“I started out really excited about selling one bottle,” she says.  “I thought, wow, somebody wants something from me!  That’s cool!  And to this point, I still get the same excitement.”

                                      — Jasmine Tram

Jasmine Tran was at her booth at the Hillsboro Farmer’s market, one of the venues where she sells her skincare products, when she was approached by a customer.  The woman had just fallen off her bicycle and had some scrapes and scars along her arm. She asked if Tran might have something to help.  “Dragon blood serum,” Tran recommended.

As founder of the Essance skincare line, Tran specializes in seeking out the most unique botanicals for her products.  She uses essential oils derived from plants to create creams, masques, and even an organic deodorant.  In her shop on SW Barbur Boulevard, customers can peruse products made from dragon blood (actually derived from the sap of a tree), sea buckthorn, beet, and alfalfa.

“We used ingredients that are herbal related,” Tran explains.  “I process my product from brewing rooibus tea and chaga mushrooms because those specific ingredients are beneficial for the skin— they have high antioxidants.”

Tran founded the company in 2011, after being laid off from a large skincare company where she had worked as a project manager. Her passion was in researching new ideas, but she taught herself all the aspects of running a business, from creating a website to picking a name that represented her company’s, well, essence. “I had zero experience in running a business!” she says, and it’s been a struggle to compete with larger companies and their marketing budgets.  Nevertheless, Essance has expanded, and Tran’s products were picked up by New Season’s Market in 2015.  She is hoping to retail at a few other stores around Portland in the near future.

But Tran is the kind of one-on-one entrepreneur who likes to drive out and meet her clients for coffee, showing them something she’s come up with that might fit their needs.  She likes to explains that essential oils are, at their core, just another form of consuming plants. “I relate what you’re putting on your skin to what you’re drinking,” she says.  “People will come and ask for blueberry cream, so I paint a picture: if you peel off the rind of an orange and you feel it in your hand, that’s the essential oil.  If you squeeze a blueberry, you get no oil, so anything you purchase with a blueberry fragrance would be artificial.”

For Tran, the quality and freshness of her ingredients is what makes a great product.  The laboratory in the back of her shop is full of aromatic healing oils, mason jars of lavender, the hint of lemon in the air.  Her creativity comes out there, and she hopes that as the business expands, she can spend more and more time on research.

“I started out really excited about selling one bottle,” she says.  “I thought, wow, somebody wants something from me!  That’s cool!  And to this point, I still get the same excitement.”

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Essence Skincare

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