With a recently opened second location on Airport Road, locally-owned vegan health and beauty store Oshun Organics is growing since its small beginnings of selling products online in 2016.
Karrye Flowers, 32, is the owner and lead cosmetic formulator at Oshun Organics. She started in social work before realizing her passion for sustainable health products and mixing fragrant and organic ingredients together.
Flowers moved to Lynchburg from New Jersey six years ago, after she visited a friend and found the city to be beautiful.
“Up north, everything gets a little bit grayer and dreary and colder, and I was like, ‘Why don’t we go to Lynchburg?’ It seemed like a good place, so we came down a second time and scouted out places to live, and that was it,” she remembered.
When she first moved here, she worked for a few social work agencies before deciding to branch into entrepreneurship full time.
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“I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I spent years trying to find my thing and when I started making this, I just realized that that was my thing and it’s something I’m really good at,” she said.
About eight years ago, she said, she went on a personal journey to become more educated about what she was eating and what she was putting on her skin.
“I started reading all the ingredient lists and then going and researching and trying to figure out how things were made, where they came from, and with that I became so much more empowered,” she said. “And I wanted to impart that knowledge on other people, so I started making things that were more advanced than just mixing butters and oils together.”
Initially, Flowers was just making scrubs with coffee for her own personal use but once she became more educated, she decided to ramp things up a bit.
“I started making cold process soap, which was my first big endeavor into the whole science,” she said. “Terrible soap but I fell in love with the process of doing it.”
From there came deodorant.
“I went on a mission to try to make natural deodorant that wasn’t just coconut oil or baking soda and that was the second big thing that I ever made, and I still sell it to this day,” she said.
She said people are becoming more aware of sustainability and want to use safe products.
“I started dabbling around and trying to figure out my own formulas for things and some of them weren’t good, some of them were pretty good. It was just trial and error and giving things away to people and getting their feedback on it,” she said.
After finding success selling products online, Flowers got a booth at the Lynchburg Community Market on the weekends. When a storefront within the market opened in 2019, she petitioned for it and has been there ever since.
The store now sells body butters, foaming body scrubs, essential oils, face scrubs, hair care products, moisturizers and baby care.
A satellite store opened at 1765 Airport Rd. Suite E this month.
She enjoys talking to customers and helping to educate them about the products.
“I’m really glad people always have questions about how things work. I’ll talk you to death about how these ingredients affect your skin,” she said.
Jeanell Smith of Lynchburg met Flowers in 2017, was given a bar of lemon poppy seed soap and was hooked.
“I was thrilled when she began selling her handmade bath and body products at the Lynchburg Community Market in 2018 and I could purchase them regularly,” Smith said. “They also make highly cherished gifts. We use her soaps, lotions, shampoo and conditioner bars, lip balms, face scrub, and my favorite product, her curl cream.”
Smith said her hair is curly and unruly and the curl cream is a natural product that keeps her curls manageable.
“We are so fortunate to have Karrye in Lynchburg. Not only does she craft amazing plant-based products, she listens to her customers and their needs and responds by creating new offerings to meet those needs,” she said. “When I cut my hair into a mohawk, I needed a different type of product, and of course, she had one in the works, clean hair cream.”
Smith said she doesn’t have to read the labels to check for unwanted ingredients because they aren’t there. She also said she enjoys supporting a local, woman-owned business.
Salina Khanna of Lynchburg said she holds the same principles and practices that Flowers has built her business on.
“The face behind the name is everything to me,” she said. “Not only had I been on the hunt for local products when I met them, but I was thrilled to know that their principles and mine were aligned and we had the same goals.”
Khanna said she trust the soaps, shampoos and conditioners that she uses regularly.
“That’s saying a lot. I am not someone who blindly trusts the ingredients that are going into or onto my or my family’s body,” she said. “The skin is your biggest organ and everything that is put on it directly affects your well-being.”
Walking by the shop in the market, people can see Flowers making everything in house.
“I make everything right here. So I sit down and I figure out what kind of product I want to make,” Flowers said. “And then the biggest part is how is this going to work? How is it going to be effective? And then you base the ingredients off of what you want it to do. So I manufacture everything from scratch right here.”
She said she never wants anyone to have the same fear she had about wondering what byproducts she was using.
“I just want people to know that they can take that back for themselves and go and look things up and go and research. And it doesn’t have to be scary,” she said.