COLORADO SPRINGS. Cheri Kessler grew up in Falcon helping out with her father’s firewood and lawn care business. The entrepreneurial spirit she inherited from him combined with a love of nature has led her to start a unique online business that also stands to benefit local Catholic schools.
“I grew up in Falcon when it was a small, rural town with a two-lane highway,” Kessler said. “During winter, my father and I would deliver cords of wood all over Colorado Springs. That’s where my work ethic came from because I was always helping him — stacking wood, splitting wood, hauling wood, cleaning up. My father taught me everything there is about hard work.”
In addition to a work ethic, helping in the family firewood business also sparked Kessler’s interest in science, which she currently teaches at Mann Middle School in Colorado Springs.
“There were two ways to distinguish the wood that you had — whether it was a soft wood or a deciduous (hard) wood,” she said. “You could tell by the leaves, or after it was cut down, you could tell by the bark. I really like science; I took a lot of science in college and became certified to teach 7th-12th grade science.”
Prior to teaching in the classroom, however, Kessler was a stay-at-home mother with two young children, and during that time she experimented with online retailing. Realizing that she had a knack for it, she began researching various types of products that could be successfully sold online.
In the process of doing research, Kessler came across several articles describing the benefits and characteristics of camel milk. In particular, according to some medical journals, milk from camels is less likely to cause the allergic reactions sometimes caused by other kinds of milk, she said.
“One good think about camel’s milk is it has a completely different protein than cow’s milk or goat’s milk, so people who have allergies or sensitive skin may be able to use it without having the same reaction,” Kessler said. “People who are lactose intolerant can usually digest camel milk.”
Kessler hit on the idea of using camel milk as the main ingredient in a lotion for people with sensitive or more mature skin. She developed a trademarked product that combines powdered camel milk, Oregon Grape Root, frankincense and lavender.
“Everything that I’ve put into the product is based on research,” Kessler said. “I did some research in dermatology journals and read that Oregon Grape Root has been shown to be effective in treating some skin conditions. The lotion does have natural frankincense and lavender in it, but it’s very minimal and can be used by people who have sensitivities to scent.”
The product is marketed under the brand name Healthy Hump Cosmetics (www.healthyhump.com). Four-ounce bottles of the lotion are available on the website for pre-order, with delivery expected on Dec. 16.
In addition, Kessler — whose two children attend Corpus Christi School — plans to donate 25 percent of the profits from her January sales to Catholic schools in the Pikes Peak Region.
“I think that I should give back for all the talents that I’ve been given,” Kessler said. “And that’s a good way to build a loyal customer base — to give something back to the community.”
Kessler’s husband, Andrew, is also a proponent of Catholic education because he is a graduate of the former Holy Trinity School in Colorado Springs, she said.
“He always knew he wanted our kids to go to a Catholic school,” Kessler said. “I like the high standards and small class sizes.”