Featuring: Aly Gaudet & Betty Luong, bean + butter body snacks.
"We loved growing up in Tsawwassen & Ladner. There is so much support from our small town and we love the feeling of community.”
The rich aroma of coffee cake permeates Aly Gaudet’s childhood memories; decades later, she references that nostalgia-inducing scent in a natural skincare line that celebrates love. After 10 years of making her own products, Aly used her pandemic lockdown time to get creative, whipping up plant-based fats and butters into oils, body butters, and coffee scrubs for her friends. In 2020, business partner Betty Luong joined her, and together they launched bean + butter body snacks. They hand-make their line from South Delta, wrapping up and delivering self-care to people's doorsteps or shipping parcels out to their growing clientele. We connected with the dynamic duo and learned their unofficial tagline is 'don't eat it'—because these products truly look and smell like dessert. These entrepreneurs are on a mission, serving skin snacks in recyclable and reusable packaging to people of all shapes, sizes, and skin types, and challenging the beauty industry’s status quo with plant-based decadence.
Tell me how bean + butter got its start.
Aly: When the pandemic hit, I was laid off from work so I found myself with a lot of extra time. I have a background in aesthetics, and over the years I've made my own creations at home. So I took a chunk of money, bought some ingredients, and started whipping up products and handing them out to friends. One of those friends was Betty; she became pretty much obsessed with one of the products and started talking about it with her friends. People slowly began asking more and more about it. And when one of the local salons was interested in the coffee scrubs I was making, I found myself having to make a large batch, so I called Betty for help. After she buckled down and helped me out, we got to talking, and eventually decided to partner and go full force into it. We created a little pandemic baby.
I want to stop you there for a second because I want to know—Betty, what was the product that you became obsessed with?
Betty: It was our OG product, the body butter! Aly was playing around with fragrances, and because I lean more towards fruity scents, I loved the citrus she created. Aly: I actually created it just for you. Betty: No way, that's so cool! I remember when I smelled it I was like ‘holy crap!’ because it smells like creamsicle or key lime pie. You just smell like a snack. So that's why we call it body snacks—because your skin soaks it in and eats it up. It's a very decadent scent; when you smell it, your mouth waters and it instantly triggers memories. I've always had skin issues; my skin is just constantly dry, and I have eczema. It's diet-related and environment-related. So when I used Aly’s body butter I noticed a difference right away. I remember I just kept petting my skin. Even the next night, I was like, ‘I am so soft right now! What is this magic that she's given me?’ My skin loved it and I felt so nourished. I was instantly hooked!
What makes your products different and what inspired your approach?
Aly: I try very hard to diversify the products to be more inclusive. I think a lot of skincare brands market their products to profit off of insecurities. If you go to a drug store and you pick up a bottle of cocoa butter lotion, there's always something saying, ‘great for reducing stretch marks’ or ‘eliminating cellulite,’ or ‘fat reduction ingredients,’ which is all obviously baloney. My passion is catering to those who want to learn to radically self-love. I want to encourage people to learn more about themselves by taking care of the biggest part of their body: their skin. Where a lot of people create products to make a dollar off of the cheapest thing they can put together, my mission is less towards profit and more towards creating a community full of self-love and appreciation. My heart and soul go into these products.
A lot of my research is in plant-based fats and butter, whereas a lot of commercial products have synthetics and fillers to make them a certain texture, make them less greasy, or make them cheaper to make. Many moisturizers are about 70-90% water, which tends to evaporate on your skin. With the diverse community that we have in the Lower Mainland—people from all over the world live here—I thought there was no way that the majority of commercial and drugstore products could be properly serving everyone.
I have a holistic approach to skincare and a lot of knowledge of how different ingredients work for different skin types, based on my background and how I was raised. When I was growing up, my parents were hippies; they only ever used natural, plant-based products for everything. My dad, a practicing Buddhist, was a herbalist for many years, and my mom was a yoga practitioner. In my house, the go-to when you were sick or hurt yourself was always to find a herb or an oil or a mixture of things to either drink or put on your body to heal yourself. I remember my dad putting packs of herb-infused gauze on me when I had rashes. My parents would only shop in health food stores; they wouldn't go to the drug store unless it was an emergency. Both my parents sincerely believe in using resources from the Earth to heal and promote health and well-being within your body, your skin, and your immune system.
Because it was normal for me to use plant oils, nut oils, plant butters and fats, I played around a lot with different percentages and different textures, trying to find the right ingredients for different skin types. The ones that ended up working best were the very nutrient-dense plant butters, combined with very light oils for balance. I have fair, combination skin; my face gets dry but my body is typically okay. I know that's not the case for a lot of people, so I wanted to create something that was going to accommodate a diverse group of people with different skin colours, textures, and requirements without being too heavy or requiring a lot of fillers, which can sometimes compromise the rest of the ingredients.
What’s it like being friends working as business partners?
Betty: I love Aly to the moon and back, so when she needs help with anything, I'll pretty much do whatever I can to help her out and vice versa. Plus, I just really believe in bean + butter. It's just such a fantastic product, so whatever I can do to get in on it and get these products for free for the rest of my life, I am down!
We complement each other quite well because Aly's more like the artist and I'm more like the business mind. It's worked out surprisingly well. Aly takes care of product development, product research, and a lot of the branding, which is entirely her vision. Basically I bring systems; that’s just the way my brain works. Aly needed help with labels and numbers; she was like, 'I don't know how to track orders; what if I get a lot of orders, what do I do with that?' And so I suggested starting with some spreadsheets and a basic accounting program. My background is in account management for trade shows, so I specialize in operations and making sure things are flowing properly. I come from a very business-minded family. My mom and sister are both entrepreneurs, so a lot of talk in my household ends up being about business or management or, of course, food. And I definitely get my work ethic from my dad—he's a workhorse. So, like Aly, my family has definitely taught me a lot. They’ve helped make me who I am as a partner in bean + butter.
Can you tell me which products you're most proud of, and why?
Aly: Oh, yes, sure can! I think the first product that I’m really proud of is our coffee cake coffee scrub. First, because the scent is just ridiculously on point. It evokes so much nostalgia for me, because when I was a kid my parents would always have coffee cakes in the kitchen, but I was never allowed to have them because they were afraid the caffeine would make me too hyper. Originally I was going to try to produce a full coffee-infused line of products, until I realized that not everybody likes coffee as much as I do, so it wouldn't really cater to the diversity I was aiming for. With the coffee scrub, I’ve developed a really good combination of something that not only does its job by exfoliating but also leaves your skin feeling nourished. Sometimes when you get out of the shower your skin isn’t very moisturized and can actually be quite dry. I hated that, so I was really proud of the moisturizing formula that I came up with for our coffee scrubs, but the coffee cake is my personal favourite.
Another one of our products that I'm really proud of is our body oils. They took a long time to formulate, mostly because I wanted to create something that I knew wasn't going to be too heavy for some and too light for others and I didn't want to compromise on quality. So it was a process to find the perfect ratios of high-quality oils and to include some natural ingredients that make it more versatile. You can actually use our oils in the bath or the shower; using it on wet skin really amplifies the hydrating benefits and sets it apart. The oils are fast-absorbing and on the lighter side because they’re less viscous. I think that's been the one product that we've received the most surprising feedback about; everybody seems to really appreciate the quality and the thought that's gone into it. That's where I find myself feeling the most pride: when I hear feedback from customers.
I think our number one seller remains our body butters, because they're just rich. They're decadent. They’re super moisturizing, and a little goes a long way. The butter is actually about 75% plant butter, which is basically plant fats. They're very nutrient-dense, and packed with antioxidants. They're also packed with fatty acids, which create a barrier on the skin to trap moisture. While most moisturizers are water-based and evaporate, ours are strictly oil and butter based; there's no water put into them.
What inspired you to start the company in South Delta?
Aly: Well, I live in Tsawwassen now and (during the pandemic) we couldn't leave! I grew up here, and South Delta is not only where I spend all of my time, but it’s such a nice community to be a part of. Obviously, we sell our products to people all over the Lower Mainland, Canada, and the US, but production is all done here. I’m a mom, so with schedules and general upkeep, working where I live is easiest for me. Betty: We also love to support our South Delta community as much as possible by working with a circle of businesses here. Our labels are printed by Sure Copy in Ladner. Our website was built by Jessica Screeton & Melissa Sutherland and we also have accounting coaching calls with Megan from Willow Oak Business Consulting, all three local women I grew up with. It’s our own little community out here! Our products are sold online, but eventually we hope to get into more retailers in this area; we’d love to collaborate with different small businesses and create stronger connections.
You mentioned self-love and inclusivity, and the bean + butter Instagram features all body shapes and sizes.
Why is this important to you?
Aly: In the society we’ve grown up in and been conditioned to, there's always been a really specific idea of what beauty is supposed to be. I've watched other people I love—other women especially—hate themselves or hate their bodies, because they can't live up to some of these super unrealistic expectations. At some of my lowest times, I’ve found myself spending hundreds of dollars on products to get rid of things like stretch marks and body fat and cellulite and wrinkles and whatever else. We've been so conditioned to think that these things aren't normal, aren’t acceptable, or are unappealing; but that's just so not the case. Over the course of the last couple of years, I've come to understand how tightly the beauty industry is interwoven with people's insecurities. That's how they profit: by basically telling people that there's something wrong with them, but they can fix it. I found that disgusting. I didn't want to pour my money into something that supports that outlook for young girls, women, and people in general.
In creating our brand, I wanted to make a safe space where people can see images of bodies that look like theirs. It’s about normalizing your body and your skin. For example, you can have stretch marks even if you don't have a baby. And cellulite is completely normal because your body is ever-changing and weight gain is okay; it’s all just about making sure you're taking care of yourself. In addition to creating something that people felt good about putting on their skin, I wanted to create a brand that they felt good about backing—one that wasn't trying to profit off of their insecurities.
We've heard from customers that they can feel the love that goes into our products. And because we're a brand that stands behind body acceptance, people feel comforted when they use our products. And of course, getting decadent, luxurious products delivered to their door encourages self-care. It makes people want to carve out time for themselves. Ultimately, we want our customers to take time out of their day to just relax and do something good for themselves to make them feel more at home and comfortable in their skin.
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