A Q+A With Ode To Self Founder, Kimberlee Alexandria
Q: What inspired you to start Ode To Self?
A: I’ve wanted a skincare line since I was about 14 years old. I was going to name it Sweetface. I was dealing with teen acne, like any other hormonal teenager, and I just wanted to get rid of it.
After a one year stint in college, I made the decision to drop out; I realized I wanted to work with my hands. I enrolled in the Aveda Institute of Esthiology, initially to become a makeup artist. I quickly fell in love with how to achieve healthy, beautiful skin from the inside — sparking that wellness bug in me. I slowly started to understand that the ways I cared for myself would make a difference in my skin — it wasn’t just about products alone.
Fast forward to 2017, I went through a pretty devastating break up. It gave me a lot of perspective, and I realized I needed to cultivate a relationship with myself — outside of my relationship with someone else. Naturally, I turned to the thing that made me feel better about myself: fitness. I worked out like crazy, 4 to five times a week. I'd do 2 hours in the gym. Counted my macros to a T. Took the supplements. You name it. I was leg pressing up to 370 pounds. I couldn't believe the strength I built not only physically, but emotionally. But, my skin suffered terribly.
My face was constantly covered in pimples and dark marks. I started to develop hyperpigmentation all over my cheeks. The skincare that I was using wasn't working for me anymore.
Why was it so hard to find effective products that actually worked? I quickly realized that nothing was specifically created for Black women. I revisited my dream of having my own skincare line. I wanted to create products that thought of my skin’s needs early in the formulation process. I purchased sample ingredients to begin working on what has become the line that exists today.
Q: What’s your "hero" product?
A: The hero product is definitely the De Palma facial oil. I worked tirelessly on that formula — De Palma was created for women and men, primarily of darker skin tones, who have sensitive, dry, and acne-prone skin. My skin gets easily irritated, so it was highly important to me that this facial oil wouldn’t clog my pores or irritate my skin. I also didn’t want this oil to make my skin look bathed in Crisco, but instead provided a luminous natural glow. We chose Palmarosa as the base essential oil for both its calming and hydrating properties.
Q: What's the most important thing you want people to know about Ode To Self?
A: We're not just another skincare company. Everything has a purpose — our purpose is to create effective products that actually work for dry and sensitive skin types. We strive to help the customer understand their skin, and themselves, in a more holistic way. What do your stress levels look like? How much caffeine are you taking in? How much exercise do you get? Etc. These are all contributing factors to the most prominent skincare concerns out there, which is why our goal is to get you to slow down and acknowledge yourself and where you're at.