– Written by Lisa Kinoshita
Tacoma entrepreneur Aikita Jones has created a standout line of body products for those who revel in the rituals of self-care. The name says it all: “SWASH. Feel Good Products For Badass People”. Jones entered the Spaceworks business training program in 2019, with the goal of overhauling and rebranding her existing line of unisex products, combined with a collection of post-partum items for women. She succeeded: the business has blossomed from a fairly conventional presentation (called “Joy to Journey’s End”) to one consistent with Jones’s more sophisticated, socially conscious and freewheeling spirit, in SWASH.
“I thought to be post-partum you had to be all earthy and natural” in attitude, Jones says. “I remember a girl said, ‘I love your products, stay wholesome.’ But I was so not that!” Taking the 12-week business training helped her shed the traditional stereotype and align her company’s image with her own values, which include using healthy, natural ingredients and processes, and an embrace of social inclusivity. “Spaceworks breaks you down to build you back up,” she laughs. “I started to ask, Why does it have to be ‘earthy’? Why women? Why not everybody?”
Through Spaceworks, Jones learned about a then-new microloan program offered by the City of Tacoma; using the business plan she developed in the business training, she applied for and received a $10,000 grant. She was also awarded a six-month, low-rent Spaceworks residency on Tacoma’s Hilltop, where she manufactures her products. She has worked for 18 years in healthcare administration, but now feels well-prepared and eager to expand her own business, “Trying to balance growth with paying daily bills and doing these big visionary things.”
Some lifestyle trends seem to drop on the scene fully formed, SWASH. – with its pitch-perfect marketing campaign that captures the essence of “badass people” – seems like one of these. “The times have changed, but the bull@#!* marketing has not. I don’t see enough people who look like my friends, family, or myself in beauty ads. And there are no products marketed to Queer people.” She says, “So, I decided to do it myself. My demographic is Queer men/womxn/non-binary folx looking for luxurious bath and beauty products in scents that compliment both their masc and femme vibes.”
Post-partum women (“preggos”) seek
spa-worthy alternatives to drugstore standards; Jones obliges with heady concoctions such as Lather Honey Bath Wash scented with spearmint, bergamot, grapefruit and eucalyptus; Shuga Buff, a brown sugar-based exfoliator with sandalwood, vanilla, black pepper and rose; and Blessed Butter, a belly balm and healing ointment that helps prevent stretch marks. Her favorite go-to product is Unwind, a soap that combines Dead Sea salt, pink Himalayan salt, Epsom salt, botanicals, and avocado and coconut oils.
Jones says she is proud to join the ranks of Spaceworks entrepreneurs who are enriching the local business and retail landscape with their creativity and acumen. She supports her cohorts whenever she can, and has worked with alumni including Paradoxum Consulting, and Fern & Foster, a wellness clinic that carries SWASH. products. While she is currently selling her line almost exclusively online, she sees great potential for distribution to retail outlets and contributing to the web of creative commerce in Tacoma.