Rubbed the Right Way

UC Berkeley students bring natural products into the skin-care world.


Photo by Lance Yamamato

Deciding to start a business can be tough as one stares down all the “what ifs.”  But Melanie Barrall and Christopher Poulsen took a different approach when starting Mosaic Naturals.

As Poulsen put it, “The idea of starting a business with my girlfriend seemed pretty fun.” Of course, this belies their more earnest motivation: doing something good for people and the environment.

“Having a business that was eco friendly and consumer friendly was fascinating to me,” Poulsen said.

Now these two UC Berkeley students are the proud owners of Mosaic Naturals, offering handmade natural skin-care products to customers in the Bay Area and beyond.

Mosaic’s product line began with lip balm—something Barrall began creating when she was in high school. Through trial and error, she perfected her formula as she strived to eliminate artificial ingredients. Today, all of Mosaic’s products—lip balms, lotions, and scrubs—are made from organic and fair-trade certified ingredients.

The body scrubs, made with ingredients like Dead Sea salt and organic cane sugar, come in Summer Citrus, Eucalyptus, and Lemon Lavender ($20) options. Lotions made with shea butter, sunflower oil, avocado oil, and olive oil come in several scents, including Atlas Cedarwood, which is most popular with men ($13.95). Winter is when skin could use added protection, and Mosaic Naturals can put products from head to toe in gift baskets that offer as much as 15 percent off individual items. The Sampler is the best bet and includes the complete lip balm line along with an 8-ounce bottle of body scrub and an 8-ounce bottle of body lotion ($31.85).

At 19 and 20 years old respectively, Barrall and Poulsen seem to have taken on a lot. But their positivity is infectious. “I think the most important part is being able to tie what we are learning in school into the community here,” said Poulsen, who added that living in the progressive, eco-conscious, health-conscious East Bay is a great benefit. “It’s a struggle to balance everything at times, but we are not closing the door on this being a long time pursuit.”


Published online on Feb. 9, 2017 at 8:00 a.m.