The Making of Stratia

How a passion project in a kitchen became a thriving small business.
Written By Alli Reed 2 Minute Read • PUBLISHED ON 11.23.2022

Article Summary

How Stratia started in 2016, to the hiring of the first Stratia Employee, Vienna, to moving into The Lab.

I tend to get nostalgic this time of year, and I was reflecting on how much has changed in the last 6 ½ years since I launched Stratia. If you’ve ever used a bottle of Stratia skincare, know that it was made by hand either by me or by my first-ever hire, Vienna. It’s hard to wrap my mind around, so here’s the full timeline of Stratia’s growth (and growing pains).

  • May 2016: I made 8 bottles each of Liquid Gold and Rewind in my kitchen, turned Stratia’s Shopify store live, then went to my full-time job as a copywriter and watched anxiously to see if I’d get any sales. (I got 8!)
  • First Batches of Liquid Gold + Rewind, 2016
  • The rest of 2016: I’d go to work, then drive home to make batches of product, ship orders, or answer emails. Rinse and repeat. My apartment got very cramped with empty bottles and bubble wrap.
  • March 2017: Despite my abject terror at leaping into the abyss of unemployment, I finally quit my day job because I simply ran out of hours in the day. (I was a month away from my 401k vesting, but I just couldn’t do both that job and Stratia for one more day.)
  • July 2017: At my husband’s gentle (ish) nudging, I packed up my ingredients and moved Stratia from our apartment to my first location: a 900 sqft windowless concrete box in unincorporated West Carson. It had no heat or A/C and the closest “restaurant” was a strip club, but I absolutely loved it, because it was mine and Stratia’s.
  • Stratia's First office, 2017
  • January 2018: I made my first-ever hire! I snagged Vienna as she finished up her chemical engineering degree, and she helped me out part-time with bottling, labeling, and warehouse management.
  • August 2018: We moved to a larger, nicer space in Pasadena. It had everything, including A/C and windows.
  • March 2020: COVID. I would come in at dawn to make a batch of skincare, then leave at 11am to work from home. Vienna would get in at noon to bottle. Everyone else worked from home for the next 18 months. It was exhausting and surreal, but we were all so blessed to be healthy.
  • March 2021: I FINALLY handed the manufacturing reins over to Vienna! Ever since then, Vienna has made every single batch of Stratia skincare.
  • July 2021: We moved into our current space, the one you see all over our social media. It’s enormous and beautiful, and they threw in a wildly creepy basement for free! 
  • We’re now a team of 8, including me. Every single bottle is made by Vienna and bottled by Grecia. Every customer service email is answered by Gabrielle. Every social media post and email from us are conceived and executed by Breanna, Lauren, and Saika. Our products are always in stock because of Evan.

When I launched Stratia, I thought I was embarking on a fun lil side hustle, not my life’s work. But here we are. Thank you to everyone who has bought a bottle, liked a post, mentioned Stratia to a friend. I don’t know where Stratia would be without you, but I bet it wouldn’t be nearly as cool.

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