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Business profile: Robert Nelson’s Native Reign

Native Reign 204OCALA, Fla. — Robert Nelson, owner of Native Reign, became an entrepreneur because he couldn’t find a cure for his dry scalp and realized he would have to do it himself.

He conducted research into natural versus commercial shampoos, found recipes for all-natural products, tweaked them to perfection and voilà; his scalp was clear of flaking.

“My scalp has always been really dry,” said Nelson, 18, who lives in Ocala. “Every shampoo I ever used made it horrible. I found out all the ingredients were really bad for you, so I came up with my own recipes.”

During his research, Nelson learned commercial soaps and shampoos are made with fats and lard, which he calls “nasty, nasty stuff.” Using only natural oils, including olive, bran, castor, palm and coconut, he concocted a variety of soaps. It took him several weeks to create more products and a few more months to refine them.

Nelson knew other people who share similar problems would be interested in his products, so he opened Native Reign in November 2013. The company offers shampoos, soaps, moisturizers, masks, scrubs and lip balm, all handmade by Nelson.

“It’s a lot like cooking,” said Nelson, who has dabbled in culinary creations since age 12.

Working from a lab in his home, Nelson experiments with various fragrances, essential waters and essential oils. He makes his own essential water by distilling the essence from plants grown in his backyard, including chamomile, lemon, marigold and patchouli. Essential water is lighter than essential oil but is used in the same way – mostly for healing properties and scents. He buys essential oils from plants he cannot grow, such as tea tree and eucalyptus, the two most frequently used in his products.

Like all glycerin soap, Native Reign’s are humectants, which add moisture to the skin. The company’s biggest sellers are the masculine-smelling Glacier soap and the Help specialty soap for eczema, psoriasis, cellulitis and other dry skin issues.

Nelson creates Native Reign soaps a couple pounds at a time, enough for 10 to 12 bars. He targets high-end consumers who want quality, all-natural products and plans to market the line at shops in Ocala. He now primarily sells online.

To continue marketing his business through other avenues, Nelson attended Tribal Fair in February. While there, he sold his products and made business contacts.

“It was fun,” Nelson said. “I met a lot of interesting people, which I don’t usually do.”

When Nelson’s family recently suffered from the flu, he created a soap made with eucalyptus, mint and essential oils to ease the symptoms and open up the nasal passages. He likens it to topical treatments commonly used for colds, but in all-natural soap form. He calls it Breathe Easy.

“It came out great,” Nelson said. “I had wanted to make it for a while, but hadn’t gotten to it. The flu kicked me in the butt though.”

He has plans for the company to become a full manufacturing company that also offers facial masks, mineral makeup and bath salts.

“I think five years is more than enough time to get to that point,” Nelson said.

His short-term goal is to increase traffic to the company’s website and to secure more orders by increasing Native Reign’s visibility on the Internet through social media sites. Native Reign products will soon be available for sale on Amazon.

For more information, or to place an order, visit

Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at