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Natural Beauty Expansion
BijaBody, body care products and tea company, moves to Whitefish with plans for national growth
BijaBody founder Melissa Picoli, right, and Courtney Perkins, a managing partner with Venture Forward. - Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon
When Melissa Picoli first came to Montana, it was to be a whitewater kayak guide outside of Missoula. It could be considered the move that started many journeys, both down the river and, eventually, into entrepreneurship.

Spending 16 years as a guide all over the globe gave her insight into how people go about their beauty rituals, from basic, natural approaches to the lab-created products.

Also an esthetician by trade, Picoli decided she wanted to contribute to the beauty world in her own way. Two years ago, she founded BijaBody, a company built on Picoli’s own body care products, as well as a line of teas to enhance health and body care from within.

“Any time we create something, my goal is for it to be both beautiful and practical,” Picoli said in an interview last week.

The company started with a couple of beauty-blend teas made out of a kitchen in Missoula, which grew to take over a garage, and then a larger space. At that point, Picoli knew the business would keep growing, and though she had the beauty product know-how, she needed to get someone on board who knew the ins and outs of the business world.

So in September, BijaBody made the move from Missoula to Whitefish in order to be closer to its new partners, Venture Forward, a management development firm, and The ZaneRay Group, which developed the company’s new website.

With Venture Forward, Picoli found the business experience she was looking for in Courtney Perkins and Kim Knuth.

“We wanted to not only invest capital (in BijaBody), but also invest our time,” Perkins said.

For the time being, BijaBody is headquartered in Venture Forward’s small Whitefish office, while the beauty product company undergoes its “incubation” up here in the Flathead.

That incubation period has so far included a total revamp of its product line, which now includes five teas, a couple of tea tumblers, daily body serum, anti-aging treatments and various sets of products.

The products are sold in 49 stores in 13 states, and Picoli hopes to keep expanding.

The company’s new website launched Dec. 6, and since then, the orders have steadily began pouring in. Picoli no longer makes the products herself, but her recipes and creations are outsourced to American companies, and all of the ingredients are chosen with extreme care.

Current employees, including Chelci Bruno, help with assembly and making sure the orders get out, Picoli said, but she expects the growth to continue and soon hopes to hire more people to work with the existing four full-time employees.

Daily body serum and body treatment lotion, both made with honey oil, from BijaBody. - Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

“We have the opportunity to become one of the great employers of Montana,” Picoli said.
In order to sustain growth, Picoli said BijaBody needs the support of Montanans. It’s logistically difficult to run a business out of this state, especially in Northwest Montana, where shipping is expensive, she said.

She invited local residents to visit her blog, where she details her beauty tips and how they integrate with her life here in Whitefish. It’s a unique opportunity, Perkins said, because the founder of the company and the person who actually created the products is quite accessible.

“We really want people to start hearing her voice and seeing what she comes up with,” Perkins said.

Part of the reason ZaneRay got on board with the company was that Picoli’s products are for those who like to play hard in the outdoors, making it a complementary collaboration.

“ZaneRay has had the opportunity to work with many great brands through our history,” ZaneRay President Reed Gregerson said in a prepared statement. “We see a lot of potential in the BijaBody products, Melissa, and the Venture Forward team to be another great brand. While we have always had a strong sense of partnership with our customers, this collaboration brings it to another level.”

Picoli said she is thrilled to see her company expand, and though it is currently in a time of transition, she believes BijaBody will continue its strong performance. And while it does, she will continue to work on ways to contribute to the beauty world.

“We all have our rituals,” she said. “I do really like that.”

For more information on BijaBody, visit www.bijabody.com.
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