Virginia Guarddon can’t remember her life without some sort of art.
Born in the Canary Islands of Spain, she started playing piano when she was 6. At 10, she came across work by the Spanish poet Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer and she was hooked.
Guarddon started keeping a diary of what she did every day. She started writing poems that would go on to be featured in a couple of books.
“Nothing that big,” she said. “But it’s always been part of my life.”
There’s something else that’s always been in her life: a type of skin lupus, giving her constant rashes all over body.
“All of my life, I tried to find ways to make it better,” Guarddon, 43, said. “And that led to trying to help others feel better about their skin.”
The quest took her to the U.S. in 1994, when she enrolled at an Oklahoma college as a foreign exchange student. She studied science and piano.
And then she began a career in skin care, working as anesthetician and later in sales.
Just like her favorite poems and musical numbers, she saw her day job as art.
“To me, skin is a form of art,” she said. “I love making women feel beautiful and making them feel comfortable within their own skin.”
Guarddon, who moved to Colorado in 2009, was most recently working as a regional sales manager for Glo Skin Beauty. During the pandemic, she got laid off.
From her cabin in Alma, she came up with an idea and she took a leap of faith to pursue it.
“I wanted to create something of my own,” she said. “I wanted to realize my dreams and not have to depend on anyone but myself.”
Her dream? Combining all of her passions into one.
The result is Poet’s Garden Apothecary, Guarddon’s own skin care line that she describes as high-quality, clean, vegan and “simple for the busy woman.” Additionally, the company strives to “support amazing poets and writers all across the world through helping their work be known,” according to its website.
Guarddon launched the online business (poetsgardenalchemist.com) in October.
“I’m trying to show that beauty that is not just skin deep,” she said. “It’s about our voice and how we express our voice.”
Guarddon teamed up with a laboratory to create her line of products, which she calls “skin poetry.” The products, made for every skin type, include an oil face cleanser, all-day serum, day cream and night cream.
“It’s so simple yet effective,” she says. “Compared with lines that have a million products, we’re trying to keep it simple.”
With each purchase, customers receive a custom poem from one of the company’s contributors. And some proceeds from the business go to the Poetry Foundation.
Guarddon says the poems could be about anything, but sets out to make the person’s day.
“It’s going to make them feel happy and good about themselves,” she said.
One example is a short poem she wrote. It reads, “In her smile, I see yellow and white daisies. I see the sun.”
In the first few months of running her business, Guarddon said, Poet’s Garden Alchemist is turning into an online movement for poets. She often hosts live poetry readings on Instagram.
“To me, skin care and poetry go together,” she says. “It’s about making people feel beautiful.”