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Featured Friends, Inspiration

August 7, 2020

Meet the Founder of 28 Litsea, Christine Cunningham

Christine Cunningham is the owner and founder of the clean beauty brand 28 Litsea.

28 Litsea Melted Balm and Tinted Petala

I like to think about this corner of the blog as a place where you sit and get comfortable with a mug or wine glass filled to the brim with your beverage of choice, a good friend and some killer music playing softly in the background. It’s good to its core – simple in nature. And, it is sure to feed the soul.

Welcome to Featured Friends.

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”  – Amelia Earhart

When I first started this blog, there wasn’t a ton of information on clean, natural beauty, nor was there this widespread yearning for cleaner products (and that was only over three years ago). Now imagine what the industry looked like 15 years ago – before Instagram was Instagram and self-care was a cliché term. I can’t really picture it, can you?  

It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to the kind hearted, sweet soul that is Christine Cunningham. Not only does she own and operate 28 Litsea, a clean beauty company, Christine also works full time as a middle school counselor.  She is a wonderful human who is truly changing the world one product AND one person at a time.  

Just FYI – I can’t live without her melted balm or wild citrus body oil.

Lucky for us – Christine Cunningham, founder of 28 Litsea, saw a need for change and made the decision to take action.

The Interview

Let’s start with the basics. What is LITSEA?

“Litsea [ lit – see – ah] is an essential oil known for its bright citrus scent and energizing traits.  I was immediately attracted to this oil, not only for its cleansing qualities, but for its ability to bring out the best in other ingredients. This positive, uplifting and versatile oil embodies everything this brand represents. The 28 Litsea name is a tribute to my father who inspired and encouraged me throughout my life.”

I love the calm and strong energy of that explanation. Tell me more about your life and this connection to your father.

My father was an educator and I followed in his footsteps by receiving my master’s degree in education. I have been a middle school counselor for over twenty years. In the beginning, creating products and growing my brand was a way for me to recharge.  They say when you are doing what you love, you lose track of time and this is certainly true of the joy I feel when creating my products.

You just put a huge smile on my face. I think that your passion translates through both the brand and the product. It’s special.

I have honestly been so overwhelmed with the response to 28 Litsea. I get emotional when I read emails and comments from people who have tried the products and love them. It is very rewarding when you put your heart and soul into something and it is appreciated.

28 Litsea Tinted Petala

Well, the praise is so deserved. Each one of your products delivers great results and the scents of the body oils are incredible. I love the Wild Citrus scent. But, I guess that I should back up a little bit – where did this all start?

My passion and journey into clean beauty started about fourteen years ago. I started becoming more mindful of what I was putting in and on my body. I grew an awareness of the ingredients in many of the products I was using and started researching clean ingredients. From there, I also discovered products and companies that provided a safer and more natural alternative to what was currently in my routine. At that time, the marketplace did not have the amount and variety of brands it does now. Splurge, which is now 28 Litsea, was born out of the desire to formulate a line of small-batch, high quality, multi-sensory products that were effective, affordable, and most importantly, free of harmful chemicals.  Of course, this goal remains the same today.

It’s crazy to me how much the industry has grown over the last three years, never mind the last fourteen years! What were the first products that you created?

The sugar scrub was the very first product and the lip balm which is now called Petala Balm came soon after. I think what I love about both of them is that they are simple steps that can be added to any beauty/self-care routine.  As far as new products, I am always working on new ideas and jotting down formulas.

Ohhh, yes…. I love to hear that! I am really excited about the new Minted Juniper scent! It is so subtle and fresh. And, your branding is beautiful – you know that I am a complete geek over great branding. What was the inspiration behind the design?

Thank you so much! I really wanted the logo and packaging to be clean, sophisticated, and calming. It needed to reflect the beautiful ingredients that were inside and highlight the natural element of the brand. I was introduced to Rebecca Reitz, who designed the logo and labels. We connected right from the start and she literally took the ideas that were in my head and brought them to life. It is important to me that my brand incorporates mind, body, and wellness. I feel as though the design truly reflects this vision.

Mission accomplished… one thousand percent!

Your branding is peaceful, playful and still feels classic.

I am also obsessed with the new recycled canvas tote that you and Rebecca designed together. It’s a great size for storing all of your favorite skincare goodies. I can’t wait to take mine everywhere.

When talking about the aesthetics of 28 Litsea, I can’t forget to mention the clean feel of your website and the beautiful messaging. On the website, it mentions that 28 Litsea is a brand that incorporates the mind, body and wellness. Can you talk to me a little bit more about that?

My belief is that clean beauty is just one component of whole body wellness. What you put on your skin is just as important as what you feed your body internally, and the thoughts and energy with which you surround yourself. When someone uses my products, I want them to feel the love and intention that went into making them. Even the simple step of using Petala Balm should make them feel like they are slowing down and taking care of themselves.

YESSS!! I feel like so many things are overwhelming and confusing these days which makes what you said even more important. To me, the simple idea of focusing on good, natural energy – being, creating and sharing this higher frequency – is everything. But, while we are on this topic….

How has COVID been for you?

Life during COVID has been filled with so many emotions. There have been days where it all feels so sad, surreal and overwhelming. With that said, I am thankful for my health and for my loved ones. It might sound cliché but it has made me slow down and really appreciate what I have.

Honestly, it is the simple things I miss most. Post COVID, my hope is that I never take things like dinner with friends, running into a store, or just grabbing a cup of coffee for granted.

I don’t mind the slowing down either – I feel like it has been helpful. But, at first it was a challenging adjustment. The minute that we got back from our wedding lockdown started. I never would have expected it to last this long. Speaking of challenges – what is the hardest part of running your own business?

Since I juggle my full time job as a school counselor with running my business, I think the hardest part is finding balance. Throughout the week, I am focused on making product, filling orders, responding to emails, and managing the social media aspect of the brand. I absolutely love doing it all, but I have to learn how to carve out time to recharge. Making new product and formulating requires you to be in a different mindset.  For me, I can only “create” when I am feeling inspired and at my best. I remember awhile back feeling a bit run down and stuck. Josh Rosebrook, who I absolutely admire and adore told me not to force things. He said to destress and the inspiration would come. He was absolutely right. 

Josh Rosebrook?!?!? Oh my goodness. SWOON...Plus, what wise words! In addition to taking a minute to destress, is there anything else that keeps you inspired?

I truly have the best customers and get inspired when they reach out to share their experience with my products. The connections I have made are what move and inspire me.

I am definitely inspired by music and always have it playing in the background when I am working.  I absolutely love to sing – around the house – in the car – at work, even though I cannot hold a tune to save my life. And, I also tend to talk to myself when feeling a bit stressed. It helps!

I am with you on the music! I can’t sing worth a darn – but, I love listening to a good song to perk me up! What songs do you have on repeat?

I’m not sure if I am feeling nostalgic or just wanting to go back to a happier time but right now I have Prince, George Michael and Journey on repeat.

Umm, it must be something about this time. I have been going back to older music too. Celine Dion and Joss Stone have been keeping me alive. In addition music, I am a huge fan of inspirational quotes and mantras.

Do you have a favorite quote or mantra?

“A ship in a harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for…” – John A. Shedd.

Growing up I was always shy and very quiet. I think in a lot of ways I held myself back.  This quote is my favorite because getting out of your comfort zone and taking risks is what helps us grow. Since starting my business, I have achieved so many goals by pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I have even surprised myself at what I have been able to accomplish. I will never be someone who is comfortable in the spotlight but I think it is so important for people to know the maker behind the brand.

There isn’t anything easy about stepping outside of your comfort zone, but taking that risk can be so rewarding.  Thank you so much for your time and opening up! I know who hard it can be to talk about yourself. So, thank you again for sharing. For more on Christine and 28 Litsea – go visit her website here.

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