This post first appeared in our weekly Make Waves Mondays email series on June 27, 2022.
Helloooo, and happy Monday! We are BACK this week with our next edition in our Vendor Spotlight series - where we’re turning the mic over to our incredible vendors so you can get to know them as real people.
Today, I sat down with Bailey Noble, the owner and founder of Bai-li Essentials, who makes our zero waste deodorant for A Drop in the Ocean. Bailey is such a lovely human and I had such a great time getting to know her better, and I know you will too.
We chatted all things Bai-li, including the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant, what’s so great about Bai-li compared to other natural deos, and even shared our own stories of how we both used to use Secret Clinical Strength so finding a deodorant that actually works was a challenge for us both.
AND, I’ve learned a couple new things about video editing! Still got a long way to go, but this one is by far the best yet and I’m really excited for you to see it 😄 But, of course, if you’d rather listen to read the interview rather than watch it, I gotchu covered too 😉
AT A GLANCE:
01:39 // Who is Bai-li Essentials and how did it get started?
02:59 // How did Bai-li Essentials get its name?
03:43 // Krystina’s testimonial of Bai-li deodorant
05:03 // What's the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant?
07:09 // How did Bailey create her deodorant recipe?
13:01 // What sets Bai-li Deodorant apart from other natural deodorants?
14:31 // What's Bailey’s favorite part of what she does?
17:47 // What's something Bailey is really proud of?
19:17 // What's next for Bai-li Essentials?
Want to listen to this interview instead? Here’s an audio-only version!
MENTIONED IN THE VIDEO:
BAILEY NOBLE: Honestly, why I started the company in the first place was because I do truly believe that every small change that we can make in our daily life has an impact on our planet. That's the biggest thing. I love what I do, because even though sometimes it feels like it might not be enough, it is. It is, because if you can just get people thinking like that, ultimately we're going to start to move in the right direction.
KRYSTINA JARVIS: Good morning, Bailey! How are you today?
BAILEY: Good morning! I'm great. How are you?
KRYSTINA: I'm good. I'm enjoying a little bit of what looks is going to be sun later. Right now, it's a little bit dreary, but it looks it's going to perk up.
BAILEY: Yeah. It's pretty sunny here. It's allergy central here.
KRYSTINA: Oh, yeah. Yeah, because you're in Pennsylvania now?
BAILEY: Yes. Yeah.
KRYSTINA: Yeah. Yeah, I grew up in the Midwest, so yeah, it's definitely that time of year when...
BAILEY: Oh my gosh. Just nonstop.
KRYSTINA: Yeah. Well, I'm so excited that you're here!
BAILEY: Yeah, thank you for having me.
KRYSTINA: Yeah! This is going to be the June edition of our Vendor Spotlight, which is an opportunity for our EcoWarrior community to get to know the faces behind the products that we sell. So you are the owner and founder of Bai-li Deodorant, which we sell in our shop. Would you like to just introduce yourself and your business?
BAILEY: Yeah, so I'm Bailey. My business started in a very small kitchen in California in 2019. It was the summer of 2019, and I had my own personal revelation of I want a natural deodorant that doesn't have aluminum, that doesn't have chemicals, fragrance, all that crazy stuff, and I wanted it to be packaged in a biodegradable tube, because I was so tired of going to these bigger stores and seeing a lot of natural deodorant options, but none of them were packaged in something sustainable. So I started making the deodorant at home for myself and it really worked, and then it clicked for me. And I was like, "Well, if I'm on this quest, maybe other people are going to be on this quest, too." So I was like, "Huh! Maybe I can sell this."
So it started very organically, because I was passionate about it, because I loved it, and what I was making for myself was really working for me. So I just started small and through organic outreach. I think you were one of my first wholesalers as well, which is so, so cool that we're getting to connect now, but yeah, so that's how it started.
And then the name, Bai-li, my real name, you spell it B-A-I-L-E-Y. But this name came to me from my first love who passed away almost six years ago now. He was studying Mandarin in China and he said to me, "Your Chinese name is Bai-li." That's how you pronounce it in Mandarin. But to keep that confusion out of the equation, I said, "Well, we'll pronounce it BAILEY." And it means pure, beautiful. So when I was naming my deodorants, I was like, "Well, all my ingredients are pure. The packaging is sustainable. It's kind of perfect in a way." So that's where that came from.
KRYSTINA: Yeah. Oh, that's so wonderful. That's a really beautiful story. And I can attest that your deodorant works. When you first reached out to me, I think you reached out in January 2020, right before the pandemic. I get so many emails from people that are like, "Hey, I think my products would be great in your shop." And a lot of them typically overlap with something that I already have, but yours didn't. We didn't have a deodorant, and that's because I hadn't found one that worked for me, because I used to always use Secret Clinical Strength. I needed something strong.
BAILEY: Me, too! Yes. I know!
KRYSTINA: I don't know about you, but I tried so many different kinds of natural deodorants and none of them worked.
KRYSTINA: So I was like, "Well, I'm not going to put something in my shop that I don't use and that doesn't work." So I was like, "I'm going to be honest with you, Bailey. I got to try this before I add it to the shop." So you sent me a sample, and I used it during a super busy, really stressful week. And I was like, "I don't smell. This is amazing. Bailey, I need your deodorant!"
BAILEY: Yes! That makes me so happy.
KRYSTINA: Yes. And I just put it on just after I got out of the shower this morning. I use it every day.
BAILEY: That's amazing. I'm so happy to hear that. Yeah. Yeah. I think the thing that a lot of people need to wrap their head around when they're switching to a natural deodorant is that it's not an antiperspirant, and it's not filled with those chemicals. So if you sweat, the deodorant might come off and you might need to reapply. It's a different train of thought around the way you use the product versus the traditional antiperspirant.
KRYSTINA: Yeah. And then, the more that I thought, as I started getting into zero waste and whatnot, then of course, there's a lot of overlap with the natural products world. Which has its own issues in some ways, but one of the things that really stood out to me is, why are we stopping this perfectly natural body function with antiperspirant? We're literally stopping sweat from producing, which is a very key a thing that keeps us regulated.
BAILEY: Yeah, there's a purpose behind why we sweat. You don't want to stop it, because it rids your body of toxins, so it's a really good thing. It may be uncomfortable and like, "Oh, I don't want to sweat," but it's actually a good thing for your body.
KRYSTINA: Yeah. And I think that once I transitioned to using a deodorant instead of an antiperspirant, I feel like my body adjusted. I feel like at first, it was probably like, "Let's sweat even more!" That might have been part of the problem with trying all the other ones before yours. I could also just be making it up. I don't know.
BAILEY: There definitely is that. I feel like most people experience that transition from a regular antiperspirant to a natural deodorant. And it does take your body time to adjust, because your underarm has its own microbiome, so if it's completely out of whack from one thing, it just needs time to figure out what's normal again. But you just stick with it. I know it's uncomfortable, that transition period, but you just have to stick with it. Yeah.
KRYSTINA: Yeah. That makes so much sense.
How did you come up with your recipe? How did you create such an amazing product that nobody else does?
BAILEY: It was a lot of trial and error. It was a lot of looking at other products and seeing what worked, and then for me coming up with my own formula was a lot of... I think I had baking soda in my product originally, and then I tested that one for a week and totally broke out, was super irritated. I was like, "Okay, that's gone." So a lot of it was me testing the product on myself and then finding the balance between the ingredients and what was stable and worked. Yeah, so it took maybe a few months to really come up with something that was going to be good.
KRYSTINA: Mm-hmm. And I love that you stuck with it, because I feel a lot of people might have tried one thing and been like, "Oh, this doesn't work. I'm going back to Secret."
BAILEY: Yeah, no. I know, because my fiancé would always be like, "Oh Bailey’s in the kitchen again, making stuff and experimenting.”
KRYSTINA: Oh, that's awesome. And now you've moved out of the kitchen. You now have your own production space, right?
BAILEY: Yeah. Yeah. We actually moved to Pennsylvania just about a year ago. We decided we needed more space to expand. My fiancé has his own company as well, and we're both makers. I grew up in Pennsylvania, so my family's here and I wanted to spend more time with them. So we got really, really lucky with this property that had a bunch of different garages and different areas that the family actually had a woodworking shop. So I turned the woodworking shop into my She Shop, is what we call it. Yeah, so that space is really, really great, because I can do all my making outside of the kitchen. I've got all my stock, my bulk materials, everything. I just love being in it. It's a good creative space. Yeah, so I'm very happy to have that.
KRYSTINA: Oh good, good.
BAILEY: Because you know as a small business, I'm sure, you start with the space that you have, but then as you grow, you can become quickly overwhelmed with what you need to produce and keep as inventory and all that stuff.
KRYSTINA: Yeah, absolutely. I'm definitely coming up on my limit of I'm going to have to get stuff out of my apartment soon, because just a few days ago, I spent all day organizing my living room and all my inventory. And I literally don't have room to add another product. I can't add more of what I already have. I can't add anything new. I need to find something.
BAILEY: Yeah. I know. We always laugh, because in LA we had a tiny one bedroom apartment, but the business was doing really well. And I had boxes of my tubes lined all the way up, floor to ceiling in our bedroom. We were sleeping in a factory.
KRYSTINA: Yep. Yeah. It takes over for sure.
BAILEY: Yeah, yeah.
KRYSTINA: Yeah. Because I have a shelf over here that's floor to ceiling with inventory, and then I have shelves underneath my windows here that are multi levels. And then I have five gallon buckets stacked on each other behind me, and then I have all of my packing supplies in my closet. I can't even get in my closet anymore. I have more packing supplies and inventory over here. There's usually some in the hallway. I have a downstairs storage room.
KRYSTINA: Oh my gosh.
BAILEY: It's the hustle. That's amazing though. That's the fun part, when you look back and then you can say like, "Oh, my gosh. Wow. We really did it." You just did it. You just do what you have to do to make it work.
KRYSTINA: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So that's very exciting, and I loved you had shared the transformation of your... What did you call it?
BAILEY: I call it my She Shop.
KRYSTINA: Your She Shop! I was like, "It wasn't a She Shed, it was something else." Your She Shop. It was such a beautiful transformation, too.
BAILEY: Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, we put a lot of love into that. Yeah.
KRYSTINA: Yeah. Oh, I love it. Because I know that your mom helps you, right? Do you have any employees or anything yet?
BAILEY: I have some contractors here and there that will come in and help me build social media or emails, stuff like that, and I did have somebody making with me for a little while, but she was out of state. And then, when I got this space, I wanted to bring it back here, so I'm still doing all the making myself, which I love, because when I wasn't making, I felt disconnected from my business in a way. And one of the reasons why I started my business was because I'm a very creative, hands-on person and I liked the process of creating it. So that's back in house, but I think very soon, I'll probably have to bring some people in to help me make and label and ship and all that stuff, which will be exciting and all the things. Scary, too, to hire people. Yeah.
KRYSTINA: Yeah, absolutely. But yeah, that's very exciting. Look at you! Look at you!
BAILEY: Look at you! Just women who care about the environment who have fun doing what they do.
KRYSTINA: Exactly! Exactly. And if you're not having fun, then what's the point?
KRYSTINA: So I know we've touched on a lot of things already, but what would you say sets Bai-li Deodorant apart from other natural deodorants?
BAILEY: I think a lot of things. There are more sustainable options packaging wise on the market now. Our packaging is 100% biodegradable. My labels are made from sugar cane, so they're 100% biodegradable. Most of my ingredients are organic. They're all sourced in the US, and I think one of the biggest things that sets my company apart is that I hand make everything. So this is not some big conveyor belt product that's going to just get turned over really quickly. These are small batches, every single deodorant is hand poured, and I think that's kind of cool.
KRYSTINA: Yes, absolutely. I agree. I just wanted to hear you say it. So then usually I ask where people get their ingredients, but you already said you get everything from within the states, which is fantastic.
BAILEY: Yeah, yeah. And we make sure... Well, I make sure. I do everything. I make sure that they're all cruelty-free, as ethically sourced as possible so we're working with good companies.
KRYSTINA: Good, good. I didn't doubt that you didn't, but yeah. What is your favorite part of what you do?
BAILEY: Ooh, my favorite part. Honestly, why I started the company in the first place was because I do truly believe that every small change that we can make in our daily life has an impact on our planet. That's the biggest thing. I love what I do because even though it feels sometimes it feels like it might not be enough, it is. It is because if you can just get people thinking like that, ultimately we're going to start to move in the right direction.
KRYSTINA: Yes. Yes. Snaps to that. Yeah. That's why we're called A Drop in the Ocean.
BAILEY: Yeah. I know. Totally.
KRYSTINA: And it's great when you are building a business based on that foundation, right?
KRYSTINA: Because that's a great driving force to keep you going and to keep you on track for sustainability, because you're like, "I'm doing what I can, I'm inspiring others to do what they can,” and as long as we're continuing on that path, it's going to have a big impact.
BAILEY: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I never imagined having an online shop doing this sort of product business thing, and it just unfolded because it was what I felt called to do, but also loved to do. Yeah, no. I never was like, "I'm going to start a product line." It was just like, "Oh, I'm doing this. Okay."
KRYSTINA: Did you have any entrepreneur experience before this? Or was this your first adventure into it?
BAILEY: This was my first major adventure into it. I guess I was, still am one foot in, one foot out in the entertainment industry for a long time. A lot of that is just, you're self-employed so you're interviewing all the time, you're doing a lot of the heavy lifting for that industry. But I think what really got me thinking in this direction was my fiancé, because he would constantly talk about email marketing and he's an entrepreneur and super into all that stuff. So I think that our conversations revolved around it, and he would talk about it all the time that I was like, "Huh. Maybe I could do this." Yeah, I think that's where maybe that seed was planted.
KRYSTINA: Mm-hmm. And I'm sure it definitely helps having a partner who also understands what that's like.
BAILEY: Oh my gosh. Yes, yes.
KRYSTINA: I have a couple friends who have their own businesses, and it's nice to have people to bounce ideas off of. Even if they don't have ideas or solutions or they don't have that same background, just having somebody that gets it is so valuable.
BAILEY: Yes. 100%.
KRYSTINA: What is something that you are really proud of either in your personal life or in your business or anything?
BAILEY: Ooh, really proud of. I'm really proud that I stuck with the business.
KRYSTINA: That is definitely something to be proud of.
BAILEY: Sticking with the business was not a solo endeavor. There were so many times that I wanted to just quit or it's too hard, there's so much work. It's a lot. And my guy would be like, "Bailey, don't quit. You have something here. Just keep going. Just keep going." Yeah, so I'm really, really proud of that.
KRYSTINA: Yeah. I think that on especially social media, I feel entrepreneurship is glamorized in a lot of ways, like, "Oh, just start your own business and then quit your job and you'll make all this money and it's so beautiful." And it's not. It's not sleeping. It's lots of crying. Lots of stress. Lots of forgetting to eat. It's not easy.
BAILEY: No, no. It's not, because you're wearing all the hats. Unless you have a team of people, which hopefully we can ultimately have, you're really doing everything on your own. Everything. Yeah.
KRYSTINA: Yeah. It's a lot. So good for you for sticking with it!
BAILEY: Thank you.
KRYSTINA: Then I guess last thing, is there anything else that you want to share with our community? Anything about the business? Just anything?
BAILEY: Yeah, so I'm actually expanding with two new products really soon. They've been in the works for a little while now. I'm going to have a lip balm, and I've been testing it out for a while. I've got it on now. It's the one. I love it. I'm really, really excited to share it. And then, also I'm going to do a little carry tote deodorant, lip balm carry bag that is fair trade, ethically sourced, organic cotton. And it's going to say, "You are pure and beautiful" on it, because that ties back to the name and the whole thing. And it's a reminder that I do truly think that we all have that in us.
KRYSTINA: Yeah. Ah! I'm so excited.
BAILEY: I hope I didn't maybe spoiler alert too much. Whatever.
KRYSTINA: Well, because I wanted to ask you about that, because I know you posted on Instagram that you had some new things in the works, and I was like, "I want to ask her, but I don't want to spoil anything." So I'm excited that you brought it up.
BAILEY: Yeah! No, I'm very, very excited. You know when you bring something new to the table, there's just so many things. We've got to get the label right, the packaging, the whole thing, so there's a lot that goes into it before you can actually be like, "Here it is!"
KRYSTINA: Here it is! Yeah. Do you know when be releasing those?
BAILEY: The lip balms hopefully in the next month, and then the bags will probably be right on the tail end of that.
KRYSTINA: Oh, that's exciting. I'll have to keep an eye out for sure.
BAILEY: Yeah, definitely. I'm really excited.
KRYSTINA: Yeah. Yay. Where can people find you? Social media, website?
BAILEY: Yeah. Social media is Bai-li Essentials. It used to be Bai-li Deodorant, but since I've decided to expand and grow, it's now Bai-li Essentials. Online, our website is bailiessentials.com. We have a TikTok now.
BAILEY: The millennial has a TikTok. It's also Bai-li essentials and yeah, that's pretty much where we are.
KRYSTINA: Excellent. I'm have to follow you on TikTok now.
BAILEY: Yeah. It's a work in progress.
KRYSTINA: I love TikTok. I'm so hooked.
BAILEY: I know. I know. I didn't know what I didn't know about it, and then my girlfriend was like, "Bailey, you have to get your business on TikTok." And I was like, "I don't know about the TikTok, but let's try."
KRYSTINA: Yep. Yeah, I have a friend who... Same thing. They were like, "You need to get on TikTok. This is where people are hanging out." And I was like, "I don't get it. Whatever." So I just created an account, and immediately TikTok nailed me down with the videos that they were showing me. And I was like, "Oh, I get it now."
BAILEY: I know. It is powerful. Especially when you intentionally create the community that you want to be a part of on those platforms, it can be a positive thing. Yeah.
KRYSTINA: Yeah. I have a friend who always makes fun of me in the best way that I have created this really innocent, pure, happy, supportive corner of the internet for myself. When something penetrates that nice little corner, I'm like, "What is this?" And they're like, "Krystina, that's the entire rest of the internet. It's not a happy place."
BAILEY: I know. It can be a dark hole, but if you tailor it, if you only like the things that you really are inspired by, it can be good.
KRYSTINA: Yes. Oh, man. Well, thank you so much for this, Bailey. It was so great to hear your story and hear more about your product and get a sneak peek of your new products.
BAILEY: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you for having me. It's always fun to chat about it with somebody else who's in the same space.
KRYSTINA: Yes. And thank you for reaching out to me all those years ago.
BAILEY: Yeah. I know. Me, too.
KRYSTINA: Yeah. Going back to that initial conversation for a hot second. I'm really lucky that baking soda doesn't irritate my underarms, so I was actually just using straight baking soda for a while.
BAILEY: Wow. That would destroy me.
KRYSTINA: Right? So people would ask me for deodorant recommendations and I'm like, "I can't give you any. I'm literally just using baking soda," and that would destroy most people's underarms. So to have one that now is moisturizing and soothing and works, my underarms are very happy.
BAILEY: Yay. I'm so happy that they're happy.
BAILEY: That makes me happy. That's what I love.
KRYSTINA: Awesome. Well, thank you so much. And I hope that you have a great rest of your day, and hopefully allergies aren't getting to you too bad.
BAILEY: Oh my gosh. I just can't go outside for too long. Right. It's so sad, but yeah. Yeah. Thank you, Krystina. This was fun.KRYSTINA: Awesome. Thank you.