In May 2018, Lexus Fernandez had a ruptured brain aneurysm when she was just 20 years old.
She had to relearn English and studied herbalism and aromatherapy so she could create her own natural remedies to help with her skin, which had become hypersensitive and started to scar while she was rehabilitating. She took that knowledge and founded Soulita, an all-natural skincare brand in Providence. Fernandez and co-founder Evan Delpeche said they believe everyone deserves a self-care brand in the skincare industry that focuses on “full-body healing.”
Fast forward to 2022 and Fernandez, who is also the head cosmetic formulator, is using her perseverance story as the “soul of Soulita.” Delpeche, who has worked with big-name brands like Urban Outfitters, handles Soulita’s branding, photography, and art.
The two recently took their fully e-commerce store and moved into (and renovated) a storefront in downtown Providence.
Q: How is Soulita different from other skincare brands?
We are pushing the brand to shift the landscape of skincare and the essence of self-care outside of the industry. We are pro-aging, which means we embrace and normalize how our body changes throughout our lifetime. Most beauty brands focus on anti-aging practices targeting women as we focus on self-care routines for all people so they can find love and acceptance internally and externally.
What does “Soulita” mean, and what made you want to name your company it?
Fernandez: We coined the word Soulita based on the Spanish word “Solita” meaning alone. Rather than Soulita meaning alone, I see it as bringing attention to the importance of one self, with the mind, body and soul. I added a “u” to have the root “soul” relating to the holistic aspects of our brand.
What are some of your own favorite products, and why?
Fernandez: Our Rose Oil. It is such a multipurpose product that you can use it for your hair, body, facial oil, nails and as a makeup remover. With its waterless, simple, organic ingredients it is a skincare basic that can easily fit in anyone’s routine.
Delpeche: The body polish. I tend to take shower time and post-shower time very seriously, and nothing feels better than feeling restored and nourished post-shower. It’s simply a feel-good product, and gives me the results I can see and feel.
What kinds of ingredients are you using the most?
Fernandez: We mostly use organic oils like Jojoba Oil and Argan Oil, different dried herbs and flowers, natural butters like shea and cocoa butter and essential oils.
How do you focus on sustainability?
Delpeche: Anything we create we make sure our customers have options to dispose of the materials in the best way while honoring and conserving the planet. All of our containers are glass and perfect for upcycling to turn into multi-use jars for things like small plants. Each shipping material from boxes, tape, info. cards and packaging peanuts are recyclable, compostable or biodegradable. Every time we learn about a new sustainable practice, we implement it into our business.
Part of your brand is also promoting “self-care awareness.” What does that mean to you?
Fernandez: Without self-care I wouldn’t be able to survive my brain injury. As much as I had help with doctors, nurses, specialists, family and friends; no one could help me but myself. Once I turned into learning about myself inside-out with self-care practices like meditation and affirmations, I gave myself reasons to stay alive. I feel like it is in human existence to go through some type of struggle if it’s personal or global and that’s why it’s important to remind yourself to be aware of how it affects you.
Delpeche: Self-care awareness simply means placing your name into your schedule. It’s all about taking self-care out of the industry and allowing yourself to rest and be still. It’s another form of being productive within yourself. Post-pandemic, I feel it was something that we lost during the pandemic due to uninvited stress and the unbalanced way of life. We were not in-sync with our space, meaning we were here physically and elsewhere mentally. Self-care can act as a form of meditation that can allow us to purify and restore oneself.
What are some of your year-long goals? Five-year goals?
Fernandez: We want to create a full skincare line with cleansers, moisturizers, toners and more within the next year. One of our five-year goals is to open up other Soulita storefronts in major cities like New York City.
What challenges do you have, and how do you plan on overcoming them?
Fernandez: One of the current challenges we are facing is financial gain. As the business is growing, the demand grows along with it. Although creativity also finds us in a good position, we are always conscious of the financial decisions we make when it regards inventory, or productivity. We are currently in the works of working with potential investors to give us more of a financial boost and leverage that is needed.
We also created a capital campaign to help us build our warehouse in Providence.
Where can people purchase your products?
The Boston Globe’s weekly Ocean State Innovators column features a Q&A with Rhode Island innovators who are starting new businesses and nonprofits, conducting groundbreaking research, and reshaping the state’s economy. Send tips and suggestions to reporter Alexa Gagosz at firstname.lastname@example.org.