For Anita Redd, necessity truly is the mother of invention.
When Kevin, one of her three sons, had severe eczema as a child, she tried everything she thought might help alleviate his suffering—including steroid medication prescribed by a doctor. Still, nothing seemed to work.
She knew she needed to moisturize her son, but was frustrated by the list of ingredients to avoid in moisturizers. She found creams that had dyes, lotions that added fragrance, messy pumps that were difficult to use, so-called “natural” ingredients that produced an allergic reaction, and products that were too thin or didn’t last long.
Feeling alone and frustrated, she joined the National Eczema Association for support, and as a creative outlet, began writing tips and ideas for their newsletter, The ScratchPad. She quickly moved on to running the organization’s local chapter, followed by becoming the state contact for eczema support.
But the perfect solution eluded her—until one day in 2003, she experimented in her kitchen with olive oil and beeswax, thinking these truly natural ingredients might make a difference. “The mix worked well for Kevin and was very convenient, so I told people about it and they started asking for it,” said Redd, a University of Michigan graduate and Ann Arbor native now living in Lawrenceville, Georgia. In a short period of time, Kevin was off all steroids and using only his mom’s homemade remedy.
Buoyed by the her son’s success and motivated to help the thousands of other families living with eczema and other skin-related issues, Redd built a business and incorporated Anita’s Balm in late 2011. Since then, the product has earned shelf space in more than 30 natural foods stores and pharmacies nationwide.
Redd’s company has also grown significantly in a short period of time. Since January 2012, she has added several new products, including a 4-oz. jar of the original formula balm, lip balm, hair balm and glide-on’s (½-, 1- and 2-oz.), with an eye balm coming soon. She handles just about every aspect of her business in-house: Her father is her business manager, she formulates the product and her brother helps ship her products to retailers across the country. Recently, for her evolving packaging needs, she purchased a 3-D printer and a machine that enables her husband Jason to create aesthetically pleasing jars out of material made from corn.
The success of her business has also allowed Redd to give back. She has written an e-book, Soothing the Anguish of Eczema (available for free December 1-5 on Amazon.com), and attends the annual conferences of Families with Children Under Stress (FOCUS) and dozens of other support groups for parents of children with disabilities. She even donates a portion of the proceeds to the National Eczema Association to further research and programs for people with eczema.
All of these efforts have won Redd the attention of major retailers and distributors such as Whole Foods Midwest and South, Smith Drug, Cardinal, AmerisourceBergen and McKesson. More interesting, however, is the unexpected surprise of other businesses expressing interest in the product line, including long-term care facilities (especially those with diabetic patients), spas, pet grooming salons (for dry or cracked paws), holistic birth center (for stretch marks, breast cracks, diaper rash and cradle cap), sporting goods stores and even tattoo parlors.
“Basically, anyone with dry or irritated skin can find rapid relief with this product,” said Redd. “The possibilities are virtually endless.”
Anita’s Balm is based in Lawrenceville, Georgia. For more information, visit AnitasBalm.com or contact Anita Redd via email ([email protected]) or phone at 770.330.8446.