Former teacher to open new retail space downtown, selling products inspired by her daughter

“I am providing essential products for people, and that is a blessing”

Vaniti Byrd kicked off 2020 with ambitious goals for her company Baba Love Organics, and the COVID-19 pandemic hasn't slowed her down. The sustainable, plant-based skin care line, which has been only available online, will have its first retail location this summer.

Byrd is currently renovating her new downtown Dayton storefront, which will be located at 116 W. 5th St. The location formerly housed LORE and Beaute Box, two other woman-owned businesses. “I’ve gotten so much love from everyone who supports my business, they’re excited about the store,” she said. “Everything is moving, so we’re doing good.”

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As she prepares for the storefront, Byrd has been smashing the sales goals she set for herself. In April alone, she doubled her goal, and so far has more than tripled her sales from last quarter. When she launched her new Green Beauty Box on Earth Day, it sold out in 22 minutes. “I don’t talk about money a lot, I’m driven by passion, but you have to have money to run a business,” she said.

Not all of Byrd’s goals have been financial, however. “My first-quarter goal was to establish a production schedule to better balance home life and business. That foundation prepared me for the increase in my sales,” she said.

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Byrd, who graduated with a master’s degree in education, worked as a teacher until the birth of her daughter Primrose. Her newborn would not accept bottles, so she had to breastfeed at all hours. So in 2017, just a few years into her teaching career, she resigned in order to care for her daughter.

Primrose also proved to be the inspiration for her mother’s new company. After she gave birth, Byrd wanted to avoid using skin care products with chemicals, detergents, preservatives, and formaldehyde      on her newborn’s skin. However, when she shopped for organic baby products, she realized that they were quite expensive. After some research, she decided to buy the ingredients herself, and started experimenting with making her own products at home.

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In February of 2018, just nine months after she resigned from her teaching position, Byrd launched Baba Love Organics. The product line features skin care and beauty products that are sourced from fruit or plant oils, are all organic and non-GMO. She also sources ingredients locally as much as possible. “These products are plant-based alternatives to the products you’re already using,” Byrd explained.

In 2019, Byrd participated in and won first place in the non-tech category of Launch Dayton's Launch Dayton's Techstars Startup Week Early Risers Competition. More recently she launched a Kiva campaign to help continue to scale her business through the pandemic, easily reaching her funding goal.

Her advice to other entrepreneurs? “Make sure you’re setting goals, and that you have people around you who genuinely support your growth.”

Currently, her product line has expanded from those initial baby products, to 34 core products for skin of all ages, including deodorant, soaps, and even toothpaste. Her most popular products are whipped body butter and her velvet rose elixir (an organic facial serum).

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For now, Byrd is still manufacturing all of her products herself out of her home. The pandemic has presented challenges, as she’s facing a shortage on bottle closures for one of her most popular products. “I am providing essential products for people, and that is a blessing,” she said. “They use it daily, and when they run out, my orders fill up. My physical product isn’t out of stock, but if I can’t package it — that’s really, really scary.”

The pandemic also pushed back her plan to open the Baba Love Organics downtown retail location. Byrd signed the lease on the downtown location right before the stay at home order went into effect. “We would be open by now, but retail restrictions put a damper on things,” she said. “So we are pushing back opening to July, because we want everyone to be able to shop with us.”

The pandemic has presented opportunities, too, she said. Byrd has had time to do live videos to educate customers on the power of plant-based beauty, which is the core message her brand is trying to communicate to customers. “My hope is that I can continue to be an advocate and help my community to make more informed and educated decisions on what goes on and into the largest organ of their body,” she said.

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