Founded By A Floral Designer, Cleanse Gourmet Lands Its Botanical Products In Terrain
In 2006, Maggie Rasmussen was working for a LASIK surgeon by day and creating bath products at night. “I actually just started making soaps as a craft, using materials from the craft store,” says the founder of Cleanse Gourmet. “Then, I was doing bath bombs and body scrubs and candles and lotions, and I was researching ingredients and why they’re good for your skin. I just fell in love with skincare as a hobby.”
Bit by bit, Rasmussen started selling her wares. She participated in trunk shows at Henri Bendel in New York and partnered with a few retailers. “I was so small, and I wasn’t in a position to quit my full-time job,” she tells Beauty Independent. “So, I sold to some small boutiques and spas and, then, life got in the way. I still made products, but I have six kids—that kept me busy.” Still, she declares, “I knew this is what I want to do.”
By 2016, Rasmussen was working in floral design for weddings. At the same time, she was laying the foundation for Cleanse Gourmet, and her floral design work sparked the idea to integrate flowers into its products. Originally, the line was named Cleanse, but Rasmussen changed it to Cleanse Gourmet when she began expanding her ingredient repertoire with edible salts, sugars and oils. “I actually funded the new line with the money that I made from doing the floral design,” says Rasmussen, who launched Cleanse Gourmet in earnest two years ago. “I’d just use the money to order labels and jars and supplies and ingredients, but doing the weddings also shifted the line to what it is as far as bringing in all those flowers.”
For example, Rasmussen elaborates, “I used this hanging pepperberry plant in wedding bouquets and the smell is insane. I was like, ‘I need a product with this in it.'” Cleanse Gourmet’s selection now includes Peruvian Pepperberry 10% Glycolic Acid Honey Peel ($48), Violet Leaf Epidermis Elixir ($68) and Shower Steamers (five for $18), which are the brand’s bestsellers, and feature essential oils and dried flower petals and ferns. Rasmussen continues to dabble in flower design, and leftover materials from wedding bouquets pop up in her products.
Cleanse Gourmet’s products are produced in small batches. They have organic ingredients in them, but not exclusively. “I want the sustainability, and I want the clean ingredients, but I need the actives because I need to see that result on my skin,” explains Rasmussen. “I wanted to combine all of that. Aestheticians that carry my skincare line are like, ‘We love your line. It’s eco-luxe.'” Later this month, she plans to enlarge Cleanse Gourmet’s assortment. “The Shower Steamers had been so very popular that I created a whole line of botanical steam sprays,” shares Rasmussen. Packed with essential oils, the forthcoming products function as room, linen or body sprays, and they can be spritzed in the shower to turn it into a relaxing sanctuary for aromatherapy.
Unlike many emerging brands, direct-to-consumer distribution isn’t Cleanse Gourmet’s focus. Along with spas, it’s distributed to boutiques and subscription box companies. On its website, the brand lists around 60 stockists. “I honestly don’t do a lot of online sales,” says Rasmussen. “I signed up for wholesale with [wholesale marketplace] Faire, and that is where 99.8% of my business comes from. It keeps me so busy.” She adds, “Although it’s wholesale, I didn’t start with a low price. I started with the price that was worth the product that was in the bottle.”
“Aestheticians that carry my skincare line are like, ‘We love your line. It’s eco-luxe.'”
Cleanse Gourmet’s Shower Steamers are newly available at Terrain, the Urban Outfitters-owned home and garden retailer that has three standalone shops and four mini shops within Anthropologie stores. “The buyer e-mailed me, and she just said, ‘I came across your beautiful product, and we’re interested in putting it in the store for fall and holiday,” recounts Rasmussen. “They started sending me the onboarding information without me even sending a product, so I feel like she had to have seen my products in person, but I still don’t know where that was.”
Rasmussen describes Terrain’s onboarding process as a “huge eye-opener.” She says, “I deal with small boutiques and spas, and Faire makes it so easy for them to place an order. You just print the shipping label. This was a whole new world for me with a purchase order and having to read that, and I had to order barcode labels to put on the product.” Terrain’s order was split between merchandise for its stores and for its website, another logistical challenge for Cleanse Gourmet. Rasmussen says, “At first, I’m like, ‘Whoa, I have to study and read the manual and make sure I’m packaging it correctly.’ The larger retailers have a whole system of how they need things to be labeled and tagged.”
Cleanse Gourmet is generating about $200,000 in annual sales. It cost about $5,000 to get it underway initially. Going forward, Rasmussen’s goal is to heighten the brand’s retail presence. “I have a couple of stores that I have my eye on, and I’m hoping to create something with them now that I have everything finalized,” she says. “It was kind of a growing process for me as far as getting to the point where I could afford to buy the labels, and I’m having boxes made for all the serums and skincare, which is actually a pretty big expense for someone that’s self-funded and doing everything on their own, but that was my last step because I know some of the bigger retailer companies want those boxes.”