Chanele House lives many lives. She’s a self-described woman of faith, a wife, mother, entrepreneur—and full-time tractor-trailer driver.
Yes, that’s right.
Owner of a budding business, Shea Optimum, House spends her days creating 40 beauty products from her kitchen. At night, she sits in a semi and hauls hazardous materials from York to northern New Jersey. On Saturdays, she sets up her stand at the Broad Street Market’s brick building, donning technicolor eyeshadow and surrounded by a constant stream of customers.
“I have a tendency to step out of the box and try new things [because] I believe God has placed many talents in me,” House said.
House has used herbs and natural remedies in her home for years. After encouragement from her friends and family, she “stepped out on faith” with just $200 and started creating products from shea butter for men and women.
Since she started the business last October, House’s products have hit shelves in New York Beauty Supply in York, Hair Viva in Lancaster and the Broad Street Market.
House’s favorite product and bestseller is raw shea butter, packed into a hollow gourd and imported from Ghana. She also sells scented shea butters, oils, soaps and other naturally sourced products.
“A lot of people know about shea butter, but they don’t know about all of its benefits,” House said.
Shea butter is known to “repair, renew and protect all skin types,” among other things, according to the lid capping each of her containers. Customers rarely need to read the lengthy benefits, as House answers questions in great detail, giving personalized recommendations to every one of them.
At the Broad Street Market, House greets customers with a gleaming smile, which helps to attract passersby, including first-time customer Sheryl Watson. Watson said she’s worked for a body-care company in the past but prefers the lighter scent and natural source of Shea Optimum products. House’s outgoing personality was an added bonus, she said.
“She’s fun to be around,” Watson said. “She really makes you want to buy her products.”
House is discouraged by the way retail stores divisively separate beauty products by gender and ethnicity, so she markets Shea Optimum to everyone.
“I wanted to build a brand that everyone can benefit from,” she said.
House has two children, Nilah, 9, and Deon, 18. She and her husband, Derik, have just celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary.
“I’m juggling a full-time job and running a business, but with my faith and family, I know that I have everything I need for success,” she said.
House’s original idea of her life never included working as a full-time truck driver. Before switching to piloting a semi for A&S Kinard in 2009, House was a dental assistant for 11 years.
“I chose trucking to show people how gifted I am,” she said. “When I went from dentistry to trucking, it confirmed that I had many gifts and talents.”
She holds degrees in biblical studies and counseling and is a certified temperament and pastoral counselor. House said that, while she enjoyed her previous profession, she wants to spend her life pursuing all of the opportunities possible.
She chose the name Shea Optimum as a reminder of this. The name means getting the greatest use out of shea butter, as well as one’s talents and gifts, she said.
“I wanted my brand to speak life into a person when they come in contact with it,” she said. “I’m all about embracing what’s inside us.”
House’s skills and talents are geared to one goal—one day to fill an entire tractor-trailer with Shea Optimum products, with her logo plastered on the side. With the money she accrues from her business, she then would like to start a nonprofit organization.
“When you have a vision or a dream, you don’t stop until you’ve accomplished that dream,” she said.
Shea Optimum can be found on Saturdays in the Broad Street Market’s brick building.