Jessica Iclisoy on Business Rockstars
Today on Business Rockstars, Ken Rutkowski talks with mompreneur Jessica Iclisoy, whose company, California Baby is the nation’s leading natural skin care line for babies and kids. In April, she will receive the Leadership Award from the National Association of Women Business Owners.
Born to make waves
Growing up in southern California, Jessica Iclisoy spent much of her free time playing in the ocean and many summers harvesting vegetables at a family farm. In her early 20s, as a top buyer for a French fashion designer in Beverly Hills, she was constantly on the go. So when she became pregnant with her first child, it didn’t occur to her to slow down-some say she sped up.
Answering the new baby wake-up call
Like many expecting moms, Jessica started scrutinizing her lifestyle. Okay, she took it farther than most! She initiated what has become an ongoing endeavor to purify body, home, and way of life with a mission to raise her family in an all-natural, non-toxic environment. She became a vegetarian, eating only locally grown, organic foods purchased from her local farmers’ market. She stocked up on organic cloth diapers for her newborn and devoted herself to breastfeeding. She started gardening and composting. And for the first time in her life, she began scrutinizing labels.
Unable to decipher some of the ingredients in the baby shampoo Jessica found in a local health food store, she consulted a chemical dictionary at the library and found that many of the cleansing agents and synthetic fragrances listed were not only harsh on the skin, but suspected carcinogens.
The story of California Baby® begins
Determined to come up with a gentle, safe baby wash, Jessica began cold-calling chemists. For the next few years, her kitchen became her lab. She experimented with organic herbs and plants, essential oils, waxes, and powders until she discovered a key ingredient: Decyl Polyglucose, a gentle, biodegradable cleansing and bubbling agent derived from renewable and biodegradable plant sources. Here was an effective, organic replacement for the damaging cleansers found in the so-called “natural” brands at the time. Her blends contained no harsh or harmful ingredients, no synthetics, no common allergens, and no pesticides. Scented solely with aromatherapy quality essential oils to promote baby wellness – a concept Jessica pioneered in the baby products sector – she knew she was onto something good.
Finding a groove, and an audience
By the time Jessica’s second son was born, she had turned her kitchen experiments into a thriving business. Introduced in 1995 with a single hit product – Calming Shampoo & Bodywash – California Baby® now encompasses over 50 pediatrician and dermatologist recommended products that span hair care, diaper care, non-chemical sunscreens, bath fun, wellness, and more. Celebrity moms such as Julia Roberts, Halle Berry, Katie Holmes and Courtney Cox, to name a few, are fans of the brand and it has achieved cult status in corners of the globe from Singapore to Switzerland.
California Baby continues to innovate and grow, going beyond green and committing to developing completely sustainable practices from formulas to processing to packaging and even the materials used in the Los Angeles showroom. Jessica has set a standard far beyond what was possible when she started.