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South Dakota woman starts environmentally-friendly business

February 18, 2019
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In this Friday, Feb. 8, 2019, photo, Callee Ackland holds a bar of her environmentally-friendly soap in the display room at Bestowed Essentials, a zero-waste store she opened in Rapid City, S.D., in November. (Jim Holland/Rapid City Journal via AP)

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — Callee Ackland hopes her personal search for clearer, healthier skin ultimately leads to a cleaner, healthier planet for all.

What started as her quest for an effective skin treatment has grown into a Rapid City-based business, offering environmentally-friendly products for people and their homes.

Her Bestowed Essentials line of personal and home-care products is sold mostly online, but is also available to the local public at a small storefront in east Rapid City.

Ackland, 25, was born in Northern California and raised in Oregon. She had battled acne for several years, had tried everything on the drug-store shelves and had been to a dermatologist, she said.

Then in the fall of 2016, she bought a simple handmade bar of soap while on vacation in New Orleans.

It worked.

“That bar of soap is the first thing that helped calm my skin quite a bit,” she told the Rapid City Journal.

Through research, Ackland said she discovered women put an average of 168 different chemicals, from skin-care products to makeup, on their skin each day.

“And a lot of them actually are not good for your skin. They can cause skin irritation and lung irritation,” she said. “I decided I was going to make a lot of my own products.”

In 2017, she started producing her own line of handmade soaps.

She first made gifts of them to friends, who encouraged her to open a business.

At the time, Ackland was active-duty military, stationed in Georgia and serving as a translator with the U.S. Navy. She began Bestowed Essentials as a side endeavor, selling her first products through local farmer’s markets or through online sites, such as etsy.com.

When she left the military, she traveled the country in a camper van, hoping to settle somewhere and open a full-time production studio for her growing business.

She had never been to South Dakota, but was attracted to the state because of tax advantages offered to small businesses and entrepreneurs, she said.

The proximity to the Black Hills ultimately swayed her decision to pick Rapid City.

“I just absolutely fell in love with the area as soon as I got here,” Ackland said.

Ackland, whose given name is Christianna, said her father came up with the business name.

To bestow, she said, is to present someone with a great honor. The earth, she said, provides the plant-based materials she uses in her products.

“It was like Mother Earth’s bestowments to us,” she said.

As a “zero-waste” business, Bestowed Essentials also uses completely or mostly recycled products — and no plastics — for production and shipping.

The business’s central location in South Dakota cuts down on the distance to receive incoming shipments she uses to make her products and to ship them to buyers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and internationally.

Her plans include moving closer to downtown Rapid City, perhaps as early as next year. Long range, Ackland hopes to expand well beyond South Dakota.

“The 10-year plan is having multiple stores around the country,” she said.

Increasing reports of climate change and plastic pollution has boosted environmental awareness, she said

“People are becoming more conscious of it and looking for eco-friendly alternatives all over the country,” she said.

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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