PCOS Sufferer Nicole Hawthorne’s Endocrine Disruptor-Free Brand NHCO Botanical Lands At Soft Surroundings
NHCO Botanical Bodycare was born out of and created in tribute to its founder’s personal tragedy.
In 2016, after undergoing many rounds of fertility treatments that didn’t work, Nicole Hawthorne got pregnant naturally, but she ultimately miscarried. Following a year in which she describes herself as “wasting away,” Hawthorne knew she had to make a change. She decided to honor the child she lost and turn the part-time soap-making hobby she picked up as a welcome distraction from the woes of post-college job searching in the wake of the recession in 2010 into a full-fledged business.
Hawthorne suffers from polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS, a hormonal disorder that often complicates pregnancy and can lead to infertility. To keep her hormones balanced, Hawthorne has adopted dietary changes such as avoiding soy and dairy, but she realized she could compromise her efforts as she slathered on personal care products. Glancing at their labels, she figured out personal care products often contain possible endocrine disruptors.
“In anyone, of course, not just women with PCOS, the chemicals have certain ingredients that can mimic estrogen, and they can mimic other main hormones. As you keep applying them, they can offset your hormones or cause them to misfire,” says Hawthorne. “When your endocrine system is already compromised, things like that can basically cause more pandemonium in your system on top of foods that have phytoestrogen like soy.”
NHCO Botanical’s mission is to formulate beauty products harnessing the power of botanical compounds, and steering clear of synthetic ingredients and potential hormone disrupters. The brand’s motto is, “Earth grown, skin applied.” Hawthorne established the business in October 2017, but didn’t bring NHCO Botanical to market until January this year. It gets its name from Hawthorne’s initials and the abbreviation for the word “company.” Previously, her soap-making side gig was called Sweet Texas Olive.
“A lot of products that are natural, they’ll take natural ingredients that have been altered in the lab, so they are still naturally-derived, but they’re altered. I don’t even use those. I get raw ingredients.”
“A lot of products that are natural, they’ll take natural ingredients that have been altered in the lab, so they are still naturally-derived, but they’re altered,” says Hawthorne. “I don’t even use those. I get raw ingredients.”
NHCO Botanical’s debut lineup consisted of a bar of soap, body oil and room spray. The brand has expanded quickly to include iterations on the early products, plus face masks, bath bombs, facial oil, facial steams, body cream, bath soak, shower steamers and sleep mist. Shower steamers have been the brand’s bestsellers to date. However, they may be facing competition soon from the latest launch, Fresh Lavender Sleeping Mist. Inspired by insomnia Hawthorne experienced as a result of fertility treatments, the mist is rolling out across Soft Surroundings’ stores.
NHCO Botanical’s prices start at $3 for two teaspoons of Botanical Powder meant to be added to a face wash, scrub or mask—or used alone. Prices rise to $23 for an 8-oz. size of Blood Orange & Ginger Body Polish. The popular shower steamers are $8 each for two to four showers’ worth. The sleeping mist rings in at $17 for a 2-oz. bottle. In a natural beauty market with a reputation for expensive products, NHCO Botanical provides accessibility that remains elusive. Soft Surroundings, an expanding retailer that has introduced a natural and organic skincare assortment, has been on the hunt for natural products in the mid-tier price range.
Outside of Soft Surroundings, NHCO Botanical is sold through its website and at several notable independent stores and e-tailers. Among them are Cambridge Naturals, Tender Loving Empire, Shop Good, Flora Marketplace and Lilly’s Bathcarry. In the future, Hawthorne’s goal is to open a standalone NHCO Botanical in the Dallas area where she’s based. In terms of its selection, the brand will introduce new shower steamer scents soon.
As she grows NHCO Botanical, Hawthorne is hopeful she can grow her family, too. She’s considering adoption—and her customers will undoubtedly be the beneficiaries of wherever her personal milestones propel her brand.