JENNIFER KOSINCHUK, owner of Miss Moonmaker all natural bath and body products.

JENNIFER KOSINCHUK, owner of Miss Moonmaker all natural bath and body products.

FREEPORT

Jennifer Kosinchuk looks at everyday life as a walk in the park. It’s a far cry from when Kosinchuk, a mother of one, spent a summer living in a Freeport park after finding herself homeless, divorced and struggling to run her business.

Kosinchuk suddenly found herself a single mother between 2008 and 2009; about the same time she began her business, Miss Moonmaker natural bath and body products. Educated as a graphic artist, Kosinchuk felt a pull to put her creativity in both products and packaging.

“I was into using natural products at that time and I started making all natural products. With my graphic design skills, I was able to make the products look really professional,” Kosinchuk said.

Kosinchuk said she did some research in her area to see what other businesses were doing. With a myriad soaps and lip balms flooding the market, she decided to take a different route, creating natural salves and bath fizzes.

One day, with a prototype in hand, complete with her creative flair for packaging, Kosinchuk strapped her year and a half old son to her back and marched into Whole Foods market in Portland.

Kosinchuk said, “I just walked in unannounced and said, can you use this?”

It just so happened the buyer for the market was out on the floor at that moment. Kosinchuk said they asked her if she had bar codes for her products — she said absolutely. They asked if she had liability insurance — she said absolutely. With the deal made on the spot, a triumphant Kosinchuk marched out of the store with her son still perched on her back when reality dawned on her.

“And so I walked out with the deal and I said, holy crap, I’ve got to get insurance, I’ve got to get bar codes,” Kosinchuk said. She’s now in her eighth year with Whole Foods.

When Kosinchuk’s divorce was finalized, it all started to fall apart.

“I lost my home — literally lost everything. I was homeless by my birthday. I was with my son and I was getting orders from Whole Foods and we were living in a tent in Winslow Park. It rained the first whole week we lived in that tent,” Kosinchuk said.

The rain didn’t dampen Kosinchuk’s sense of self-reliance though, as she approached a man in Gray whom she knew had space she could use to continue her business. She said she approached him, laid her situation on the line and he offered her the space. Still, Kosinchuk was living in a tent and had to lighten the load. Kosinchuk and her son would spend three weeks at Winslow Park.

“Anything that had to do with my identity, anything I had, I literally had to bring to the dump and open up my car at the Gray recycling center. I opened up the back of my car and I let people take my stuff. I couldn’t even afford to store it,” Kosinchuk said.

Educated, well-spoken and clothed, Kosinchuk had a hard time passing as a homeless person. She remembered going to a job interview in Portland. As she approached her car, she saw she had just received a $50 parking ticket. When she caught up with the officer, she explained her situation to him. She said the officer pointed to her vehicle and said, “With that car — yeah right.” Kosinchuk said the car was the only thing she got out of the divorce.

From Winslow Park, Kosinchuk said someone let her use their cottage in Harpswell. Universe Gym in Bath helped out as well, providing a room for Kosinchuk and her son below the gym as well as space to continue her business for about a month.

Now living in Yarmouth, Kosinchuk thanks the many people, agencies and churches who helped her and her son through this period.

She said she calls herself a success because through adversity, she continually strove to provide for her and her son. She has recently received the green light to look into expanding her market regionally with Whole Foods and while she says she’s not making a fortune, she still has the ability to make all of her son’s soccer games, and that’s what counts.

Even in business, Kosinchuk doesn’t take herself very seriously these days. With products named Fbomb, Mom’s Time Out and Lobsterman’s Salve-ation (“For stove-up skin”), Kosinchuk is determined to continue her walk in the park.

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