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December 18, 2018

PureLife Organic in Cotton Exchange expanding distribution

Victoria Chavez, owner of PureLife Organic, displays PureLife products in her shop located at the Cotton Exchange in Wilmington. Chavez uses recipes passed down from her grandmother to make herbal remedies and has started selling to stores around the country.

Buy PhotoPhoto by Mike Spencer

Published: Saturday, December 27, 2014 at 8:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, December 26, 2014 at 8:33 p.m.

When Victoria Chavez fell ill as a child, a visit to her grandmother’s house trumped sitting in a waiting room.

“Every time I got sick, she used to pull out this little box of herbs or literally go to her backyard and start picking out the herbs and plants,” Chavez said.

Herbalism – using natural products for medicinal purposes – would years later become the basis for PureLife Organic, Chavez’s store at 317 N. Front St. in the Cotton Exchange. While Wilmingtonians have been trying out her skin care products and herbal tinctures for years, customers up and down the East Coast are beginning to see the PureLife label on the shelves of their local health food stores.

In 2013, Chavez began wholesaling some of her products, handmade in Wilmington since she opened shop in 2007. Products in her Miracle Skin Relief line of balms, soap, shampoo and ointment ship out to stores in Maryland, Virginia, Florida and elsewhere, as do a variety of her tinctures.

Chavez stresses that the tinctures are not traditional medicine or FDA-reviewed. Some are based on her grandmother’s recipes or of Chavez’s own creation. Her migraine tonic contains feverfew and peppermint, while “Tummy Bitters” is made with chamomile and ginger, among other plants.

“I tell (customers), ‘I’m not your doctor,’?” she said. “I’m here to make you feel more comfortable. … I’m not here to cure, treat or diagnose a problem, and if you keep on being sick, you need to see a doctor.”

Wholesale broker Megan Schlicht said in the year and half she’s worked with Chavez, they’ve gotten PureLife products into nearly 10 shops, such as Salud Healthy Pantry in the wealthy Fairfax County, Va., community. Chavez said another broker sells to Florida stores with plans to expand to Georgia.

“Our independents around here, they like to support small businesses like themselves, and especially support local,” said Schlicht, who operates out of Baltimore and West Virginia. “You set up appointments and go in and present the product. We have to kind of look at their shelf space and what else they’re selling. … Luckily her product is something that’s more widely accepted everywhere because everybody’s going to get bug bites or poison ivy or scratches.” Schlicht said in the coming year she’ll be negotiating to get PureLife goods into East Coast chain stores, such as MOM’s Organic Market with locations in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

For Chavez, getting calls from customers states away can be surreal. Most of her products were designed with Wilmington in mind – she created “Brain Formula” after a customer who attended Cape Fear Community College asked for an alternative to chugging Red Bulls to stay focused.

“It’s just weird because I’m used to seeing everybody face to face, knowing them, talking to them,” she said. “But it’s nice to see that the stores that carry my product – they believe in my product just as much as I do.”

Cammie Bellamy: 910-343-2339

On Twitter: @cammiebellamy

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PureLife Organic in Cotton Exchange expanding distribution

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