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Life and Work with Jess Hunt-Ralston

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jess Hunt-Ralston.

Jess, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Little Otter started in 2017 on our kitchen stove after I began researching the formulas behind luxury skincare lines and building an apothecary of essential oils and sustainable solutions. I tinkered with formulations over an improvised double boiler — borrowing my husband Chad’s Glencairn whiskey glasses and droppers, writing down measurements and mixtures, and upcycling jam jars and lip balm tubes to house a collection of natural and organic oils and balms.

Living in Atlanta, most weeks Chad and I put more miles on our bikes and walking than in our cars, but in our cleaner commutes, we noticed a pattern of the pollution in the air and environment around us creating problem spots across on our faces. So, we began creating natural skin care products for ourselves.

I set a high mark for the skincare I wanted to use every day but couldn’t find in stores — highly effective, affordable, organic and natural, ethical and sustainable, cruelty-free, with less plastic and less waste. I realized I could make these products for our family, and Chad realized we could make them at accessible prices and give back 10% of net revenue to clean water work — so we decided to share Little Otter with the world.

Has it been a smooth road?
Earth Day 2020 will mark one year since Little Otter’s first order. It’s certainly been an adventure so far, with lots of experiments, testing, and trial and error along the way!

My best advice for someone getting started in this space is to embrace that it’s all a process — always in motion, always changing — and to flow with that and stay focused on your “strong why,” your purpose for getting started. That “why” will keep you motivated, especially on harder days. For me, it also feels really good to open up to others and ask for help from that higher purpose — to find common ground there and start to see there are lots of folks interested in making the world a better place with you!

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Little Otter Skincare – tell our readers more about your personal background and what’s next for you.
I grew up on a farm in North Georgia surrounded by books and forests and a menagerie of animals. After that, I studied industrial design at Georgia Tech and began working there in communications — learning about the science and ecology of our environment, in parallel with how the things we buy are made and the effects of consumption on our planet.

My husband, Chad, and I had just met. We began traveling as often as we could and began fixing up an old bungalow in the heart of Atlanta, in Poncey-Highland. As we learned more about sustainability, we both began writing about the subject and shifting our shopping habits, closets, kitchen and medicine cabinets, and our work — getting more involved in volunteering and our community.

For the past couple of years I’ve served as director of communications for Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, and Chad is head of marketing for ASW Distillery. In a few weeks, I’m starting a new role as director communications for Georgia Tech College of Sciences, and can’t wait to help tell that story and keep learning in that space. Curiosity and contribution led me here, and those are two traits that continue to keep me busy exploring and connecting with others around helping create healthier, resilient ecosystems and communities.

What advice would you give to someone at the start of her career?
A few years ago, one of my favorite bosses said to me, “Don’t be afraid of change.” If you can find space to welcome change in your life and career, you start to welcome in unexpected developments, see challenges as opportunities, believe in yourself to make big leaps, and trust the universe to support your service to others.


Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photos by Jess Hunt-Ralston and Chad Ralston.

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