Entrepreneur’s Love for Natural Beauty stems from East Africa Heritage

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[I+I Botanicals\Selam Kelati\Jennifer Culpepper]
I+I Botanicals was founded by two women seeking to change the way women view beauty and self-care routines. Working moms Jennifer Culpepper and Selam Kelati teamed up with a vision of effortless, trustworthy products that fit within their hectic lifestyles.
Photo: Jennifer Thomas

Selam Kelati, co-founder of I+I Botanicals and an African-American who was raised in East Africa.

I+I Botanicals was founded by two women seeking to change the way women view beauty and self-care routines. Working moms Jennifer Culpepper and Selam Kelati teamed up with a vision of effortless, trustworthy products that fit within their hectic lifestyles.

Jennifer Culpepper is the Founder & Creative Director of Brand Joint, an award-winning branding studio designing exclusively for the cannabis and hemp industries. She has over 20 years of experience designing successful consumer brands through innovative brand strategy and creative design solutions. Her extensive design and packaging expertise played an important role in developing and prototyping our beautiful eco-friendly packaging.

Raised in East Africa, Selam Kelati draws inspiration from effective natural remedies that her family weaved into their daily life including food, medicine, and cosmetics. Selam infuses her wealth of knowledge about natural ingredients like moringa oil and prickly pear seed oil into all of our product formulations.

I+I Botanicals' new organic and vegan beauty line is infused with CBD and features four skin and body care products that feature formulations that are Good for the Body, Good for the Earth and Good for the Soul. After working in the corporate world for over 20 years, Selam made the jump and followed her passion for beauty and fashion. Selam used her skills along with her wealth of knowledge about herbal and homeopathic ingredients to bring to life her vision. In essence, her desire was to create natural and plant-based products that do good for the body while still feeling and looking your best.

Inspired from her early beginnings, Selam draws inspiration from effective natural remedies driven from herbs that her family weaved into daily life including cooking, medicine, and cosmetics. Growing up, Selam watched her mother who learned from her grandmother working with a multitude of medicinal plants, herbs and oils; many of which are adaptogens. As compared to today, herbal living was not particularly a hot topic, it was a way of life.

Selam always knew she wanted to work in the beauty space and apply her knowledge of natural herbs but didn’t know how. It was clear at an early age, she was destined to develop authentic, all-natural and highly effective, skincare products. She wanted to share with the world, the secrets of her ancestors that have benefited her family for generations.

Selam, devoted to the study of essential oils, herbal and homeopathic ingredients, immersed herself in the world of clean beauty. From attending tradeshows, to educating herself on the industry, she also spent time researching and networking within the skincare space.

She finds that making products from scratch is extremely satisfying, like baking the most fabulous dessert or writing a wonderful story. She enjoys the excitement that comes with perfecting and creating new skincare products.

Selam has always been a “product girl.” “I am always trying new products and sharing what works with my Co-Founder Jennifer Culpepper. When Jennifer introduced me to some CBD products, it was like a lightbulb went off,” Selam recalls. “I immediately got excited about combining CBD with other natural ingredients that I’d grown up using— like Moringa. The next steps came naturally as we began playing with ingredients and testing different formulations.”

When creating I+I Botanicals and its products, Selam says they intentionally are different from many of the mainstream CBD-infused beauty brands as the products focus on the skin first. “We strive to create products that are good for the body, earth and soul, and we don’t compromise one for the other,” explains Selam. “Our packaging and ingredient sourcing are a testament to our commitment to be a positive force.”

As working mothers, both Co-Founders Jennifer and Selam, understand that many women do not prioritize self-care. “We’re trying to promote a message that self-love and self-care are important – especially during our current climate,” Selam adds.

Even the company’s name – I+I Botanicals – centers around self-love.

In Rastafarian culture, “I and I” represents “One Love” and is often used as the expression of the physical body being in oneness with the soul. “I” is interchangeable with “you,” meaning that we are all connected.

“To us, that also means that the love we give to one another should be the same love we show to ourselves,” Selam explains. “This symbolism spoke to us as we, the founders, are both from different backgrounds, have different skin and hair types, therefore we wanted to create products that are universal for all people.”

The brand’s collection includes a moisturizing Dry Oil Body Mist (jojoba oil, moringa oil, blend of citrus essential oils), hydrating Face Serum (prickly pear seed oil and hyaluronic acid), a relaxing Bath Tea Blend (3-pack with essential oils) and a rich-foaming exfoliator Coffee Body Scrub (fair-trade Ethiopian coffee and seaweed).

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