Girl power

A local mom is creating safer beauty products for tweens and teens.
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The Michigan-born beauty brand for tweens, Girlpalooza, offers nontoxic hygiene products with a meaningful message. It all started when Becky Vandenbroek was getting ready for work one morning. Her daughter, Lola, wanted to try on some of her beauty products, but Vandenbroek was reluctant to use them on her.

“I kind of hesitated and looked into the beauty product space a little bit more, just to find that it’s not very regulated by the FDA and that even some of the ingredients could possibly be harmful to her,” she said. “I started looking for products that would be safe, but that would also portray more of a ‘girl power,’ positive message, and I didn’t really find anything out there.”

When she didn’t find what she was looking for, Vandenbroek decided to create it herself. She competed in Start Garden’s 100 Ideas competition with the hopes of securing enough funding to get the ball rolling.

“I went down and pitched for a beauty skin-care product line for teens and tweens and was picked as a 100 finalist,” Vandenbroek said. “It kind of took off from there.”

She left her 15-year career to dedicate her time to building the Girlpalooza beauty brand, which she calls “a labor of love.”

“I started out as a hospitalist physician assistant and then transitioned into outpatient internal medicine,” Vandenbroek said. “Once I became a mom, my focus shifted to my daughter and wanting to spend more time with her. My background in medicine has definitely come in handy when developing new product formulations.”

Creating bath and beauty products for tweens is the perfect way for Vandenbroek and her daughter to spend more time together.

“I love working for Girlpalooza because it allows me to work with my daughter,” Vandenbroek said. “She helps with everything from product development to picking out names for products.”

The Girlpalooza product line includes lip gloss, bath bombs, body butter and a combination shampoo/body wash. Vandenbroek partners with labs in California and Oregon to produce the products.

“I sat down with a chemist and told them what I wanted to develop as far as the initial product launch, which was a lip gloss,” she said. “We then formulated a custom formula. I got to control which ingredients I wanted in there and which ones I didn’t want. The ingredients are safe for kids, nontoxic and, as an added bonus, everything is cruelty-free and 100% vegan.”

While the ingredients themselves are produced on the West Coast, Vandenbroek puts everything together herself in West Michigan.

“They formulate and fill my lip gloss components and then they ship it back to me here in Michigan and then I label and distribute from my home here in Ada,” Vandenbroek said. “I fill everything here. I scent it myself, label and then ship from the home here. I’ve got it down to a science.”

Vandenbroek built Girlpalooza from the ground up so she could choose her own ingredients, but she also wanted the brand to have a strong message for girls.

“So, with having a daughter, I wanted to portray a positive, ‘girl power’ message through all of our branding,” she said. “And so that’s where we came up with the different names, such as Cherry Bomb Boss, Pineapple President, Lemon Drop Leader, Scent-Free Super Star and Mint Maven. Our lip glosses are named after prominent women throughout history, so we have Rosa, Amelia and Jane. It was just important for me as a mom to have that positive messaging and branding out there through our products.”

“It is important for me as a mom to help other moms navigate the beauty industry and create products that are not only safe for their kids but that also promote a positive message.”
Becky Vandenbroek

Promoting positivity and offering products with nontoxic ingredients are important to Vandenbroek, but so is giving back to the community.

“One of our bath bombs is a waffle bomb, and a portion of proceeds we donate to Kids’ Food Basket, which is an awesome local charity here in town,” she said. “When anybody buys a waffle bath bomb, being that it had that food component, we just thought it would fit perfectly with that charity, and we love to give back to any local organizations here.”

In the short term, Vandenbroek wants to expand the product line to include new scents and lip glosses.

“For our next launch, we’re actually going to do a lavender body butter and body wash because I’ve had really good feedback with the lavender bath bombs,” she said. “At bedtime, kids taking a bath, lavender can be calming, so our next body butter and body wash will be called Lavender Legend. We’re currently working on developing and launching a nail polish line, as well as a new shimmer gloss that’s geared more toward younger girls.”

Bath products are just the beginning. Vandenbroek has teen skin-care products and even apparel in her sights.

“We would love to eventually launch a teen skin-care line, which would definitely be directed more toward kids that have any acne issues,” she said. “And then eventually, possibly even do some clothing where we do, you know, different little girls’ spa robes, bathrobes, slippers … basically a whole little spa package for girls.”

Vandenbroek’s work with Girlpalooza may be different than when she was a physician assistant, but she still enjoys helping people.

“I am still helping people but in a different way,” she said. “It is important for me as a mom to help other moms navigate the beauty industry and create products that are not only safe for their kids but that also promote a positive message.”

Above all, Vandenbroek wants to push the message of self-care and positivity.

“Our tagline is ‘Be Good to Yourself,’” she said. “So, that’s kind of our company motto, meaning use safe, clean ingredients, self-care … just be good to yourself mentally and physically. That’s kind of what we’re all about as a company.”

For more information about the product line, visit girlpalooza.com.

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Ever since Pasha Shipp could talk, she's been dreaming up colorful stories. Fantasy creatures, mysterious kingdoms, enchanted forests, you name it. As she reached adulthood, she decided to take the magic out of her head and put it down on paper. Pasha has been writing for Grand Rapids Magazine since November 2015, and has loved every minute of it. She has a master's degree in Communication and a bachelor's degree in Film Studies from Grand Valley State University and Western Michigan University respectively. When she isn't daydreaming and writing stories for the magazine, she's exploring the many hidden treasures of Grand Rapids with her fiancé.