2015 Movers & Shakers - Tracy Perkins

Written by Leah LeMoine Category: People Issue: October 2015
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Vegan Beauty Queen

Tracy Perkins is a lot like the strawberry hedgehog cactus that inspired the name of her line of vegan, organic, all-natural body products: pretty, sweet, but not to be messed with.

In 2008, Perkins was reeling from a divorce and the loss of a teaching job. Instead of crumbling, she reinvented herself. “My whole life is dissolved; now I can recreate it,” she remembers thinking. “What is there to lose?”

She'd been crafting her own bath salts and scrubs since 2003, originally giving them to friends and family. “I'm a gifter,” Perkins says. Her experiments became more sophisticated, and she began churning out handmade soap, whipped body crème, deodorant and beard oil, all sans parabens, sulfates and artificial fragrances or dyes, and never tested on animals. “I wouldn't be doing this if all of those things weren't important,” she says. By 2007, she felt, “This is big enough – it's more than paying for my hobby. I should make it an official business.” Strawberry Hedgehog was born.

Now her products are among Whole Foods Market's hottest sellers, she ships her deodorant to a buyer in France, and she has a factory and soap shop where she hosts monthly workshops, from detoxifying aromatherapy to all-natural first aid. Perkins has collaborated with other local businesses on soap-y projects, including Mother Bunch Brewing, Loose Leaf Tea and accessories designer Madalyn Nault. She also teaches classes on geologic disasters at Phoenix College and is co-producing the music-centric Play: The Documentary with Sundawg Media.

This year she debuted mascara and lip gloss, available in shades from nude to ruby. “It has all of the good stuff and none of the bad,” Perkins says of the nontoxic lip slicks. “Essentially, if you couldn't put it in your mouth, you don't want to put it on your skin.”

Throughout her journey, Perkins has learned to trust her inner voice.

“Pretty much everything I make, it's like, 'What do I want?'” she says.

Whatever it is, we want it, too.