homemade natural product worked wonders and at the encouragement of family and friends I made natural, plant-based skincare products to sell at the farm stand alongside my plants. The products sold out very quickly and then, based upon that positive experience, Dirty Girl Farm was born! That was over 24 years ago and I continue to innovate new products with a commitment to using healthy, plant-based ingredients.
Dirty Girl Farm now has hundreds of products. What is your process for developing new products? What sparks new ideas?
I typically learn about a new botanical or an “old” botanical with new research on its properties. I’m always learning and studying and looking for unique herbs. For example, I have recently found hundreds of witch hazel trees on my “new” farm (2 years this October) and I am now working with them in my off time. I live on an untouched native Michigan property and it’s fun exploring what wild things are growing there. I have so far also found loads of wintergreen, two different species of birch, rare orchids, and many medicinal mushrooms.
Also, and very importantly, my clients inspire me. Sometimes the ideas just flash in my head — I can be in the lab and just poof, I can be making a lotion for instance and realize if I add this, it does that, or if I add one more botanical, I get 10 more curative properties. My methods aren’t always textbook.
What are your top “must have” DGF beauty products for the holidays?
My personal favorites include the new Michigan Evergreen Salve — It is inspired by the numerous native pines on my farm and smells delicious. It is a really old remedy recreated for our modern times. I also love the Be Merry lotion and hand wash – it is so cheery and festive and my personal favorite. Olive Oil Lotion is our go to lotion for extreme dry winter skin. Also, the Vitamin C Serum is another must have. I spend a lot of time outdoors and this one really helps reverse sun damage and early signs of aging such as fine lines. I also love the MSM cream for aches and pains, especially my very arthritic hands. I’m finding great use of that with pregnant moms for the severe leg cramps and back spasms they experience during late pregnancy.
Where do you see DGF in five years?
In five years, I see DGF continuing to thrive and helping to address the skincare needs of men, women and children. With our new website about to be unveiled, I see an even larger online presence so we can reach customers across the country and around the world. Further, I would like to see my brand in Whole Foods or other large retailers committed to wholesome living and ingredients. I also plan to expand Dirty Girl Farm’s mommy and baby line.
Can you tell us about any new products you’re developing? How will they differ from your current line?
Yes, we have four grandchildren now and I’m looking at raising a baby with new eyes. I’m reintroducing some of my original recipes for baby skin. I’m working on a new formulation for my baby powder that will include zinc and calendula for yeast issues. Turmeric lotion, body wash and polish are brand new, we just introduced them. We also plan on doing lots more with hemp. Hemp is one of my favorites because of its sustainability.
Your daughter was part of your inspiration to start Dirty Girl Farm. How has your family played a role in your business?
Yes, my daughter was the only reason I began formulating products at all! From her sensitive skin to creating Boo Boo Balm for a burn on her arm, I created a business that would allow me to spend time with her at home while she was an infant. I lived the corporate life that just wasn’t satisfying my soul or nourishing my farming roots or creativity. My early years as a mom were so rewarding growing plants and taking my daughter with me to the local farmers markets. Through selling our plants and our Boo Boo Balm, we learned that there was a huge need for my skin care products in the community.
My daughter just recently told me, very casually over dinner, she WILL be taking over Dirty Girl Farm soon! She hopes to grow the online business and social media presence of our behind the scenes type of work. She also is really passionate about sustainable and recyclable packaging and is researching new ways of bottling products in something compostable, where other companies have failed. She is very passionate about our environment and future of the planet.
Learn more about Dirty Girl Farm at https://dirtygirlfarm.com/ or @DirtyGirlFarm on social media.