Zhi Bath and Beauty

by Terry Watson | March 15th, 2019
Kim Cross (Photos by Todd Youngblood)

Kim Cross (Photos by Todd Youngblood)

There is no doubt the cosmetic and skincare industries are both booming. With brands like Rodan Fields, Proactive, and others targeting those with skin ailments, there are many options to choose from.

For years, Kim Cross searched for mild products to help with her dry, itchy skin but consistently came up short when reading the list of ingredients. She realized how many irritating chemicals are used and set out to find comparable natural substitutes that would deliver the same or better results. As a former hairstylist, she was introduced to the hair product Carol’s Daughter’ years ago and loved that it used mainly natural ingredients that she could actually pronounce.

In 2006, Kim followed that example and began researching essential oils and other liquids that she thought could be beneficial. That led to experimenting, testing, and creating with goat’s milk. She discovered that goat’s milk has fatty acids which has healing properties and is less harsh than many other ingredients.
“My aunt suffered with ulcers and the only thing that would settle her stomach was goat’s milk. So the more I researched it, I found that it had the same benefits [when used] inside and out. It’s a lot more gentle on your skin, it moisturizes and it makes it really soft,” says Kim.

She started mixing various ingredients with different properties and fragrances and settled on a few things even the men in her house swear by. “I have some girly smelling men in my house and they love it!” Kim laughs. Since her start, she has incorporated men’s products also.

The next year, she crafted body lotion, hand and body wash, and soap, each from goat’s milk. Kim began selling her new skincare line, called Zhi (pronounced ‘Chee’) Bath and Body, at a women’s expo. Unfortunately, her sales were disappointingly low but her sample supply had diminished. She knew she was on to something but needed to continue working on it. Since then she has created other products made from organic mango butter, shea butter, cocoa butter and many other natural ingredients.

As the line grew, Kim continued to spend hours seeking out the best and most natural products to ensure she was delivering something she could be proud of. She knew that if it didn’t work on her skin, it wouldn’t work on anyone else’s either. In 2011, the entrepreneur was formally diagnosed with psoriasis, a condition in which skin cells build up to form scales and itchy, dry patches. Sometimes the patches are accompanied by blisters. It’s similar to eczema but much more intense, painful, and stubborn.

“After high school, I enlisted in the Navy and served for eight years as an Aviation Electronics Technician. I had to constantly submerge my hands in engine coolant. Years later, I noticed a dry spot on my hand that progressed,” Kim explains. She believes that is what caused her skin condition. After the diagnosis, the veteran could finally put a name with what she was experiencing and knew she had to continue to work at providing healthier alternatives to remedy the problem. Each time she would notice a synthetic ingredient, she would put forth more effort to find it’s natural equivalent.

“My conscious will not let me sell a product that’s synthetic,” Kim confesses. It has taken her nearly a decade to come close to perfecting her list of ingredients and she still explores new ones regularly. She’s currently striving to be certified ‘Organic’, which means at least 90% of the ingredients used must be free of synthetic additives like pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and dyes, and cannot be processed using industrial solvents.

The self-proclaimed shaman is currently studying to become an aromatherapist and wants to obtain a Botanical Product Certification. She dreams of incorporating more creams and oils to heal other bodily aches and pains while growing Zhi.

As more and more products appear on the scene, Kim tries to faithfully attend at least two or three festivals and shows per year to ensure her products are visible and relevant. She is currently scheduled to appear at ‘Girls Day Out’ in April at Cabarrus Arena and will attend ‘Naturally Me Expo’ at Levine Museum of the New South in May.

Her next step is to raise enough money to purchase bar codes that allow her products to be sold in larger stores. She is also customizing products for other companies to sell in their establishments. The majority of her current sales are through her website, word-of-mouth, and regular customers that buy in bulk to gift it to friends and family on special occasions.

Kim knows that expanding will take more time and it seems that she’s up for the challenge. Her dedication is unwavering as she sets out to heal one person at a time.

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