MEET YOUR MERCHANT: Alanna Haley has poured her heart into V’TAE Parfum & Body Care
More than 19 years ago, Alanna Haley got a job at V’TAE Parfum & Body Care in Nevada City to help pay the bills while making her way through college and raising two boys.
It was an entry level job, where she was given the basic task of entering data into the company’s computer system. But early on, she fell in love with V’TAE — its mission, its owner and its products.
Founder and then-owner Belinda Rush-Carville was clearly impressed with Haley’s passion and drive, and in three short years Haley became the general manager in 2003. Three years after that, Haley and her husband, Matt Wilson, became owners. After funding from a potential out-of-state buyer fell through, Rush-Carville was relieved to sell her much-loved company to people she knew and trusted.
“It was like passing the company to my best friend and somebody in the family,” said Rush-Carville.
WHAT’S THE MISSION?
Established in 1989, V’TAE’s mission was “to create the highest quality, most beautiful fragrance products, made by people not machines. To educate people as to why we are better. To make money and create jobs while making a contribution to the planet.”
Because of their reputation for making high quality, 100% natural artisan products, customers — both retail and wholesale — began asking for more. As a result, the product line began to expand to include head-to-toe body care products, including lotions, scrubs, massage oils, body washes, lip balms, eye creams, deodorants, bath salts, body mists and more.
The origin of the name V’TAE derived from the Latin word, “vitae,” meaning “life,” and from the moment of the company’s inception, the emphasis has always been on scent, pure ingredients and providing a positive experience for each customer.
THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
“Scent can be as powerful as music,” reads the message on V’TAE’s website. “It evokes memory and can recapture a moment in your past or be a stimulant to future events. Scent through the ages has been used to stimulate the psyche and comfort the body. It is an aphrodisiac, can alleviate depression, calm anxiety and sharpen the mind.”
The quality and integrity of the paraben-free products is complemented by the beauty and simplicity of the packaging, said Haley, as everything is carefully crafted by hand and the packaging is always recycled, surplus, reusable and/or recyclable. Body care products have always been cruelty-free (meaning no animal testing is done) and do not contain any artificial coloring.
No longer in Nevada City, where the company once had a small manufacturing space and separate retail store, V’TAE’s manufacturing facility is now located southeast of Grass Valley in Cedar Ridge. With the bulk of business outside Nevada County, the company’s 15 employees ship products to every state in the country, 75% of which is wholesale.
While a handful of Nevada County businesses currently carry a limited selection of V’TAE products (Kitkitdizzi and SPD in Nevada City, as well as Stars Salon and Simply You in Penn Valley), the full line can now be found at Blondies Salon in Grass Valley — and there’s a good reason why. Haley and her sister, Alissa Hicks, co-own Blondies, where Hicks has worked as a stylist for the past nine years.
THREE DECADES AND GOING STRONG
“Now in its 30th year, it’s great to have a beautiful storefront where we can showcase the entire line of V’TAE,” said Hicks. “Alanna is the perfect business partner here at Blondies. While Alanna is busy at the V’TAE office, I’m here at the salon everyday. Alanna is the heart of V’TAE — she and her husband are amazing people.”
As the ever-growing company has evolved over three decades, so have customer preferences, said Haley.
“Nowadays people tend to prefer food scents,” she said. “Coconut tangerine, lemon and almond apricot are popular. We’ve also introduced a new scent — jasmine mochi.”
Going forward, Haley says she is always reminded of the words of her father, who has worked for the past 27 years as an underground miner.
“He told us to find your own path, work hard and do something you’re proud of,” she said. “If you do that, the sky’s the limit.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.
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