Made by coworking: Ambiguous You

by Rebecca Curl

Have you ever picked up one of your favorite cosmetics and tried to read the ingredients? Chances are, you won’t make it past ingredient three without wondering what it is exactly you are putting on your skin. Studies have shown that skin absorbs up to 60% of products applied topically. That means mystery ingredient number three could be getting up close and personal with you, whether you like it or not.

Amber Buckley wanted to change that, so she created Ambiguous You, a line of all-natural, vegan and gluten-free bath and beauty care products. Finding such products can be difficult, but Buckley aims to take the stress out of hunting down vegan and gluten-free products with her web store and product line. Originally focused on bath products, Ambiguous You is now a supplier of all-natural skincare and mineral cosmetics.

A degree of careful research goes into each product. “Many plant-based ingredients work just as well, if not better than animal-derived ingredients,” says Buckley, who sticks with 100% vegan ingredients. Gluten-free products can require higher quality ingredients and, she says, “provide peace of mind for our customers with gluten sensitivities.” A majority of the company’s all-natural products are completely organic as well, and all leave out the controversial cosmetic ingredient talc due to its over-drying nature.

Cosmetic and skincare companies strive for customer satisfaction, but Buckley is one of the few to follow through by creating personalized products catered to the wants and needs of her loyal fanbase. She regularly sells unique unscented products, special scents, custom colors, and even nut-free products.

That individualized care is reinforced through the store’s name, which, Buckley explains is both a play on her own name and a reference to our own “unique interpretation of ourselves.”

From a young age, Buckley enjoyed creating her own beauty and spa concoctions. She continued making beauty products during and after earning a BFA at Columbus College of Art and Design. Soon, she began receiving requests from friends and family members and knew it was time to take the plunge into entrepreneurship.

With her decision to work on Ambiguous You full time, Buckley knew that she needed a change in her work environment. At home, “distractions can be like landmines,” she said, explaining her decision to try working out of a coworking space. She started working from The Salt Mines and finds it to be a perfect fit.

As Buckley put it, the more supportive of an environment you can place yourself in, the easier it will be to pull yourself back up when you struggle. “Most of us coworkers have battled for wifi at the coffee shop, played the silent game in the library, and sunk in deep into our own couches to get work done, but we have come together in a communal workspace and finally get the work done!” she said. She found it beneficial to immerse herself in a collaborative and enlightening atmosphere, and said that working alongside web designers and developers was tremendously helpful when she was building her company’s website.

She finds inspiration close at hand, and also looks to friends like Jeni Britton Baur who runs Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream of Columbus. “She’s such a strong businesswoman who has made her dreams a reality. I’ve personally seen her grow from a store in the North Market to a national brand, and it’s a good reminder to me that the only limits are the ones I create myself.”

In the next ten years, Buckley’s plan is to grow Ambiguous You into a regional or national brand. In the meantime, her most important piece of advice is “to enjoy your successes no matter how small.” As she demonstrates, our dream jobs and business ventures are within reach, with the right ingredients.

Ambiguous You products are available through Buckley’s Etsy store, in stores around Columbus, Ohio, and directly through the company’s website. Buckley also sells Ambiguous You products at festivals in order to make a more personal connection with her customers.


For more on companies, organizations and projects created by people who cowork, check out our series Made by Coworking.

Image credit: Photo courtesy of Ambiguous You.
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