Palermo Body's Jessica Morelli
“At Palermo Body, we believe in cultivating awareness and transparency around health and wellness. We are determined to bring safe and natural options to the forefront of the skincare industry. We do this by creating completely natural products with quality ingredients while making their benefits clear and accessible.”
What’s the Palermo origin story?
I’m originally a west coast native but has been living in New York City since 2010. I began making skincare products in 2008 when I found there to be so few natural options on the market and even fewer that were chic and beautiful. The philosophy behind Palermo Body began with my Sicilian Grandmother, Vincenza. My Nonna lived her entire life based on the foundation of natural holistic living while ingraining this value and tradition in me along the way. She taught me the importance of cooking with the freshest ingredients, how to garden, and natural remedies for bumps, burns, and beauty. Years later, when I began making my own skincare, I was inspired by my Nonna’s lifestyle to create a completely natural line of products. It only seemed fitting to tribute the brand to her by naming it Palermo Body, after the city in Sicily where she was from.
You mention your grandmother and her love of all things natural as a main inspiration to you and your brand – what are some of your best memories of learning from her?
Some of my clearest memories of her are in her garden. She grew all kinds of vegetables but I remember the tomatoes, garlic, and figs and pomegranates most clearly. She lived on a sprawling property which was very uncommon for where it was in Southern California. I also remember her love for animals. Her neighbors had horses that we would feed carrots and apples to and she once had a pet squirrel.
What part of your process do you get lost in?
Cutting soap, I could do it all day every day. We use guitar wires to get clean lines and even bars and it’s an incredibly meditative process. I don’t get to do it all that often anymore mostly because of time, but also because my team loves the process just as much as I do so I wouldn’t want to take the opportunity away from them to enjoy cutting soap that day.
5 things influencing your design process right now:
Describe your perfect self-care day from start to finish:
Starts with Meditation. Then work out followed by a long revitalizing shower (including a number of Palermo products of course). A massage, time to read, cook and spend with my partner and friends. Second Meditation followed by a simple and easy evening skincare routine with our products.
This full day so rarely happens but pieces of it happen all the time. I try to get as close to it as regularly as I can. Self-care for me and our customers isn’t necessarily about spending hours on pampering. It’s about finding those moments throughout your full, busy days that you can take for yourself. Our products fit into those moments.
If there was a song to describe your brand it would be:
Wildflowers - Tom Petty
What’s your favorite essential oil for:
An upset stomach: Ginger
Boosting energy: Grapefruit
Soothing a tired mind: Blue Yarrow
Seasonal allergy relief: Tea Tree
You’re based in Brooklyn but originally from the West coast. Tell us how both inspire you?
I once had a wise taxi driver explain when I asked him if he preferred his home country of Yemen or New York. He Replied “Each of them are like my hands, I need them both.” I knew exactly what he meant. LA means so much to me, I’ve lived all over the country and nowhere speaks to me the way both New York and LA do. I have both rooted in my heart and soul, and personality.
The procrastinator in me needs NYC
The anxious part of me needs LA
The business side of me needs NYC
The dreamer in me needs LA
My paternal side of my family are all New Yorkers so even as a child I had the New York mentality in my life. I figure this is why most people are surprised to hear I’m from LA, for better or worse. Many of the stereotypes of both New York and LA are true, but it really just depends on if you subscribe to them or not. Also, by accepting both places for what they can offer and not trying to turn them into something they couldn’t possibly be, brings a sense of ease and understanding to both places.
Who are your heroes and why?
Both of my grandmothers. My Nonna Vincenza’s dedication to natural living inspired Palermo but my paternal Grandmother, Dorothy, was the tenacious woman who gave me my drive. Growing up she always challenged me and, although difficult at the time, I think she did it because she saw strength in me I didn’t know was there. She was fiercely independent and never conformed to traditional standards of how women should behave. This is one of my favorite traits I learned from her.
What’s the best gift you ever received?
My introduction to meditation. I lived so many years looking for the sense of ease meditation brings. I don’t ever want to go back.
What’s the most cherished object in your home?
I love things, having them, loving them, using them. But honestly, the thing I cherish most about my home is having a happy and healthy living environment. It isn’t always the case for many people and it certainly wasn’t for me. So I the fact that I get to go home every day to a home I feel 100% comfortable and secure in means everything to me.