• 52°

Inventive ways to help

Business shifts operations to create hand sanitizer

 

An Albert Lea woman is using her business to alleviate a shortage of hand sanitizer in the area for businesses still open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jena Thompson, founder and CEO of Daisy Blue Naturals, said she shut down her wellness centers in both Albert Lea and Austin last week, pivoting her business online for the time being and focusing on a way she can give back to the community.

Thompson said she was talking with another business colleague about what they can do to support others, and she received overwhelming support through an online poll about the need for more hand sanitizer cleaning products.

“I started hearing how many businesses that will be deemed essential that don’t have sanitizer,” she said.

Thompson created Daisy Blue Naturals 19 years ago and has specialized in creating cosmetics and body care products using only natural and holistic ingredients.

She said though she had not made sanitizer before, she was able to utilize her suppliers and order the necessary ingredients — including glycerin and 500 pounds of 73% isopropyl alcohol from Chicago — and start making the product. She said the higher concentration of alcohol is key to killing the virus.

The company has started producing hand sanitizer amid the COVID-19 pandemic. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

The sanitizer is formulated with natural organic aloe vera, rose hydrosol and safflower oil.

She has already had interest from an estimated 20 to 25 businesses, including funeral homes, the United Way, restaurants and others, which have expressed their appreciation for her efforts. She said she plans to serve the businesses that will need to stay open first before opening it up to other consumers.

“The goal is that we can continue to educate and share what we have,” Thompson said.

Businesses can order online, and the product is sent directly to them.

The sanitizer, which is being offered in 64-ounce jugs for businesses, is made at the Albert Lea location with the help of the manager of the Austin boutique. She will also be offering an 8-ounce sanitizing gel pump and 2-ounce antibacterial spray.

She said the sanitizer should not replace regular hand-washing, which is still the best option to kill the virus, but it is good to use in-between hand-washing.

“We’re still going to have those workers who are needed at this time,” Thompson said.

Paula Wilson, licensed funeral director at Bonnerup Funeral Service, said she and others at Bonnerup were thrilled to hear Daisy Blue Naturals was offering the product.

“When this all came about, we had our normal amounts, but we did not have the abundance that we’re going to need going forward,” Wilson said. “I tried every store in town, I tried to make it myself — lots of different avenues. We are still serving families — and proud to do that — and we need to protect them.”

She said the business planned to get its order on Friday.

“It’s great that people can find inventive ways to help others,” Wilson said. “It’s awesome.”

Thompson said she also plans to make cleaning solutions to offer to customers by next week.

She said her the biggest challenge has been the supply chain.

“When this hit, it shut down a lot of our trades,” Thompson said. “Unfortunately, a lot of our suppliers — we weren’t able to get our supplies in. It’s affecting all of us — even the small companies like mine.”

She credited Church Offset and North American Label Co., who helped get labels ready for the new products within a day.

Daisy Blue Naturals can be found online at daisybluenaturals.com.

Daisy Blue Naturals is starting production of hand sanitizer amid the COVID-19 pandemic. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune