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Eco Diva Channa channels natural beauty

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Pretty smart: Channa James is the 17-year-old behind Eco Diva, a line of natural beauty products (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Channa James loved her naturally curly hair but the products she used left it dry and brittle.

Fed up, she started gathering herbs and plants from around the island and created her own range of supplies: Eco Diva.

The 17-year-old sells a natural hair gel, tea rinse and coffee body scub under that name. She’s planning to add face masks, bath bombs, a hair moisturiser and a lip balm to the line in the near future.

The products cost between $5 and $20. The Bermuda Institute student is setting the money aside for college.

“Eco Diva is my passion,” she said. “I love learning how to take care of my body more and the results I get when the product works well for other people; they come up and tell me how impressed they are.”

Miss James learnt about the benefits of natural herbs and plants from her mother. Doreen Williams-James’s company, Wild Herbs and Plants of Bermuda, offers cooking classes using local herbs and plants and helps people identify them in the wild.

“My grandfather taught my mom how to live off the land and about all the different foods, plants and herbs you can eat and cook,” Miss James said. “I was brought up that way, too.”

The teenager boosted that knowledge with tons of online research. She also scoured the internet for recipes, and put her products through several trials before she determined they were ready for use.

“My mom isn’t about me wasting too many ingredients on my experiments, but with my hair gel it did take a lot of trial and error trying to get the right texture,” she said. “The first time I started it, it turned out very watery and I thought there had to be something wrong. It wouldn’t hold at all.

“I started to get discouraged, but my mom encouraged me to go ahead with it. She believed I could make it better and told me not to give up.

“Just recently this summer I perfected it. I realised I needed to leave it on the stove longer and let it boil so it could thicken and now I love the gel.

“I don’t use many products from the stores anymore. I focus on the products I make because I know what’s going into them and the benefit I’ll get.”

In the two years since she launched her products, the teenager has become the go-to person whenever her peers have questions about natural health and beauty remedies.

It’s one of the reasons she started the business.

“I thought I could be an example to them,” she said. “They want to know more about natural options for health and beauty, but there’s so much research out there. I tell them not to be afraid to research for themselves.

“I’ve given out little samples of my products at school and they love it and have gone on to buy the full-size version. It’s been a lot of fun. I had a friend who went ‘natural’ recently and uses the tea rinse and her hair is now down to her shoulders. It was really short before. She’s a frequent buyer.”

Entrepreneurship has always been encouraged in her family, Miss James said. Her plan is to study mortuary science and work alongside her mother at Alpha Memorial Chapel Funeral Home. She hopes to run Eco Diva as a side business.

“I’ve seen people work for other people and not always get to pursue their dreams or their passion,” she said. “A lot of people nowadays work for people and they aren’t happy in their businesses.”

Learn more on her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/ecodivabda

Business plans: Channa James hopes to run Eco Diva as a side venture while studying (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Beauty benefits: Channa James creates her line from herbs and plants from around the island (Photograph by Akil Simmons)