Brandi Andres has always believed in signs. And to Andres, a long trail of signs has led her to the opening of The Wellest, Long Beach’s newest hub for clean beauty, sustainable household products, non-alcoholic beverages and more.

A few years ago, Andres was experiencing a few lifestyle-related issues—her skin care products were causing pain and inflammation, and she had developed a glucose intolerance that made eating and drinking more of a challenge.

It wasn’t long before Andres became immersed in research on what ingredients go into skin care, household products, and food; meanwhile, she enrolled in a course to learn about the conservation and taxonomy of animals and plants. The impacts of palm oil—an ingredient commonly found in many foods, cosmetics and cleaning products—which include deforestation and destruction of wild habitats for orangutans, struck her in particular.

“It just opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities of how I could change my lifestyle habits based on just reading the ingredients in products and understanding what I was putting on my body, in my body, and what I was surrounding myself with,” Andres said.

A woman with a blue shirt and white pants sits on a blue couch. Art is on the wall behind her.
The Wellest founder Brandi Andres sits in the store’s lounge space on July 19, 2023. Her vision for the business includes creating a true community space, and for that reason, the storefront includes bar seating and outdoor seating as well. Photo by Tess Kazenoff.

Andres knew it was time for a change—not just in her own wellness habits, but in how she could support her friends and family, and even complete strangers, in their journeys.

Although she had worked in marketing, communications and creative production for the past 15 years, it was time for a career pivot.

To Andres, The Wellest is the culmination of what she loves, what she does in her spare time, and her lifelong connection to nature, all of which “really just made me realize that this is my life path,” she said.

Beginning first with weekend pop-ups and street fairs and about five products she was already familiar with in tow, The Wellest was born out of Andres’ deep dive into all things wellness and sustainability.

After moving into a local retail collective, in 2021 Andres launched The Wellest’s digital storefront, and in April, she officially opened a brick-and-mortar space on East Broadway, complete with a three-seat tasting bar, a lounge area and outdoor seating to enjoy The Wellest’s robust array of non-alcoholic beverages.

The space is designed to be a warm and welcoming experience, as if guests are being welcomed into her home, explained Andres, who envisions the business as someday expanding to become a true community space.

A row of (non-alcoholic) wine bottles sit on a shelf.
The Wellest includes a variety of non-alcoholic wine, beer, and “spirits” like Spiritless, Ritual Zero Proof, Ghia, Athletic Brewing, California-crafted Sovi and Australian NON wines, plus adaptogenic apéritifs like Katy Perry’s De Soi. New offerings are added each week and will soon include herbal elixirs, cocktail mixers, bitters, and all-natural fruit simple syrups. Guests are able to utilize a lounge space, a sidewalk patio and a three-seat community bar. Photo by Tess Kazenoff.

While most people typically associate the “green movement” with large cities like Los Angeles or New York, Long Beach has a growing movement of its own, said Andres, who grew up in Long Beach.

Long Beach is “overflowing with people who care, care about the beaches, care about taking care of one another. It’s a community-based kind of place,” said Andres. “I just feel so overwhelmed with positivity about the way that the community has really gathered around what I’m doing here, and welcomed me. … I’ve had people say, ‘This is exactly what I needed. This is exactly what the community needed.’”

With The Wellest, Andres takes the guesswork out of what is truly “sustainable,” “clean,” or “green,” all labels that can often be used for marketing but don’t always come with transparency about what qualifies the product as such, she explained.

While Andres was able to dedicate her efforts over the years to digging through books, scientific magazines and even an ingredient dictionary, she recognized that most consumers don’t have the same amount of time to decipher complicated, unpronounceable ingredients and their impacts, she said.

“If a product is even advertised as green or clean, I don’t take it at that level. I reach out to the company and I say, ‘What makes you green? Your ingredients list says perfume, can you share more about … what’s making up that perfume, or that scent?’ I’m doing that extra step to help bring in products that I believe in, and that I believe the consumer can trust,” Andres said.

White necklaces hang on a wooden jewelry stand on a white table. There are other necklaces, bracelets, and earrings as well.
Brandi Andres considers how brands approach social responsibility, health and wellness, animal welfare, and conservation when selecting products to offer at The Wellest, she says. Customers can find products made of recycled materials and non-toxic ingredients, alcohol-free beverages, and brands that are women-owned, cruelty-free, fair trade, BIPOC-owned, and more. Andres says she also loves featuring brands with uplifting and inspiring stories. Photo by Tess Kazenoff.

To Andres, her mission is simply to support a sustainable lifestyle, a concept that extends to fair-trade products, and demonstrating the value of conservation as well.

“I believe that we’re all connected, that humans are connected to the earth and to animals, and if one thing that is out of sync, if one thing is not working in the right way, it kind of knocks off the synchronicity of everything else,” Andres said.

While cost can sometimes be a barrier, and there certainly are more premium, expensive products in the skin care and alcohol industries, and across every market, Andres said she aims to make The Wellest an inclusive space with items at every price point. Customers can even peruse items such as clothing, jewelry and accessories, while knowing that they’re supporting products that are women-owned, cruelty-free, fair-trade, BIPOC-owned and more.

“I want to give anyone who walks into the store the ability to feel like they can buy something,” Andres said. “There are products that I sell that are under $4. There are products that I sell that are nearing 100 or over 100.”

Andres noted that buying a reusable product, such as beeswax cloths that can be used in place of plastic wrap or plastic bags, while costlier than one package of the single-use version, quickly save you money over time, because you won’t have to continue re-purchasing replacements, she said. And even if they do eventually get thrown away (although hers have lasted for a few years now, she said), they’re made of cloth, and unlike their plastic counterparts, are biodegradable.

“Everyone has their thing in their life that they’re trying to work on. For some people, maybe it’s related to beverages. For some people, maybe it’s an environmental journey. For others, maybe it’s a skin care journey. And I think this space really answers a lot of those questions for people,” Andres said. “You could come in here and then discover other ways that you can really improve your life and the community and the world around you by just supporting businesses that are thinking about that, and so I think that’s a really powerful thing to bring it all under one space.”

“It’s a place to explore and discover, so if you’re curious about clean skin care, if you’re curious about fair-trade, if you’re curious about non-alcoholic beverages—it’s here,” Andres added.

Whether it’s trying out the beeswax wraps, or a fair-trade lip balm made in Zambia by beekeepers, there’s a story behind every item, Andres said.

“Come and learn the stories, understand the heart and soul that are going into making some of these products because some of the stories are just amazing,” Andres said. “And I’m happy to share and talk about it all.”

The Wellest is located at 3226 E. Broadway and is open on Tuesdays to Thursdays from noon to 7 p.m., on Fridays from noon to 7:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.