Before founding Be Green Bath and Body, Karen Roche worked in finance. But when her former employer decided to leave Massachusetts and move to Texas, she decided it was time for a change. The idea for her business came when her neighbor was diagnosed with cancer at age 36. While helping her through treatment, Roche was motivated to turn a lifelong commitment to healthy living into a natural skincare product line.

Since launching in 2009, Roche has incrementally expanded her array of products — most of which, she proudly says, are rated well by the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit that researches the ingredients of a range of products to assess their safety. Next, she plans to add a fully organic high-end line called Anasa Organic, which will feature products that are “pro-aging,” she says, adding: “Aging is not going to stop, but what can we do to make you feel better about it?” The line is still in development, and Roche hopes to launch it in about 9 months.

Being a business owner has allowed Roche to design her life her way, whether to spend more time with her kids or take classes in kickboxing and Krav Maga, an Israeli martial art. Both have greatly influenced both her life and her business, she says, teaching her to value each step in her journey — even when it got tough. She went through a cancer battle of her own last year and underwent a double mastectomy in December. Since then, her passion for health and fitness has only grown, and her self confidence has soared after discovering she could weather it all and keep her venture going. Indeed, entrepreneurship “makes me feel like I can accomplish anything I set my mind to.”

Editor’s Note: The Story Exchange is celebrating its 10th anniversary by launching the annual Women In Science Incentive Prize. Apply now for a chance to receive $5,000 in funding for your climate-related research or startup. Deadline: July 31. 

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