Anicka Martin had a rough October.
First she got walking pneumonia. Then she lost her job. A few days later, her best friend was killed when a motorist crossed the center line and hit her car head-on.
But the three-year Ahwatukee resident and California native isn’t letting any of that slow her down from achieving her dream of establishing a “beauty empire.”
On Thursday, she’s launching her own line of beauty products under the name Eneka Elements, which she is selling through etsy.com.
Priding herself on “an amazing work ethic and an exquisite ability to research and pick up anything I want to learn,” the self-described “DIY queen” has made all the products herself, using family and friends to test them.
“My family is very involved in trying all my products,” said Martin, who holds her bachelor’s degree in human services from California State University-Fullerton.
“I have been traveling and giving my products to them to try out. My friends are well pampered too trying bath orbs, Lotion Blossoms and Milk Bath Moments. Most of all, my 1-year-old son has impressed me by taking milk baths and enjoying the luxury of the Lotion Blossoms.”
Though she primarily works as a coach for children with autism and their parents, Martin got into making beauty products because of “the lack of affordable and quality all-natural skin care products for me and my family. I lacked choice and so I decided to make more on my own.”
Now, her goal is “changing the beauty industry by bringing my unique problem-solving abilities into my products.”
“I am creating products for real people,” she said, recalling how her Right on Thyme Face Wash helped a cousin with severe acne.
“She was taking chemical-filled acne face-wash medications that were so harsh and she needed a choice. I remember high school. It was hard to get acne and have high self-esteem, so my mind went to work. Thyme is so good at helping to get rid of acne and I wanted to keep the recipe under five ingredients too. I succeeded, ,and she now is detoxing her face using the Thyme face wash and my Noir Mask.
“The Noir Mask is a personal victory for me because I was told I had a blocked pore under my mole and I needed a dermatologist to fix it. I was uninsured and not sure what to do. I made the Noir mask and applied it on my whole face and especially on my mole. A week later, I no longer suffered from the blocked pore under my mole and my face is radiant,” she added.
Martin grew up near Edwards Air Force Base in California, where her grandmother Zenobia Reaux worked for 30 years and her grandfather Ernest J. Reaux was the fire chief. “They were both very active in the community,” she said, adding they taught her “respect and high quality of life from an early age.”
The avid hockey fan said she wants to teach her son “how important it is to work hard, so he is very involved with my journey.”
She also is concerned about the beauty of nature and is a member of the Ahwatukee Community Garden.
“Every Sunday it brings me closer to nature,” she said. “Growing up in the desert has been very therapeutic and has taught me a lot about plant medicine as well.”
She admits setting up her own business without much capital has been challenging.
“Looking for grants for women-owned businesses and women of color have been super-difficult,” she said. “Most grants want an application fee or are only given once a year. I really wish there were more people supporting us as a whole. I feel there is a lot of talent on etsy.com – and among Ahwatukee in general – who would love more opportunity to shine.”
“I have had to look into going back to work for the school district to fund my startup. I started a gofundme to also assist,” she added. “My motto is ‘It starts with $20.’ Getting everything labeled uniquely and packaging has been the most costly thing. My biggest goal is getting enough donated to get web hosting so my domain can have a home. So, for now I depend on social media like Instagram and my etsy shop.”
But she is undaunted by these challenges as much as she was undaunted by her setbacks and personal loss last month.
“My long-term goals in this business is to have an affordable line geared toward teens called so people on a budget can have affordable all-natural and organic skin care,” she said, adding she also wants to develop a product line “that focuses on aging well and aging with dignity and grace. It is a big partnership with my mom creatively that has brought us very close together.”
She also is working on a deodorant for women that “can lower the breast cancer rates, since we found out the correlation from some deodorant ingredients and cancer.”
Martin also wants to start a “living lab to teach kids and families about growing food in the desert and increasing health and awareness.”
“I have huge goals. I am dreaming big and I have clear and precise vision of what I can achieve in my life,” Martin added, saying her dream is to open “a brick-and-mortar store that caters to beauty inside and out through vegan and organic options as well as a wellness spa that sells Eneka Elements.”