Around the same time that Julia Teren was working toward living a greener lifestyle, she was laid off from her job. It was the height of the financial crisis and Teren poured her time, energy and passion into learning everything she could about what’s in our food, beauty products, cleaners and furnishings.
She was shocked by the pervasiveness of chemicals and toxins … and by the price of many commercially available organic products. So she decided to make her own.
“The revolution started in the fridge,” Teren said. “The fridge infiltrated into other areas of life. When I would try to do something organic, it was quite out of my price range. It made me think I could whip something up myself.”
The skin care and home products she produced got the seal of approval from her husband and friends, which made her think maybe she could turn her newfound passion for pure living into a business.
“I spent over a year full time researching herbs and preparations,” said Teren, pictured above. “I’m completely self-taught. I researched to death every little thing.”
When she came out on the other side, she founded Thesis Beauty, a line of organic, vegan, eco-friendly, preservative-free beauty and home products handmade right here in Somerville, where she has lived for a year-and-a-half.
Teren previously called Los Angeles and Australia home, but she’s originally from Eastern Europe. That’s where her mom, a physician, and her grandmother, a self-taught herbalist, first influenced her to start thinking naturally. But it’s here in Somerville that she feels most at home.
“We wanted to explore the East Coast. It has a more European feel,” Teren said. “It feels like home here. The people are amazing. There’s such a sense of community here.”
Thesis Beauty’s products are the physical manifestation of Teren’s personal beliefs that beauty products should be as natural as possible.
“Even in organic products, they are allowed some substances. I wanted something completely pure,” Teren said. “Many companies focus on one thing, but I want every product to be the complete package.”
That means that Thesis’ products use organic ingredients, are animal-cruelty-free and the packaging is as green as it can be. This ethos extends to Thesis’ production practices too, like recycling and reusing the boxes the company receives at its Somerville facility.
“Everything is sort of subject to this idea of being as clean and eco-friendly as possible,” Teren said.
In addition to keeping the products pure, Thesis strives to keep them affordable. The products aren’t cheap, but Thesis increases their value by removing water and fillers, which is common practice in the beauty industry.
“The whole idea is to help people revamp their lifestyle,” Teren said. “It has to be affordable or it won’t be sustainable.”
One of the driving forces behind Teren’s lifestyle switch years ago was the idea of purifying her life before having a baby. She’s now due with her first, and her passion for providing pure products for moms and babies extends to items that Thesis offers.
“It makes the transition to the world a lot easier,” Teren said of the products, which are unscented and free from chemicals that could overload a baby’s undeveloped system. “It’s less stressful for the mom. The products are safe for both moms and babies.”
While Thesis holds itself to rigorous standards when it comes to what ingredients it uses in its products, it’s not officially Certified Organic yet. That and expanding the men’s care line are what’s next for Thesis.
“We’re exceeding every possible USDA standard, but people trust the USDA seal,” Teren said. “It’s important to use to comply with the standards officially.”
Locals can buy Thesis Beauty products at Cambridge Naturals or at Whole Foods in Somerville, Medford, the South End Ink Block or Lynnfield. Teren has been visiting some of those stores lately to spread the word about Thesis.
“People are attuned to natural and organic and how to improve their well-being,” Teren said of the Boston area. “The sense of community is overwhelming. It makes us feel so pumped to come here.”
Images courtesy of Thesis Beauty.