- Lisa van de Geyn
Meet the Maker: H2T's Alexa White-Hawley
What’s not to love about good skincare products? We’ll take a really great moisturizer any day. That’s where Alexa White-Hawley comes in. She makes everything from body butter to balms—and it’s all spectacular. We spoke to her about the business, her products and the inspiration behind what she makes.
Trinket: Tell us about yourself—what’s your background?
Alexa White-Hawley: I was born in Trinidad and moved to Canada more than 25 years ago. I moved to York Region 16 years ago—my husband grew up here and we moved to take care of his parents.
T: We read you’ve been making your own skincare products since you were a kid—that’s pretty cool.
AWH: I have always been a maker. Even as a kid. We would make our own grease and cream for our hair. One of my grandmothers used to make her own wash for her hair, and my other grandmother used to make her own coconut oil. So as a kid, I was always butting in to help stir. Eventually we started making our own body butters and it kept growing from there.
T: When did you open the Head 2 Toe?
AWH: I had another business before this making handmade knitted and crocheted items. We would make body butter to give away. One year I gave it to the staff at my kids’ school and they started to order. That was about five years ago.
T: So tell us about your products. We know you offer quite a variety, including soaps, balms and lotions. What is it about your products that make them unique?
AWH: I like choice. This is why there is a large variety of scents and product types. What makes my products unique is I do what I can to meet to needs of actual people I know. I don’t wear a lot of makeup but I love soft skin. My grandmother is still alive at 94, and she has beautiful, soft skin. I want my kids to have that memory of me when they grow up. So that is why I make body butters.
When it comes to my soap, each one I’ve made has been with a friend or family member in mind. My husband—from the day I met him—has never used a bar of soap that wasn’t handmade. He has a beard or mutton chops depending on the season, so the shaving soap started for him. My family likes soap that leaves a squeaky-clean feeling, so I made the coconut soap. I have friends with scent sensitivities, so I make unscented. I prefer a very moisturizing soap, so I make the sunflower aloe shea. Other friends like more of a bubbly soap, so the honey soap was born. I started making body butter for friends who had very dry skin, and now my kid who has eczema and my friend with psoriasis both use it.
T: Those products sound super moisturizing. What ingredients do you use?
AWH: My products are made by hand in small batches. I try to source sustainable ingredients and I’m always researching how to make them better. Most of my items contain coconut oil and/or shea butter. I also use cocoa butter and other oils based on how they benefit skin. For example, I don’t like the smell of neem oil, but it loves one of my kids’ hair, so I always put it in her hair products.
T: What do you want us to know about H2T?
AWH: I try to make and price products at dollar value that I would be willing to pay myself. I often get the comment that this is a great side hustle. It’s not a side hustle—I’m committed to these products. I love the luxurious feel of what I make, and I love sharing them with people.
T: And what’s next for you?
AWH: I had a five-year plan that I started to execute about three years ago. COVID changed that plan and moved it up three years. So, last year I committed to growing the business into retail. The next step is to grow my retail presence. As soon as we are open from lockdown, I’ll be carrying stock at The Dress Diva on Main Street in Markham, Ont. I have had great support from the community, and I want to make sure I have a strong presence here.
Scroll down for some of H2T's products, all handmade by Alexa. Want to learn more? Check out h2tbody.ca