When Tierra Oliver’s daughter had eczema, a skin condition on her face, Oliver did not want to use a commercial steroid-laden treatment. She was a family nurse practitioner – and felt there had to be a more natural, organic alternative.
However, she couldn’t immediately find one. So, she put her medical knowledge, affinity for chemistry and a lifelong inquisitive nature to work. She knew that eczema is caused by an autoimmune process, so she focused on eczema’s interaction with layers of skin and how she could alleviate that process.
Oliver researched herbs and curatives from naturally occurring substances, and after trial and error, she came up with a salve that helped her daughter. When she told friends about the salve’s success, they tried it too – and were pleased with the results. Eczesoothe had been born, as had a business opportunity for a fledgling entrepreneur.
Now, Oliver is moving ahead with her business, and is doing so with the assistance and expertise of The Accelerator, a certified New York State business incubator powered by the Orange County Industrial Development Agency. The Accelerator assists manufacturing businesses through strong workforce-development and smart-growth strategies.
“The Accelerator has been a battery pack for me,” Oliver said, explaining that her business is based in The Accelerator’s Middletown center, and that the nonprofit organization has provided her a wealth of support. “It’s an affordable place to have a business, the staff puts you in a network with other businesses, and you get mentors and resources. You still do the work, but there’s someone there to hold your hand.”
Oliver, who is still forming her business, has a clear vision. “I’m blending my purpose, passion and professional skill set to be of service to my community and a niche market – and making a living,” she says.
That skill set sprouted when she was a child growing up in Newburgh. “I knew early on that I was enthralled with the human body,” Oliver said. “I was a ‘why?’ type of child and knew early on I wanted to be a doctor.” Her plans modified when she was older and started a family, but in 2007, when there was a nursing shortage, she again powered up her aspirations and resumed her education to become a nurse. She attended SUNY Binghamton, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, and then received a master’s degree in nursing at Mount Saint Mary College.
Her commitment to healthcare and service led her to join the Air Force Reserves as a nurse from 2012 to 2016. “I learned a lot in the military, such as culture and discipline,” she said. Meanwhile, her professional career as a family nurse practitioner was flourishing.
And then, Oliver’s daughter’s condition changed Oliver’s life. She was fascinated by the challenge of applying her inquisitive nature to find a solution. When the salve helped her daughter and her friends, Oliver knew it could help others. She seized upon that emerging business opportunity by researching data regarding children and adults with eczema, and the health burden the condition created. Then, Oliver studied the handcrafted market, which is growing by leaps and bounds, and knew there was a niche for organic products. A 50-hour entrepreneurship class solidified her commitment to enter the marketplace and carry her vision forward.
Now, after the COVID-19 pandemic left her nursing career in transition, Oliver is excited to give Eczesoothe her full focus. “There is a place for naturally occurring substances being altered to a usable form,” Oliver said, and she regularly calls upon The Accelerator’s experts and mentors to guide her road ahead on issues such as branding, marketing and finances.
Today, Oliver sells the salve via word of mouth and online. Vendor fairs and exporting are potential next steps, and her new professional direction has proven to be exciting and inspirational.
“I’m still in my journey,” Oliver said. “When I was young, starting a business wasn’t a thought. But I know I can do this. Eczesoothe is something I can get behind. I know I can make money – and be happy doing so.”