Superheros aren’t the only ones with origin stories. The events leading up to Bella Lina Bath involve goats, eczema, bacon fat, and a really smart grandmother. Curious yet? So was I, and I asked Jessica Sanchez plenty of questions. You’ve probably seen her around RAM. You may have even bought some of her bath bombs that smell like candy. They taste like candy, too. Just kidding. Sort of. No really, don’t eat your bath bombs.
Jessica is originally from Reading, Pennsylvania. (Yes, there’s really a city called “Reading.” No, I don’t know if the city is built out of books.) As a young girl, Jessica dealt with painful eczema. Her skin would become itchy and flaky and would get easily inflamed. Her grandmother eventually decided to take matters into her own hands and made soap out of goats milk and bacon fat. Jessica walked around smelling like milk, but she didn’t care, because her skin was finally soothed.
When Jessica’s own daughter was 6 months old, she started exhibiting signs of eczema. Her skin condition was so bad that a doctor recommended steroids. Rather than put her daughter through the same painful experience that she dealt with, Jessica took a leaf out of grandma’s book and began looking into natural soaps. However, ordering good soaps online just wasn’t the same as those awesomely handmade soaps that Jessica grew up using. She decided she wanted to make her own soaps. 7 years later, Jessica has become an expert on lye, skin care, and making everything smell amazing.The name Bella Lina is a combination of the names of Jessica’s daughters, Izabella and Angelina. What started out as something for her family has turned into a favorite Jacksonville small business. The weird thing is, Jessica wasn’t always planning on selling. She unintentionally got a wide fan base before she’d even considered sharing her products with people outside her family. “Friends would come over and take stuff from my soap closet,” she said with a laugh. That’s when she realized, Hey, why not try selling this stuff? Her first time selling was on Etsy, where she quickly became a 5-star reviewed shop. Jessica did farmers markets around Orlando before she finally moved to Jacksonville a few years ago. The city’s definitely got a keeper, because Jessica never wants to leave. “Jacksonville is the first place that I’ve embraced and that’s embraced me,” she said. She’s grateful to RAM, and says that the arts market has made Bella Lina the successful company that it is now. Besides RAM, Jessica loves sunshine and the beach and swears she’s part mermaid, hence the mermaid on her logo. She’s also a fan of 5 Points, where she feels that she can be herself, turquoise hair and all.
Jessica is all about natural products, so the ingredients she uses are safe enough for sensitive skin, free of formaldehyde and sketchy preservatives. She’s got you covered with shampoos, body butter, and even insect repellent during the summer. I’ve tried her soaps, lotion, sugar scrubs, and bath bombs, and can attest to their wonderfulness. The soaps are creamy and moisturizing. They lather really well, so the soap will last forever. The emulsified sugar scrub was surprisingly soft. I was expecting it to be hard and gritty, but it was squishy enough to be a pillow. Seriously. I got excited with the bath bomb and used the whole thing, though it’s big enough to last for a couple uses. It turned the water bright blue and made the whole top floor of my house smell amazing. I was worried that there would be a blue ring in the rub, but there was no lingering color. Plus, it left my skin super soft.Her favorite part about this job is that it gives her the opportunity to be with her family. After all, she started doing all of this for her kids, who love that their mom is part-time mermaid, full-time chemist in her secret lab. Jessica takes her work seriously and doesn’t let anyone enter her mermaid den without a hairnet. She spends a good portion of her time making her products. Getting ready is the longest part, taking up a good 4-5 hours. Her favorite part about making her products is designing them. Jessica doesn’t believe in boring soap, but instead tries to make each thing she creates unique and pretty. She definitely does a good job. I mean, my Monkey Farts soap has swirls and glitter. It doesn’t get much better than that.
It’s one thing to buy natural and effective products, and another thing to buy them from someone who is the sweetest, most cheerful person around. Jessica is as bright as her soaps. Her ultimate goal isn’t making money, it’s making people happy and clean. She loves everyone, and she’s pretty loved in return. If you don’t believe me, visit her yourself. Find her around RAM, and maybe at Brew and Saltologie, where she sells her products. Be sure to sign up for her monthly mailer to get tips on healthy and safe skin care.
Thanks, Bella Lina, for making Jacksonville a cleaner, brighter place.