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Story #38By NievesPetrolia, CA

You can have delightful, effective skincare made with only beneficial ingredients.

On the Lost Coast of California in a town of less than 500 inhabitants lives Nieves Rathbun – an eager entrepreneur with a desire to share her approach to natural living. From a Face Fix powder to The Cloud of Protection spray, By Nieves all natural body care products embody a mix of logic and magic.

Born to two free-spirited parents in La Palma in the Canary Islands, Rathbun’s upbringing was full of nomadic exploration. From backpacking throughout Europe to traveling by donkey across the United States during her adolescence, her counterculture background exposed her to alternative therapies at a young age.

In 2008, she turned her aromatherapy hobby into a small business. Through selective distribution and organic celebrity endorsement, she developed a strong following throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. After years of successful operation in the city, she moved six hours north to the countryside of Petrolia, Calif.

With four employees in Petrolia and one in Oakland, Rathbun’s team mixes and packages all products by hand. She keeps her inventory small and selective – selling only five main products. One of her more popular items is The Cloud of Protection — a spray “that is great for clearing airborne pathogens, but also clearing space on an energetic level.”

“It does have a little bit of that ‘woo’ aspect,” says Rathbun, “which I love because each one of these essential oils in there is very antimicrobial, but not only are they antimicrobial, many of them show up in ‘spells’ and ‘protection spells.’ I love it when the ‘woo’ and the science meet.”

While she hopes to continue growing By Nieves organically and slowly, for now she’s thrilled to be able to make her livelihood in a manner that aligns with her morals.

“It’s like getting to live the dream in a way. Getting to run a business with my hippie ideals and that it’s working is just amazing.”

Photos by Kike Arnal

  • A portrait of Nieves at her office, after a long working day and a few jokes…

  • Some of the By Nieves beauty products.

  • Every afternoon, Clarence, Nieves' father picks up the mail orders and delivers them to Petrolia’s post office.

  • Emily, Jessie and Nieves—the whole By Nieves team in action.

  • One night every week, Nieves and her husband Dan participate in the rehearsals of the town choir, an opportunity for gathering with friends and to prepare for upcoming celebrations.

  • Dinner time at the Rathbun household. Dan, Nieves and Jasper are seated in the company of Ruth, Nieves' mother-in-law.

  • Gary Bognuda, a UPS driver from Eureka delivers a package with supplies for Nieves.

  • As the UPS truck approaches the barn, Nieves and her dog run down the hill so as not to miss any deliveries. Since Petrolia is 6 hours away from the San Francisco Bay, Nieves relies on UPS for distributing products to her customers.

  • A portrait of Jasper, Nieves’ son, looks over the lab where she mixes and prepares some of the formulas.

  • With precision, Nieves Rathbun mixes some ingredients to prepare her Bath Salt.

  • A riding enthusiast, Nieves takes a break from work to greet her horse.

  • Early every morning Nieves Rathbun sits in front of the computer at her office, a barn in the remote community of Petrolia, on the northern California Lost Coast.

Business Details

Proprietor: Nieves Rathbun
Petrolia, CA
PH: 707-629-3290 / Website
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