Interview with Jessica Morelli of Palermo Body

We talked with Jessica Morelli, the founder of Palermo Body, about mindfulness, her grandmother, and where to get some great Thai food in Brooklyn. 

What led you to create Palermo Body?

I fell in love with soapmaking as well as the philosophies and methods behind all-natural skin care about eight years ago. It became deeply important to me to create products that were effective, efficient, and sustainable to counter the synthetic and chemical-driven skin care market. Coming from a long line of entrepreneurs, I always knew I wanted to have a business of my own, and Palermo Body was a natural progression of a lot of the things I hold dear: truly natural skin care, smart and elegant design, female entrepreneurship, and care for each other and the environment.

Can you tell us a little about aromatherapy oils and how one should use yours? How are they different than a perfume or body fragrance oil?

Aromatherapy oils are a combination of essentials oils blended with a purpose, intention, or desired effect or feeling. Ours are formulated utilizing the unique grounding, focusing, calming, and energizing properties of particular essential oils to create blends that promote feelings of inner confidence, spontaneity, clarity, and tranquility. The oils are best used when put on warm areas of the body such as pulse points (wrists, neck, temples) and can also be applied to the chest around the nose even your and feet. The warmth radiates the aroma, giving you the opportunity to pause, take a deep breath, recenter, and refocus. Traditionally, perfumes and fragrance oils are used to create stronger scents that others may also enjoy. They’re also made to last all day or night. Although our blends may last a few hours our aromatherapy oils are more about taking a moment for yourself to reposition and seize the moment, so to speak. I bring an extensive knowledge and appreciation of essential oils and aromatherapy to the development of each oil blend so that they may be the most effective and personal to the wearer.

You speak of mindfulness and intention when it comes to crafting your products. How did that become part of your ethos?

A lot of those ideals came from my upbringing and my early appreciation for our planet and everything it gives us. I have also taken a 200-hour yoga certification and I find the daily practice of yoga lends beautifully to the creation of our products. I believe that for desired results in skin care, each ingredient must be selected with the purest intention. Mindfulness and the practice of focusing your awareness on the present moment is paramount to self care, which I find to be a major component our products and how they’re used. Each product encourages deep breaths.

We know your brand is inspired by your Nonna. Can you tell us a bit more about her and her connection to your skincare line?

She was an exceptional lady. Caring, but stern, strong, yet vulnerable. She looked at ingredient lists, composted everything she could, ate a clean, healthy diet, and really cared about what she was bringing into her home. I hope she would be proud of what I’ve created and strive to make products she would want to use. Everything Palermo Body is purely natural without exception, following her example. I often think of the time we spent together as I grew up and miss her. Wish I could have grown into a woman with her but am grateful for the time we had when I was a child and thankful for the memories and values she gave me.

You’re originally from the West Coast. What drew your to Brooklyn/New York? How and where do you like to spend time in BK when you’re not working at Palermo? Any favorite spots?

My dad’s side of the family are all native New Yorkers, and I was always drawn to the city while living in Los Angeles. When I moved, it felt like the right time in my life, if ever, to give it a try, and initially I moved thinking I’d live here for just a year or two. I ended up completely falling in love with New York and the pace of the city. Outside of business hours, I absolutely love spending time with good friends. I’m huge food and beverage enthusiast after working for some of the best restaurants in NYC, I love yoga and running, and making anything with my hands: ceramics, knitting, stationary, the list goes on! Some favorite spots are Samurai Papa for Ramen, Pok Pok and Uncle Boons for the best Northern Thai Food in NYC, Stonefruit Espresso + Kitchen, the view from the top of The Wythe Hotel at sunset, and McCarren Park on Wednesday Nights in the summertime when they show movies on the tennis courts.  

What’s next for Palermo?

An endeavor on the horizon for Palermo Body is to create a soap from which a portion of proceeds are donated in full to causes that align with our values. Namely, organizations like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU (the American Civil Liberties Union) deserve our collective attention and assistance. This is a passion project that I hope we’ll be able to get off the ground this year.

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