Meet the Maker: PRIMARY

FELIZ is excited to introduce PRIMARY to the fall line-up. The Los Angeles skincare line is run by former Austinite, Jessica Olsen, whose focus is on creating the absolute best non-toxic, clean, and effective products. We’re sold. Read on to learn more how her popular mineral deodorant was created and some of the benefits of her newest ingredient, CBD. PLUS she has a killer podcast rec. list.

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How did PRIMARY begin and how has it evolved since? 
In the simplest sense, PRIMARY emerged from a natural tendency to question the status quo. After trying what felt like every natural deodorant on the market, and still not finding my holy grail, I felt like there had to be a better solution. I set out to create something that was non-toxic and at the same time, smelled and looked beautiful. Something that I was excited to use every morning and that felt like a delight to re-apply throughout the day. The belief that everyday routines can and should feel special is the foundation for everything that I do.  I’m in the process of expanding the line to include other simple, effective, beautiful daily essentials. 

We love the idea of a non-toxic solution to deodorant, one of PRIMARY’s staple products. Tell us more about how you developed the mineral spray.
When I started digging into the ingredients of most natural deodorants, I realized they’re all pretty much the same thing: baking soda + cornstarch + shea butter + common essential oils like tea tree or lavender. And while there’s nothing wrong with that at all, it does means that if one product with those ingredients isn’t a good fit for you, none of them will be. I started researching the bacteria strains that make us stink, and ended up learning way more than I ever thought I would know about sweat, bacteria, and the human microbiome. In the process I also rediscovered a love of biology that I’d somehow left behind in my childhood days. I started working on a formula that made innate sense to me and as I started sharing it with friends, I realized I wasn’t the only one on the hunt for a clean effective deodorant!

PRIMARY centers around elevating daily rituals. Tell us more about some of your own practiced rituals.  
My morning routine is pretty special to me. About a year ago I started slowing the pace of my mornings in preparation for the day. I don’t sleep with my phone (or a clock) by my bed, and consequently I don’t reach for instagram first thing as I open my eyes. Sometimes it means I end up sleeping until 8am or 9am. First thing I do when I wake is journal or read a chapter of a book. Then I have water with lemon, brush and floss my teeth, neti pot (is that a verb?), and oil cleanse / massage my face with a rose quartz gua sha tool (I never know if I'm doing it "right" but it feels nice :)  .. I practice yoga in my living room with my husband and play with my cat Medusa for a bit (if I skip this, she’s a terror all day) Then I make green smoothies for us and my husband and I share our goals for the day before I head out to the studio space behind our home to work on PRIMARY. On a good day, this will be the first moment I take a look at my phone.

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Can you speak to the benefits of CBD and how you’ve approached integrating the ingredient into your products? 
The benefits of CBD are wide and varied and still being discovered, but man, there is no doubt that cannabis belongs in the wellness space. The exciting thing about CBD is that because it doesn’t have the psychoactive side effects, it’s incredibly useful for those who want to explore the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without "getting high".  When I first started looking for CBD supplements to use for my own anxiety and hormonal issues, it was challenging to know how much to take, when I should take it, and how to find a reputable source. The way everything is labeled can be overwhelming and there's a lot of "weedwashing" out there - people selling hempseed oil but labeling it as CBD etc.  I went through a lot of trial and error to find what worked best for me personally, and did a ton of research before partnering with a producer and manufacturer of full-spectrum CBD for the products I've developed. PRIMARY +CBD products were envisioned from the same founding principles which guide everything I make: the belief that self-care is a precursor to good living, the strongly held conviction that making informed choices need not be a dizzying challenge — and the radical idea that both should be a total delight.

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What is your relationship to sustainability? How has it evolved over time? 
I can’t imagine starting a business without first considering the environmental impacts. I’ve made all of the packaging for PRIMARY with recycling and circularity in mind. For example, knowing that I would be selling primarily direct to my customer, it seemed frivolous to put PRIMARY into cardboard packaging when it would already be shipped in a box. Instead, each bottle comes in a reusable bag. I have a partnership with one store in Los Angeles (East/West) to offer a refill on Primary at a discount to encourage reuse. My dream is to be able to offer a trade-in program with more stores throughout the country.

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And to get to know you a bit better…

Where is home for you? After a decade in Austin, I've called Los Angeles my home for the past two years.
Astrological sign: Libra (I balance)
What podcasts or books do you return to as a business owner & creative?
One of the things about Los Angeles, is that you find yourself in a car a lot of time -- which is the perfect opportunity to power through podcasts! I find that I'm mostly drawn to solo format or interviews. Not sure why, but multi-host shows can stress me out a bit! I’m primarily drawn to conversations about society, culture, entrepreneurship, wellness, self care, and self help.
It's a fairly pedestrian pick, but man, 
Oprah's Supersoul Conversations always hits the spot. It’s super comforting and my favorite thing to listen to while I’m making PRIMARY. And I recently started listening to Jen Gotch is OK...Sometimes and I’m so grateful for it. Her vulnerability is super inspiring and I relate to her stories and the format of the show in a very eye-opening way. 

Others that I return to...

How I Built This
HBR Ideacast 
TED Radio Hour
On Being with Krista Tippett
Expanded with Lacey Phillips
Deep Dive with Dana Falsetti
Hey Girl with Alex Elle

“Let it Out” “Good Life Project”  “Love Alexi” Marie Forleo and “The Big Payoff” have been recommended to me, so those are all on the list.

 
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Finish the sentence: I feel most creatively fulfilled when... I’m formulating a solution to a problem that will have a positive impact on others.
 
Which vendor are you most excited to shop at the sale? Oh man that’s tough. High Sun Low Moon for sure. I’m super excited to see old friends like Era Ceramics, Hey Murphy, Realm and Miranda Bennett Studio. And to see new things from people I haven’t met before like Lago, Guten, and Unravel Co. (Gah! Did I pick too many?!) 

Shop the PRIMARY collection on December 9th at the Palm Door on Sabine.

Meet The Maker: Kari Breitigam

Kari Breitigam is an artist and maker based out of Houston, Texas. Her multidisciplinary background in painting and textile art lends itself to the sculptural nature of her jewelry. This is Kari's first time at FELIZ and we are happy to have her. 

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Thanks for joining Feliz this year! Tell us a little bit about who you are, what you do, and what things you'll be bringing to Feliz.

I am a visual artist and jewelry designer.  I have an MFA in Painting, and although I do still paint, much of my current work is in fibers and textiles (mostly latch hook and appliqué).   I create limited edition designs using fiber, clay, metal, and hand-dyed textiles. I would say my designs are minimal organic statement pieces. I’ll be bringing to Feliz a sampling of my jewelry, including linen, brass, and hand-dyed silk pieces. I’ll also be debuting some new jewelry styles, and I’ll have hand-dyed one-of-a-kind pillows and scarves available.  

We love your combination of materials (fiber, clay, and metal). Can you tell us where you find inspiration for your products?

I get a lot of inspiration from ancient jewelry designs. Right now I’m really into ancient Roman gold jewelry and Egyptian neck collars. The organic quality and irregularities of hand-formed goldwork is exquisite. I’ve had a fascination with the Nefertiti sculptural bust since I was a girl. The grandeur of her collars is just stunning. I’m also somewhat of a minimalist, however, so I think my work is a balance of that minimalist aesthetic with the splendor of some of these regal designs.

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When did you decide to launch your accessories line?  

I decided to launch my accessories line shortly after I finished graduate school.  I had recently moved to Texas, and I was both making and teaching art. I had this desire to make more functional work that still had visual similarities to the artwork I was creating.  At that time I was creating really time-consuming embroidered artwork. I started creating jewelry and dying scarves for a bit of a break. I enjoyed it immensely, both the process and the ability to wear my finished products, so I began to sell at markets and opened my online shop in late 2013.

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Your background is in painting, drawing, and fiber arts. How has your accessories line evolved from this place? Do you approach your studio practice in the same way as designing for your accessories line?

I do actually approach my studio practice in a very similar way to how I design for my accessories line.  I’m a planner, so my sketchbook is filled with thumbnails and notes for artwork and jewelry ideas side by side.  The artwork continually feeds into the jewelry and vice versa. The same materials, shapes, colors, and techniques frequently find their way into both sides of my creative work.  I also really design for myself in both of these areas. I think for commercial goods, like jewelry, it is probably thought of as wise to create what you think will sell, but I’ve never really taken that approach.  I design what I like and what is interesting to me. I don’t know if it’s the best business move, but it is definitely the most fulfilling way to create.

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AND to get to know you a bit better…

Hometown:  Wapakoneta, Ohio (hometown of Neil Armstrong)

Astrological Sign: Aries

What would you be doing if you had a different career?  I’ve always thought a career as an archeologist sounded terribly romantic.  Art restoration also fascinates me. I guess I just like the idea of recovering and preserving the past.

What was the last big risk you took?  Last year I cofounded a home goods design collective, Pretti.Cool, with six other Houston creatives. We each have our own creative work that keeps us busy, so launching this new collaborative business seemed exciting yet a little scary.  So far so good, though!

Where do you find inspiration away from the computer?  Art museums, books, other creative folks

Last great travel destination? Berlin!  It was wonderful.

See more of Kari's art and jewelry here. And be sure to stop by her booth on May 6th at The Palm Door.