Rhonda Demars “is doing her dream.” As an entrepreneur and president of her own company, which produces natural cosmetics and skincare products, Rhonda credits CSM with a share of her success, “I have to say if it wasn't for CSM and my teachers I wouldn't be where I am today!” Rhonda enrolled at CSM when she was in her late 30s with the goal of earning a degree in psychology. At that time, her philosophy was to take one class at a time while not concentrating on how long it would take to complete her degree. “Each class was a challenge but I was determined to finish. I was even awarded scholarships, which paid for books and supplies.”
Rhonda’s goals began to change and take shape as she progressed through CSM’s diverse general education curriculum. She enjoyed political science, history and art as well as fitness boot camp and yoga. Toward the end of her studies at CSM, Rhonda began making skincare products in her kitchen and experimenting with formulas. With a new focus for a potential career, Rhonda began to make connections between what she was learning at CSM and what she could apply to a skincare business.
“I am eternally grateful to Rebecca Alex, my art instructor who taught me how to blend flesh tones and how to paint. Those skills were used in formulating my mineral makeup and blending colors. Professor Rob Komas was also instrumental in my success. If it wasn't for his persistence that we apply equations to real life, I wouldn't be able to cost out my formulas and run my business efficiently with spreadsheets and other skills. I hadn't taken a math class since high school and he took the time to help me after class. My sociology professor Minu Mathur was a mentor and encouraged me to move forward with my studies. Her kindness and wisdom touched me deeply. I even consulted with my chemistry professor about formulas.”
One of her biggest accomplishments was graduating with honors from CSM. “My dad came from Massachusetts to attend the graduation ceremony which was memorable and validating,” says Rhonda. Her advice to students considering CSM: “Do not hesitate. The campus is completely renovated, friendly, affordable and you will have memories and skills that will last a life time. You never know where the path will lead or who you might meet.”
After graduation, Rhonda decided to pursue formulating skincare products full time and has created several lines of natural and organic products which she describes as “handmade with integrity and care” for various audiences including babies, teens and men, in addition to women of all ages. In 2009, she moved back to her native Massachusetts to formally launch her company, Progress in Health, Inc. Her flagship brand, Erzulie® Natural Cosmetics which she formulated herself, is in the top ten bestselling cosmetic stores on Etsy.com. Earlier this year, she and her cosmetic line were featured in a New York Times article, “Etsy, the Makeup Counterculture.” Rhonda says, “I truly believe that the education I received at CSM was an integral part of my success. I’m so passionate about what I do and I am making a difference.” To date, the company has sold more than 18,000 items online and Rhonda continues to formulate new products, including a proprietary mineral makeup. Most importantly, Rhonda is “doing her dream.” “I am so passionate about what I do and making a difference and I attribute my studies at CSM as the catalyst to my success!”