Naked Bar Soap Co. is changing shower time
Words by Michelle Ferrand
Shower time isn’t just for getting clean. It’s your daily dose of indulgent self-care and reconnecting with your body and mind.
That’s the guiding ethos for Naked Bar Soap Co., a natural skin and body care brand based out of Orlando, Florida. Each of its products is handcrafted by Founder and Chief Product Developer Natasha Byrd-Gaylon, using natural ingredients such as coconut oil, shea butter, and essential oils.
Whether with its olive oil-based artisan soaps, paraben and aluminum-free deodorant, or luxuriously rich body oils, Naked Bar invites its customers to indulge in a “sensual routine of daily self-care, mind, and body wellness.”
Naked Bar’s first iteration began when Natasha became a first-time mom. After struggling to find something that would soothe her son’s severely dry skin, she started using olive oil at the suggestion of a friend. That sparked Natasha’s interest in creating her own body care natural products. At the time, she was a full-time realtor, so making handmade soaps and body butters was a hobby, something she could give to friends and family and occasionally sell at farmers markets.
When Jennifer Peets, who met Natasha through a mom group, found out about the side gig, she knew she had to be a part of it. Initially, Natasha refused her partnership offer, but Jennifer didn’t take no for an answer. She decided to put her business degree and experience into good use and wrote a compelling 15-page proposal for Natasha.
“For the mission statement, I wrote ‘Never sacrifice life over business,’ ” said Jennifer. “Three months later, we went into business together. We still have the proposal.”
Together, the two best friends grew their brand and expanded their product offering. They took the risk and briefly opened a storefront, all while maintaining their online shop. Not too long ago, they rebranded and fully leaned into their self-care ethos—natural is sexy.
“We wanted to get away from the crunchy, granola vibe because ultimately, that’s not us,” said Natasha. “We really like the subtly sexy approach to self-care, and that’s what we want to offer with our products.”
“It’s funny because in the beginning, we ran away from that. Especially because of all the innuendos we would hear about our business name,” said Jennifer. “But after a while, we realized th
“The most important thing that we can give to ourselves as women, as moms, and as business owners is that little moment of self-care,” she continues. “And we’re giving other women just that with our products.”
There’s another important aspect of their identity that bleeds into their business—both women are Black and Latina. Jennifer is first generation Afro-Latina; her parents immigrated from the Dominican Republic. Natasha is of Black and Puerto Rican descent.
“If I had a nickel for every time someone questioned whether we owned our business, I would be rich,” said Jennifer. “It’s nice though when other Black or Latino people discover our business. They feel proud and spread the word.”
It’s not hard to see why. According to a report published by McKinsey & Company, the U.S. beauty industry was valued at $60 billion in 2021, yet Black beauty companies made up only 2.5% of that revenue. The numbers are similarly low for Hispanic-owned businesses, despite them spending 13% more on beauty products than the average consumer.
When the Black Lives Matter movement started, their business saw a huge bump in sales. Since 2020, they’ve been featured by Cosmopolitan, Instagram, American Express, and Pinterest. They also received a grant from the Fifth Third Foundation, as part of its initiative to support Black and women-owned businesses.
“It was hard to wrap our head around it,” said Jennifer. “Part of it was imposter syndrome, but we didn’t dwell on it. We’re proud of our ethnicity and we’re proud of our race. So, we’re gonna show off our Black, Latina, and Moreña girl magic.”
It’s been almost ten years since the pair joined forces. Their business is thriving, but more importantly, so is their friendship.
“Our partnership works because we trust each other and don’t step into each other’s lane,” said Jennifer. “Money can change things, so I see it as a huge milestone for us wanting to keep working together.”
As for what the future holds, the duo hopes to be known as strong business leaders in their community and hopefully be synonymous with green beauty, the same way Kleenex is to tissue or Google is to search. Ultimately, the pair is just down for the ride.
“We came together, started in one place, and ended up going somewhere different, but that’s where we wanted to go,” said Natasha.
“We’re here on some skill, some luck, and a prayer,” adds Jennifer. “It’s a day-by-day thing.”