Jennifer Boukidis, owner and founder of Demetra Barrister, makes soap in her home kitchen in Fresno. What started out as a hobby has become a business and lifestyle brand.
Written by Frank Lopez
Though the old saying, “if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life” might ring true for some, others have to work to do what they love.
For Jennifer Boukidis, working hard is what allowed her to pursue a hobby she loves and turn it into a business.
Boukidis is the owner of Demetra Barrister, a lifestyle brand that sells handmade soaps, scrubs, salts, soaks, artisan jewelry and crafts. She handcrafts all of the products herself.
Going with a more holistic approach for her products, Boukidis uses the highest quality and natural ingredients.
After graduating from Fresno State, Boukidis moved to Orange County to attend law school and ended up living there for around 15 years. She has worked as a lawyer, a prosecutor and an in-house counsel for a company there.
As a “boomerang,” or one who returns back to their hometown from somewhere else, she realized a hobby would boom into a business.
In 2016 Boukidis returned to Fresno. With a bit more time on her hands, she wanted to pursue a hobby. With her interest in holistic lifestyles and natural remedies, she started with crafting and making homemade soaps.
“I thought, ‘I’m going to try my hand at soap,’ and thought that would be a good way to use natural essential oils and different things that have less toxins and chemicals. I just started making them, and I just loved it, and other people seemed to respond. I got better at making them and now it’s a thing,” Boukidis said.
By February 2017, Boukidis developed a line, started branding, built a website and got products into the gift shop of the Fresno Water Tower, True REST Float Spa, Vintage Hippy in Kernville, and she is always on the look out for other retailers to put her products in.
Boukidis says she’s noticed that more people are eager for care products with more natural ingredients, as opposed to years ago when such products might have seemed more “new age.”
The artisan jewelry sold at Demetra Barrister is handmade and designed by Boukidis and is made using natural materials such as semiprecious stones, gems and crystals, wood and metals.
The home décor and craft pieces are made using gathered driftwood, stones and crystals, metals, fabrics, blended polymer clays and other materials and supplies are locally sourced when possible.
Though Demetra Barrister wasn’t a booming money maker in the beginning, considering costs for materials, licensing, and insurance, but Boukidis says that currently the business is going through an upswing, and that she doesn’t necessarily do it just for the money, as she still works as an attorney, and a notary public/loan signing agent.
Most of the advertising for the business is done online through social media and word of mouth.
Boukidis hopes to one day open a brick-and-mortar store, get her products into more stores and expand the brand with more craft products and holistic items including incense burners and yoga mats to make it into more of a lifestyle brand.
If business were to pick up more she would hire some extra hands for help or protégés to learn the craft. She is also considering organizing “bathbomb parties” where people can learn how to make their own bath bombs and care products.
The business also has a charity called “DB Gives Back” that donates products from the company and proceeds from sales going to chosen organizations such as Wildland Firefighter Foundation and PINC – a non-profit consisting of women who support other nonprofits with a focus on women and children.