Locally made, natural self-care products
Talking with Baton Rouge native and LSU graduate, Rachel Laymoun is like taking a breath of fresh air. A smile full of excitement and authenticity wraps around each word as she describes her self-care hobby turned business, So Yaya.
A bright logo of lush leaves and fresh lemons don Laymoun’s skin care products, a tribute to her daughter. Her line includes cleansers, serums, and balms she manufactures personally and has worked tirelessly to perfect. DIG sat with Laymoun for a better understanding of her journey and future with So Yaya.
I’ve always had troubled skin, but when I become pregnant, my skin was not a fan. After going through pricey skin care options that I didn’t completely love, I realized I wanted products that were both gentle on my skin and my bank account. I love creating and learning how and why things work, so I directed all of my creative energy into making a cleanser and facial oil that worked perfectly for my own skin. From there, I started custom making blends for friends. That is how I came to develop the three different lines for each skin type: Mellow, for combination skin; Lemon(aid), for oily skin; Quench, for dry skin.
Hobby to Business
I didn’t plan to start a business. It started as an escape for me. Before So Yaya was a brand, it was my creative outlet that helped me as I fought depression and anxiety. It motivated me to take better care of myself as a whole by starting with my skin. As a mom, you tend to put yourself last and creating these products is part of my self-care routine.
I named my lines and had a graphic designer friend create my first batch of labels. I opened my Etsy shop at the end of January stocked with the three lines of cleansers and oil serums as well as a peppermint lip balm. I made one sale my first month. I perked up in February when I got a call from Justin Lemoine of Midcity Maker’s Market. I submitted my application for MMM the same day I opened my Etsy shop and was impatiently waiting to hear back. After getting a feel for my brand and explaining the new products I was working on, he asked if I would want to be a part of the March market. Duh! This is when I really felt like a legit maker.
The bonus room in our home is where the magic happens! It’s now our home office and where I make everything for So Yaya. I sanitize my workspace and my instruments and get all the ingredients for whatever I am making. I print out my formula for the batch size and weigh everything separately, then combine my heated ingredients. I stay very focused when I am weighing and mixing ingredients, but bottling and labeling is a lot more relaxed.
My favorite apps that I use are Snapseed for photo editing, Adobe Spark for graphics, and I recently started using Planoly to try and make my Instagram feed more cohesive. While I am technically a one-woman show, I have very talented friends that have accepted So Yaya products as payment. A photographer friend took the product photos that are on my Etsy. A graphic designer friend did my first labels. My older sister has an English Lit degree from LSU and she proofread everything on Etsy for me. Then there are all of my friends and family that tested countless formulas for months and gave me feedback. There are a lot of local bloggers and makers that have shared knowledge. Hannah with @coldcoffeehotmess told me about the Rise podcast by Rachel Hollis. One episode in particular was about using Instagram to promote your business. This 30-minute podcast taught me so much!
My favorite oil serum is my new 369 that I am debuting at a pop up shop. It’s a balanced blend of Omega 3, 6, and 9. I start most of my research on the U.S. National Library of Medicine. I read multiple medical journals written by dermatologists about how a balance of fatty acids can help treat inflammation and different skin irritations. 369 has marula oil from Swaziland, Africa, that was provided by the Kudvumisa Foundation. The profits from it will be donated back to their foundation. This has been the most rewarding formula to develop because I know the sales will support an amazing cause and it’s my first oil that will work for all skin types.
The short-term goal right now is to double my product sizes by the end of 2019, while keeping my prices the same. I want to build a brand that sells quality products at an accessible price point. Doubling the product sizes is important to me because I know $35 for a cleanser and serum that you’ll have to replace in 4-5 months is a lot to shell out for a lot of people. Larger sizes mean the product will last longer and it will be easier for people to work self-care into their budget. My long-term goal is to build a transparent brand that uses its resources to educate and encourage its customers. So Yaya is a business, but it started as and still is my main creative outlet. That means not creating anything merely for financial gain. I have to receive joy from start to finish.
You can find So Yaya products on Etsy and www.naturallysoyaya.com. Locally, products are stocked at Wanderlust by Abby and Wonder Balm is around the corner from her at Olly Olly. Rachel will have her line available at every Makers Market and will be a part of some holiday markets.
Photos by Blair Thompson