Grass Valley-based Fat and the Moon creates non-toxic, plant-based body care products |

Grass Valley-based Fat and the Moon creates non-toxic, plant-based body care products

Fat and the Moon's Rachel Budde (from right), Jinny Howd, and Julia Bernardini, work hard at fulfilling product orders from around the world, including Dubai.
Elias Funez/ |

Know & Go

What: Fat and the Moon

Shop: Available locally at Kitkitdizzi, 219 Broad St., Nevada City, or online at

Back in the day, the search for easily available natural body care products often began, and ended, with henna hair color and peppermint shampoo.

Peruse the online store for Grass Valley-based Fat and the Moon and its swoon-worthy Instagram posts, and it quickly becomes clear how far nontoxic, herbal beauty products have come.

Think lapis and leaf “eye coal,” in tints as intense as any you can buy from big manufacturers like Revlon or L‘Oreal. Lip paints in shades of brick red, bombshell lavender, sandy orange and deep wine. Lip and cheek stain in deep berry (actually beet root), enhanced with the delicious scent of rose geranium.

And that doesn’t even encompass the body creams and oils, tooth cleansers and first aid salves for everything from muscle aches to cold sores.

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Each offering from Fat and the Moon is explained in a singular voice — maybe that of your hip, wise older sister, the one who always has the cool gear and the great advice.

Take this description of Hecate Lip Paint: “Holler to all my lipstick loving babes. Adorning your hot self should be fun and carefree — so, like, why are all of these crazy chems in our make up killing our good vibes?”

Fat and the Moon is riding that burgeoning trend of “clean beauty.” Initially conceived in a Brooklyn kitchen, Rachel Budde’s line of natural products sells locally at Kitkitdizzi and online to a growing worldwide audience — the staff recently shipped an order to Dubai from the unassuming storefront on South Auburn Street in Grass Valley.

Fat and the Moon currently has about 60 products in its roster, which grows as inspiration strikes.

“It’s hard not to make a new product every week, honestly,” Budde said of her “array of potions,” adding, “It’s been fun.”

One of her most popular products, she said, is the lip and cheek stain.

Another big seller is the natural deodorant, one of the first products Budde came up with.

“It’s the gateway drug,” she laughed. “After people try it, they become more open to the concept of herbal body care. It actually works.”

not a new phenomenon

Fat and the Moon was born in Budde’s Brooklyn kitchen in late 2011.

“I was taking a permaculture design course and I wanted to change how I related to my environment,” she explained.

Budde was horrified when she looked at the stuff she was putting on her body every single day that was toxic.

So she decided to make the products she wanted herself. And, she found, she created products that worked better than the ones she could buy.

“People started making requests, so the line kept growing,” Budde said.

Herbal beauty care products have become much more mainstream, she said, adding that even her mom — who lives in Wisconsin — loves her products.

“I’m happy the idea is catching on more,” Budde said. “It’s not just for hippies and liberals.”

Clean beauty might be trendy but it is not a new phenomenon, of course, she points out.

“It’s important to remind people that herbal body care is part of our ancestry,” Budde said. “This is really a return to the ways we (used to) heal ourselves.”

Getting the word out

The growth of Fat and the Moon has been a really organic process, through word of mouth, Budde said, adding that social media has also been a huge boon.

“Instagram has been a great platform for us,” she said. “We’ve been lucky to be able to ride (that wave).”

Budde keeps her operation streamlined with a limited inventory on hand at any one time, making products to order.

That way, she said, the staff can put its heart into each shipment.

When Budde started Fat and the Moon, she said, she didn’t know anything about business.

“I think that gives me an advantage, to do things more creatively,” she said. “It’s a chance to establish a different model. I think it’s something I’m conscious of and excited about, how can Fat and the Moon be a model for other businesses?”

Long tradition

For Budde, it’s important to create a place of business where her artistic vision and her dedication to herbalism and feminism converge.

For one thing, she noted, herbal medicine is a skill set that belonged to women for thousands of years.

And Budde wants to spread a message about reclaiming your relationship with your body.

“Most commercial beauty products contain ingredients that are toxic — and the message they convey is probably even more so,” she said.

Budde had moved the business into the Grass Valley space last September after her residence burned down. She is hoping to take over the adjoining space soon and hopes to eventually have a farm so she can grow the herbs she needs.

“Expansion is the word of the year,” Budde joked — she is due to give birth to her first child any day now.

“I’m developing more of a mom and baby line right now, because I’m at that stage in my life — and I want these products for myself, honestly,” she said.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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