Recently, Bham Now met Tracey Kennedy, a woman on a mission to help people love themselves organically through California Organics Body Care and her Change a Heart, Change a Life campaign. Read on to learn about her inspiring journey from the West Coast to Alabama.
What is California Country Organics Body Care?
Tracey Kennedy: “California Country Organics Body Care is a reflection of me. When I became homeless in my late 20s, after a very long, violent and emotionally abusive relationship, I relied on the only thing my grandma taught me to do well: cooking and cleaning.
I went to culinary school and was shown that I had a true talent with what this Earth provides. I worked in fine dining throughout Los Angeles until I became pregnant with my first child.
There were bumps and knocks on my new journey towards being a mom and I can assure you, I was not ready, but there was something inside of me that continuously told me things were going to be ok.”
Tracey Kennedy: “Knowing that I would soon have a mini human to care for, I delved further into the world of sustainable living and began tinkering in making bath salts and such to soothe the aches and pains my body had from pregnancy.”
Unicorn magic in a jar
Tracey Kennedy: Fast forward, my baby was the best baby ever—seriously!—and when he developed eczema at ten months old, I went over-protective mom and worked on healing his tender little rolls of love.
Tracey Kennedy: “I figured if I could make a recipe to heal someone from the inside, I could do it on the outside. I applied the same philosophy I had towards food to body care and came up with a kick-ass recipe to heal his eczema, along with a host of other skin inflammation issues.
It took me almost two years and a relocation to Birmingham, but I did it. It’s basically unicorn magic in a jar. Yup—I learned how to make unicorn magic.
I felt like the best mom that ever mom’d, so I started making other everyday products that we all use, just in a more sustainable way, rooted in my love of food and this Earth.”
It all started with toothpaste
Tracey Kennedy: “Almost three years ago, a friend from a Facebook mom group was complaining and about having bad skin. I sent her a message letting her know I made great face masks and I would send her some. I also sent her toothpaste.
I specifically told her that I wasn’t trying to sell her anything—I just enjoy making things. A few weeks later, she bragged on Facebook about how much she loved everything and within two days, I had almost 100 orders for toothpaste I DID NOT sell!
No one listened to me, however. They said, ‘Shut up and take my money. Send my toothpaste when you get it ready and what else do you sell?’ That’s how California Country Organics started.”
Tracey Kennedy: “I homeschooled my son and daughter, (I ended up having another child in the midst of everything) during the day and stayed up late at night to build a business I had no clue how to create, and avoided the fact that my marriage was falling apart.
All the love I needed, I put into every jar I filled. When California Country Organics was good, it was because Tracey was good.”
“This company saved my life”
Tracey Kennedy: “When I had an issue, I knew it was time to start admitting my flaws, my pains, my anger. This company saved my life. I hid who I was for so much of my life because I was never comfortable being in my skin.”
Tracey Kennedy: “Changing recipes, labels, wording, website, taking photos…it was me redefining me. I constantly strive to produce high-quality products, so I knew it was time for me to be high quality and genuinely feel that way.
I didn’t reclaim my life, I redefined life. That’s what California Country Organics is about: Loving Yourself Organically.
Knowing that there are always going to be struggles and obstacles to overcome, but if you live in your most authentic self in spite of it all, you can and will achieve self-love and worth.
We are just like those jars of magic I have created. We all need to figure out our best recipe. Just keep pushing forward no matter what and you will create your perfect recipe. We can all Redefine Love, Redefine Self, Redefine Love. We all deserve to love ourselves organically.”
Where are you based?
Tracey Kennedy: “Born and raised in Los Angeles County, I’m now based in Leeds, but moving to Ensley in the coming year! I decided on moving to Ensley because of the history, and I intend on opening what I like to call “The Modern Day Cracker Barrel.” A restaurant/retail space designed by Birmingham makers that gives back to the community as well.”
What are you doing in the community with Change a Heart, Change a Life?
Tracey Kennedy: “The Change a Heart, Change a Life campaign is to help and uplift the most disenfranchised of Birmingham. It is based upon building a stronger community through supporting and getting to know your neighbors.”
Tracey Kennedy: “The Wellhouse is the first quarter of my campaign efforts. At the end of the day, I’m merely here to help in whatever capacity they need. After all, that’s what unconditional help is!”
Tracey Kennedy: “The next quarter is to raise money for Pink Topps which is the first Black Breast Cancer non-profit in Alabama.”
Tracey Kennedy: “Next, St. John A.M.E. Church. They provide help for a large percentage of Birmingham’s trans community that has been pushed into the shadows and desperately need help and need to know their community loves and values them.”
Tracey Kennedy: “Fourth quarter is to raise funds for the students of the 20 failing schools of Birmingham.
It would go towards providing grocery gift certificates, clothes, blankets, school supplies and other household goods we take for granted. Sometimes parents are working two jobs and still can’t pay the light bill.
Change a Heart, Change a Life could help with that. I want to provide practical solutions to problems.”
Tracey Kennedy: “Lastly, I will end the year-long campaign to raise money for mental health services to Veterans in need. Whenever I spoke with anyone in military services, mental health was the number one issue mentioned. Every. Single. Time.”
Tracey Kennedy: “My goal with this campaign is to show Birmingham that I may be an outsider, but I genuinely want to give back what this city gave me and that’s a peace I could never find in California.
Birmingham taught me how to love me and live unapologetically me. It taught me to live life through people rather than perceptions. I intend on turning my campaign into a non-profit organization branch of my restaurant/retail space.”
What is your vision for how to make Birmingham better?
Tracey Kennedy: “As a little girl, I endured years of molestation, surrounded by gang violence, drug addiction, alcoholism, and being so lonely and ignored.
My vision is to reach out to those who don’t feel seen, who don’t feel heard and let them know they are not alone. I want to do everything in my power to uplift the humans society has dropped.
I want to show the hurt that they don’t have to hurt. They can grow past their pain and work together to rebuild this amazing city.
That is the future of Birmingham. We are going to be the catalyst for change. We are the Heart of Dixie and change always starts in the heart. One heart at a time. One life at a time.”