Spotlight: Keller Works

A mother’s desperate search for a nontoxic alternative births a local skincare company.

Operations Manager Christi Corfee / Photos by Joelle Grace Photography

It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention. When a child has a necessity, we know his mother will go to great lengths to invent a solution. That’s the story behind Keller Works, Mobile’s up-and-coming natural skincare company — a mother who took her son’s wellness into her own hands and ended up with a successful business.

“This business was a complete accident,” says Krystn Keller, who began making soaps and skincare products for her son, Elliott, in 2011. “He has severe eczema, over 50 food allergies, multiple skin sensitivities and various chemical sensitivities.”

At 3 months old, Elliott developed a rash on his face that spread all over his tiny body. The family saw 14 different doctors over the course of nine months, and the creams Elliott was prescribed contained steroids and other ingredients that further irritated his skin and caused horrible side effects.

“So that November, I got on YouTube and learned how to make soaps and other body care products,” Krystn said. “By the end of the year, I had developed a full skincare line for him. People saw his skin clear up and started asking me to develop products for their kids.”

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Soon, Krystn realized there was a huge need — and a huge market — for nontoxic, natural skincare products. She and her husband, Ryan, founded Keller Works and began developing more products. Keller Works’ products began popping up all over Mobile — at REDBAR Espresso and Market, Aura Holistic Hair and, finally, Whole Foods Market in 2015. 

“I operated it by myself out of a bedroom in my house for a while, but in 2017, I got in over my head and realized I needed help,” Krystn says. “That’s when we hired our operations manager, Christi Corfee, who has gotten everything organized and created most of our newer products. It’s really taken off since she came on board.”

Krystn Keller, Owner

Compare Keller Works
Most over-the-counter soaps and skincare products contain tallow (beef or pork fat), detergents, sudsing agents such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and chemical fragrance. Keller Works’ soaps contain no animal products, no SLS, no parabens and no fragrance. The incredible smell of the soaps comes exclusively from essential oils. “If you can’t eat it, you don’t want to put it on your skin, and we won’t put it in our products,” Krystn says. 

Going nationwide
Look for Keller Works on national television — segments on Hallmark Channel, Shark Tank and the TODAY Show are in the works.

It works — really
Natural products have a reputation for lowered efficacy, but Krystn is adamant: “If it doesn’t work, I’m not going to sell it,” she says. “People keep asking for a deodorant. I’ve tried to create one, but I keep testing on myself and haven’t found an effective one.”

Coming soon
Debuting by the end of 2019 — a full line of men’s products! Beard wax and hair pomade will join the lineup alongside Keller Works’ popular beard oil. You can also look out for a new partnership between Haint Blue Brewing and Keller Works.

Krystn’s Picks

Roll-on oils
These blends combat specific issues — seasonal allergies, anxiety, congestion, low libido and hot flashes.

Daily Grind Coffee Scrub
Made with the grounds from Carpe Diem coffee, this scrub fights cellulite. “The caffeine in it wakes up the skin and shrinks fat cells,” Krystn says.

Elliott’s Raw Sensitive Body Butter
This body butter is Krystn’s favorite product. “I personally use it every day,” she says. An essential oil blend, it contains lavender for skin healing, peppermint to relieve itching and tea tree to fight fungus. Oils are mixed with raw whipped shea butter and coconut oil to moisturize dry skin.

Elliott’s Soap
The soap that started it all is still Keller Works’ top-selling product. Designed to treat Elliott’s severe eczema, this soap contains organic, gluten-free colloidal oats, which are more easily absorbed into skin to provide soothing comfort and healing. The oats are ground with a coffee grinder and mixed in with the soap (see left). Each bar is garnished with whole oats to complete the look.

Elliott’s Herbal Salve
“We developed this to replace steroid creams for Elliott’s face,” Krystn says. “Those creams were causing him to grow peach fuzz and thinning his skin so badly it would bleed if you touched it.” Keller Works’ alternative is a beeswax-based salve that acts as a moisture barrier to protect the skin. It contains the same essential oil blend as the body butter along with zinc, which helps relieve itching and provides SPF 15.

Currently, the Keller Works staff is finishing the process to become FDA approved, which will allow them to sell products to 42 regional Whole Foods stores and beyond.

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