Growing lavender on Garman Organic Farm in Middletown beginning this spring is one more step in the expansion of Farmaesthetics that founder Brenda Brock delights in, as her line of green, sustainable skin care products continues to blossom.
The 100 percent natural products are now being used in wellness centers for patients whose skin is under siege from cancer treatments. Retail is the biggest growth channel, with the addition of 15 Urban Outfitters shops, including five in New York City.
Spas are continually added to the customer list and online sales continue to grow. The Farmaesthetics shop on Bellevue Avenue in Newport has seen a substantial increase in sales – an estimated 30 percent increase in 2013 over 2012, on top of 50 percent growth at the shop the previous year.
“The business is at a trajectory of significant growth,” said Brock. The company has eight full-time employees, as well as six part-time staff, in addition to Brock, and two contractors in public relations.
“We’re prepaying for the crop of lavender and other herbs Garman Organics will grow for us,” said Brock, who started selling her natural skin care products from a farm stand in 1999. The roadside stand got so much response in sales and so much encouragement from friends that she got help writing a business plan and turned her plantings and investments from family and friends into Farmaesthetics.
The new and expanding outlets and a lot of media attention speak to the success of Farmaesthetics.
Brock has appeared with Martha Stewart. Time magazine named Brock to the list of the 100 most influential people in “green design.” Yankee magazine voted the Bellevue Avenue store the “Best Shop for the Senses” among its Best of New England choices. Conde Nast Traveler included Farmaesthetics among its top six lines for organic beauty.
Brock was named the 2013 Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Rhode Island district office.
The business growth and recognition show, “what I’m doing resonates with a lot of people,” she said.
“The heart of the green beauty movement is that it is not cosmetic,” said Brock. “Cosmetic, to me, is a mask. There is nothing cosmetic about what we do. It’s about how healthy you are.”
While the organic skin care products are in luxury spas, including the Ocean House at Watch Hill in Westerly and some Four Seasons hotels in California and Florida, in addition to a new channel for in-room amenities with Relais & Chateaux, Brock says many college students buy the products. It is a sign, she says, that the line of skin care items is relatively affordable, considering the cost of many luxury skin care products.
Learning traditional mixes for skin care when she spent summers and holidays with relatives on farms in Texas, where she grew up, Brock still uses those basics for her products.
After spending 10 years acting and writing plays in New York, destiny led her on a visit to Newport with a friend to deliver a boat. She met her husband in a Newport restaurant, and in 1989 bought a vacant farmhouse in Tiverton and started planting on 1 acre.
Nurturing Farmaesthetics into the thriving business it is today seemed natural.
Just “riding the horse in the direction it was going,” she said.