When Elodie Cally and her husband made the decision to move to Northern Virginia from their home in Paris, they had everything planned out: the job, the house, the lifestyle—it was foolproof. That was until she discovered she was pregnant the same day they were putting their entire life into a truck to be shipped across the globe. “There was no going back,” recalls Cally.
Once settled into her new digs in Arlington, Cally set out to find all-natural skin care products that would benefit both her and her baby. However, something that was once easy to locate in her hometown now seemed nonexistent stateside.
“I discovered that you can basically make anything from anywhere in the U.S.—there’s no FDA approval necessary,” says Cally. “You can use the words ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ and there is no worth to the definition, which I thought was very scary.”
That was nearly three years ago. Today—after receiving a degree in cosmetic formulation from Paris and perfecting her recipes—Cally owns Elodie’s Naturals, a cosmetic company that doubles as a DIY skin care formulation class, where the students decide exactly what goes on their skin, with guidance from Cally. Conforming to standards of the European Union, Cally uses no more than 15 plant-based ingredients in each product. These include aromas created from a natural blend of essential oils and pigments (for lip gloss and lipstick) extracted from foods like beet root and sweet potatoes.
From her own Arlington kitchen, Cally teaches groups of eight to 10 individuals how to make natural products like facial serum, hair conditioner and lip moisturizer. With small class sizes, Cally can customize each product to the individual by altering the active ingredients. The skin of a teenager, for example, would require a different level of essential oil than that of a new mother.
“Most people who come to my class are moms, expecting mothers or women who’ve had experience with cancer; they are people who are very concerned about what goes on their skin,” explains Cally. “Now they can see the process and understand exactly what they are putting on their bodies.”
In March, Cally expanded her concept to include an online shop where customers can purchase her homemade cleansing balm, two facial serums and dry oil body spray, as well as eco-friendly accessories like reusable makeup remover pads. Former workshop participants can also restock their self-designed beauty products online.
On the horizon, Cally hopes to o er sip-and-design classes, open a brick-and-mortar beauty boutique and start a YouTube channel for beauty mavens not in NoVA. All of her ideas, she says, are inspired by the desire to keep her daughter’s (now 3) skin healthy.
“She’s the reason I’m doing this, even though she corrects my English now,” Cally says with a laugh.