DanvilleSanRamon.com

Living - November 30, 2007

Inventing Chloe & Jane

New body care products reflect friendship of the founders

by Jordan M. Doronila

Opposites attract. Laura Albin is an extrovert with moxie. Wendy Viscuglia is an introvert with structure. Together, the Danville moms formed a business - an extension of their 10-year friendship.

The entrepreneurs have started Chloe & Jane Inc., a brand of all-natural, luxurious body care products. They recently joined the Danville Area Chamber of Commerce, and they plan to launch their Web site Dec. 1.

"It's exciting that we are starting this company," said Albin, 40.

Their products include lotions, creams and body wash. Some of them are scented in lavender and chamomile. Chloe & Jane have short columns on the packaging that expose their eccentric habits, hopes and fears. Topics range from first dates to waxing and highlights.

Albin grew up in Lafayette but went to school in Martinez.

"It's pretty suburban," she said about her childhood environment.

She has traveled around the world, doing charity work in Africa, Europe, the Netherlands and Great Britain.

"I did a lot," she said. "I was a bit wild. It's not unlike me to take giant risks."

When she returned from her travels, she earned an English degree from California State University, Hayward and a master of fine arts in creative writing from St. Mary's College in Moraga. She taught writing classes and worked on her first novel.

She was married while going to school, and her first child was born in 1997, her second in 2000.

Viscuglia, 36, went to Sacramento State University and received a business degree.

"I put myself through school," she said.

She worked for several companies in sales, including Nordstrom and high-tech firms. She married and became a stay-at-home mom five to six years ago, and is raising three children.

Albin and Viscuglia met through their children, who attended the same daycare center. However, the two women were different.

"We are opposites," Albin said.

Albin is extroverted. She likes to go to Berkeley and watches television programs such as "Desperate Housewives," "Boston Legal" and even "Private Practice." She prefers wearing jeans and a plain top. She noted that in the past she was not much into beauty care products. Additionally, she enjoys reading Nick Hornby novels.

Viscuglia likes reading stories about redemption, forgiveness and transformation. She likes the popular novel, "The Kite Runner." She used to live in Fremont, and she recalled her naiveté in her interaction with a large African community. After reading the novel, she felt a great deal of compassion for people living in different worlds.

On the other hand, she enjoys accessorizing, shopping and buying high-end products.

"Wendy loves to shop," said Albin. "Department stores make me crazy."

Viscuglia is an introvert and prefers predictability.

"I like structure," she said. "I like being productive."

But they both said they shared common values: family, marriage, children and friendships.

Moreover, their differences complement each other.

"Wendy keeps me grounded," Albin said.

Viscuglia said Albin's penchant for taking risks attracts her.

They said their friendship is a vital part of their lives. Female friendships, they noted, are complex. Women tend to be empathetic, understanding and open.

"Women relationships can run deep," Albin said.

"Women are into relationships," added Viscuglia. "Women are complicated."

Albin said there's a payoff at the end of a quality female friendship. Their new business - Chloe & Jane - is one example of fruit harvested from their relationship.

Viscuglia came up with the product after returning from the spa - relaxed - last winter. She also returned from the spa with a Christmas gift list that topped 100, and she found herself compelled to bring her spa experience to others.

"I wanted to share this amazing, relaxing spa experience with my friends and family," she said. "I didn't know the first thing about making body care."

"Next thing, I'm in the kitchen mixing batches of sugar with pure essential oils, Shea butter and natural oils," she added. "I ended up gifting 100 sugar scrubs and creating a product I can't live without."

Albin tried her friend's body care mix and enjoyed it. They began discussing creating a business selling body care products in March. Viscuglia developed the product line, and Albin came up with the marketing plan.

"There was a light," Albin said. "This could be something."

"I've been longing for a sense of adventure," Viscuglia said.

They developed the brand Chloe & Jane based on their friendship. Chloe represents Viscuglia, the fashion expert. And Jane symbolizes Albin's logical side. They target people from their late 20s to their 40s.

Their husbands, who are involved in the software business, helped support the venture for the stay-at-home moms. The women are also developing a marketing strategy.

"We are in the infancy stages," Albin said.

The Danville mothers hope their business venture will mirror their friendship - and grow over the years.

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