Jasmine Banks’ business, Perfect Imperfections, is as much a product of her parents as she is.
First off, Banks was inspired to start the business itself, producing all-natural personal care products, when she lost her mother to cancer in 2012. She couldn’t help but feel the cancer might have been preventable.
“We’re so worried about what we put in our mouth, we never think about what put on our body,” she says. “So I started to look at the ingredients on the items that I was using every day. And the words that I couldn’t pronounce properly, I would Google them. And nine times out of ten, it would be an ingredient that would say, ‘harmful in small doses.’ And so I was like okay, if it’s harmful in small doses, let’s say that it’s deodorant, and it’s an ingredient in the deodorant, and I’m using this deodorant from the time that I’m 12 until the time that I’m 80. How many small doses am I putting in my body?”
In order to avoid those “harmful in small doses” chemicals and live a more sustainable life, she started making her own toothpaste out of baking soda, sea salt, coconut oil and peppermint oil. Then she tried deodorant and later soap, posting her progress on Facebook.
“People on my Facebook page, were like, ‘Well how much do you sell that for?’ And I was like, ‘I don’t sell this. This is just fun,’” she recalls, at least in part because the product wasn’t exactly “shelf-ready.”
“It’s just my own personal project,” she says. “My toothpaste, especially, it’s funny, because I would put it in a four-ounce glass mason jar and use my finger to put it on my toothbrush. So I was like, ‘No one’s gonna buy this.’”
She was wrong about that, and soon found herself with a business to start — a business that needed a name, which is where her father comes in.
“So I’m trying to think of names, trying to think of names, and then I was like, okay, I can’t leave my dad out,” she recalls. “My parents divorced when I was six. And my dad. to me, was the perfect dad. Some people just aren’t meant to be married, but they’re meant to be parents. And that’s how I thought about my dad. He was just put on this earth to be my dad. But he was a person, he was human, and he has imperfections. So, that’s how the name of my business came out. He was a perfect imperfect person.”
Perfect or imperfect or both, Banks and her business are all about sustainability — sustainability of the body and the community — which caught the attention of Madison Gas and Electric, which made Banks the subject of the first documentary video of their new Living in Balance initiative. The video, produced by Madison’s own Bria Brown, will make its debut this week. Follow Living in Balance on Facebook for Jasmine’s video release. Here’s a bit of a teaser:
“Living in Balance is the platform where MGE’s commitment to a cleaner, more sustainable future meets the community members who are living this ideal everyday,” says MGE Community Services Manager Cedric Johnson. “We want to elevate real-life stories that promote community and healthy, sustainable living. Jasmine is a great example, because Perfect Imperfections blends the legacy of her late parents with natural ingredients, the importance of self-care, and an entrepreneurial spirit. There’s also a lot of heart there and, at the end of the day, that’s what brings the idea of sustainability to life.”
“I can’t expect Washington to sustain my community,” says Banks. “It’s my responsibility. I’m a taxpayer here. The money that I put in this community keeps my neighbor in their house. One of the things that I love about MGE is that it’s a community utility company. They believe in sustaining the community. I can’t expect them to do it on their own.”
Which is why Banks says she not only makes products that sustain the body, but sources her ingredients locally to help sustain the community.
“If that means going to the cinnamon stick over on Lien Road and purchasing a 25-pound bag of flax seed from our flax seed lavender eye pillows, that’s what I’m gonna do,” she says. “If that means going to Community Farmacy, because (I read) an article that said their business is not thriving. It’s my responsibility to go to them, because I have the choice, as a consumer, to go to my mom-and-pop shop, or go to the big box. And again, MGE is a community utility company. They’re out in the community, and they know what their role is too. They take it on.”
Banks says she hopes people take a few different lessons from the documentary about her and her business.
“I hope that they realize that we individually have what it takes, but collectively, we can do so much more,” she says. “I hope that they realize that you have to take care of yourself. As consumers, as individuals, we always think that it takes so much regarding self care. A lot of times, when we talk about self care, somebody’s like, ‘I need a spa day,’ or ‘I need a vacation.’ That’s not true. Self care is literally being aware of the things that we are using or eating or listening to, watching on TV. It’s things that we can do that aren’t going to cost an arm and a leg. And things that we can do that are making our community a better place to live.”
And making the community a better place to live is what MGE and its Living in Balance is all about.