Cassidy McAdams, 21, has purpose and drive. The local entrepreneur launched her line of handmade soaps and body scrubs, Naturals by Cassidy, in June in the middle of the pandemic. She also works full time as a medical assistant, takes courses to become a registered nurse, and volunteers as an EMT basic at Lake Anna Rescue Inc.
McAdams is inspired by her own experiences to help others and the community. She has had health challenges throughout her life, including a stroke in utero and 11 neck surgeries before the age of three.
She was also diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was seven, and at the age of 16, she got her thyroid removed.
After her thyroid surgery, McAdams was in the intensive care unit for five days and couldn’t talk or eat. She said the nurses and doctors didn’t treat her kindly and this experience inspired her to get into the medical field.
“That whole time, all the nurses there and the doctor that took care of me, they just acted like I was an inconvenience,” McAdams said. “And I don’t ever want to have somebody feel that way.”
She graduated from high school at the age of 16 and graduated from her medical assistant program at the age of 18. She’s been working ever since and is currently studying at South University in Richmond to earn her Bachelor of Arts in registered nursing.
McAdams started making her own soaps and body scrubs when store-bought products weren’t cutting it: They would aggravate her skin or just not work. She felt she was wasting money, so she decided to make her own products, using all-natural ingredients including African shea butter, goat’s milk, aloe vera, honey, and essential oils.
“I started using it myself, and then I took it to my coworkers because they were asking me about it,” she said. “They were like, you should do this as a business, and then it kind of just went from there.”
She hopes that, eventually, her six-month-old soap business will be able to sustain her financially as she finishes coursework for her degree.
“I started the business to be able to have a little nest egg to get to the point where I’m not working full-time and I’m able to still support myself and put myself through school,” she said.
Juggling all of her endeavors is “no joke,” but McAdams has a system. She works full-time Monday through Friday and typically has classes two or three times a week. She does homework in the evenings and then makes products for a few hours before bed. She can make more than 100 soaps and 40 jars of body scrub in a night.
“Right now, with classes being virtual, it’s not as unmanageable as one would think,” McAdams said. “But it does really teach you how to time-manage.”
Once the products are finished, McAdams is grateful to have the help of her mother, who packages the final products and prepares them for delivery.
In addition to working full-time, managing her own business, and going to college, McAdams also volunteers once a week with Lake Anna Rescue, to which she also donates a portion of her profits.
She recently started her Armor Line of products that use essential oils with antiviral, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, including a lotion stick, soap and facial or mask spray. Although these products are not proven to fight against COVID-19, they are germ-fighting. For every product from the Armor Line sold, McAdams donates around 5 percent of the purchase to Lake Anna Rescue.
“By the end of every two weeks or so, I’ll take that pot down to my station and donate it,” she said.
McAdams finds nursing to be more than just a job. She prioritizes making patients feel taken care of, heard, and respected.
“The people we need as our front-line workers are the people doing it for a purpose, not just to get a paycheck,” she said.