Hi, I'm Becky Waddell and my little skincare shop is called Be Clean. We're located at the O Street Artist Studios in the adorable Bloomingdale neighborhood. My husband and I moved to DC about three years ago and spent our first few years in Brookland (surrounded by local artists and makers), but we've recently moved to the H Street area. I love being within walking distance to some of DC's most exciting local shops, restaurants and culture.
I launched the online shop about a year and a half ago and opened the studio last May. The studio appears to be 1 year old! I just realized that :)
What's the Be Clean elevator pitch, and how has it evolved since the launch of the shop? Be Clean is a small batch and vegan skincare shop that carries a selection of natural products and accessories crafted in the USA. We hope the the intentional and handmade nature of most of what we carry will encourage our community to slow down, experience and participate in their self care routine -- something that so many of us rush through in the morning and neglect at night. Over time, we've grown to appreciate a more nuanced approach to skin and body care and have added thoughtful accessories that contribute to a mindful lifestyle. In that growth, our desire to plant roots in DC, instead of operating strictly online, has really taken hold. To me, contributing to and creating a physical community that supports and celebrates acceptance, collaboration and self-care is a natural extension of the shop.
You're also a writer – can you give us some background on how you got your start contributing to print and online publications? And how has that affected/helped grow Be Clean? While I feel that "writer" is a title I have yet to earn, writing is something that has always been one of my most cherished outlets. I can't think of a time in my adult life when I wasn't contributing words somewhere, whether they were academic, opinion-based, or creative. Most recently, though, I was given an opportunity to write for Martha Stewart's online platform, and I have sought out really special writing projects with Chickpea Magazine. I adore this publication and the creative spirit they embrace in their ad-free quarterly. It has helped me grow, both personally and from a business perspective, because my articles tend to focus on outreach and collaboration. For example, I brought together some of DC's most vegan friendly restaurants, bloggers and thinkers for a beautifully curated plant-based Thanksgiving. The images, energy and conversations made for an article that, to me, really celebrated what's possible when people come together. Expanding beyond the "skincare" box and embracing community through writing has helped Be Clean grow, and I hope it continues to do so.
Independently-owned retail in DC is by no means few and far between...but its footprint does feel tiny in comparison to national/corporate-owned entities, and therefore the consumer-education piece is necessary for the survival of those businesses. How do you go about tackling this? How are you spreading the word on Be Clean, and is there much of a difference between your in-person and online customer base? I wish I had a sophisticated and insightful answer to this question, but I don't. I am still learning how and when to share the shop with DC, and the online shop with the world. But I will say that I try very hard to cultivate relationships with the lovely people that frequent Be Clean. So many folks that come to the shop do so because they're hardcore #greenbeauty lovers, and that's really cool. But the best thing about the studio space is that I am able to take the time to get to know my customers (and they can get to know me)... I rarely have anyone who just pops in and pops out. Instead, I have had many quiet afternoons transformed because a customer walked in a stranger, and walked out an hour later after we've chatted about everything from new brands to recipes to work and everything in between.
Personally, I find that level of engagement very rewarding. I'm invited to participate in a rather private routine in someone's life, and having the chance to create a space where people feel comfortable to explore their skincare concerns and needs keeps me energized. I hope that our customers feel the same way!
Both for the online shop and the studio, I try to work with bloggers and local folks who are excited about what they're doing, excited about what we're doing, and excited about what we can do together. I hope to grow our connections this year, as there was a lot of learning happening the first year.
Your shop is located at 52 O St - what was the process of finding and GETTING that space? We were actually visiting O Street to learn more about a potential woodworking space for my husband, who developed a love for building tables in our 500sf apartment. When we saw sweet little Unit 308, we had to take a moment to collect ourselves because we both fell in love with the little sun drenched + paint splattered nook. Be Clean found its DC home that morning, and while there are always financial considerations, we love this space and hope to have the privilege of being at 52 O for a long time.
What have been some benefits of being there? You're in close proximity to other creative businesses, as well as artists, musicians, etc. Can you talk about any collaborations or resource/experience-sharing that have come from being under the same roof? Being at O Street means I am constantly reminded that being a successful artist and business owner requires constant hard work, empathy and creative space. I am extremely lucky to be on the same floor as Virginia from DeNada, Vesna from Mint Lola, Veronica from Veronica Revilla, and Abby from Pitchfork Studios. These women constantly inspire me... from Abby's commitment to her creative vision, Virginia's #bosslady work ethic, Vesna's simply gorgeous accessories and Veronica's commitment to maintaining a community in the building. I'm forever thankful for the building and the people inside.
52 O Street Open Studios are this weekend! What's going on at Be Clean, and who else in the building should people make sure to check out? Open Studio days are the best! Most of the tenants will be there sharing their work and creative space, and so many people come out to explore. Be Clean will be offering skincare consultations, super secret special promotions, and of course, yummy snacks. You should check out everyone with an open door -- we all have stories to share!
Because we can't end this without asking for skincare advice: what do we need to know for the Spring/Summer transition? Listen to your skin! If your skin is feeling out of whack, make gentle adjustments in your routine. For example, many people experience dryness in the winter and use a heavier serum or balm to help nourish, but once temps and humidity increase, that nourishing serum becomes too much. In that case, it may be time to try a lightweight or SPF-based option instead. Of course, it's also the perfect time to transition your deep, warm perfumes, nail polish and lip colors to lighter and brighter options... this switch up might be my favorite part of spring and summer :)