I was the weirdo with the weird products helping the weirdos,” jokes Heather Rosencrantz, owner of Dirty Girl Farm, a line of all-natural, vegan and cruelty-free skincare products.
Twenty-five years ago, Rosencrantz looked like a glimpse of the future—a young mother in yoga pants, bringing her fresh herb plants to the local farmer’s market. However, at the time, she was nothing like her contemporaries. A yoga instructor with a botany major in college and background in farming, Rosencrantz had taken a much less-traveled road a la Robert Frost’s urging.
When Rosencrantz’s young daughter’s skin simply did not respond to store-bought skincare products, Rosencrantz took her knowledge and background and created her own solution.
“There just weren’t natural skincare solutions in the market. No Whole Foods on every corner like today,” said Rosencrantz. “I realized I had the information and the ingredients in my own garden, so I started making my own.”
The products worked so well on her daughter’s tender skin, Rosencrantz started bringing small jars of her Boo Boo Balm to the farmer’s market with her. What initially began as inquisitive questions about the “weird green goo” turned into parents at their wits’ end, sharing their own heartbreaking stories of seeking out salves to treat their child’s or their own sensitive skin.
“I hesitate to say this is my ‘calling,’” said Rosencrantz. “But hearing those stories and knowing I could do something to help people was the absolute beginning of Dirty Girl Farm.”
Little by little, Rosencrantz utilized her education and her passion and created a line of all-natural skincare products free from chemicals, toxins, and gluten that are never tested on animals. The Dirty Girl Farm line expanded to over 400 different products, from bar soap and body butters to facial serums and eye creams.
Twenty-five years later, what Rosencrantz has spent her career building is no longer considered weird. It’s part of a multibillion-dollar industry sought out by consumers around the world.
While Dirty Girl Farm remains one small piece of that industry, Rosencrantz isn’t content to simply make a great product that is answering a need. She wants to create products that are as safe for the environment as they are for one’s skin.
To that end, Dirty Girl Farm uses cornstarch packing peanuts and cellophane that dissolves in water or can be composted. Plastic packaging is always recyclable, and some wrapping has undergone additional changes to make it more eco-friendly—like its bar soap now packaged in cardboard. The ultimate goal is to make everything in the box safely disposable.
When Rosencrantz took Dirty Girl Farm products entirely online, she made another leap to “right-sizing,” as she calls it.
“Even closing our physical store has a positive impact on the environment,” explained Rosencrantz.
Beyond that, Rosencrantz explained, her days and weeks are becoming less littered with additional travel and worries that come with a physical space. Ultimately, she’d like to build a lab closer to home on her spacious property in Silverwood, Michigan, where she is also a member of Thumb Electric Cooperative.
“I’d love to see Dirty Girl Farm in even more cupboards. Just as an acknowledgment that more people are looking closely at what they’re putting on their skin,” said Rosencrantz. “We can’t change the world all at once. But we can each take small steps in the right direction. I’ve always believed that.”
So, step by step, Rosencrantz is creating cleaner products that are better for both people and the environment. Each tiny step is proving that what was once weird can be positively wonderful.
Emily Haines Lloyd is a freelance writer in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. She has worked in advertising and marketing for nearly twenty years and also contributes as a features writer in publications like – MLive, MicroShiner and MittenBrew. You can see more of her work at emilyhaineslloyd.com