Alpine Aesthetic: Osmia founder Dr. Sarah Villafranco’s commitment to clean beauty endures
Catching up with the Carbondale-based skincare company as it heads into a decade in business.
Before “clean beauty” became the buzzword it is today, Dr. Sarah Villafranco’s side passion for all-natural skincare products was prescient.
After taking a life-changing, soap-making class while juggling night shifts in the ER and two young daughters, she somehow also found the time to tinker in a friends storage room over the course of two years — leading her to change courses from her traditional medical career and launch Osmia in 2012.
“It was as if something came into focus for me. I cried over emulsifiers. I exploded a pot of liquid soap. I shrieked with joy when I made my first successful cream,” Villafranco shared. “My face was a living laboratory, and suffered flares of my perioral dermatitis when I used too many products. I took every class I could, and studied all of it endlessly, often long after my girls and my husband had fallen asleep.”
Osmia is what Villafranco explained as “a nerdy reference to the medical words anosmia, the inability to smell and parosmia, an altered sense of smell” and chose the name to mean a literal sense of smell, or more broadly, a sense of your life.
Villafranco said, “I hope it nudges people to take that extra second to tune in with their senses to the little daily actions that make up each day. You can go through those actions mindlessly or you can go through them mindfully — and the difference is life-changing.”
Today, the Carbondale-based company is approaching a decade in business, and over the past 10 years, Osmia has grown into a 23-member team making lotions and potions in a warehouse that’s seven times the size of Villafranco’s original space.
At Osmia HQ, the team also operates a storefront, which is open for local pickups Tuesday Friday (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and during the holiday season, welcomes in-person shopping during those hours. And for new customers, an e-newsletter signup offers 25% off your first order.
2607 Dolores Way, Carbondale
Villafranco has deep roots in the Roaring Fork Valley, too. Her brother Nelson Oldham owns Dos Gringos (also in Carbondale). Originally from Washington D.C., she first visited him in 1992 and returned the following summer to work as a wrangler and chambermaid at T-Lazy-7.
“It was one of my favorite jobs and titles ever. When we finally moved here in 2005, we knew we would never leave,” Villafranco reflected. “From the breathtaking nature in every direction to the myriad athletic opportunities to the extraordinary community around us, we can’t imagine calling any other place home.”
The Osmia range of products has expanded across the U.S. and in Canada through select clean beauty retail partners, but its website remains the most successful for sales and serves as a sought-out, doctor-backed resource for skin health.
Earlier this year, the Osmia team implemented the idea for an online “Skin Quiz,” which is a short and sweet customer Q&A form that provides instant results on skin type with a customized regimen and product recommendations.
As Osmia heads into its busiest season of the year, it’s also unveiling a limited edition Craft Series collection (available on Dec. 7), with a winter-themed Enchanted Forest Soap ($20), Evergreen Body Oil ($80) and Sweet Spruce Body Mousse ($92). A new hand cream will also debut in the coming weeks.
“It’s the best thing I’ve ever put on my hands. It changes the texture of your skin immediately, and with all the hand washing we’ve all been doing, we’re thrilled to be bringing it to market,” Villafranco added.
Another recent (and perfectly giftable) release is a Soap Stand ($24) with Delta Brick & Climate Company in Montrose dedicated to Villafranco’s mission of not only making clean products, but also leaving as little trace as possible.
“(Sustainability) has been part of our DNA since the beginning. Living in these mountains is a constant reminder of how stunning and how fragile our planet is,” Villafranco noted. “We consider our impact in every choice we make, from the compost bin in our kitchen to the FSC-certified paper we use in our packaging to the sourcing of our raw ingredients. Being a non-sustainable company in this day and age is, well, non-sustainable.”
Osmia founder Dr. Sarah Villafranco shares her personal product picks that best address the winter elements at altitude:
Ultimate Routine Kit ($199)
“If you need a simple, incredibly nourishing facial skincare routine, our Ultimate Routine Kit [a three-step system, which includes the Purely Gentle Mud Cleanser, Purely Simple Face Cream and Nectar Nourishing Drops] is fantastic for all skin types, and there’s a little discount built into the set.”
Body Mousse ($48) + Body Oil ($64)
“After ditching the [often skin-drying] body wash for one of our skin-softening body bars, try using a dollop of Body Mousse with a few pumps of Body Oil on wet skin for velvety softness that lasts all day.”
Lip Doctor ($12)
“I wear our Lip Doctor lip balm always, everywhere. It has only six ingredients, including organic olive oil infused with Colorado-grown lavender (we harvest it ourselves!).”