For Kimberly Waldropt, the founding of her skincare business, Terra-Tory, was a relentlessly personal undertaking. The hypoallergenic body-care brand, which is centered around superfood-filled soaps and taps into Waldropt’s Jamaican and Trinidadian roots, emerged in 2017 after her long battle with stress-induced eczema.
After six years working as a technical designer in New York City’s garment industry—everywhere from Victoria’s Secret to Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s—Waldropt found herself constantly overly stressed as the only woman of color in what she calls “toxic environments.” She soon began suffering from eczema, with all its constant itching, scratching, and wasting money on products that didn’t work. To make matters worse: The combination of a poor diet and some prescribed steroid creams was eroding her skin’s natural protective barrier.
After eventually losing her job, Waldropt had time to enjoy nature, process her emotions, exercise, and focus on eating healthier, fatty-acid-filled foods, which ultimately led to her eczema beginning to heal—a large reason why she uses whole foods, including plantains, aloe vera, avocado, sea moss, and oatmeal, in her products today. “If it’s clearing my skin internally,” she remembers thinking, “imagine what it would do if I applied it.” She had previous experience making soaps—her mother had a soap company, and from ages 10 to 15, Waldropt would accompany her to trade shows in Manhattan, learning about the business and what oils were best to use.
Waldropt’s soaps come in different varieties such as Fresh Seamoss + Oatmeal and Sweet Plantain + Coffee.Photo: Courtesy of Micheal Colas.
Everything she makes is 100% plant-based—there are “no chemicals or weird fragrances,” Waldropt says. “I use actual food that I eat at home; things that my ancestors have eaten for centuries.” It makes the brand’s name the perfect fit. “Terra means earth, and territory is your space, your body, your surroundings,” she says.
Each soap has a personalized feel to it—which makes sense, as Waldropt does everything herself. “It’s not an overnight thing,” Waldropt says of the two-month-long soap-making process. Each batch can come out slightly different, depending on the climate. “It’s something that takes a lot of patience, knowledge, and research—you really have to enjoy what you’re doing,” she says. The long, solitary process is in high demand as of late, as almost every time one checks the website, the inventory is sold out. The brand’s Instagram is replete with comments from eager customers ready for the email that will alert them of the next soap release. “I can only make so much product because of manpower and space,” Waldropt says.
Still, no matter how busy Waldropt has become, “I just don’t see my company taking over my life,” she says. “I like to go to the beach, I like to have dinner with friends.” This balanced approach to her work and her life spills over into her wellness routine—especially now during quarantine and a tense time in the continued fight for racial justice. “Meditation is key,” she says. “We’re living in a digital world where we’re constantly being notified by so many different things—I just shut everything off, or I’ll take a walk. Yoga has saved my life, too.”
Terra-Tory founder Kimberly Waldropt.Photo: Courtesy of Micheal Colas.
Up next: She’s excited to collaborate on a still-secret holiday drop with a new candle company, to be revealed at a later date. “She’ll be launching her brand on my website—people can learn who she is and what she does and how fantastic she is,” Waldropt says, adding how important it is to support fellow women of color and brands you believe in.
No matter where her business takes her, Waldropt’s throughline in both her life and her brand—and the advice she’s given to those, especially individuals of color, who want to start their own brands—is simple and direct: “Be your 1000% best self,” she says. “Staying unique will always get you noticed. Never try and be on-trend, because trends come and go. Stay solid.”
TERRA-TORY Fresh Aloe Detox Cube