Sophia Turner creates elevated skincare and stylish home goods under her brand The Willow Tree Co and has garnered loyal fans. Her six-figure business based in Olympia was built with the idea of bringing luxury into the home with sustainability in mind.
"I am a proud, Black-owned, woman-owned company, in which I create intentional skincare products rooted in self-love," Turner shares.
Along with her impressive products, Turner's personal story also deserves the spotlight. Having lost the ability to clearly hear out of both ears at age 14, she finds inspiration in unlikely places — such as driving down the street, out in nature, or just letting her mood guide her.
"Growing up is hard," Turners relates. "Add in a mystery illness, and it is magnified."
After losing her hearing, people who were used to holding regular conversations suddenly became impatient when they had to repeat themselves. Eventually, many stopped speaking to her altogether.
She admits, "It was hurtful and humiliating to the point where I denied my disability for a long time. Years. I worried about what people would think of me. And I didn’t want to be seen as different. That kind of denial and devastation sent me spiraling into a depression that would last well into my adult years. My need to always keep busy, lest my intrusive thoughts pervade my mind and overtake my life, helped me discover my passion for creating beautiful things."
Her journey started with writing about her experiences as a girl growing up in a world that didn't seem to be ready for her.
"I would write notes to my sister because it was easier for us to converse on paper than to struggle trying to hear/understand," she says. "Writing became my voice, and it was the gift that eventually led me to create luxury skincare products and from this, The Willow Tree Co was born."
To this day, her sense of smell is one thing that never fails her.
"A lot of my products are created based on what feeling/vibe the fragrance I am working with invokes," she explains. "Another thing that inspires me is the Pantone color combinations for the season. I also enjoy watching the Food Network because, in addition to the amazing food and desserts being made, I usually end up with three to four ideas for soap. My husband always laughs at me because I’m old-school and carry a notebook with me all the time."
She likes to write down thoughts before they vanish, and can't stand forgetting about a great idea until seeing someone else carrying it out later on.
"My industry is highly saturated with other amazing companies that are similar to mine," she says. "But I like to think that the thing that makes my work unique is, well, Me. I formulate my own recipes, and no one knows them except me. So my customers will never get the exact same thing from anyone else."
Turner says she understands the harmony between healthy skin, emotional well-being and feeling beautiful inside and out. She says her skincare products are a feeling — a vibe.
"They have the power to make a woman see herself and believe in her power," she says. "Using only high-quality, naturally occurring ingredients, I formulate healing body butters, elixirs and curate self-care rituals to help maintain healthy skin that empowers you to recenter, recharge and vibrate at a higher frequency so that you can tap into your power of being."
Turner believes in the importance of self-care and is committed to creating effective products rooted in science; each product has been thoroughly researched, formulated and tested.
"I now offer handcrafted luxurious coconut apricot créme candles and other home fragrances made out of natural, eco-friendly, cruelty-free and responsibly sourced materials," she says. "My modern sophistication Fragrance House creates scent poetry and is made up of captivating scents, beautiful designs and the best ingredients, while also being mindful of our environment. I believe in normalizing luxury in our everyday lives through self-love and inclusion, because owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do."
In the ten years she's been making skincare products, Turner has noticed an increase in individuals becoming more cognizant of what they’re putting on their bodies.
"So many skin conditions are further exacerbated by ingredients found in commercially made skincare products that were designed to prevent those very conditions," she shares. She realized this problem early on and, to help close the gap, her first skincare product was an emulsified body cream. This blend of cocoa butter, shea butter and coconut oil (plus a few other things) turned into her best-selling product. "Eventually I went on to add soap, sugar scrubs and body butters, but nothing sold as well as my cream."
If Turner lets her sisters tell the story of her luxury line, they always knew she was the dreamer in the family.
"I have always dreamed of following in my father’s footsteps and owning my own business," she says. "I just never really knew what kind. I always figured it would be in the service industry — daycares, private practice, teaching..."
So what changed? Turner did, she says, but it wasn’t until getting married in 2005, because of how her husband saw her. Though she loves her work, she admits it’s sometimes exhausting and involves a lot of research, plus trial and error. Yet she's never felt more satisfied than after perfecting a recipe. Unfortunately, however, this sometimes comes at the expense of her family.
"I confess," Turner admits, "that I am that mom who has fed her family sandwiches or cereal for dinner. I am also that mom who has been late in picking up her kids after school because I lost track of time working in the studio (this is also why I now create my masterpieces at night while everyone is sleeping). I have been busy building my very own empire, but my family gets it, and not only do they understand, they also support it."
Turner calls her husband her hype man. Even when she feels she hasn't done her best work, he's always there cheering her on and taking on involved roles like vendor market set-ups.
"When I get discouraged sometimes because my sales aren’t where I want them to be," she says, "there he is, offering me an encouraging word. I’ve had many days when everything seemed to be working against me, convincing me that I wasn’t cut out for this business. But he always reminds me that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that it’d take some time to get where I was going with my business, but I’d surely get there. My husband was the first person who made me believe that I was stronger than I gave myself credit for, and I love him a little more for that."
The Willow Tree Co products are found through her Linktree, Etsy and Faire, a wholesaling marketplace, as well as in several retail locations across the U.S. and Canada. Curious folks can follow along via Instagram or by joining the conversation in the VIP Facebook group.
"Visit our website or Etsy shop whenever you need a gift for someone or a little pick-me-up for yourself," Turner says. "Shoot me an email, let's chat. My DMs are always open, and if you're local, follow my events page to see where we will pop up next."
When asked for some final thoughts, Turner says, "Be Bold. Be Daring. BeYOUtiful — It took me a while to arrive here, but I now know that I am not defined by my lowest moments, but I can’t deny them either. I chose to be an example of how to get back up when life knocks us down. My strength has made me more compassionate than most people, and more powerful than any bully."
Turner adds that, in a world where everyone has their own struggles, she always chooses to be kind.
"Just because you can’t see something different about a person, doesn’t mean it’s not there. And that's where my tagline comes from: choosing to be bold in my business and living my life out loud. Being daring in my decision to create a brand around luxurious everyday living. And choosing to accept me as the beautiful person I am."
Corinne Whiting is a freelance writer for Seattle Refined. Follow her work and adventures here.