Lauren Parisier is a Summit mother of two and Kelli Kenny is a New York City mom of three. In 2014, they founded Body Boost, a line of pregnancy-safe products that target stretch marks and scars.
We caught up with the mom boss duo to ask them how they got their business off the ground, why it’s so important that everything they use is made in the United States and how they’re giving back to military moms.
New Jersey Family: How did you two meet and what inspired you to launch Body Boost?
Lauren: We met early in our careers in NYC. We became fast friends and super effective co-workers as we shared long hours forecasting trends, providing market analysis and bonding over our mutual dream of starting a business for women, by women that employs women.
NJF: What was your background before launching Body Boost?
Kelli: I worked in financial services for many years in account management, product development, sales and marketing.
Lauren: I had been working in consumer products first at Kraft Foods and then Unilever. Always a product junkie, I loved learning all about the products business. My real drive to start a business came while working in skin care development. I became fully entrenched in a global research project on ingredients benefits. Pregnant with my first, I was already on a personal mission to find effective, safe solutions for my pregnancy blemishes. Skin science colleagues began offering lots of advice on ingredients not to use during pregnancy and the usual treatment options suddenly became off limits. I began to realize that everything was either too expensive, too greasy or chock full of ingredients that were better avoided. It was an aha moment— time to use my training to build something beautiful, safe, effective and affordable for expecting moms.
NJF: What sets Body Boost apart from other skincare products?
Kelli: It’s the perfect blend of efficacious ingredients, rich textures and beautiful aromas all at an attractive price point. We founded BASQ NYC several years before Body Boost and garnered a lot of learning on the best ingredients and customers’ needs and wants. As our retail partnerships expanded, we were challenged to bring BASQ quality and beauty to products at a value price. We worked hard to create a line that did not use cheaper ingredients like cocoa butter or mineral oil, rather blended efficacious botanicals, butters and oils for real skin change.
NJF: Your products target stretch marks, whether from pregnancy or weight gain or loss. We all need to know: What is the key to stretch mark prevention and getting rid of them once you have them?
Lauren: If you want to avoid stretch marks or improve the ones you’ve got then you need to build collagen early and often. Not all ingredients are created equal and routine matters. It’s why we have so many customers tell us they got marks when they used cocoa butter and didn’t get marks when they learned about Body Boost. Collagen fibers are deep down in the mid layer of the skin and they are what gives your skin stretch and elasticity. If they stretch too far they can weaken and break and the damage shows up months later as a stretch mark. You need to think of skin care like skin food. Pick ingredients that help your skin build collagen and you can prevent or minimize stretch marks. Always use shea butter to build strength. Stay away from cocoa butter—it coats your skin which does nothing for collagen build. Your skin also needs moisture—botanical oils are your best source of omegas crucial to skin strength. Stay away from mineral oil—it also coats the skin which is exactly the opposite of what your skin needs.
The best routine to prevent or minimize Stretch Marks is a simple three step:
- Step 1: Exfoliate with Sugar Scrub weekly – you will fix the itchies and prompt renewal which builds collagen.
- Step 2: Hydrate and tone with Omega Rich Botanical Oils after the shower.
- Step 3: Target mark-prone areas with Stretch Mark Butter morning and night.
NJF: What was the hardest part of getting the business off the ground?
Kelli: For me, it was taking a big leap of faith and the risk that came with it. Lauren and I both worked for large corporations. Leaving a big business culture, regular schedule and a known environment wasn’t easy. I was surprised by how seamless the transition was. We’re so busy day-to-day and a lot of the things I thought I’d miss, I didn’t.
NJF: You’ve both talked about how important it is that your products be made in the USA? How did you go about making sure of that?
Lauren: We work with local suppliers for everything. All our products are manufactured here and all our packaging is made here. Finding packaging made in the USA was the hardest. Most companies buy tubes and jars made abroad because they are less expensive. We made the choice to pay a little more and earn a little less because we believe it’s important to support local business and assure quality and safety.
NJF: You’re involved with a number of charities to help expectant moms and you also work to help women’s groups on military bases. How are you giving back to these organizations and how can others help?
Kelli: We work closely with an organization called Operation Shower that hosts baby showers across the country for expecting or new military moms. The showers are stunning and bring together brands from various industries to create a magical experience for moms whose partners are deployed. We support them by donating skin care, gift sets and of course attending the showers. The showers create a sense of community between these women going through a unique and difficult experience. Best of all, it’s an opportunity to honor these families and their service. To find out more about Operation Shower, you can visit operationshower.org.
NJF: Why is it so important to you to be involved in giving back to the Military?
Lauren: It’s personal. We have friends and colleagues who are military families. We know how hard it is to maintain job opportunity when you have to move every two to three years. We also know the power of community when raising a family and moving so often can make it harder to build community. We feel lucky to have a business that can offer part time, flexible work options. We are working on a program for military communities and pregnant women together to help build community and we hope to offer some flexible work opportunities at the same time. There is no one more deserving of support than our military families
NJF: How do you each juggle the business with raising your kids?
Kelli: Strict time management, weekly scheduling and a lot of flexibility. It’s important to be fully present when at work or with family. I find turning off the phone is a big help during those dedicated blocks of time. Having a business partner is also a major help. Lauren and I stay involved in accounts and decision making so it is very easy to step in when the other has a family commitment.
Lauren: I have a very supportive family and a great friend group. Everyone needs help—you just need to know when you can do it on your own and when to reach out. I love to volunteer and I’ve learned how to choose manageable options. I like to sign up for things that allow me to work on the tasks at night or ones that aren’t super time sensitive so I can manage them with work deadlines.
NJF: What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting this journey?
Kelli: Expect the unexpected. Week to week and year to year, things change in ways you may not anticipate. Some of our biggest opportunities and challenges have been out of our control. You have to be prepared to switch gears quickly.
Lauren: Celebrate all the small victories. The business is always moving. There’s more to do and endless challenges. You need to appreciate the small stuff because it’s often some of the best stuff in hindsight.
NJF: What was our most exciting “Hey Look Ma I Made It” moment since starting Body Boost?
Kelli: Probably our stand-alone displays at Buy Buy Baby stores.
Lauren: I think it was when I realized how much we had grown both online and in store. We are constantly rated an Amazon bestseller and we have retailers in every state in the country.
NJF: What’s your best piece of advice for those of us who have an idea and want to start our own businesses?
Kelli: Have a real passion for the idea. Be prepared to work hard and have a great partner(s) with shared drive and values.
Lauren: Find a great partner who you can laugh with especially on the days you feel like crying. It’s a lot of work and there are different challenges. You need someone to share the fun and the pain.
NJF: Lauren, you live in Summit and Kelli lives in New York City. What are your favorite places to visit or vacation in NJ?
Kelli: We spend the summer in Long Beach Island and love it!
Lauren: My family loves the outdoors. We do a lot of biking and hiking. We’re lucky New Jersey has endless, amazing state parks to keep us busy.