Maker: Organic Wonder Brooke Ristow of Smell Swell
Brooke Ristow is an organic wonder– her body products are natural and inspiring. I absolutely loved engaging with her because I feel like I learned something new about a holistic approach to self care. Brooke is offering a generous 30% off your order at her shop, if it’s made on December 16 and 17. The code is DHL30. Go forth, and smell swell!
please introduce yourself.
Hello there, my name is Brooke Ristow and I live in (and love) Southern California! I currently call Costa Mesa home and live here with my hubby who I met on the first day of our freshmen year of college, our two daughters (and a third on the way), and a Boston Terrier. I grew up here, but a few years ago, our wanderlust got the best of us, and we packed up and moved to Germany. Seriously, one of the best seasons of my life. I got to experience seasons, met amazing friends, lived next to a forest, and traveled Europe! It was in Germany that I adopted a more holistic lifestyle. It was so easy! It was just how people lived! And so when I moved back, I had to put forth a little more effort to maintain that. One area was body products. I couldn’t believe that natural, organic products weren’t the norm, but not only that, but that they cost an arm and a leg. And so began my line of Swell products!
what do you make or do?
It all started with Smell Swell. If you didn’t know already, kids change things in a HUGE way! In ways you never imagined. I tell you the truth, I didn’t need deodorant until I delivered my first child. Seriously, as in starting the day I became a mother. I couldn’t believe how bad I smelled in that hospital gown and thought it was probably because I never worked so hard in my life. (They don’t call it labor for nothing.) But the stink stayed around even after the shower, and it continued to stay around and just be masked my different scented deodorants. Until that is, I found out that I could make my own and that it actually worked! It didn’t mask the odor, it eliminated the odor! I am now excited to say that I have a spray deodorant that does not contain sodium bicarbonate (some people find it irritating), I have had only positive feedback. I also make a lip balm that has an spf of 20, sunscreen and body butter too!
Someone asked me what my favorite product was and I had to say you really have to try them all! The studies on aluminum in regular deodorant and the links to Alzheimer’s are scary! So, you want to switch if you can. And then sunblock, you really should be using some everyday and in that case, you want to make sure you are using a zinc based sunscreen. As for lip balm, mine is actually cheaper than Carmex! Four bucks for twice as much! And did you know that Carmex contains phenol which is actually banned in the European Union? And lastly, body butter. Everyone needs a good body butter, and not a body lotion. What’s the difference? Well, there is no water in body butter and water is a drying agent, so when you are looking to moisturize your skin, you don’t want to lather it in a lotion that has water as one of the main ingredients. And so for those reasons, I can’t say which item is my favorite! They all seem so necessary!
where can we find your creations?
You can access my etsy store by going to smell-swell.com or by typing in PrincessAndThePie in the search field. I am also on Facebook and you can find me there at All Things Swell.
how long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?
I first made the deodorant for myself toward the beginning of 2012, and then I put some in a cute vintage mason jar that I got at a garage sale for my friend’s birthday. Her husband started using it as well and said, “you should sell this stuff!” And so I did! My first show was Patchwork Santa Ana last November, and from there I got featured in the OC Register, which really got things started. This is my part time job. I am a full time mom, and a part time creator of swell products.
when you’re not making things, what do you do?
When I am not busy making products in my kitchen, I am a busy pregnant mom of two active girls who are homeschooled. Our days are filled with school work, nature outings, cooking, and cleaning, and unfortunately I have to drag them along on some errands every once in a while too. We have a Boston Terrier that needs lots of exercise, so we also love going to the beach and going on bike rides and family walks. Okay, the kids hate the walks, but my husband and I love them.
is creativity a luxury or a necessity for you?
I could totally relate to Nicole’s blog post about her first art show, and how she spends very little time creating these days. I feel like I absolutely need my creative outlet. It is something that used to be a regular part of my life. Now, as I spend more time making my body products, and my kids don’t take long naps like they used to, I feel like it is a luxury when I get the chance to create something that has been brewing in my mind. My current project that I want to start is some pallet art work for Christmas. I better get busy!
what’s on the horizon for you and what you do?
I love so many things. It is not exactly on the horizon, but I hope that someday All Things Swell can encompass every aspect of things that are swell to me. I love using fabric and paper to create wall art. I love making garland and bunting flags for birthdays and babies. I love repurposing cool garage sale finds. And I hope that the future allows me to expand All Things Swell to exactly that, all things!
Brooke, with her adorable family.