The Mermaid of Clean Beauty: Jana Blankenship of Captain Blankenship
I had the pleasure of speaking with Jana Blankenship, founder of Captain Blankenship, which is a brand I have admired for years. I never would have dreamed I would get to meet Jana and chat with her in detail about the brand.
If you aren’t familiar with Captain Blankenship, Jana makes all-natural plant-based hair, skin, and body products that are healthy for people and the planet. The brand never uses synthetic preservatives, parabens, sulfates or “fragrance.” They use recyclable and reusable glass packaging and never test on animals. Transparency is in every aspect of the line. Captain Blankenship was born because Jana wanted to create organic beauty products that are a direct link with nature.
She shared her story with me about how she got started, and it dated all the way back to the ripe old age of ten. Jana grew up in Berkley, California and spent her summers in Maine, where she recalls always being outside and mixing different concoctions and potions. Her mom noticed her passion at a young age, so she let her play with her perfumes.
Unfortunately, this constant exposure led Jana to develop a synthetic fragrance reaction, and she then abandoned her love of scent. One day in Berkeley she discovered a silver compact of natural solid perfume that smelled like jasmine, blood orange, and grapefruit, bought it and was smitten. Jana found the perfumer who made it, Mandy Aftel, studied with her
and she fell in love with natural perfumery and essential oils.
Jana had a background in fine arts but became so critical of herself and her work that it felt good to have an outlet outside of her career at the time. She began “mixing” again and it all started in her kitchen.
“There wasn’t much out there with clean beauty at the time and it led me down a rabbit hole of products and research.”
One of her best friends opened a store and wanted to carry Jana’s products, all in house, all handwritten labels. Shortly thereafter, she moved to the Hudson Valley, and found out she was pregnant; it made her realize she didn’t want to be a curator anymore because it wasn’t serving her. Captain Blankenship was all word of mouth but then Urban Outfitters and Birch Box contacted Jana, so she hired her first employee after her daughter was born.
Time went by, and they were doing well and then Sephora reached out to Jana right after her son was born, so Captain Blankenship moved to an outside manufacturer.
“Moving to an outside manufacturer can make or break your business – it’s a hard translation and it can be tragic if you’ve built a following and the product isn’t the same.”
Throughout the years, Jana worked with four different manufacturers and she said she made every mistake in the book but learned so much along the way.
“My book, Wild Beauty came out recently and it really brought me back to where I started. I love the creative aspect of the business. It’s been an adventure.”
It was such a pleasure meeting Jana. Not only is she is beautiful inside and out, but her willingness to share her story with me was so special because she didn’t sugar coat anything and told me the realness of starting her own business and all the blood, sweat, and tears it took to get it where it is today.
I didn’t think I could love the products any more than I already do, but it made me appreciate each item I have of her collection even more because I know how much care and thought goes into making them.
xx - LY
P.S. If you have any questions for Jana, or want to follow along in her journey, you can find her on instagram @jana_captain or @captainblankenship