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Kait Turshen ’05 builds a business and lifestyle of her own design

Kait Turshen ’05

When Kait Turshen ’05 took the leap from working in the fashion and beauty industry in New York City to developing her own retail business in suburban Cleveland, she designed the new business to hew closely to her personal mission of leading a clean and wellness-forward life. 

Her business, SLFMKR, which Turshen calls “a modern apothecary” offers non-toxic, eco-friendly and cruelty-free skin care and makeup. A political science major at Wooster, after graduation Turshen gravitated to the fashion industry, working as an account executive and sales manager for a number of companies, including Tommy Hilfiger, BCBGMAXAZRIA, and Free People. 

“In my past corporate jobs, I worked for these big global brands,” she said, when asked about her favorite part of her work. “I always loved the people, the department store buyers, the e-commerce buyers. I really loved the relationship side of my work.” As a business owner who has set up a life far from the big city she lived in for 13 years, Turshen connects to people as customers and has a chance to educate them about her store’s approach to healthy living. “I love so many things about SLFMKR and being able to live this vision that I had,” she said. “The one that stands out the most is really connecting to people. When people come into the store, I can talk to them about the small changes they can make. I can help change someone’s life.” 

Entrepreneurship comes naturally to Turshen, who said “I always had a little side business. In grade school, I was selling friendship bracelets.” College gave her the chance to explore other cultures and mindsets and open her eyes to lots of options. Yes, she was a political science major, but “because of the way Wooster’s curriculum is structured and the way they format their learning style, I was able to make these pivots pretty easily,” she said. “At Wooster you’re not one of 500 kids in a lecture hall. You’re doing research and defending that research and understanding the research and using it. Do I use research from junior year now? No. But I can go into a job and see areas that need improvement and figure out a better way.” 

SLFMKR launched online and in a storefront in Shaker Heights, Ohio, in spring 2020, at a time when most businesses were struggling to stay open. Turshen and her husband moved back to Turshen’s home state of Ohio in 2019 so they could be closer to her family, and her decision to open a business came after getting a sense of the retail landscape in Greater Cleveland. Turshen’s business has a robust online presence that accounts for a fair share of her business, but she knew opening a brick and-mortar store during a global pandemic was risky. So far, though, sales have been strong and Turshen has plans to add more staff this year. Turshen is confident because she knows the industry, marketing, and how to build relationships with vendors. And she knows how to fill a niche in the market. SLFMKR challenges customers to “change the definition of self-made,” by which she means that money and objects aren’t the only measure of success. “To me, being self-made is achieving health and wellness,” Turshen said. 

Published in the Wooster Magazine in Spring 2021

Posted in Alumni on March 16, 2021.


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Related Areas of Study

Political Science

The study of power, with concentrations in U.S. politics, international relations, political theory and comparative politics.

Major Minor

Entrepreneurship

Identify opportunities and solutions that have value, then communicate that value to others

Pathway

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