The Diversity of Beauty in Oakland: Skincare by Feleciai

After 12 years feeling unsatisfied with her work as an Oakland-based real estate broker, Feleciai Favroth found her calling as an entrepreneur and esthetician. She was motivated to bring more diversity to the skincare and beauty industries. “It’s getting better,” she reflects, “but it’s nowhere near where it needs to be. I still see one-size-fits-all in magazines.”

When she made the first step toward her transformation by enrolling in Renaissance’s Business Planning class, she had a completely different idea in mind. Feleciai’s first business plan focused on becoming a personal stylist, but she abandoned it when she realized she hated shopping! It wasn’t until the following October of 2007 that she found her calling. She was taking a number of classes at Nova Studio in Point Richmond, learning to make soaps, scrubs, creams and other hand-crafted skincare products. Along with her sister, a physician, Feleciai created formulas using high-quality, organic, moisture-rich ingredients such as shea butter and jojoba oil. Her soaps stand out as multisensory works of art – jewel-like bars with beveled edges and swirls of earthy ochres and rustic blues. They leave the bather’s skin feeling soft, and scented with custom blends as found in her Eucalyptus Peppermint bar. With an excellent product and solid business skills in place, Skincare by Feleciai was born.

Her business is not a job, but part of the fabric of her life.

On a never-ending quest for improvement, Feleciai became the president of the trade association, Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild in 2013, and a licensed esthetician in the Fall of 2016. She hires three to four contractors regularly to help her wrap soaps in her Oakland facility, and works with a financial planner and an accountant as-needed. She is currently completely restructuring her company, rebranding with the help of a graphic designer, and trimming her product line from nearly 115 down to about 15.

Feleciai advises that owning a business isn’t the right choice for everyone. She admits that at times it takes an emotional toll, warning that you might find yourself alone, frustrated and ready to ‘throw in the towel.’ “There’s nothing wrong with a paycheck,” she tells aspiring-entrepreneurs. “You’ll know deep down inside if it’s right.” And Feleciai knows that it’s right for her.

Feleciai especially enjoys the financial and personal freedom afforded to her by owning her own business, and though she jokes about complaining when she takes work home at night, she says she’s satisfied because she’s driven by more than just money. Her business is not a job, but part of the fabric of her life. Describing her transition from a real estate broker to skin care professional and entrepreneur, she acknowledges, “this is me. All the other things I’ve done were not. You just do you.”

Skincare by Feleciai
Photo by Genessa Kealoha

Shop from Skincare by Feleciai online and at local farmers markets:




Farmers Markets

Fridays from 8 – 2 p.m at the corner of 9th & Washington, Old Oakland, CA

Sundays from  9 – 1 p.m at 5300 Claremont Avenue, Oakland, CA


Volunteer Spotlight: A Perspective on Renaissance From Two International Volunteers

By Genessa Kealoha

Two extraordinary interns were drawn to Renaissance, inspired by our work with local entrepreneurs. We got a look into why they came to Renaissance and what they plan to do next.

Xhorxha Nikolli (pronounced Georgia) is from Albania and has a Bachelors in Psychology and a background in social justice. Before coming to the US she worked with Global Care Albania, assisting low-income women and families. She volunteered with Renaissance from June-December 2016.

Photo Courtesy of Carlos Muller

Carlos Muller came to Renaissance through the Global Training Program, an internship sponsored by the Spanish Government. His role as Development and Evaluation Intern began in January 2017 and will last through July 2017. He has a Masters degree in Executive Development and has worked with Dannon and Ernst and Young in Spain.


What drew you to Renaissance?

XN: I found Renaissance through a friend who came to a Renaissance Women’s Network event. I did some research and really liked the mission, especially helping others. I have a background in nonprofits so it was a good fit.

CM: I came with the Global Training Program through the Spanish Government for six months. It’s the same program that Renaissance’s Impact Data Associate-Manager, Jon Jimenez came through. They pay for the internship and let me choose from a variety of companies anywhere in the world. I liked Renaissance’s nonprofit mission of entrepreneurship. Helping other people become economically independent is great. People need it here – it’s crazy the rent is so high!

Photo Courtesy of Xhorxha Nikolli

What has stood out to you about your experience at Renaissance?

XN: I now have a clearer image of what success looks like. I loved reading and writing the client stories. They were very successful, though everyone measures success differently. I got to see what it takes and it was eye-opening. Patience, hard work and good communication are important.

CM: That the help we’re giving is really helpful! Not only the one-on-one consultations, but the courses are great. You learn a lot and you really develop your idea towards success. Taking the Lean Startup class was great. The professors were very good. The six-week course began with startup and value proposition, followed by marketing, finance and student presentations.


What do you plan to do next?

XN: I have lots of plans. I want to make my own story of success and hard work. I eventually want to start my own Albanian shoe business. I want to start the business to provide a more rewarding workplace for all the women I was working with in Albania. They are massively underpaid, receiving 20 cents per pair of shoes which are sold for hundreds of euros.

CM: Next steps after the Internship: I want to build my own business selling backpacks and outdoor apparel, but first I would love to get some great experience and learn from the best companies: Patagonia, North Face… It’s very difficult to match an opportunity, but I will try as hard as I can!


Carlos and Xhorxha remind us that the entrepreneurial spirit and the drive to help others succeed is something people share across the world. We wish them the best in their next chapters wherever they may land.