For Maven Made’s Bethany Frazier, getting out from under the control of men and empowering herself to create her own small business was the crucial ingredient for success.
Bethany Frazier not only makes all-natural beauty and wellness products, but creates intentional conversations through her brand, Maven Made.
After battling cystic acne during her mid-20’s and having countless terrible experiences with the dermatologist, Frazier yearned for another way to treat her condition.
“I was in an appointment and I was like, there’s got to be a better solution,” Frazier said.
That’s when the first spark ignited. Frazier went home after that appointment to research natural ingredients such as vitamins, essential oils, and herbal supplements. She invested in high quality essential oils at first and made her now-popular facial serum, which she said had the exact same formula as today, with only one ingredient having been changed.
“I used it for a month and my skin started to change,” Frazier said. “I had that moment where I was like ‘if it’s changing my skin, I’ve got to share this with other people.’”
That holiday season in 2013, she gave friends and family DIY skincare products such as facial serums and body scrubs. In 2014, Maven Made was launched.
A native Texan, Frazier moved to Richmond in 2011, as the result of a past relationship. Despite the two women going their separate ways, Frazier trusted her vagabond spirit and decided to stay in Richmond, where she launched her brand. Before Maven Made, Frazier had always worked in customer service, and had always worked for men.
“I really do think working for men that didn’t listen to me, men that undermined women, was a really important part of me starting this for myself,” she said. “I was done. I was so over it.”
Replacing discrimination with determination, Frazier has shaped Maven Made into a proud queer-woman-owned business through the positive energy she puts into her products and the conversation she creates on social media. Despite the common misconception that Frazier is a straight woman due to her outward femininity, Frazier stays true to herself — something that other small business owners notice.
Brittanny Chanel DeRaffele, owner of local jewelry line Sun and Selene, met Frazier in the Richmond makers circuit during the nascent period of their businesses. Both new to the market scene, they found themselves at the same events, and always gravitated toward each other.
“She has such a vision for herself and for her product and how she puts herself out into the world,” DeRaffele said. “She is really the driving force behind her brand, for sure. It’s what she really lives by, and it definitely shows.”
Frazier’s product, brand, vision, and ideals have become intertwined, and she uses this as a platform to discuss topics that are important to her and others including intersectional feminism, radical self-care, and establishing boundaries. Through social media engagement and workshops, Frazier sheds light on what she’s reading and absorbing, and garners engagement with her followers and customers alike.
“As women, we are still conditioned and still hold on to this notion – even business owners – that we need to be agreeable,” Frazier said. “I don’t need to be for everyone. Some people don’t like what I say, and that’s fine.”
DeRaffele praised Frazier’s ability to incorporate conversation into her brand.
“She really sparks some amazing conversations that a lot of people might be too timid to chime in on, but when they see someone being open, and a woman being vulnerable about it, it really makes a lot of people feel a lot more comfortable in approaching her brand,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be for you, and that’s totally okay.”
Frazier uses this same mentality when she selected business that she allows to carry her product. She thoughtfully observes their social media to evaluate their transparency and determine whether their ideals are a match. In doing so, she has created the opportunity for herself to say no, and hold herself accountable.
“I can tell just by reviewing their social media that I know what they stand for, that I know they’re inclusive and they represent every type of person,” Frazier said. “It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.”
Despite her selectivity, Frazier said that Richmond was a great community to be in. She’s noticed makers creating product that they want to see here or are lacking, and said that business owners here, such as DeRaffele, were transparent, offering advice and support. But owning a business always comes with its challenges.
“I feel like in Richmond, people just want you to succeed. But to succeed in this city as a small business owner you need to come to the table with independent, original ideas,” Frazier said. “I’ve seen a lot of piggybacking, and people notice it.”
“I’ve had people walk all over me, and I just have to set firm boundaries. But I just don’t let it distract me. People see the glamour part in being a small artisan. It’s not that; it’s hard.”
DeRaffele echoed the difficulty in dissolving misconceptions of female-owned businesses.
“ A lot of times there’s this kind of fluff to it. The challenge is the idea that we all have to be these happy, lovey-dovey female business owners,” DeRaffele said. “We’re business owners first, and females as well.”
In an industry riddled with judgement, Frazier has given new meaning to wellness.
“I see a lot of product shaming, body shaming, wellness shaming, eating shaming within this industry,” Frazier said. “I’ve been on the other side and don’t have a tolerance for that.”
In creating the product itself, Frazier takes caution while formulating fresh batches. As a small business owner, Frazier can afford the time and care she puts into the product, and sticks to ritual.
“I literally do not make products if I’m in a bad mood. I will not,” Frazier said. “If I’m stressed, if I’m feeling funky, if I’m fighting with my wife, I won’t make it.”
All of the water used in her products is charged under the full moon to add to the positive energy. Although she can’t distill essential oils herself, Frazier sources from New Direction Aromatics, buys some local ingredients from Ellwood Thompson’s, and purchases materials from independent small farmers. All of her products are now certified vegan.
“People want to know who’s making their products, what their core beliefs are, who they are. What they stand for. What they don’t stand for. To dig deeper and to really connect the dots to where we’re buying our stuff,” Frazier said. “We [are] as conscious as we can be.”
Frazier’s products are also greatly influenced by astrology. Much like her moon-charged water, Frazier’s mother used to serve her tea that had steeped in the sun that tasted like sunshine.
The ritualistic nature and esoteric history behind astrology adds another layer and makes the products more special, Frazier said.
“With astrology or anything related to wellness, you have to take what speaks to you,” she said. “You have to take what resonates and leave what doesn’t.”
Maven Made’s astrological line launched in 2017, when Frazier felt that the timing was right and that the product was special. After finding 12 different roller balls for the 12 unique astrological blends, she knew it was time to launch. While creating the blends, she selected oils to ground the energies and to amplify the positive traits of each sign, all while using friends and family as muses for the line.
“I almost went to another dimension because I was so excited about it,” Frazier said.
This excitement for expansion is still evident in Frazier’s plans today. Her goal is to have a studio space in 2020, with open hours as she doesn’t want to commit to retail store just yet. Customers would be able to refill their products and attend consultations and workshops in the space Frazier hopes to have.
Outside Richmond, Maven Made can be found on shelves across the country in places such as Nashville and Los Angeles. With more stores and places in mind, Frazier is making an outbounding effort to get Maven Made outside of Richmond. Frazier said that pop-up events in new cities allowed customers to get to know the person behind the brand.
“In the larger picture, that really does make a difference,” DeRaffele said. “She’s not just slapping a label on a bottle of essential oils and calling it a miracle product. She really does her research, and everything I’ve tried of hers I’ve had great results.”
Frazier credits trust in herself as the driving force of her business.
“Trusting your gut, feeling what’s not right, has been the most important part of my business,” she said. “You have to start somewhere. You have to be silly and vulnerable and excited.”
Frazier’s products can be purchased online or at routine pop-up events. At monthly pop-up events, Frazier is offering Facial Serum refills in an effort to reduce waste and establish connections with her customers.
Photos courtesy of Juliet Bryant Photography.