This stand stands out among the fruits and vegetables and other delectables at the UDC farmers market.
Anette Casiano-Negroni of AromabyAnette creates and sells lotions and scrubs. I bought one of her lotions and fell in love with the product. Naturally, I had to learn her story. And teaching, as it turns out, is how she got started down this path.
You see, Casiano-Negroni has a doctorate in chemistry and teaches at Montgomery College.
Like a good professor would, she answered my questions.
How did get into making lotions, scrubs, and washes?
After I had my first child and moved from Michigan to Washington, DC, I noticed my skin was changing. My skin used to be very moist but suddenly became dry even when I applied good lotion. I tried different skin care products on the market but none of them seemed to sooth my skin.
During that same time, I was teaching Chemistry at Trinity Washington University, in Washington DC. As I was preparing my lectures for the organic chemistry class/laboratory, I began to research different concepts to make my chemistry class more interesting for my students. For each topic discussed in my class, I presented an example of something that the students could relate the subject matter to. I am a firm believer that students are more inclined to listen and pay better attention in class if they are able to see applications in their daily lives.
One of the reactions that we studied in class was “Saponification Reaction” which is what happens when you mix a base (sodium hydroxide) with butters or oils (fat) to produce soap. This led me to design an experiment that involved my students making soaps that they could take home and actually use. There is nothing better than a light bulb going off in a student’s mind, when he or she realizes the beauty of science. I will always remember the enthusiasm of my students, especially during this experiment. My students got even more excited when they had the chance to choose their own oils/butters and add their own scent to make their own soaps. They learned the reaction and were able to apply it to make the soap. The excitement of my students was contagious.
This led me on a quest to find new products for my changing skin. As I did more research, I bought my first oils/essential oils/butters and tried my first batch of whipped body butter in my kitchen after my family went to sleep. That same night, I fell in love with my product. I started using the whipped body butter and noticed a big difference in my skin and face– more moisturized and smoother. When I made another batch, my entire family (including my son who was a year old at the time) started using without any problems. I became even more fascinated by the idea of making my own bath and body products, that I continued doing more research and learning about this subject.
How did you start once you decided you wanted to make this a business?
Not long after I prepared my first couple of batches of whipped body butters and scrubs, I told my husband that I would like to make this a business in the near future. With the complete support of my husband and family, I made my first order of raw materials and made some products that I distributed to family and friends. The feedback I received helped me improve my formulas focusing on one product at a time. Two years after preparing my first whipped body butter, my husband joined me officially in starting our business Aromabyanette in late 2015.
Who are your investors?
Currently, we do not have any external investors. My husband (partner) and I are basically building the company slowly from our own pockets. I have to mention that my husband and I are super grateful to my parents (Mirta Negroni and José Casiano) for providing us with a special gift that we used to buy containers, raw materials, and shelves when the company officially kicked off in late 2015.
Do you have a patent on your products?
A: This is in the works. We currently do not have patents on the products but actively speaking with personnel at the US Patent and Trademark Office on the steps to follow.
How did you find you find out about the UDC Farmers Market?
A: We found out about the UDC Farmer’s Market a couple of years ago while visiting my husband’s former undergraduate school (University of the District of Columbia). We were giving a family member a tour of the city, when we stumbled on the farmer’s market. We bought fresh vegetables from the vendors during our visit that day. Now I called these vendors colleagues as we all now share the same space to sell our products every Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
How well have your products sold at the Market?
This is our first time selling our products at this farmer’s market and I have to say that they have sold well. There are super good days and some days are a little slow, but the customers are coming and so far they really encourage us because the feedback of our products from them have been fabulous. Every Saturday we meet returning or new customers that come to try our products or give us feedback on products that they have tried.
Our best sellers are the Chocolate Lux Face mask, Rose Clay Sugar Body scrub, Whipped body butters (different scents), Lemongrass Coco and the Lavender lotions, Strawberry Sugar Body Scrub and the lipbalms (lemongrass coco has been a favorite for lipbalms). I guess, a little bit of everything.
What are your future plans?
We have many future plans for AromabyAnette. For starters, we are planning on growing the line of products that we currently offer. For example, we are currently working on handmade soaps and bath salts. You will see these at the farmer’s market soon.
We also want to grow our business by selling our products in different stores and grow our online presence (AromabyAnette.com). In addition, we want to grow our personalized party favors and gifts business. We really enjoy preparing personalized packages as favors or gifts for different activities like birthdays, weddings, holiday parties, etc.
One day we hope to be able to distribute our bath and body products to boutique hotels and spas. We really enjoy our products and we hope the world will do the same.
As we grow our business, I will also like to create some type of outreach program, give seminars on these topics. This is a passion for me. I am a teacher and there is nothing more satisfying than having students that one has trained and become a colleagues. As a company, we look forward to being part of both the public and private school system. This way we can introduce another special course in this area that I hope our young ones will enjoy and be happy to engage in.
Find AromabyAnette at the UDC farmers market, Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and online at AromabyAnette.com.