Jade & Pearl is an ever-evolving company that creates natural products and unique gifts that are reusable, recyclable and sustainable.
Meet Gloria Starita
Founder and CEO of Jade & Pearl
When thinking of Gloria, the quote “well behaved women rarely make history” comes to mind. Never afraid to push boundaries, Gloria earned her master's degree in Psychology/Sociology and African American Studies at SUNY, helping to integrate African American Studies as the first Caucasian female enrolled in the program and through her teaching work in inner city schools. After attaining her PHD in African American Urban Studies, Gloria worked her way up to become the first female executive at Capitol Cable Vision, now Time Warner. Gloria then bought a farm in New York where she could raise her four children with her goats, chickens, and plenty of fresh vegetables.
In 1972, due to medical issues, Gloria began researching personal care products. Seeing the need for natural alternatives to products containing synthetic materials and harsh chemicals, Gloria started her first company selling sea sponges through local co-ops. In the mid 70’s, Gloria came to Florida where natural sponges were plentiful. Moving first to Micanopy and then to Gainesville, Gloria helped found the Hog Town Grainery Co-op, managing the juice bar there while continuing to develop her sponge business with the willing spongers of Tarpon Springs, who believed in her cause.
In addition to running a thriving sponge business, Gloria became adept at making healthy vegetarian meals, through her work as a personal chef for a disabled University of Florida Shands surgeon and his family. Her love for providing healthy food blossomed into the opening of the first juice bar at the Gainesville Regional airport. Always busy, Gloria also began cooking at the Blue Plate restaurant several nights per week. Sharing her passion for quality food and good nutrition, she eventually bought the restaurant, turning it into the iconic Magic Mushroom where customers could enjoy her wonderful vegetarian and vegan meals.
With the desire to pursue a more rural lifestyle, Gloria moved from Gainesville to Hawthorne. Once again medical issues, this time caused by deer fly and mosquito bites, spurred her innovative nature. Gloria began experimenting with insect repelling essential oils leading to the development of her all natural insect repellent Beat It!, which has now been available to the public for almost forty years.
Always seeing the need for natural alternatives, this incredible pioneer is continuously developing new products. Recently creating MaskerAid, our all-natural Mask Freshener, and reintroducing Happy Hands, our alcohol-free Hand and Surface Spray. Through Gloria’s thoughtful inventive ambition, Jade & Pearl has grown to become an ever-evolving company, creating all natural products for our ever-changing times.