Skip to main content

North Hills Monthly

Local Skin Care Company Recognized in Martha Stewart Contest

Dec 30, 2014 12:09PM ● By Hilary Daninhirsch
Take one part all-natural ingredients that smell fantastic, add in affordability, and factor in the drive, determination and eternal optimism of the products’ creator, and you have a winning recipe for success.

For years, self-described chemistry geek and North Hills’ resident Jessica Graves has been formulating all kinds of beauty and skin products for her own use and for that of family and friends. In 2008, she launched her all-natural company, Una Biologicals, which has grown exponentially since then. She now has a staff of eight and has switched operations from her home to a studio in Ross Township.

Graves had worked at organic farms and food co-ops, and her background as an herbalist led to the formation of Una, which uses only plant-based products. “I have very sensitive skin, and I saw a real need in the market for products that were very clean and friendly for sensitive skin and still affordable,” said Graves. “Affordability is that gaping hole when it comes to organic products.”

The company uses such ingredients as coconut oil, apricot oil, jojoba oil and calendula. A small sampling of products includes the delectably scented Vanilla Spice Body Butter, Chocolicious Face Masque, the bestselling Luxe Face Cream, Rosemary Mint Organic Salt Scrub and Pure Peppermint Lip Balm. Graves also makes wellness products such as a natural headache relief, natural deodorant made with clary sage and thyme, and an organic scar salve, as well as a variety of essential oil sprays to be used as perfumes or room essences. Not only are the products economical, but they are also long-lasting, which contributes to the affordability factor.

Graves already had a loyal, local following when the company captured the attention of Martha Stewart. Late last year, Una Biologicals was nominated for the prestigious Martha Stewart American Made contest in the style category. “It’s a wonderful competition held annually that highlights makers and producers here in the U.S.,” explained Graves. “Every company that participates handcrafts their products, from furniture to food and everything in between.”

Una Biologicals was selected as a finalist, and though the company did not ultimately win its category, Graves was nonetheless delighted that it was recognized on a national scale. “It was an amazing experience and a great opportunity to be part of a movement that creates awareness of buying from small shops,” she said. “That is a powerful thing that the competition does; it’s a mainstream way to get the average person to think about shopping from independent stores.”

Even before the Martha Stewart recognition, Una Biologicals won the national 2014 Beauty Buster Award for best lip balm; to date, Graves is not sure how Beauty Buster got wind of her company, though she proudly displays the award logo on her website.

Though the national interest was a major coup, Graves’ chief priority is reaching out to local users and making sure that her customers know who the folks are behind Una Biologicals. “People have reached this place where they enjoy connecting with the makers and knowing where their products come from; we do a lot of local markets so people get to meet us and get to know us,” she said.  

Una Biologicals’ products can be found in many locations in the ‘burgh, including at the Artisan Market in the Strip on Saturdays, Wild Card in Lawrenceville, at the East End Food Co-op and at its own kiosk at Ross Park Mall during the holiday season. In addition, products are sold through the company website,