Local entrepreneur creates business from self-care journey
Butters By Jay “started right here in North Minneapolis, and I started it because there was a need for it in the marketplace,” said owner Jasmine McConnell. After she looked for natural hair products at major retailers and noticed the lack of natural products, McConnell invented her own.
As a result, the stellar beauty brand was launched. “I started Butters By Jay five years ago. The formulas for a lot of the products have been around for 10 years. I’ve been using the products for 10 years—I started when my hair journey began and it started blossoming from there,” McConnell recalled.
There’s a special meaning behind the name Butters By Jay (BBJ): “It’s a play on words. So, butters—I have butters and shea butter. And then there’s the butterfly as the B,” said McConnell. The butterfly exemplifies growth and change.
McConnell emphasized that the transformation of a butterfly represents her natural hair journey. “The butterfly really is about evolution of the company and butters in the Black culture is a way to describe our hair is poppin’,” McConnell explained.
Most recently, BBJ was selected as one out of 17 local businesses featured at the Mall of America’s (MOA) Community Commons. All tenants that occupy the space will receive six months of free rent due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest. The grand opening was in October.
At the MOA’s Community Commons, customers can find a plethora of natural beauty products on display at the Butters By Jay pop-up shop. The BBJ beauty line offers a variety of black soaps, whipped shea butters, bath bombs/steamers, and sugar scrubs.
To elaborate, the exquisite “Black Soap Collection” is infused with a delightful medley of organic ingredients. McConnell uses pure honey, shea butter, coconut oil, and aloe vera.
There are a total of four aromatic black soaps available: original black soap-unscented, frankincense and myrrh, lavender, and lemongrass.
Customers can indulge in the original-unscented whipped shea butter, lavender blend, and lemon-butter whipped shea butter found in the Whipped Shea Butter Collection. These products can be used on hair, nails, and skin. They are non-toxic, natural, and euphoric. Kids love them, too.
Customers also have a rich selection of colorful and calming bath bombs/shower steamers to select, from Eucalyptus Shower Steamer to Peppermint Shower Bomb. The products are activated when droplets of water come into contact with its surface. That’s when the aromatherapy experience begins.
The sweet-scented, sugar scrubs are made with raw sugar and organic oils and are used to exfoliate and nourish the skin. Customers can also try Tropical Sugar or the Cucumber Mint Sugar Scrub. The refreshing products are filled with antioxidants and hydrating ingredients.
All of the Butters By Jay products are high-quality, moisturizing, and revitalizing. “I try to use all organic products and ingredients for sure. Like my jars are not organic, they are plastic, but that’s the best way now to preserve them,” McConnell said.
McConnell continued, “Ten years ago, when I went natural for my hair there were not a lot of products available—so using my hands and being a carpenter, I just decided to formulate products for myself.”
She successfully completed the Carpenter’s Apprenticeship Program and became a journeywoman carpenter in 2014. “I went to North High and MCTC for Construction Management,” McConnell said.
It’s a balancing act being a business owner. McConnell operates Butters By Jay and is working towards launching her construction business, the McConnell Construction Company. She said, “I build single-family homes from the ground up and I remodel commercial spaces.”
McConnell has worked on local projects: Project for Pride in Living, James Town Apartments, People Serving People, St. Matthew’s School, and First Unitarian. She plans on launching McConnell Construction very soon and the website is currently under construction.
“The most challenging thing for me currently is being present because I do have two companies. Every day I use all 24 hours in the day that God gave me, and I don’t let up,” McConnell said. She recently hired someone, which will allow her to be more present and have an opportunity to grow both businesses.
Overall, McConnell said, “I want to help people with their journey of self-care—changing the quality of life for people. I have people come back to me like, ‘Girl that Shea butter really did something for my eczema.’”
She added, “Support us because we’re trying to financially independent.” She also had words of encouragement for the youth: “Always bet on yourself,” she said.
Shop Butters By Jay online by visiting www.buttersbyjay.com. To shop in-person visit MOA’s Community Commons, located at 238 South Avenue, Bloomington, MN. Hours of operation: Monday-Wednesday 11 am to 7 pm, Thursday-Saturday 10 am to 8 pm, and Sunday 11 am to 7 pm.
Ashley Lauren is a contributing writer at the MN Spokesman-Recorder.