Editor’s Note: As part of its commitment to covering diversity in business, The Dispatch will feature Asian American-owned businesses throughout May, which is Asian American Heritage Month. of Asian and Pacific Islander descent.
Diana Wang knew it was time to change course when she couldn’t write the bakery and cafe business plan she had dreamed of for years.
“My heart was gone,” said Wang, 38, of Grandview Heights, a former pastry chef who worked for Pistacia Vera and other local restaurants. “During that time, I found this thing that I felt a sudden passion for, and the idea got me so excited.”
This idea was to open a “clean” beauty store, offering items free of known or suspected toxins. Wang had already made the transition to these products in her personal life, and she wanted to train more to become a resource in Columbus.
Since August 2019, she’s been doing just that with Fine Feather, located in the former Chapel Hill Florist space on Grandview Avenue in Grandview Heights. The quaint boutique sells skincare products, makeup, hair care items, fragrances and more.
“We are a wellness company disguised as a beauty company,” Wang said. “The goal is to help people be healthy through the things they choose to put on themselves every day.”
On average, women are exposed to 168 chemicals in personal care products every day, according to the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit. Activists and government officials have pushed for legislation that would give the Food and Drug Administration more power to regulate products.
The beauty industry and consumers have also taken notice. The global natural and organic beauty market is expected to reach $22 billion by 2024, according to a report by Statista.
Although clean beauty products are available online, it helps to have access to local businesses to get specialized service, Wang said.
“I ordered things that were wrong for me only because I never got to try the products,” she said. “I had no one to talk to. It’s very overwhelming. There are a lot of them and you really don’t know which is right for you. I found the process very frustrating, and it cost a lot of time and money.
At Fine Feather, Wang offers consultations to make the process easier for her customers, including LaRae Keppen, who started shopping at the store during the pandemic.
“I wore a mask a lot and had a pretty bad breakout,” said Keppen, 42, of Worthington. “She took all the time with me. She prescribed me a very simple diet, listened to everything that bothered me and why. I get compliments on my skin all the time and I’m so grateful for that. She is so knowledgeable. She knows everything about every product in the store.
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Fine Feather also has an in-store recycling program, reflecting Wang’s passion for the environment.
Born in China, Wang moved to the United States when she was 7 years old and grew up in Ohio, Oxford and Trenton.
After graduating from Ohio State University, she moved to New York and worked for a fashion magazine, but eventually found she didn’t like the industry.
“He chewed me up and spat it out,” she said. “I never wanted to deal with fashion again, but I really loved food and cooking, and found that to be my solace.”
But after working in the restaurant industry, skincare became more meaningful to Wang, who said she cleared symptoms of a lifelong autoimmune disease with natural methods.
Her husband, Scott Ulrich, said he witnessed her work ethic throughout his career.
“She goes all out,” Ulrich, 35, said. “She has this incredible ability to be determined about something and to develop, in a very short time, a really encyclopedic knowledge of what she’s doing.”
And he is slowly following his lead in the transition to clean products.
“She also replaced everything in my closet,” he said with a laugh. “I’m definitely more mindful of the things I eat and use, so that definitely extends to me.”
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Wang also helps other women entrepreneurs by transporting their products. Brette Luck, owner of Ohio Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine, jumped at the chance to sell her menstrual pain formula in the store.
“The store is a gem,” said Luck, 42, from Bexley. “Having this in the store lets people know that acupuncture is a resource for both women’s health and also for skin conditions, and I tell my patients about it as well.”
Wang said she tries to reduce the number of products people use and doesn’t believe in “upselling.”
“We want them to love the skin they’re in and have the healthiest skin of their lives,” she said.