A Paso Robles native is making a splash in the world of skincare. What started as a project in her college dorm room is now being sold in major retailers nationwide.
Acne has been a part of Rosen Skincare founder Jamika Martin's life since she was a pre-teen.
"I hated my skin. I would look in the mirror just start crying because I hated my skin so much," Martin said.
Through her teen years at Paso Robles High School and into college at UCLA, she tried countless prescriptions from dermatologists, esthetician treatments and drugstore acne products but her skin did not clear.
"I was in my second year in undergrad and I just remember finishing my second round of Accutane and a few months later, breaking out pretty severely," Martin said. "I just remember walking into that Target and saying, 'Oh wow, these are the exact same products and the exact same brands that I was shopping in sixth grade.'"
Back at her dorm room, Martin says she started learning about formulation online. She focused on clean, simple ingredients.
The result is over a dozen Rosen products designed to help clear acne and face scars from blemishes.
"Still to this day, [I'm] doing a ton of research and just trying to understand how can we truly innovate this space," she said.
Martin launched Rosen in 2017 after graduating from UCLA. She saw her biggest boost in sales last summer, following the national racial justice reckoning and support of black-owned businesses.
As a woman of color, Martin says she wants to normalize acne and show it does not discriminate.
"There's this sort of inherent assumption that our products are only for black people just because I'm black which is just super interesting because white-owned brands are not assumed to be only for white people," Martin said.
As of January, Rosen is now sold in about 250 Target stores nationwide. The products are also sold online at Target, Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie.
Fellow Paso Robles native Summer Loperena has watched Rosen grow since Martin hired her three years ago.
"It happened so fast. It's wild to see us all over the United States now," Loperena said. "It's pretty crazy to be part of something that's so much bigger than myself."
Atascadero boutique Black Sheep Finds is the only small business on the Central Coast that is currently carrying Rosen products but the owner says she is constantly restocking the shelves to keep up with local demand for the products.
For the seven-person Rosen team, feedback from customers is the most rewarding part of the job.
"We always get the 'You changed my life' message and that makes everything we do so worth it," Loperena said.
Martin's mission is to help acne-sufferers at all stages of life find clarity and confidence with the skin they're in.
"To see their journey's impacted and their skin impacted the way that I was and I wish I had been impacted in high school, is definitely super exciting and just fulfilling," Martin said.
Rosen Skincare is not dermatologist-formulated or tested but Martin says she receives important feedback from certified estheticians who test the products for safety and efficacy.