Olivia & Ruby - Inspired by Two Entreprenurial Women
Born June 1917, Olivia Lee Morris was my maternal grandmother who was both creative and entrepreneurial. She was born with one leg shorter than the other one so she tipped when she walked but she did not allow this to hinder her. She was the only one of her nine siblings to graduate from Carver High School in Brownsville, TN.
Upon her marriage, Olivia and Arthur moved to Memphis where they became faithful members of Lane Avenue Church of God in Christ. Arthur was later ordained as an Elder and he was known for being a praying man. He was a man of deep faith who prayed that his children’s children would be blessed. Although he died long before seeing any of his grand-daughters born, his prayers are still impacting us today.
After Arthur’s death on New Years’ Day 1963, Olivia became the sole support for her three daughters. Formerly a homemaker, Olivia worked in the school cafeteria, prepared taxes, and did sewing to support her family. Later that year, she moved her family to LeMoyne Gardens public housing to ensure that the meager insurance settlement would stretch as far as possible. She invested part of the money in helping her oldest daughter Thelma, my mother, graduate from LeMoyne-Owen College enabling her to become a teacher.
In 1974 Olivia, now a grandmother, began selling candy. Known affectionately as the “Candy Lady”, kids from all over the community would come to her house to buy Pickles, Lemon Heads, Freeze Cups, one-cent cookies, and all types of treats.
With tenacity and a deep faith in God, Olivia was able to save $10,000 and was able to purchase her first home at age 63. She is but one example of an entrepreneurial women who inspire me today.
Ruby is the description of the value placed on the woman spoken of in Proverbs 31, verses 10 thru 31 of the Christian bible. Today we look back on that period of history and falsely assume that the role of women was limited to the home. This women proves that impression is not the entire story. While she was a wife and mother who managed a household complete with servants, she was also a businesswoman. She invested in real estate (vs 16), she was involved in retail trade (vs 18), and she produced handmade goods and sold them (vs 24). The author of Proverbs says that this type of woman is a rare find like rubies are rare. I looked it up and discovered that rubies are actually more rare and more valuable than diamonds.
How did I start making body butters? Great question! I've reached the age when dry skin becomes a thing. I’d been using a drugstore brand lotion that did a decent job of keeping my skin soft and supple – until it didn’t anymore. After buying another bottle I noticed that this batch didn’t work like the previous 10 or so I’d purchased. It was thinner and more watery than before and it didn’t last like before. I was not happy.
After testing some other brands which advertised they could get the job done, nothing worked. I decided to solve my own problem by making my own body butter. My very first batch was whipped and had a dreamy texture like cool whip but I did not care for the “earthy” or “musky” scent of the organic, unrefined shea butter at all. Periodt! Some people like it but I am not that girl! No’ Ma’am! No Today – Not Ever!
On my second batch I added some essential oils and I was off to the races. I tested my new body creams at a natural hair show here in Memphis in 2014. I sold enough to let me know I was on the right track. Over the next three years was more testing and tweaking of my recipes, processes, and brand until in 2017 Olivia + Ruby was ready for the big time.
I love my products and use one or more versions of it everyday after bathing, washing my hands, or upon discovering some new patch of skin in need of love and attention. I love it so much that I have stopped plunking down the $80 it costs to buy my favorite D&G Light Blue perfume. In it’s place is my current butter fav – Cosmopolitan.
Thank you for taking time to learn about my little business. It’s small today but I have big plans. My goal is to be the #1 destination for organic shea butters online. If you have skin…my shea butters are for you!
Tonya | Olivia’s Granddaughter