Mitzz Natural Skin Care (Tuscaloosa)
The Maker: Tonya Moran
After becoming seriously ill, Tonya Moran was determined to live a naturally healthier life.
“Ten years ago, I came down with Legionnaires’ disease and spent several days in an intensive care unit,” Moran says. “It scarred my lungs. I’ve also always had problems with skin allergies, so when I left the hospital my doctor advised me to be careful about the cleaning products I used around my house and the cosmetics I put on my skin.”
Moran went home to Tuscaloosa, got rid of all of her household cleaning supplies and makeup, and started studying natural ways to stay healthy both inside and out. The result was her Mitzz Natural Skin Care line of linen sprays, soaps, sugar scrubs, moisturizers, mouthwashes and more, all made without chemicals or artificial ingredients.
“I spent 18 years as a pharmaceutical salesperson, so I knew a lot about the chemicals that are in many of the things we use every day,” she says. “I decided to get out of that line of work — so, in 2013, I left the profession, got married and started my company. That was a busy year.”
From her home in a Tuscaloosa historic district, Moran started studying soap-making techniques and locating natural ingredients. “I read a lot and did hours of computer research, attended seminars on how to make and use natural products, and went to farmers markets to find organic fruits and vegetables,” she says. “Then I started making soaps. At first it was just for my benefit, but when I shared some bars with my friends and family I got a very good response.”
After deciding to start her company, Moran named it “Mitzz” by reaching back into her past and planning her future. “Mitzz was the nickname my older brothers gave me when I was growing up,” she says. “And I’m presently building a website — and it’s one of the few domain names that hadn’t been taken.”
While she still makes all her soaps, scrubs and lotions at home in her kitchen and studio, Moran spends a lot of time away from Tuscaloosa looking for new natural fans. In addition to presenting Mitzz products on her Facebook page, she also offers them at Alabama shops such as Fine Things in Arab, Images Hair and Nail Salon in Northport, and Vintage Vibe Boutique, Johnson’s Garden & Cafe and Pat’s Florist and Gourmet Baskets (all in Tuscaloosa). She’s a regular artisan at the Tuscaloosa River Market and travels around the region, exhibiting her items at markets and art shows.
While women are her main customers, many men also swear by Moran’s natural notions. “After doing some research on how activated charcoal can remove toxins, I created an activated charcoal and frankincense soap bar,” Moran says. “Men like painters and exterminators who work around chemicals all day will buy 10 bars at a time — and they tell me as soon as they get home they jump in the shower to wash off with it.”
Even though she can’t claim that her chemical-free creations have medicinal powers, Moran knows they’re healthier for her customers than the usual store-bought stuff. “According to FDA rules, I can’t say my products can cure allergies or skin problems,” she says. “But from my personal experience, I know they certainly can’t hurt.”
The Product: Handmade all-natural soaps, moisturizers, sugar scrubs, bath salts, soy candles and more.
Take Home: Body moisturizers available in Blood Orange, Grapefruit & Lime, Lavender and Spearmint & Eucalyptus. ($15 for a 9.4-ounce jar).
Mitzz Natural Skin Care, Tuscaloosa