Stephanie Morimoto is about to get on a plane to New York City, where she’ll appear live on QVC selling pain relief spray and cream. “The only other times I did this were over Skype,” she says. “I can’t believe I’m actually going to be in the studio.”
Not long ago, the Lake View resident, 45, was in just the kind of pain that her wellness brand, Asutra, strives to soothe. She was working a stressful job in nonprofit fundraising that left her little time to do the things she loved: tending to her garden, going for a jog, and hanging out with her husband. “I was burned out,” she says. “When I quit, I learned to take care of myself. And through serendipity, I found how to share that with others.”
That serendipity was the opportunity to purchase Asutra in 2018. Its all-natural wellness products, primarily devoted to alleviating pain and getting good sleep, had long been Morimoto’s favorites. Now they’re Oprah’s, too. Sales of Asutra’s silk eye pillow increased eightfold when it made O’s favorite things list last year. And Venus Williams thinks so much of the products that she has come on board as a part owner and chief brand officer.
Since taking over, Morimoto, who runs the 11-person operation from an office on the Northwest Side, has accelerated a business that previously worked exclusively online. These days, key products like magnesium body butters and sprays are sold nationally at Target. And the company’s distribution has grown from zero to 6,300 stores, with more on the way: Asutra will be sold in select Walgreens locations beginning at the end of March.
It’s a heady time for Morimoto, who received the industry publication Beauty Independent’s 2021 Beacon Award for entrepreneurship. But she always finds a moment to take a breath.