Founder and CEO, Olive Natural Beauty; Age 28
When Jessica Dupuis was selling cosmetics in a Boston apothecary in 2008, she began researching the ingredients they contained. The products aren’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and her concern about customer safety grew when she discovered more than 1,500 ingredients known to cause health problems are banned in Europe but haven’t been eliminated in the U.S.
Dupuis felt the marketing was misleading, there was no transparency, and manufacturing benefited companies rather than consumers. So she began making soap and other products in her kitchen and giving samples to friends and relatives.
“I wanted to do something good for women that wouldn’t damage their health or the environment,” she said. “These products are being washed down the drain and are affecting the planet.”
She moved back to Amherst in 2010 and decided the following year to market her products to retail stores. She was working as an assistant to Tom Horton of Sustainable Resources, and his wife introduced her to people at Joia Beauty in Northampton, and they sold out of her products in weeks.
She continued to sell her product line, and in 2012, with help from fiancé (now husband) Graham Immerman, Dupuis launched a campaign and raised more than $7,000 on Indiegogo to donate safe skin-care products to women in need.
That same year, Horton introduced her to Paul Silva at Valley Venture Mentors (VVM). In 2015, Olive Natural Beauty won the first VVM Accelerator program for startups in Springfield. She and her team of 10 per-diem workers prepared and packaged 300,000 units of products and generated $250,000 in revenue by the end of that year, and she gave the keynote speech at the 2015 Grinspoon, Garvey & Young Entrepreneurship Conference.
Last year, Dupuis hired 13 local women to help fulfill orders and was featured multiple times on ipsy, the largest beauty-product sampling program in the world. Since then, 200,000 ‘ipsters’ have been introduced to her safe skin care, and she has mentored many VVM entrepreneurs seeking help with their startups.
“I dreamed about having my company become successful, but never thought this would happen,” she told BusinessWest. “It has been a very humbling experience, and I am not only proud but very grateful to people who have helped me.”