Tracey Kennedy, owner of California Country Organics, says her company is the best of both worlds—sort of like her experience working with REV. Kennedy said she’s been able to gain both valuable business growth insight along with customer interface experience. We caught up with her recently to talk about her products as well as what she’s gained from her relationship with REV.
Q: What does California Country Organics sell?
A: California Country Organics is what I like to call functional organic body care, products that we all use just in a more sustainable way. From toothpaste to bug repellant to eczema cream to decadent body butter to three different types of hair care products. Basically, you name it, I make it—except for soap.
Q: Tell me a little bit about the name.
A: California Country Organics started very organically. I was stay-at-home mom and my son developed eczema. I wanted to heal it. I used to work in the culinary field in fine dining, so I took the philosophy of finding the best food to heal my body from the inside and I said let’s find the best ingredients to heal the body on the outside. I took those California ideas that I have with this new kind of country life that I was living at the time in Alabama and combined them. All of my ingredients are 100-percent raw, organic and unrefined. If it’s not, it’s because it’s something that’s an inorganic item like clay or witch hazel.
Q: How long have you been vending at the Woodlawn Street Market? And, what appealed to you about the virtual market?
A: I’ve been in business for three years, but I’ve only been selling at Woodlawn…this would be my second year.
You know what? I feel like so many people are like me and they’ve watched everything there is left to watch on Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and Amazon. There’s nothing left to watch. What else are we going to do? [laughs]
SHOP THE VIRTUAL WOODLAWN STREET MARKET
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It’s nice to be able to feel some type of connection to those marketplaces that we used to frequent so often. Being able to bring forth that space in a virtual realm and being able to see those vendors that you miss so much…I mean, even me, there’s vendors that I absolutely adore. Every time I have a good market, I go to them to buy earrings, you know. It’s one of those situations. It’s not just the community that is uplifted. It’s the vendors and the connections that we make with one another and the support that we give one another. It feels good to have at least some type of connection rather than not knowing what anyone is doing.
Q: You’ve also worked with REV’s Business Growth team, right? How has that helped you?
Working with REV, I’ve had a lot of opportunities. They introduced me to this incubator program that was put together last year and a consulting company called Quire Consulting.
Just that small introduction has led me to videos of mine going viral., being awarded grants and being awarded opportunities to be on speaking panels in order to inspire other small businesses and Black female entrepreneurs that are out there struggling just like I am to make a name for myself.
There’s so much that can come from working with REV, working with Robert Emerick and Taylor Clark and Bekah Fox. All of these people have been able to uplift me and give me a platform that I felt comfortable with and that I could actually achieve something with. That’s rare to find, especially for a Black female entrepreneur. It seems like so often that people are putting up these roadblocks in front of us. It’s nice to see somebody say, ‘Hey, we see that you need a hand and we have two. You wanna go ahead and grab hold?’
Magic City Match is a program that transforms lives and opens doors for Black entrepreneurs and business owners. Led by REV Birmingham and powered by Prosper, this initiative aims to create opportunities for Black-owned businesses by matching them with brick-and-mortar spaces where they can thrive. After a successful pilot program in 2022, Magic City Match is back in action and ready to empower a new wave of entrepreneurs.
One of the most legendary and storied neighborhoods of Birmingham is Woodlawn. It is a community, anchored by one of the great public high schools of Birmingham, that has produced many citizens who contributed to the life of our city and has had an impact beyond the neighborhood itself. In a short post like this true justice cannot be done to the rich heritage and legacy of Woodlawn. However, we hope that this narrative brings together many of the diverse threads that make up the fabric of the community’s historic arc in a concise piece.
Woof, woof! I’ve been having an absolute blast visiting my sister in Downtown Birmingham. I can hardly wait to share all the details with you once you return from your vacation. In the meantime, I wanted to put paw to paper and tell you all about it, with the hope of convincing you that moving Downtown could be the most wonderful decision ever.