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PODCAST: How California Baby's Jessica Iclisoy Launched An Organic Revolution

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Why Your Voice Matters So Much More than You Think

Jessica Iclisoy, founder of California Baby, explains how she improved her first impressions and got her company off the ground.

Fortune's Founder Friday: Meet Jessica Iclisoy

Jessica discusses the importance of constantly iterating your product to match the needs of the customer.

Jessica Iclisoy on Women Worldwide

Jessica Iclisoy, CEO and founder of California Baby, joins Host Deirdre Breakenridge on Women Worldwide.

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Business Rockstars - Jessica Iclisoy

Hear what Jessica has to say about being a female entrepreneur, company culture and insight on growing a successful business!

An Honoree Spotlight Interview with the 2013 Leader Award Recipient Jessica Iclisoy, Founder & Developer of California Baby!

Jessica IclisoyNAWBO-LA: What is your mantra?
Jessica: Follow your instincts. Whether it's personal or business, you have to trust your gut.

NAWBO-LA: Tell us something people would be surprised to learn about you?
Jessica: Thanks to my sons, I listen to rap music and I especially enjoy the lyrics - I think 50 Cent is a genius!

NAWBO-LA: What was the last out of the box idea that propelled you or your business forward?
Jessica: We changed our business model to stop selling through distributors and rep groups and instead communicate, sell and ship directly to our accounts.

NAWBO-LA: Finish this phrase: the smartest advice I ever got was...
Jessica: This advice wasn't given to me directly and the person is no longer alive. But, in reading Steve Job's biography (which I loved every word of) a huge take-away, and one that I go back to time and time again, is his statement: "Some people say, 'Give the customers what they want.' But that's not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they're going to want before they do...People don't know what they want until you show it to them. That's why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page."

NAWBO-LA: What do you do to recharge?
Jessica: We recently purchased property in Santa Barbara County to grow organic flowers and herbs to extract and use in our products. Whenever I need to recharge, a visit to this beautiful, peaceful isolated mountaintop helps me to regroup, re-energize and put a spark in my imagination.

Jessica Iclisoy
An Interview with Jessica Iclisoy
By Dori Gilels

Smart. Stunning. Savvy. Gutsy. These were my impressions of Jessica Iclisoy when we first met. I was an advocate for women’s health and the environment, she a fashionista-turned-motherturned-eco-entrepreneur. We shared a commitment to promoting non-toxic health and beauty products. We were co-crusaders. mamaloaders, let me introduce you to a curious girl from the golden coast who became a pioneer in the $50 billion beauty industry—a mom, just like you and me.

Tell us about your childhood. Where you grew up. Your family.
I’m a California girl. I spent my summers at the beach, body surfing until my skin was shriveled and I was completely exhausted. I learned a lot of life lessons in the throes of the ocean. I learned not to fight the waves, to go with the flow, hold my breath, close my eyes and wait for the wave to be done with me. I learned I could survive if I didn’t panic. It was a good business lesson too. My childhood and family life were pretty unstructured; I was given the space to roam, dream and fantasize. I was a pretty independent kid.

Your career began in the fashion industry. Let us live vicariously.
I got a job in a shop on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills with the goal of going to school and working part-time, but fashion quickly took over my life. At 18, I was appointed manager of the store and buyer for VIP customers. Paris fashion shows were quite the scene: lots of posing, power plays and an element of spectacle. Everyone dressed exquisitely, and many outrageously. I remember walking down the street in Paris seeing people that looked like they just walked off a Vogue fashion shoot—I was in awe. The fashion world was fun, but exhausting and one has to love and thrive on the need for all things constantly new and changing. After a couple of years, I was done. Soaked up as much as I felt I needed.

As a mother-to-be, you initiated a quest for a healthier lifestyle. This included using your kitchen as a chemistry lab. Do tell.
Not one to do things halfway, in my quest for the perfect pregnancy, I immersed myself in preparing my body to grow a child without any contamination from the outside world… I was seeking purity. I started with food and decided to become a vegetarian to avoid the added hormones (organic was in its infancy then), then I moved onto purifying household living, like sheets, synthetic carpeting, anything that would off-gas, etc. The last thing I scrutinized was baby shampoo. This alarmed me the most! Upon researching I found that several ingredients were considered carcinogens, like synthetic fragrance, and as we now know—dioxanes, but what I found really insulting was that baby shampoo was basically the same as adult shampoo. The only real difference was in marketing! Manufacturers simply changed the fragrance and label and called it baby shampoo. Aesthetically, I didn’t like the smell or the packaging and found it very condescending. I realized I had a clear vision and understanding of what a great baby shampoo could be, so I challenged myself to take action and create an alternative. I mixed and blended in my kitchen using pots and pans, no special equipment really. With no formal training, I simply had an intense curiosity and the drive to come up with a workable formula. I picked the brains of cosmetic chemists and found a few that mentored me along the way.

You run California Baby® with your husband. What is it like to be in business together? Honestly.
My husband and I are very well matched to do business together, so working with him isn’t hard at all. The hard part is working and living together, which means work is 24/7 and it’s hard to turn it off. There came a time when the only conversations we had were about work—we simply couldn’t come up with another subject at the dinner table. That’s when we knew we had to branch out, take up hobbies, learn a new skill and consciously plan to spend some time apart to develop as individuals. It’s very easy to become intertwined as one instead of two forces coming together in a mindful manner.

Your commitment to healthy living goes beyond your natural baby products. Tell us about the extent of your sustainable business practices.
The great thing about having your own company is you get to do business the way you want. I believe in putting my money where my mouth is. In my case, I truly believe in a sustainable lifestyle, and at home that means composting, buying organic from local farmers, using eco-friendly cleaning products—basically taking responsibility for my consumption and working to offset it and being as non-toxic to the environment as possible. At work, we try to do the same thing. For instance, since we use big machines to make and fill our products, we installed the largest solar array possible [on our roof] to offset our electrical consumption. Packaging is also a huge consideration, and we don’t believe in adding anything beyond basic functionality, so we avoid boxes and clamshells. I try to make all ancillary packaging reusable, easily recyclable or biodegradable. I want to run a business that can affect change and show other companies it can be done. I don’t mind going first.

Outside of work, what is life like in SoCal?
The more I travel, the more I love Southern California. We’ve come a long way in terms of food, art, music and fashion. Los Angeles (and really all of California) is world class and pretty perfect. In L.A. everyone wants to be an actor, so we get to see the young, beautiful and something’s gone horribly wrong ;). Californians are a unique breed; we have an openness and curiosity and the audacity to do things differently. That’s why I called my brand California Baby. I wanted all the wonderful creative nuttiness and righteousness to be reflected in my company and to remind us to stay true to our roots while pushing ahead.

What’s next? For you personally. For your company.
What’s next is, more of the same—but more! Meaning I want to dig deeper into what we can do as a company and a brand—to push the quality standard to the highest level and then, make our standard the norm. I think we’ve accomplished several goals in that regard. We recently purchased agricultural land in Santa Barbara County to grow our own organic herbs and flowers so we can control the quality cycle 360°. We currently contract with wonderful organic farmers for our botanicals and will continue to do so. California Baby’s organic growing fields are intended to fit into our sustainable business model and be experimental at the same time.

You have two grown sons. Is there anything you want to say about the intersection of motherhood and work?
Being a mother and running a business can work. I took my kids with me everywhere I went. If I was meeting a buyer, my sons had a seat at the conference table and read while my husband and I went over the line with the buyer. I really think it’s a lifestyle choice; how are you going to run your business and live your life? If you believe passionately, like I do, in what you are doing, everything finds its place. I think when you are not a true believer, conflicts come into play.

As a mother, entrepreneur and advocate, is there anything you want other moms to know?
Well, we all have full plates, but as givers of life, I feel, we are obligated to also affect change—no matter how small. We can do it because we have power. I hope all moms use their power to make positive change in the world. My motto is baby steps. If we all play our small part, change is inevitable—and we can be proud of that!

Jessica Iclisoy: Business Rockstar Radio Interview

KWFB News 980: Click to Play

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. Jessica talks about her commitment to living an organic and sustainable lifestyle and how her brand reflects her values. She also discusses where the idea came from and why the birth of her children coincided with the birth of her company. In April 2013, she received the Leadership Award from the National Association of Women Business Owners.

Article credit to:

Whole Story
Children’s Body Care by Mara Fleishman, August 22nd, 2011

Supporting the health of a child’s skin is an important consideration for every parent. From baby to teen, discover which ingredients are most beneficial and how to choose better body care for kids. Jessica Iclisoy is the founder of California Baby, a full line of natural skin care products for babies, kids and sensitive adults.

Podcast: Download

Choosing better body care products to support the health of a child’s skin is an important consideration for every parent:

  • Most conventional skin cleansers include ingredients that are harsh and stripping of the skin’s protective oils, leaving the skin dry and open to irritation. Reading labels is a must.
  • Look for glucosides in shampoos, hand cleansers and bubble baths, which are very mild, non-stripping and extremely biodegradable natural cleansers.

Stocking the household with body care products that the whole family can use may not be the best solution for different ages and skin types:

  • Babies and kids have different skin types and different needs than adults for their personal care products.
  • Adults with sensitive skin and teens have a similar skin profile as babies in that they all need very gentle cleansers, non-irritating moisturizers and a natural mineral-based sunscreen. The entire family can share products formulated for baby.
  • Start with a baby shampoo that can be left in the hair for a minute to clean away gel or styling products. A baby shampoo leaves the hair’s natural oils intact resulting in soft shiny hair.

Give careful thought when choosing products like diaper area washes, powders and creams for baby’s sensitive skin:

  • Diaper rash cream is classified as an over-the-counter-drug (OTC) and must be made in an FDA approved facility.
  • Look for an ultra-purified (USP) grade lanolin to act as a water barrier vs mineral oil or fish oil.
  • Talc-powder should be avoided because it is very light weight and can burrow deep into the lungs. Look instead for bases of moisture-absorbing clays and cornmeal.

Sunscreen plays a significant role in protecting the health of a child’s skin:

  • Choose non-chemical mineral-based sunscreens with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. These are physical barriers that scatter and reflect the UV rays as opposed to absorbing them.

Also look for “VERY water resistant” as this indicates that the sunscreen stays effective for 80 minutes while in water or sweating. Water resistant = 40 minutes

Expert Jessica Iclisoy: Sites for Natural and Healthy Living

From the start, we’ve been huge fans of the California Baby® natural skincare line for babies and kids, and it has quickly become a cult favorite among parents across the country. We love featuring the products when we can, and are very excited to have the opportunity to share some of Founder and President Jessica Iclisoy’s favorite sites for moms. She immediately began altering her lifestyle to create a healthy environment for her future children to grow. The main change was a switch in focus to leading an eco-conscious and green lifestyle that she could instill in her children.

Once this California girl had her first child, Jessica was frustrated by the lack of good, safe, and natural baby shampoos on the market, so she decided to create her own. After a ton of research, experimenting with ingredients, and trial and error, all in her kitchen, the California Baby collection of products was born in 1995. Now their products are not only be found on the California Baby website, but in popular national chains like, Whole Foods and Target as well. The sensitive skin formulas are now highly recommended by moms and dads alike, and Jessica continues to develop more and more products for families.

Outside of the business end of things, Jessica still practices a very natural lifestyle and is a professed “green” enthusiast. At home, she maintains an herb and vegetable garden, and composts all vegetable and garden waste, buys organic dye free and naturally dyed bed sheets and blankets, and cleans with vinegar, baking soda and borax. She also shops at the Hollywood farmers open-air market, recycles and uses natural skincare products. In other words, she certainly practices what she preaches!

Her top picks for moms truly reflect her closeness with nature along with her constant search for the best, healthiest products for her family:
A California transplant whom now lives in Paris, David is chef turned cookbook author turned food blogger. He reports on his culinary adventures abroad through American eyes. I love his writing style, which is a little cheeky, and his photography skills are always on display. His book, The Sweet Life in Paris was my first Kindle download!

Green Toys
Why do I love this company? The toys are thoughtfully designed but even more important they are totally green and non-toxic! In fact, the company can trace the entire lifecycle of their product. The toys are made from BPA and Phthalate free HDPE—the same material California Baby uses for our bottles.

3 Sprouts
Love, love, love 3 Sprouts! The caddies, storage bins and wall organizers will get any kid’s bed or playroom into shape—pronto! The fact that the designs are whimsical (but not cheesy), are super well made and organic is the icing on the cake.

Natural Beauty Gurus: The 10 Questions I Always Ask, Jessica Iclisoy
By Olessa Pindak

Jessica IclisoyName: Jessica Iclisoy
Occupation: Developer & President of California Baby®, Natural Baby Skin Care
Location: Los Angeles, California

Who is your beauty inspiration? French women inspire me.
I love how they have a care free and easy approach to beauty. They rely more on style, use makeup sparingly and work to perfect a beautiful complexion. Their less is more approach involves fewer products and focuses on hydrating the skin instead of scrubbing it clean, like we tend to do in the U.S. They also utilize lots of botanicals and essential oils in their skin care products, which keeps their regimen on the natural side.

What product/treatment/beauty indulgence do you spend the most on? Weekly Thai massage (a style that involves stretching, deep tissue massage and acupressure). It brings me back into alignment—physically and mentally. When my body feels loose, I have more energy. Wearing high heels always shortens the calves and Achilles, so it's important to stretch that area out. Plus, I hike four times a week, which really tightens the hamstrings. I love this self-massage roller and hop on it every morning!

What do you spend the least on? My hair. I blow dry my own hair, but only the top layer because it's faster and you spend less time with a hot dryer, which is damaging to hair. The faster blow out is eco-friendly too because I'm using less energy—I've timed myself and my top speed is 5 minutes! The trick is to concentrate on the root to the mid part of the hair, and then come back and lightly finish the ends. The goal is to 'smooth out' the top layer, not a full blow dry. I don't have the patience for a full blow out. I don't do the hair salon thing either: I run in for a quick trim and I'm out—usually with wet hair.

What does age mean to you? Defining and perfecting my style. Instead of jumping around trying every trend, with experience, I have found what works for my lifestyle and body type. I've moved from hippie-girl to classic clean looks—with a bit of flare tossed in to keep things interesting. I have come to rely on scarves, making sure they compliment my skin tone, and a serious pair of heels!

What's the most interesting thing you've learned about skin/hair/nails/beauty this year? I have come to appreciate a professional manicure done by an expert. It is worth the time, money and effort. I love clean, short nails with soft rounded edges, and this is my mainstay. But, it's amazing to me how a change in nail color can magically create a new mood or look. I love the drama of painting my nails red or vamp; it's a fast and inexpensive way to change your look! I have become a devote of Jessica Nail Clinic on Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood, their polishes are formaldehyde, toulene, and DBP free.

What's the one thing you do (not product-based) that you think affects your appearance more than anything else? I meditate at least once a week and have been doing it for about eight years now. It calms my mind and slows my heart rate, which really helps me get centered and focused. An easy way I got into the habit is to meditate while in a warm bath; counting breath five counts in and five counts out for 15 minutes.

Why naturals? I love nature! Plants and flowers fascinate me. I love that by extracting the scent and essence of flowers and herbs, we can tap into the exquisite power of these plants. Natural ingredients are so superior to synthetics in every way. Like women, natural and organic ingredients require more care, a little coaxing and patience: naturals + women = a perfect fit! I started California Baby natural and organic skin care products for my kids—but they work great on adult skin and we get to enjoy the power of nature too!

Smart Cookie 56 The percentage of moms who say they’ve become more eco-friendly since having children, according to a national babycenter survey conducted earlier this year.

Cookie Magazine
When this former fashion executive couldn’t find organic skin care for her sons, she dug in and created her own.

By Dana Wood
Photography by Mei Tao

CALIFORNIA BABY FOUNDER JESSICA ICLISOY ISN’T A FAN OF HALFWAY measures. When the Los Angeles native decided to create a family, she didn’t just pop a few folic-acid capsules and call it a day. “I started cleaning up my lifestyle—eating organically and becoming a vegetarian,” she says. And when Ian, the first of her two sons arrived, she felt that he needed a healthy beginning, too. There was just one problem: At that point, there wasn’t any all-natural infant skin care around.

Above: Iclisoy’s sons (Ian, left, and Miles) are deeply into music. “The older one wants to be a rock star—the universal wish,” she says.

So, armed with little more than curiosity and a desire to do right by her tiny guy, Iclisoy, a former fashion buyer with zero cosmetics experience, set about crafting chemical-free kids’ bath potions. First out of the gate, in 1995, was Calming Shampoo & Bodywash, a best seller to this day. “The retail price was $15.75,” she says, “which was considered outrageous at the time.”

Fast-forward 12 years: Iclisoy, who’s as stylish as she is fanatic about Pilates, hiking, and meditation, currently oversees a line of roughly 45 California Baby products, a selection of which can be found in every Target store in the country. “We’ve moved from small to medium,” notes Iclisoy, whose husband, Arthur, recently left the world of real-estate development to join the company as operations manager. The couple live in Beverly Hills with their two boys and commute to company headquarters in Culver City. “Arthur functions as the CFO,” she says. “He makes sure there’s money, so I can spend it on good ingredients—some can cost $1,000 a pound.” The couple’s business-creative yin-yang partnership thrives on mutual respect: “We have different skill sets,” she says. “I can’t do his job, and he can’t do mine.”

Iclisoy applies a similar “let them do their own thing” strategy to her sons, now that they’re teens. For example, though they were raised as vegetarians, they both now eat meat. “Three years ago, Ian declared, ‘I want a hamburger,’” she recalls. “I said, ‘Fine. But it’s going to be a good, grass-fed one.’” Still, some habits have stuck. “I always encouraged them to drink mint tea,” she says. “And now I’ll see them wandering around with cups in their hands. They don’t realize they’ve been doing that since they were 5 years old.”

Iclisoy’s living-room shelves, stacked with her favorite magazines; picking herbs for dinner from the garden; heavy-rotation California Baby products (like sunblock) in her bathroom; family photos, spliced with paintings by the boys: “They learn by copying the masters,” she says. “I’ve requested a Van Gogh and a Monet.”


De-Stresser Fun Read Sun Shields Good Eats

“A cup of peppermint tea before bedtime calms the stomach, eases the mind, and relaxes the body,” says lclisoy, who prefers Choice organic peppermint tea. “And it’s caffeine-free, so it’s perfect for kids.” $3.30 for 16 bags,


“I ‘borrowed’ Portnoy’s Complaint from a hotel room,” she says of the coming-of-age classic. “It hooked me from the start, because I have a 16-year-old boy. I started thinking, Oh, so that’s what’s happening with him.” $14,
Oversized Marni shades are just one way Iclisoy protects herself from the blazing Southern California sun. “I’m pretty obsessed. I wear SPF 18 every day, and I also have a UV-protective jacket and big hats.” Sunglasses, $309, “I’m a hard-core farmers’-market fan. My stomping ground is the Hollywood open-air market on Sundays—it has the largest selection of organic farmers, and you can’t beat the eclectic atmosphere.”
Visit for local markets.
Beautifier Hideaway Brights
Cruelty-free Smash-box is Iclisoy’s favorite makeup. But apart from lightly tinted lips, she just lets her well-tended complexion shine through. “If you take care of your skin, you don’t need much else,” she says. Lip-gloss pot, $18. By tacking on a few extra days, Iclisoy converts annual lavender-scouting trips to Provence into mini vacations for herself. A favorite place to stay is Le Manoir at the Oustau de Baumanière. From $300 a night, Iclisoy has been experimenting with a more vivid color palette in her wardrobe lately. “I’ve been doing a lot of TV for the Target launch,” she says. “I needed brighter colors.” Tee, $350 Ports 1961 by
Tia Cibani,
for stores.

>green hero

BY IRENE CHANGJessica Iclisoy
Jessica Iclisoy didn’t realize it at the time, but the arrival of her son Ian also ushered in the birth of California Baby. Jessica was looking for natural, organic products for her infant. At the time, there wasn’t much on the market, so she decided to create her own natural skin-care line, dubbing it California Baby. Jessica, who also has a younger son, Miles, recalls the skepticism surrounding organics. Convincing store buyers that moms needed a premium product for their babies- and would actually buy it-was Jessica’s biggest challenge because the natural baby-care category was so new. California Baby, incorporated in 1995, not only produces natural products but also operates as eco-friendly business. “We reduce, reuse and recycle anywhere we can,” says Jessica, adding that her company will soon employ solar panels to provide 100 percent of the office’s electricity. A member of the Organic Trade Association, she’s also part of the

Natural Products Association advisory group, where she helps to create standards for natural personal-care products. At home, Jessica is very much the environmentalist, using only untreated, vegetable-dyed bed sheets and cleaning with vinegar and natural cleansers made from baking soda and other nontoxic ingredients. “I even compost!” she says. For those who want to start leading a greener lifestyle, Jessica suggests taking baby steps: “You may want to begin with a small garden, even if it means just a few pots of plants.”

Los Angeles Confidential
California Baby founder Jessica Iclisoy cleans up the earth - and your beauty drawer.
By Susan Waits

California Baby founder Jessica Iclisoy

From it's humble, homemade beginnings in Jessica Iclisoy's living room, California Baby has come a long way. The natural skincare line with organic, sustainable ingredients is collecting a crowd of eco-friendly followers. Just ask frequent customers Marcia Cross, Julia Roberts, and Katie Holmes.

Iclisoy embarked on her entrepreneurial journey after the birth of her first son. When she started looking up the ingredients of products she was using on him, she found that many, especially synthetic fragrances, were potential carcinogens. “As a new mom
I really started to panic”, she says. Today, California Baby offers dozens of hair, skin, bath and sun products for babies, children, and adults.

The hot cult favorite also has a new headquarters in Culver City, which is on track for LEED certification. “As a company we go full circle. We're talking about sustainability from the beginning to the end,” says Iclisoy. “So we want to make sure that our packages are biodegradable and reusable, and that the type of plastic we use is highly recyclable.”

Good for Mother Earth and that tricky diaper rash, How can we resist?




Interview with Jessica Iclisoy, creator of California Baby
April 7, 2009 | By: Stephanie Andrews, co-owner of We Heart This

I am a baby-less woman, but I’ve always loved the company California Baby. It all started for me many years ago on a stroll around Larchmont Beauty, LA’s hippest Beauty depo. I asked one of their super friendly staff “what can I buy with Calendula in it?” (as I recently discovered the joys of this wonder herb). He took me directly to the kid section and pointed to their Calendula Cream. “No, no, for me, not a baby” I said. He said “I know what you meant, trust me! You’ll love it.” And I did…

Flash forward many years and many jars of cream later, and everything I’ve learned about this California, female owned, natural, for-more-than just-babies company makes me love it even more. I was delighted at the chance to speak to the gorgeous owner Jessica Iclisoy about her amazing line. (Seriously, look at that photo! Doesn’t it make you want to be healthy?)

And a quick shout out for their online magazine which is an amazing intro to not just the line, but the philosophy and lifestyle behind it. You’ll find tips from Jessica, articles on sustainable living, natural skin care and alternative therapies. It is a wealth of information for anyone already living or hoping to begin a more natural way of life.

wht: When and why did you develop California Baby? Jessica: I started working on California Baby in 1990 after the birth of my first son, Ian. Before my pregnancy, I became a vegetarian, starting eating organically and converted my home into a natural non-toxic sanctuary. After my son was born, I was breast feeding him and needed reading material—because when your baby wants to eat, you stop whatever you are doing and feed them, which meant I had time on my hands and I was at the library a lot. I happened to picked up a chemical dictionary and started looking up the ingredients in his baby shampoo, which I had recently bought at a health food store. I found that it contained harsh cleansers such as sodium lauryl sulfate and synthetic fragrances. To say I was alarmed is an understatement; I immediately went about trying to create an alternative product using only pure essential oils and non-toxic cleansers. The research took me several years and California Baby went to market in 1995. I sold the first products to a neighborhood health food store and a few specialty stores; now California Baby is available at every Whole Foods market, Target and Babies R’ Us across the country!

Could you explain to our readers your views on the importance of using natural ingredients on your skin? To me it’s a combo of natural and non-toxic/non-invasive. After all, poison ivy is natural, but of course none of us would want to use that on our skin—even if it was organic! What makes California Baby different is that we take things a lot further than most companies. We have always used organic and sustainably grown ingredients; way before anyone knew what organic was—so, for us, organic and sustainable is a given.

A few examples of how California Baby digs deeper is that we make sure our vegan oils are processed in a nut free facility (especially peanut). Also we only use the highest quality essential oils—not just “fragrance/cosmetic” quality, which are used simply for scent. Our essential oils actually have therapeutic value because of their quality and purity. Phthalates are found in synthetic fragrances and many times synthetics are added to essential oils—California Baby tests our oils to make sure they are synthetic; this adds to the cost but we think it is worth it.

What still appalls me is that there are companies that sell baby products (even in natural food stores) that use synthetic fragrances. I am always suspicious when I see vanilla on the label because commercially is always synthetic; I question whether these companies are testing their oils so things haven’t changed too much. I think people love California Baby because they intuitively understand the high level of quality that goes into each product.

Why is your line good for adults too? Because adults have sensitive skin too! I created these products so I could have a skin care line I could use on my baby and myself. Many adults have sensitive skin and a lot of moms today are getting treatments like skin peels and they need a gentle non-irritating product, and California Baby is perfect because we offer a product for all needs. Our washes work great for facial cleansing because they are non-stripping; our creams are healing and help to repair irritated skin (especially eczema); our SPF products are non-chemical and do their job by sitting on top of the skin reflecting skin aging UV rays. Once adults try our products, they are pleasantly surprised that a baby product can be so effective and gentle at the same time.

We were thrilled to find California Baby in Target! Was that an exciting development for you? Very exciting and very timely because, unfortunately, not every neighborhood has a Whole Foods—but every neighborhood has a Target. We were getting calls from customers telling us stories of having to drive hours to buy our products because they didn’t have a health food store nearby. California Baby was ready for wider distribution, and who doesn’t love to shop at Target?! It’s very hard not to walk out of that store without something cool and unexpected. We think the Target image fits with ours and does not compete with Whole Foods, which is our roots—they compliment each other because they are both great and exciting places to shop. And with the recent addition of Babies R’ Us, which has a terrific gift registry, our customers will no longer have to drive hours to find their California Baby favorites.

What products do you reccommend for adults? And what are your favorite products for kids? I think every mom should be using our SPF18 daily (SPF30 on hikes and at the beach) and our Calendula cream nightly. Protect your skin with a non-chemical sunscreen by day and soothe and repair at night. That’s my arsenal and I’m pretty skin obsessed. My favorite products for kids are the hand cleanser because we all how important washing hands is to staying healthy. Washing hands is like brushing your teeth—it’s a thankless job but you got to do it. I feel California Baby hand cleansers with their bright and fun packaging motivate kids to want to wash their hands and because our cleanser is mild and non-drying, this will keep them coming back because it feels good.

Any new products in the works? I always have new products in the works—it’s the finalizing that’s the trick! I don’t like to rush new products simply for the sake of new. California Baby products have to offer value to my customers. I’ve been working on diaper wipes for years; I’m close to final and hopefully will have them out soon. We are adding larger bulk sizes as part of our Reduce, Reuse Recycle brand promise. Buying 1 bulk gallon of shampoo reduces about 15 bottles of the regular size. That’s pretty powerful.
(and I want to personally suggest to Jessica a line for pets, for those of us with fur covered babies! ~S)

And no we heart this interview is complete without a few fun questions from our potluck vault…

Me in a nutshell (describe yourself): Passionate, impatient and hopeful.

You can have front row concert tickets to see anyone, who do you choose? Any way I answer this question I’m in trouble: if I don’t say Oasis, my older son would question my sanity; my younger son would lobby for 50 Cent; my husband is smart so he would stay out of it. I’d have to say David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust days.

Favorite TV show(s): I love nature shows! Anything with animals, even bugs, I love the whole cycle of life and am in awe of how animals behave instinctively. I try to incorporate how animals raise their offspring into my life. For instance, did you know that when a “teenage horse” behaves badly the mother will ignore him using her body to freeze him out the herd temporarily? This is her way of saying that the behavior is not okay. I see that and think, ignore your kid’s bad behavior instead of reinforcing it with negative attention. Brilliant.

My favorite room in my house and why: Bathroom because that’s where the bath tub is. I don’t feel complete without a daily soak with either our bubble bath, drops of essential oils added to the water or bath salts. This is where I recharge my creative energy. It’s also a laboratory for me—I’m constantly testing new products and new essential oil blends.

Thanks so much to Jessica for the inside look into her brilliant, natural line. If you’ve tried California Baby, let us know your thoughts. And if you haven’t, get thee to a retailer right now!

Sean Daily, Green Living Ideas' Editor-In-Chief, talks about natural body, skin and hair care products with Jessica Iclisoy, President of California Baby.

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Home Grown
For entreprenuer Jessica Iclisoy, baby products come naturally.



CONCERNED ABOUT the potentially harmful ingredients that she found in her son's baby shampoo, Jessica Iclisoy in 1991 turned a personal interest in healthful living into a professional mission to produce safe products. Fifteen years later her L.A. based California Baby, an all-natural baby care line, is being used by kids and adults around the world.

What goes into developing your line? It can take a couple of years to develop each product. There are a lot of things that we don't use because we have a lot of customers who are very sensitive or have allergies. We don't use any glutens, nut oils, or soy. Finding alternatives is not easy. I even deal with the farmers that we buy our herbs and essential oils from.
What percentage of your users are adults? About 40 percent. Women will call and ask, "Do you have an antiaging cream?" We are a baby line!
What do you like about L.A.? I like the diversity and that everybody has a dream.
Where do you shop for food? The Farmers' Market in Hollywood, which has a lot of organic farmers, and we supplement a little at Whole Foods. By and large we don't eat packaged foods, so we just buy what's seasonal.
What are your favorite hangouts? Our hangouts revolve around food and drink. We alternate between Lucques, Campanile, and JAR.
Where do you shop for clothes? Marni, and I tend to go to Barneys. I make the rounds, but I always end up there.
What are your favorite nightspots? We've got season tickets to the L.A. Opera, where we've been getting an intense education. We also have a season subscription to the Geffen Playhouse.
What's your favorite beach? Zuma. It's quiet, and the view is different.
Favorite hotel? Hotel Bel-Air.
Favorite hike? Right off Benedect Canyon. If you follow the trail all the way to the top, it's open and wild. It's about an hour and a half uphill. We go every morning.
Favorite L.A. designer? Micheal Stars. I just discovered him - where have I been?
Favorite Spa? We've turned our house into one. We have a Reformer and a Cadillac {Pilates machines}, and the masseuse
comes here.

Jessica, developer of California Baby

Entrepreneur MagazineJessica Iclisoy; California Baby; Beverly Hills, California
Description: Manufacturer of an all-natural line of baby shampoo, lotion and body wash.

Mother's Intuition: When she had her first child, Jessica Iclisoy went into full protective mom mode. Like all new moms, she wanted her baby to live in the safest environment possible, so when she discovered some of the questionable ingredients in many mainstream baby toiletry products, she sought healthy alternatives. In 1993, this former fashion buyer began researching ingredients at the local library and canvassing chemists for information. Before long, she was mixing natural ingredients in her kitchen to create her own line of safe, natural and gentle baby-care products.

Natural Order: Getting the industry to listen to her all-natural message was a challenge at first, says Iclisoy. Confident that there were other parents like her who feared the possible dangers of chemical irritants, she marketed her products directly to healthfood stores, explaining to them the benefits of all-natural baby skin care, as well as the dangers of some common product additives. "For the first eight years, my time was spent educating," she says. Her in-store demonstrations and informative Q&As established her as an expert in organic baby products.

Thinking Green: A pioneer in the natural products scene, Iclisoy remains unfazed as she watches giant companies launch their own natural baby product lines. "How we stay competitive is that we stay true to ourselves," she says. "We don't try to run around competing with other people. We are who we are, and we just try to do the best we can." Her line, which is sold online at and at Whole Foods and specialty stores around the country, includes the popular staple product California Baby Shampoo & Bodywash, as well as aromatherapy bubble baths with names like Overtired & Cranky and Chamomile & Herbs.

Mommy Talk: This mother of two is particularly keen on the needs of other mothers--especially those whose children fight peanut allergies or skin conditions like eczema. In fact, Iclisoy stopped using nut oils in her products at the request of parents who feared the allergen. Moreover, Iclisoy is routinely asked for her baby-care expertise, a role she gladly accepts. "I'm a mother and I went through everything," says Iclisoy. "[Customers] call us, and sometimes it's just for us to be supportive."

Jessica and her two sons This is an interview that
highlights one of the stories behind the products.
by Rachel Sarnoff,
Body & Senses editor enutrition

When she couldn't find a shampoo gentle enough for her infant son, Jessica Iclisoy decided to create her own. Using only the purest, gentlest, natural ingredients and aromatherapy-quality essential oils, Jessica developed a line of products for children and adults. Eight years--and another baby--later, Jessica is the president of California Baby.

eNutrition: Why did you create the California Baby product line?
Jessica Iclisoy: Actually, what I really started out to create was just a shampoo. A shampoo that was different from what was already out there. I was a vegetarian, eating organically grown food, breastfeeding and using good products--I thought I was doing all the right things for my baby. Then I checked out an ingredient dictionary and I found that a lot of the cleansing agents that I was using were considered toxic. The main culprit was sodium Lauryl sulfate, as well as synthetic fragrances.

So I tried to find an alternative. I started talking to different chemists and different labs and I found out that they weren't interested in creating anything different. They were happy using sodium lauryl sulfate and they were vigorously arguing its benefits--namely that it's really cheap. And then I came upon decyl polyglucose [an alternative to the detergent sodium lauryl sulfate]. Now more people are using it, but we were the first to use it 100 percent.

eNut: What do you think of the contention that sodium lauryl sulfate is harmless when used in small amounts?
JI: I just don't think it's good enough. Why? Because there are better alternatives out there. Little girls get yeast and bladder infections that they have to fight with for the rest of their lives because of bubble baths and cleansing agents and all that other stuff. Don't take this the wrong way, but a lot of the people in the cosmetics industry are men, and they're used to doing something a certain way and they're not really interested in changing-they don't like to change. I think if they're saying that they're saying it because they have to. So I just don't believe it. I think that it's bogus.

eNut: Do you have a background in chemistry?
JI: I don't, but I also don't take no for an answer. I make sure that I understand when I talk to the chemists and I don't just take their word for it. Whereas sometimes people, when they're creating products, they just go to a lab and they say, "I want this and I want it to be blue..." Well, I look at it from the underside and take it a little bit further.

eNut: You researched and tested the products for three years before releasing them to the public in 1995, but you resisted testing on animals. How did you test your products, if not on animals? Why did you resist animal testing?
JI: Well most of the time you really don't need to test on animals for this type of product. For example, right now we're even working on an SPF 30. There are labs that you can send it out to and they perform tests on human subjects. It's more expensive, but it's possible. And a lot of these agents, like shampoos and these types of things, they've been around for a while, so people already know what they do and how they react.

eNut: Do you test products on yourself?
JI: I do everything! I put it in my eye, I taste it, I take bubble baths with a ton of it just to see if it's irritating, because I really want to know. And we don't have a problem revising a product if it doesn't work. One of our original products was spray-on lotion, which has morphed into our Soothing & Healing Spray. There were some ingredients in there that I didn't realize were not the greatest ones. One is a humectant, which draws moisture from the atmosphere to moisturize the skin. But if it's really dry, it goes into your body and starts drawing moisture from your body. I didn't know that at first, and I kind of took people's word for it that it was a good product. But then I happened upon some information and so we quickly took it off the market. If we had known about it in the first place, we wouldn't have used it.

eNut: What's so important about using non-talc baby powder?
JI: A lot of people are aware that talc has a bad name. Originally talc came under fire because it contained asbestos and the molecules were so fine that they could go deep into your lungs. So number one, it's got a bad name, we don't even want to use it.

eNut: Can traditional diaper wipes be dangerous to babies' skin? What can parents use as an alternative?
JI: The big problem that I have with traditional diaper wipes is the synthetic fragrances. They cause allergies, they stink, I just don't like the way they smell, period. Even those marked "fragrance free" have a masking fragrance. But our philosophy is that parents today have to have convenience as well. It's very difficult just to live with your child in cloth diapers and do everything perfectly--we have to have a balance. So I'm for diaper wipes, as long as they're good ones. We will hopefully be introducing some wipes by the end of the year. Right now we have a product that's called a Diaper Area Wash. A lot of moms these days are making their own wipes with their own cloth and using the wash with that.

eNut: Why do you use aromatherapy oils instead of fragrance in your products?
JI: Primarily just because of the dangers of synthetic fragrances. And secondly, they smell really good. We use high-quality essential oils that we have tested so we know that they are are at a certain aromatherapeutic quality, like what doctors would use in Europe. So there's that added benefit which is really wonderful. We have parents who just swear by the stuff--they have to have the Calming Bubble Bath, or the Overtired & Cranky Spritzer, because it works. They didn't believe it would, but it did.

We also have these little half-ounce essential oil drop blends. In the beginning when we came out with them, I don't think consumers really knew what to do with them. But now parents are really understanding the benefits of aromatherapy.

eNut: How should parents use aromatherapy?
JI: You can use the oils in a plain water bath or in combination with the bubble bath after you've turned the water off. We just added a plug-in diffuser to our line, which doesn't overwhelm your house with the fragrance. It uses the heat from the electrical outlet to disperse the oils and it's safe to have around children because they're not going to burn themselves and if they unplug it, it's just the plug.

Or you can use it in massage, blended into a carrier oil. I use the Resistance Builder in massage oil when I think my kids are starting to get sick. Essential oils in combinations with herbs are very effective with children, I think. A lot of the time that's all you really need to do, unless they're really sick--that's a different story.

eNut: What's your favorite product in the California Baby product line?
JI: I'd have to say my favorite product is the shampoo and body wash just because you use it all the time. And that's something that you need every single day, you can't go without it.

eNut: Who is that adorable little girl on the label?
JI: That little girl is my older son's best friend when he was a baby. She's such a mix: Her father is Greek and Swedish and her mom is Italian and Spanish. She's an incredibly beautiful and photogenic little girl. And the reason why there are no boys on the label is because boys don't like to pose for pictures--they just run away!