CHATHAM —Entrepreneur Zaneta Searles said she opened Life Organics in Chatham so residents would not have to leave the community to shop.
"I hate when I have to go outside my neighborhood to shop. Chatham is a well-known business community filled with a lot of small, family-owned businesses, and as a Chatham resident myself I wanted to do something to help make my community more vibrant," said Searles.
Searles opened Life Organics, 435 E. 75th St., in March with her husband and sister and hopes to open more retail stores over the next five years as well as be a vendor at the annual Black Women's Expo. Since 2008, Life Organics Inc. was a home-based business, she said, describing it as a health-wellness and beauty company.
Some of the products sold, which are available to men, women and children, are hair oil, shampoo, skin cream, body lotion, shaving cream, shower gel, and body wash. According to Searles, none of the products contain mineral oils, petroleum, sulfates, parabens, toxic chemicals, synthetic colors or harsh preservatives. Prices range from $6 to $20.
"That's why we are so unique to Chatham. I don't think there are any other businesses in Chatham like us," explained the 35-year-old mother of two small children. "We do not just sell products. We also do seminars and offer health information, education and resources."
Melinda Kelly, executive director of the Chatham Business Association, said she is "very excited that a Chatham resident has opened a business in the community."
"Living in Chatham and doing business in Chatham adds to the strength of our community," said Kelly.
Searles, who once considered becoming a teacher, earned a bachelor's degree in applied science from Robert Morris University, and is currently pursuing an online master's degree in cosmetic science from the University of Cincinnati. And up until 2012, she was a self-employed DJ.
"I love music. But you have to love music when you are a DJ," she said.
She also worked in the insurance industry and later was a homemaker caring for her 6-year-old son, who has the skin condition eczema.
"I was spending all this money buying creams and stuff to use on my son and it was not effective," Searles recalled. "I got frustrated and that's when I knew I had to try something different."
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