When Dahlia Kelada hosted a friend’s spa-themed bridal shower and made the body scrub out of thriftiness and a love of natural medicine, she would have never guessed that scrub would be the tinder for starting SALVE, an all-natural and organic skin care business located in Houston.
The spark for the fire didn’t come until a degenerative corneal disease interrupted her promising career as a marketing consultant, taking her out of the conference room into a clinical trial treatment that rendered her blind in each eye for more than a month at a time. During that ordeal, which did improve, she took requests from friends for her Super Soft Body Scrub and expanded to a line of high-quality skin care.
Her products are based on years of using holistic, herbal and Ayurvedic remedies for illnesses and irritations, like tendonitis and dry skin, while also avoiding chemicals and common allergens.
“There’s a story behind every product. I’m not an expert at anything. I’m just passionate about sharing what I’ve learned,” Kelada says. That passion has taken her from local farmer’s markets to an online store and even to hosting a pre-Academy Awards retreat in Los Angeles earlier this year.
Despite her success, Kelada still has the zeal of a brand-new entrepreneur. “Payment for me is when people tell me that one of my products helped them through something difficult.”
Buoyed by her customers, community and other female business owners in Houston, Kelada cheerfully admits she is her own biggest challenge. “I’m great at creating a brand, but I’m not analytical.”
Her hopes remain high as she looks toward one day opening a SALVE spa that doubles as a manufacturing and educational site. But she says the best part of her job is that it isn’t one.
“I will never see this as a career. It’s like a tattoo; it stays with you. It doesn’t wash off.”