Made in Tribeca #1: Khushi

nicki-francis-by-tribeca-citizen“What goes on your body goes into your body,” says Nicki Francis, neatly summarizing the reason why she’s at her stove, stirring a saucepan filled with what looks like golden goo. (It’s actually yellow lanolin and a little beeswax to help the mixture solidify.) I had invited myself over to her Hudson Street home—she and her husband have lived in the same building for 15 years, though they recently moved to a gorgeous new apartment—so I could not just learn about her Khushi line of spa products but also see firsthand how she goes about making them.

khushi-saucepan-by-tribeca-citizenkhushi-pump-by-tribeca-citizenShe’s whipping up a batch of Khushi’s bestselling product, Healing Balm. “I started making it for dry hands and dry feet, but then people told me they were using it under their eyes, for rosacea, to help soothe bug bites,” she says. “I have customers who buy six at a time because it’s the only thing their kids will let them put on their eczema.” (I don’t usually notice people’s skin, but Francis’s glows, so she’s doing clearly something right.) While Healing Balm is primarily sold in four-ounce tubs, this batch will be for lip-gloss size pots, in part because Sweet Lily, over on West Broadway, offers a Healing Hands massage manicure that includes, as a bonus, a small container of the balm.

Khushi came about by accident. In 2003, Francis went home to Ohio to see her family over the holidays, and on a lark she and her sisters and her mother made some spa products. (“It was so much fun!” says her mother, who is in town on a visit.) The following year Francis didn’t go to Ohio, so she made the products at home. “I gave them to a ton of people as gifts, and many of them wanted to buy them.” Before she had kids, Francis was in the fashion industry, doing design and product development. As a result of her experience, she knew how to cost out the ingredients, and she began casually selling her products. “One day I was looking at my spreadsheet and I said to my husband, ‘I’m making money here.’”

khushi-geranium-oil-by-tribeca-citizenAs she adds olive oil infused with calendula (marigolds), shea oil, vegetable glycerin, and sweet almond oil, she recounts the trouble she had coming up with a name. “I had a designer all ready to get to work, but how can you come up with a logo if you don’t have a name? Everything was trademarked. One night, I was going to dinner with a friend from India, and I decided that when I got home I would just choose a name.” Fate intervened: At dinner, she asked her friend, “How do you say ‘happiness’ in India?” And Khushi was born.

She pauses the conversation to adds essential oils—lavender and geranium: “They’re so intense that you have to count the drops.”

nicki-francis-in-kitchen-by-tribeca-citizenFrom there, Khushi “just evolved.” Using a pipette to dose out the mixture into the little containers, Francis explains how she has had opportunities to grow the company, to take the manufacturing out of her apartment, “but that changes the commitment. My boys are my number-one priority. I don’t want this to consume me.” The only products that are created elsewhere are the soaps, made in Montana by a man who grows his own lavender, and the lotion, made by a woman in Oregon because it’s a bit too complicated to make in an apartment kitchen.

Half of the business is wholesale, and many of Francis’s clients found her via the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, where members sign a compact to produce with integrity. In Tribeca, Khushi products are sold at Sweet Lily, Euphoria Spa, and Kula Yoga Project; farther afield, they’re sold at at Jivamukti Yoga Center in Union Square and Kripalu in the Berkshires. People can also buy directly from—“and I do a lot of dropping off packages at the schoolyard,” says Francis.

healing-balm-dark-by-tribeca-citizenThe Healing Balm takes about an hour or so to solidify: “Sometimes I stick it in the fridge but mine’s too full right now,” a pitfall of working out of a home kitchen. And then there’s one last step: When all the containers are done and the lids have been screwed on, Francis says a blessing over them.

At, Healing Balm costs $4.50 for a small container and $18 for a four-ounce one.



  1. Fantastic…you and your products! Not only is the healing balm addictive, but your lip scrub, too!

  2. Way to go Nicki! I didn’t know you were in neighborhood stores – congrats!

  3. We love Nicki and Khushi. The healing balm is wonderful, as are so many of the other products. Thanks for the article