Nessa’s Naturals announces launch of natural cosmetics line
Fourteen years ago, Vanessa Torke was a stay-at-home mom experimenting with lip balm recipes in her rural Hanley Falls kitchen. Little did she know at the time that this project would turn into a career. It started with tweaking the recipes to make the lip balms into a product she would like to use. “I wanted peppermint essential oil, for example, or cocoa butter… that sort of thing,” Torke says. Once she discovered her favorite variation of the recipes, she was so impressed with the end result that she began dreaming of bigger things. Within a couple of years, she formed Nessa’s Naturals, a business with a line-up of self-care items made from natural and safe ingredients. Nessa's Naturals became an official, registered with the state of Minnesota entity in April of 2010.
Torke began selling her wares at craft shows, pop-up shops, and retailing in smaller businesses around the local area. In 2011, Italy Ava opened in Marshall as her first large retail location, carrying the full line of Nessa’s Naturals products. The venture led to an uptick in sales of her products. “I remember thinking in my head that if I ever opened a store, it would be in Marshall, Minnesota,” Torke says. For the next seven years, she added more retail locations around the state and was shipping her online orders around the world. “Dubai was the furthest I shipped,” she says. In 2015, she took on a large project that would consume a lot of her time. Because of this, she needed to scale back her retail locations. “When that project ended, I was kind of in a little bit of limbo for about a year. I was wondering what I was going to do. I remember being miserable at that time, and was somewhat depressed not knowing what the next steps were going to be,” says Torke. “I give thanks to our Heavenly Father that I didn’t have to wait too long."
In 2018, Torke ordered a custom painting for her husband from a local artist friend. “It was a wonderful landscape of horses and hay, and it was exactly what I pictured for my living room and my husband, Chad. My friend, Katie, and her husband delivered it,” she recalls. The friend’s husband just happened to be a co-owner of Coleman Management in Marshall. When Torke expressed her desire to open a natural store one day, the couple informed her that a natural store was one of the things they’d written on a list of businesses they’d like to bring into downtown Marshall. “I said I guess I’m your girl,” Torke says. The following week, she traveled to Marshall to tour one of the properties available. The property, located at 105 3rd Street, is where Nessa’s Naturals Boutique exists today. “It was lime green and it had false ceilings. It had a lot of offices, so I think the first words out of my mouth were, can we do some demolition?” she says. The management company agreed to customize the space for a boutique and she signed the lease. Torke filled the boutique with loungewear, slippers, her hand-crafted self-care products, candles, and more. “I knew I wanted clothing because clothes are a good seller, but I didn’t want just any clothes,” she says. “I chose pajamas and loungewear because when you pamper yourself with Nessa’s at bath time, you want to put something cozy on. Our top-sellers since have been the bamboo and luxury loungewear.”
Since opening, Torke, along with employee Aimee Powers who joined the team at the start, and Terrie Lendt who would join later, have been focused on retail sales within the boutique, but Torke was still dreaming bigger. After doubling the number of her handcrafted products that sold between December of 2019 and December of 2020, she decided it was time to move ahead with her next big idea. On May 1st of this year, she opened up a private workshop where she would gain more space to create products and expand her offerings. With more space and more help available, she has since added in a line of home diffuser blends, relaunched the popular Sweet Baby line, and after months of working with a Minnesota CBD producer, has now launched a line of CBD infused products. “Over the years with the popularity of CBD growing, I have actually had a lot of customer requests to make products with CBD infused in them. Honestly, the thought of ordering CBD online from someone I didn’t know was a little bit intimidating and it wasn’t really something that drew me until through mutual friends I found Prairie Roots Farms in southwestern Minnesota,” she says. Torke reached out to co-owners Walker and Colton and worked out a plan to use their products in combination with her recipes for the new line. “We had to do some formulation and mathematics. In the state of Minnesota, anything that has CBD has to be third-party lab tested and those results have to be known to customers. Our labels have a QR code that will pop up the lab results on the website,” Torke says. The line includes a facial serum, body lotion, lip balm, and a topical stick designed for travel. “Our number one best-selling product for Nessa’s is our Blissful Bath Bubbles, so we did a CBD version of that as well,” she says.
Just last week, Torke made another big announcement on her social media pages for Nessa’s Naturals. Torke announced that she was launching a make-up line after having stepped away from creating natural cosmetics for the last five years. “I wasn’t certain if I was going to do it again. Over the years, and especially during the Grand Opening of the Boutique, people expected to see the make-up. I would hear every once in a while how much people missed it. Now, with having a workshop and having helpers, I’m in a perfect position to launch again.” The line will consist of new formulas, and a new name - Best Yet Cosmetics. “I chose Best Yet Cosmetics because, for several reasons, I believe this will be the best versions of the formulas and colors,” she said. The exact date for the launch of Best Yet Cosmetics has not yet been announced. “You have to stay tuned for the launch, but there are fabulous new lip products coming. We will have your eyes, your lashes, your brows, your face, your cheekbones - all of it will be snazzy," she says.
The ingredients used are natural, mineral blends. "I’m really picky about what goes on my face and I am the guinea pig, so I test everything on myself,” Torke says. “Even though we have a workshop now, everything is still hand-crafted, so all of our good intentions and love are still in it. It makes a difference.” The line is expected to launch in early fall and will be available on the website, and in the boutique. There will also be wholesale opportunities for other retailers available. “We do have some fun plans for a pre-order, also. The best way to stay tuned would be on our Facebook page or our @naturalness Instagram page,” she says.
For other girls dreaming of starting a business, Torke offers the advice - do it scared. “I remember when I signed the lease telling the landlord that I was scared. Do it scared. I believe we are given visions and dreams for a reason. Even if you’re scared, just do it because life is too short to wait. You’re never going to be brave enough, rich enough, smart enough, pretty enough. Just do it,” she says.