A woman with long curly black hair standing next to shelves that have plants on them.
Candace Parrish, Ph.D., is a three-time graduate of the Robertson School of Media and Culture at VCU and the founder of self-care company Odelia, Marie, & Patrice. (Courtesy of Candace Parrish and CPP Studio)

VCU grad Candace Parrish finds success with self-care company

Parrish, a professor at Penn State, is tapping into her creative side and honoring her family’s roots with her business that emphasizes sustainable, vegan products.

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Three-time Virginia Commonwealth University graduate Candace Parrish, Ph.D., embraced her family’s heritage and is building a sustainable beauty company.

Parrish launched Odelia, Marie, & Patrice, also known as OMandP, in 2018 after vowing to prioritize artistry. In 2019, she began experimenting with body butter and soap recipes. The company’s name is her grandmother’s middle name, her mother’s middle name, and her middle name in order. When family members learned about her venture into soap making, they informed her about her family’s roots in the beauty business. Her grandfather owned a barbershop, and her great-grandmother made soap.

“I started to learn a deeper history,” Parrish said. “I realized my family had roots in the self-care beauty industry. It was in the conscious mind and the unconscious mind.”

Besides soap, OMandP also sells lotions, lip balms, bath salts and candles. In March 2021, Candace opened a small studio space in West Chester, Pennsylvania. The products are also available on her website and on Amazon. The products are vegan, and Parrish said she is working toward being 100% plastic free.

“Given the impact that global warming has on black and brown communities, it’s especially important to have a sustainable beauty company, as a black-owned business,” Parrish said.

Merging academia and business

The journey to becoming a beauty company owner was long and winding. Parrish graduated from VCU with bachelor’s (2011) and master’s degrees (2013) from the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture, part of the College of Humanities and Sciences, with an emphasis on public relations. Deciding she wanted to pursue a career in academia, she entered the Media, Art and Text Ph.D. program, a cross-disciplinary program. She graduated in 2016 with her doctorate with an emphasis on visuals used in health communication.

“I essentially studied how PR functions in the health field, but with an interdisciplinary approach,” Parrish said. “I studied across communication, graphic design in the School of Arts and social and behavioral health on the MCV Campus.”

Since, she has been appointed to director and faculty positions at North Carolina Central University, Rollins College in Florida, and Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. Parrish eventually landed at Penn State University as an assistant professor of public relations and advertising. Her research focuses on the use of technology and visual elements such as infographics in health communication and PR. Parrish said she loves doing research and working with students.

Parrish has thought about starting an incubator for beauty products at Penn State. The program would help students learn about the beauty business through research.

“I want to merge the two worlds,” Parrish said. “I want to start a beauty incubator where students can conduct research and branding. We want large beauty brands to come to us for research.”

A creative outlet

Philanthropy is central to OMandP, and she created a line of candles to help fund the legal expenses for Marques Profice, a man sentenced to prison for murder as a teenager whose guilty verdict is being challenged.

She is planning to open a larger production facility for OMandP in the next year and is looking to add retail shops in Philadelphia and Orlando.

“Those are the two cities that have shown the greatest interest for the products and company,” Parrish said.

Even if the company grows, she wants to stay committed to the artisan roots. Everything is handmade, and she says it will remain that way.

“I prefer not to go the manufacturing route, because I am very serious about the integrity of our recipes,” Parrish said. “I want to make sure they are vegan and sustainable. When you contract with a manufacturing facility, there are so many things you can’t account for regarding sustainability and production.”

Parrish has always been creative. She was interested in fashion at an early age and considered pursuing a fashion design degree at VCU. Her beauty products are a way to tap into that creative side – while building a sustainable business she can be proud of.

“Artistry is the thing that keeps me happy and sane,” Parrish said.