From stem to skin

Team mixes herbs, flowers in Alexandria basement

Lindsay Muzik adds labels to aromatherapy jars at RAW.&Co., one of the Alexandria area's newest manufacturers. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)

Lindsay Muzik adds labels to aromatherapy jars at RAW.&Co., one of the Alexandria area's newest manufacturers. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)

Lisa Olson, left, grinds rose petals and mixes them with organic sugar and lavender to create a facial scrub, while Sara Severson, right, adds the wooden spoons and the lids. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)

Lisa Olson, left, grinds rose petals and mixes them with organic sugar and lavender to create a facial scrub, while Sara Severson, right, adds the wooden spoons and the lids. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)

Kristen Haabala, a naturopathic doctor, adds drops of her special formula to aromatherapy vials. Haabala makes some products at home and many below her Sixth Street clinic. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)

Kristen Haabala, a naturopathic doctor, adds drops of her special formula to aromatherapy vials. Haabala makes some products at home and many below her Sixth Street clinic. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)

In a basement off Sixth Avenue in Alexandria, a coffee grinder whirrs as it minces rose petals to powder.

A rubber mallet thumps, bam-BAM, bam-BAM, to secure the tops of small glass vials.

These are the sounds of one of Alexandria's newest manufacturers, one that turns flowers, oils and sugars into exfoliants, moisturizers and aromatherapy.

The manufacturer, RAW.& Co., has only four employees. Their tools are low-tech measuring spoons and eye droppers, and their workspace resembles a "fancy dining room," as a recent visitor commented. Their products are simply made and simple to use, they say, but their plans are anything but simple.

"I see it as a huge company, headquartered out of Alexandria, but touching people across the country," said Sara Severson, one of the four employees.

She is tasked with developing a national sales force. Previously, she trained sales people nationwide for two other local firms that made it big: mobile phone provider RCC/Unicel, which was bought by Verizon, and food mix maker Tastefully Simple.

A sampling of what is made in the basement apothecary on Sixth Avenue East. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)

A sampling of what is made in the basement apothecary on Sixth Avenue East. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)

One of Severson's recent coups was landing RAW. products in a subscription service sent out to new moms across the country through a service called Moms + Babes. While RAW. had to pay for the placement, Severson sees it as a marketing investment that could pay off if those moms discover they love the products and tell their friends. 

For full article, go to: Echo Press

Source, image(s), credits & more: Echo Press | Karen Tolkkinen