Passion for Health Becomes Business

skin care line a result of natural ingredients, family support

Denise Olson, photos by Steph Seymour

Tracy Adkins
Tracy Adkins

Tracy Adkins did not set out to start a business. In fact, the last thing this mother of five young girls was seeking was a way to make life busier – she was simply hoping to cure her toddler’s eczema without harsh steroids.

A nurse practitioner for 17 years, Adkins was studying the Indian theories and practices of Ayurveda. She believed that these 4,000-year-old practices might hold secrets to cure the cause of her child’s skin condition, not just eliminate the symptoms.

“Ayurveda is a sister science to yoga, which I had been practicing for years,” Adkins explains. “Ayurveda says that all disease originates in the GI tract, and it turned out that my daughter’s eczema was due to an allergy to dairy and gluten.”

"Honestly, I have no background in business, so the decision to start packaging and selling quickly became a steep learning curve." – TRACY ADKINS, founder, jivana skin care line

Diet change eliminated 90 percent of the eczema, and the remainder was treated with a cream Tracy concocted, a blend of the oils and herbs intended to balance her daughter’s specific Ayurvedic constitution, her dosha.

Adkins was onto something, and it didn’t take long for friends and family to become interested in the products she was creating in her kitchen. The growth of the brand was steady as folks began asking her to sell her blends.

Today, four years later, the Ayurvedic skin care line called Jivana has moved approximately 15,000 units, and more than 8,000 units were recently placed in multiple beauty product and yoga subscription boxes, with national and international subscribers.

“I have customers in England, Guatemala, Australia, Sweden, and across the U.S.,” says Adkins. Her products also can be found in several local salons, studios, and even an Ayurvedic salon in San Antonio, Texas.

So how did this kitchen-based, hand-made product line get there? Not without thousands of hours of training and education in Ayurveda certifications, business basics, Food and Drug Administration standards, Consumer Product Safety regulations, Web design, e-commerce, and social media marketing.

“Honestly, I have no background in business, so the decision to start packaging and selling quickly became a steep learning curve,” admits Adkins, whose family and friends have been her only staff to date. “My dad helped us to figure out things like profit margins, and cost per unit – that is not something I am trained to do. This has truly has taken a village.”

Paired with Tracy’s dive into the world of business was her extensive education to achieve the second-highest level of Ayurvedic medicine, that of Ayurvedic Health Practitioner. This required 3,500 hours of training and an internship of 150 patient encounters, including full health assessments and prescription of personalized herbal blends.

The Adkins family.
The Adkins family.

“As an Ayurvedic health practitioner,” Adkins says, “I will be licensed to diagnose and prescribe herbs to address health concerns,” which is in keeping with her depth of experience as a nurse practitioner in women’s health. Adkins seeks to bring her background in Western medicine and education in Eastern tradition together in what she sees as the ideal blend. 

“In a perfect world, we would rely both equally. My husband Aron is an endocrinologist, I’m trained as a nurse practitioner, so of course I know that a balance is required. We always want to use the advances of modern Western medicine and science; I would never advise not to take advantage of that, but Eastern tradition is still the foundation,” Adkins explains.

So what do Jivana consumers have to say? If the social media and beauty blogger reviews are an indicator, it’s a pretty solid thumbs-up all around.

“I worked in the skin care industry for many years, and Jivana is a favorite product line. It’s all-natural, no harmful dyes or fillers, it’s gentle yet effective. You definitely get the added value of Tracy’s education and extensive consultation,” says Tiffany Boettcher, esthetician of Eau Claire.

Admittedly, Adkins is still getting the hang of this endeavor as a viable business. She has several ideas for new products, and she’s giving time to her Ayurvedic body treatments and yoga classes at Prajna studio on Barstow Street in Eau Claire, but she keeps a very grounded and healthy perspective on it all.

“My wheels are always spinning; I have ideas about hair products and cosmetics I’d like to pursue, and I have been making some contacts in the cosmetic chemistry industry that will be valuable,” she says. “But the fact is I’m a wife and mother first and always, so if it all suddenly stopped selling itself tomorrow, I’m fine with that. We’ve all learned something, and I would move on to the next learning experience.”

Something tells me that Adkins should not make plans to pack up the kitchen laboratory anytime soon.

When asked how she came to the name Jivana for this product line, the answer was simple; in Sanskrit it means “to give life.”

It seems that Tracy Adkins has found a way to give life to her dreams of spreading knowledge about health and wellness in a marriage of Eastern and Western practices, as well as giving life to the spirit of her inner entrepreneur.

Find Jivana products, the Garage Salon in Chippewa Falls, Prajna Yoga in Eau Claire, and Jivana Ayurveda & Yoga on Facebook.

Chippewa Valley Start-Up is sponsored by:

Royal Credit Union
200 Riverfront Terrace
Eau Claire, WI