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(Kelly Steffey and Hamilton Trimm/Contributed)

A simple, square black bottle with a gold embossed flower on it holds a precious product for an Alabama couple. The Clarity Oil, an Alabama-grown facial botanical oil, is the result of five years of hard work for Kelly Steffey and Hamilton Trimm. It’s the first (and currently only) product for their Trussville-based small business called Mila.

But their interest in sustainability, wellness, and growing goes back much further than that. Both Kelly and Hamilton have backgrounds in sustainable farming. Hamilton also specializes in herbalism and has trained with a prominent clinical herbalist in the South. He has established small farms and community gardens in Alabama, as well as Maryland. When the couple moved to their family farm 12 years ago, Kelly began growing fruits and vegetables. Eventually, their growing plots expanded, as did their interest—they focused on growing botanicals while also continuing to grow vegetables for a local food bank.

“We have always loved being creators and experimenters,” Kelly says. “Over the years, we’ve become increasingly interested in the plants we have growing around us and finding applications for them.”

Their mutual interest in wellness included an element of natural skincare. Kelly began to experiment with ways to extract the herbs they were growing and put them to different use. For the past five years, she has researched, tested, and refined methods for growing and extracting them.

The result? The Clarity Oil. 

(Kelly Steffey and Hamilton Trimm/Contributed)

Kelly and Hamilton spent three years developing the product and perfecting the formula with a team of European chemists. It begins in the ground in Alabama, with the planting of sustainably grown cucumber, hemp, and milk thistle seeds. They then cold-press the oils fresh for every batch in their Trussville lab. Each oil goes through a number of filtration and refining processes.

“We found after years of testing and experimenting that removing certain undesirable compounds from the oils made them perform better on skin,” Kelly explains. “For example, virgin hemp seed oil contains a great deal of the green pigment chlorophyll.  Chlorophyll acts as a pro-oxidant when exposed to light and the last thing we wanted in our formula were pro-oxidants. We use food-grade activated carbon from FSC certified hardwood and coconut shells to gently remove chlorophyll. What’s left behind is the purest, most exquisite oil.”

The oils, including cucumber seed and hemp seed oils, are blended with botanicals like violet leaf extract and high-performance actives like Vitamin C and Bakuchiol. Each box of The Clarity Oil lists the ingredients and designates where they are grown and pressed. Many of them are from Mila’s farm; the additional ones are from other trusted sources.

(Kelly Steffey and Hamilton Trimm/Contributed)

“We spent years vetting our sources to make sure we’re working with the highest quality raw materials from the very beginning,” Kelly says.

The Clarity Oil is fragrance free and rapidly absorbing. It’s meant to protect, balance, and nourish skin without feeling heavy and oily. 

“It brings clarity to the surface, leaving skin bright, plump, smooth, happy, and healthy,” Kelly says. “ We specifically optimized it for acne-prone skin but it benefits and works wonderfully for all skin types.”

While The Clarity Oil is the couple’s main focus right now, they plan to eventually expand their line. But with the dedication they put into ensuring each product is sustainable and high quality, they’re not in any rush to add to their line just yet.

“We love exploring new uses for our plants, so over the years we’ll continue to explore and create new products based on plants we have growing around us,” Kelly says. “We’re very intentional and each product will take a lot of time and effort for development so it won’t be a rapid expansion, but a very dedicated one.”

She says they’re currently interested in the antioxidant capacity of the peach blossoms they have each spring, so they’re planning to spend the coming year putting that ingredient to the test. In the meantime, they’re busy sharing The Clarity Oil with the people of Alabama, as well as shipping it from their lab to people around the country.

“We are so excited for the chance to utilize our farm, plants, and collective backgrounds in sustainable farming and herbalism to create something new,” Kelly says.