Elizabeth Pickett Gray is like a personal chef for the face. The founder of Sarasota’s PH Botanical—a line of organic, homemade, top-quality beauty products—believes supreme health begins with the body’s largest organ: the skin.
“It is so important to be aware of everything you put on your face,” says Gray, whose boutique-style shop is located in the Burns Square Historic District. “It is just as important as the food you eat because your skin is absorbing all of the ingredients. You want your products to be as healthy and natural as possible.”
A nutritious full-body regimen does not start at the grocery store, but in front of the bathroom mirror every morning. And Gray’s products provide the foundation for that external-to-internal beauty routine.
Finding the perfect botanical balance for her products was an in-depth experience for Gray. She experimented with several concoctions during the off-season at Martha’s Vineyard, where she ran a bed and breakfast called the Pickett House (hence, the PH in her company’s moniker).
It was there, in the inn’s commercial kitchen, that Gray whipped up face washes, mists, and creams, using ingredients such as organic essential oils of Bulgarian rose, geranium, and rosewood; and extracts of chamomile and calendula. She soon created her two main skincare lines, Island Romance and Wild Spirit Sage, and they became favorites of the Picket House guests. She even made organic cleaning products.
Gray knew she was onto something, and that this career move toward organic skincare/homecare would stick. She had previously been a hair and makeup artist, as well as a fashion show and music video producer, working with illustrious stars in California. She craved a professional change of direction after giving birth, and worked toward a career that would allow her to be more present for her two children. Today, PH Botanical is a family business, run by Gray; her son, Robert; and her daughter, Lauren.
“I really became interested in organic when I first became a mother. You have this brand-new being and you want to be careful of everything you put on their skin,” Gray says. “You start thinking about everything differently. Also, my two favorite classes in school were always chemistry and art, so now I get to combine the two.”
The feedback from customers in Sarasota is as positive as it was up north, so much so that Gray has acquired the space adjacent to her current shop. There, she will have her own commercial kitchen and beauty bar, and invite clients to customize their own products. She even plans to host classes and workshops. Gray is certainly redefining the concept of eating local, starting from the outside in.
PH Botanical Organic Skin Products: 537 S Pineapple Ave, Sarasota, 850-591-1329; phbotanical.com.