Today we're sitting down for a fun little interview with Alison Metcalfe-Rojas, a great friend and muse of mine who also happens to make gorgeous, organic skincare that we carry here in our little ethical gift shop in Encinitas. Oh, did I mention she also recently crafted a line of sustainably-made practice apparel, has extensive experience working with sustainable clothing brands and fair trade factories, and frequently hires our favorite seamstress Lashta and pays her a living wage? Now you can see why we love her so much.
Alison was one of the first friends I made when I started this little business as a brand. She provided me with kindness, insight and knowledge at a time when I had very little of these things in my reservoir. Alison is a gorgeous human, inside and out, and her skincare products will make you feel exactly the same. As always, the product reflects the maker.
In my mid-thirties, I started utilizing organic and clean skincare products from Salud Shoppe, and I have never looked back. I should have started earlier, frankly, just like my mother and my dermatologist told me. We just restocked our clean beauty and apothecary section with plenty of Salud Shoppe products, so stop by or check out our online store to start shopping! Keep reading to learn more about Alison, her driving forces and her skincare routine.
I just love you so much, Alison, I am so happy to be taking a moment together in this strange time where friendships have gotten pushed to the side a bit. Can you tell us a bit about your life, your childhood and your family's involvement in the apparel industry? Did this help lead you here to where you are personally and professionally?
I was a really independent, care-free middle child. My siblings and I grew up in some of the most beautifully rural, agricultural, natural spaces in California where I learned to simply observe and enjoy the freedom my parents gave us - the freedom to explore, create, imagine and forget the restrictions of time.
I was aware of style at a very young age because my mom had this totally natural beauty about her and was always confidently pulled together. Her big brown eyes and magnetic smile were staples to her everyday wardrobe. She also was a total Jafra Babe too (So 80's, right?). So, I was literally on stand by with each new season of palettes she no longer needed. Those went straight to our play set and onto my sisters adorable face.
Her wardrobe was fair game for dress up with my sister until about the age of 9, when Mama O taught me how to sew. I went from begging my sister to style her outfits for school, to creating my own vision from sketch to final product. My very first piece was a knee length, deconstructed denim skirt. The sketching literally never stopped. I would think of someone, give them an age and sketch an idea out to carry in this dark green school folder with printer paper as my sketch pad. The kind you had to pull the perforated edges off of. So classic.
I later learned that both of my grandmothers worked as seamstresses in downtown LA when they were in their 20's crafting lingerie and dresses, while saving money to buy little luxuries of their own. So at the age of 17 and with encouragement from my Studio Art teacher, Audie Love, I eventually convinced my parents it was a reasonable idea to continue on to college at a design school. This was, in fact, a very unreasonable idea to my parents classic approach to college education, however.
I left home for New York City at the ripe age of 20 to attend Parsons School of Design. Cue 9/11, pre-dating the cell phone era. I somehow convinced my family, via proxy cell phone and random phone number, that I should stay and they shouldn't pack me up from chasing my life long dream of living in the Big City and they would hear from me every day at the same time.
That's so interesting. It's like the universe was calling you to this work. Can you tell me about how you entered the realm of sustainable apparel and clean beauty specifically, and how you became so knowledgeable about fair trade certification and factories?
Eventually my work led me back to the West Coast, and into sustainable fashion. With my partner in crime, Nicole Basset of The Renewal Workshop and an incredible staff at prAna, we launched the first Fair Trade Certified collection for apparel. Seeing the impact of an idea from a dream to a reality was life changing. You truly can't underestimate the power of a few committed (female) citizens and Chid Liberty.
From there, my work took me around the world and into the speciality of development, sourcing, and chemical management. It was there that I realized I had invested years of my career in preventing toxic chemicals from entering our materials and facilities while each day I was putting product, containing those same chemicals, on my skin. Chemicals like phthalates, parabens, azo dyes and PVC were banned from use in garments but totally unregulated in skin care and beauty. How were women supposed to figure this out on our own?
So I dug into my wheelhouse and I started researching. My first step in non-toxic recommendations was via obsessively scanning barcodes into the Think Dirty App and finding everything I took years to curate into my own beauty bag was highly toxic. With a history of breast cancer on my mother's side, my tofu cleanse didn't mean anything if I was exposing myself to endocrine disrupters in other ways.
In 2015, after 10 years doing a job I LOVED, I felt the *ping*. I hope you know the one or at least experience it this lifetime, because there is absolutely nothing that can reason with this pull from within. I left my corporate job and started Salud Shoppe to spend my time researching, testing, tracing and developing products that would become an entire holistic lifestyle.
What started as a single women's US made organic apparel collection, quickly grew into organic skin care, non toxic beauty products and home goods.
I continue to adapt from and enjoy the beauty of our natural resources, the wisdom of Mother Earth, the human body and the potential of the human spirit. I enjoy living a grounded Vata life with my son and husband, chickens, fruit trees and access to the coast in San Diego, but I will never tire of the energy of the city, my source of eternal inspiration.
You obviously have such beautiful skin - can you outline your skincare regiment for us and describe which skincare products you have in rotation right now?
Each bottle of our skincare products is hand poured and reiki charged in batches of 100. Some batches are aligned with the New and Full Moons.
I received my Reiki 1 certification in 2019 and Reiki 2 training in 2020. Since then, I have been honoring the seasonal cycles of the moon with each batch. I believe that everything we touch receives an energetic footprint, and I take my role in the process with much appreciation for those who handled the ingredients and packaging before me.