Twenty years fly by in soap making

2021 marks my 20th anniversary for making soap professionally in Missouri.

Had I known the effort to keep going in the soap world, would I have started? Honestly, probably not. It’s what I have known since I was a child back in the 60’s. I love soapmaking, don’t get me wrong but the business side is a completely different animal. From trademark battles with a major clothing manufacturer to the backend accounting, these are all things I never thought much about. It does seem like just a year or two ago I was pondering a name for my business. Sitting in the sunshine on our field the name Botanical Earth was born in June 2001. Then within 5 months I started another soap line, MoSoap based upon my grandmother’s recipes. Since the two brands were polar opposites for each other, I divided the businesses up and became MoHerbs. While that was all going on, I started Naturally Wicked and opened up wholesale so I have to say, I was pretty busy.

While I had a separate house on our property to make my products in, I always thought I would like to have a brick and mortar shop. Looking everywhere, I could never find a building to suit me. Then we came upon an auction and boom, we bought a rather large building for my soap shop.

The dream of owning a historic building was very romanticized than based in reality to say the least. I adore my home but it was too much with the soap shop in it so…..when the building across the street became available, I had to have it and could see it’s potential. It was the best decision ever! While my husband called it a “turd of a building”, I knew it could transform into a great soap shop. It wasn’t pretty when we bought it but, now I am amazed at it every day I come to work. And, yes I do work nearly everyday on something regarding soap!

My favorite thing is to look at how the labeling has changed for my brands over the years. MoSoap hasn’t changed in nearly 20 years, while just the Arcadia Valley line has drastically changed over 7 years – but that’s really thanks to adding Shanda, who is highly creative and fab.

So no big hoopla or party, I’m too tired to catch up on soaping to throw a party for myself. It’s just a personal milestone that I never even imagined. I can’t see myself doing anything else but I guess that’s not really true. A brewery and bakery in the works is taking a lot of my time now and hence why I am slow sometimes. I’m thankful to have found someone to carry on when it’s my time to go. It would have been somewhat sad just to close one day but I’m teaching Shanda everything I know to carry on and make it even better. It’s interesting that while I have done this for 20 years, it’s a been a flash it feels like, and to think it will go pass my term is more exciting to me that starting it 20 years ago.

An update on us

When I decided to go to online ordering only with the store closed I figured I wouldn’t be terribly busy. I was mistaken. Granted, soap is a good business to be in right now but I thought people wouldn’t be spending money. Thanks to everyone still supporting our small business, I am able to continue soaping and make sure Shanda has a paycheck. She’s working on marketing and future projects from home while I am filling orders and making fresh product. My husband Colin works in Webster Groves, MO and I asked him 2 weeks ago to take time off. Happily, his office let him have 2 weeks without pay to stay home and when this time is up the end of this week, he will be working from home here in Ironton. He left the metro area prior to any orders to stay home so he been home for 10 days now. I mention this because several people are concerned he is still working up in St. Louis. Nope, he has a honey-do list a mile and a half long so he’s not going anywhere soon if I can help it!

We were going to re-evaluate the situation April 15th, but with the current information we are looking at delaying any sort of soap shop opening until June. If sooner great, but for now it’s looking like June for us.

Over the next few days I will be putting some new soaps back online and restocking our popular ones. The system I have worked out with our postal team is that they will pick up from the outside of the shop when I have orders so I will not be walking orders down to the post office. The same with UPS pick ups also. This may add an extra day or so with shipping just so you know. I am hoping the postal service stays operating as I just saw today a discussion regarding this topic. Search Postal Service Coronavirus if you are interested.

I wanted to give you an up-date of what was going on with us here at the soap shop. Still working away and planning on fun things in the fun is our outlook.

Thanks as always,


An easy decision of support

My decision to close my soap shop temporarily to the public was easy. There was no question in my mind of what needed to be done. My deepest admiration goes to those on the front lines – the people keeping our grocery stores and pharmacies open, the healthcare professionals that are facing a workload I can’t imagine and our leaders that must make hard decisions.

Am I sad for having to do it? YOU BET! Things at the shop were rockin’ – new wholesalers, new customers and fun displays. But, I must help support my community leaders by not helping to spread the Covid-19.

When I saw that our community schools had closed, I realized the hardships on so many families, educators and others whose jobs are based on the schools. I can only imagine a small fraction of the behind the scenes logistics involved. If our local officials and educators felt it was time to take this step to help our community weather this issue and make the long term better, then what other decision could I make?

You all know the soap shop for it’s little bars of bubbly goodness you pick up and sniff, bath bombs you roll around in your hands and lots of conversations at the counter. What do people do when there’s a snow day or school is normally closed? Come to the soap shop and bring the whole family….we do quite well $$$ wise when there’s a school closure. So by closing the soap shop, it’s no longer an attractive nuisance to our community. If my community leaders feel it’s worth the sacrifice of our schools, then I will do my part to support them by not giving a needless venue to be a weak link in the spread.

It’s not the end of the world, and small business doesn’t have to fail. It’s time to be creative! How fun is that? I love a challenge! Heck we bought 3 dilapidated old buildings because I like challenges.

If you haven’t seen this Washington Post article and videos on how this funk spreads, check it out here:

I just wanted to explain why we have closed temporarily ahead of requirements that I believe will be coming. Sooner is better than later in this case. For me, the worst is you think I’m a crazy, over reacting old woman. I can live with that. So the online store is open, and feel free to shop away. You know I’ll hook you up with some freebies for ordering just like when you come in the shop! 🙂

Talk to you later!


A day of firsts

It’s the first day of spring.

Anyone that follows me on facebook knows I have been looking forward to planting again and the passing of cold.  Secretly, I will miss the snow glittering pass the street lights in the evenings as the town looks so peaceful.  It was just the cold feeling that bothered me.  Having lived in Florida and the deserts of Arabia growing up, I’m some what of a sun loving, heat person.  I use to make fun of the tourists that would come to Florida in November or January complaining about the cold.  What goes around, comes around….

Speaking of tourists, today is the first tourist coming to shop my soap store.  Actually it’s a couple that are snowbirds moving back home to Ohio and are coming out this way to pick up a soap order – I am humbled!   While I told them everything is in construction, they still wanted to come.  They have bought from me for years and wanted to see our progress – now while I’m still humbled, I’m adding scared to the list.

Figuring it a day of firsts, I am going to be pouring my first batch of the new Vintage Valley Soap in honor of Dorothy Reese.  It is going to be lavender scented soap with a hint of ylang ylang and litsea essential oils.  It’s one of my favorite combination as it’s a calming, yet not an overly floral blend with a crisp, bright note (think lemon like) from the litsea oil.  I tried to think up something that would be traditional and positive as that is how I view this amazing powerhouse of a woman I never met.  I plan on having a $1 of every bar to go towards her scholarship fund.  If anyone know of something else regarding education that might be good, let me know.  I have one planned for the AV Tigers, but that’s another day!

And speaking again for firsts and the Vintage Valley soaps, the first check today goes to the Arcadia Valley Food Pantry!  You wonderful, soap loving people have purchased all 88 bars that made up the first batch of Mina Sauk Handmade Soap of which a $1 of every sales go to the pantry, That’s impressive to me as people purchased the soap without even seeing a picture of it on line for the longest time!  The Iron County Historical Society will receive $42 again because of you!  Consider this your internet back patting my friends – you all are WONDERFUL supportive people of my business and the causes I value.

So while it’s still frosty this morning, know that sunny warmer days are ahead and everyone reading this has a bright, happy future in my world!

Cleaning Copper Pots

As we work on fixing the shop at 119 S Main, I am also starting to pull together some of my display items.  One of the items for the windows is my great, great grandmother’s washing tub which is all copper.  There’s a long story behind why it’s copper and why it had to be copper but that’s for another post.  I figured I would share how it’s been kept clean for a number of years.   Lemon trees grew around us plus being in Florida, a pot of salt water made for easy clean up.  But since I don’t have lemon trees in my backyard and miss the beach, I thought I would share an old Botanical Earth post I wrote in 2005 about how I keep my copper clean now living in Missouri.  So while my grandmother Mae taught me soap making, she also taught me how to be thrifty and easy on the environment. My grandmothers were eco-friendly, trendy natural care junkies and didn’t even know it!

cleaning copper with lemon
Starting off

#1 – Start with something that needs to be cleaned.  I’m using one of my sauce pans.  Since I do this all the time, the build up isn’t too heavy.  I do wash the pan first with soap and water to remove any grease film or burnt build up – so it’s a clean pot with a tarnished copper bottom.

Using Lemon to clean copper
Squeeze a lemon

# 2 With a freshly cut lemon wedge, or a splash of lemon juice concentrate, cover the copper area.  I use the actual lemon to do the washing – just squeeze the juice and smear it around.

You’ll start to notice a reaction right away the fresher the lemon juice. The photo was taken about 3 seconds after the lemon hit the pan.

Some people even use ketchup because of the acid. To me, lemon is less messy to use and smells better and it will also help brighten brass too if you have some items looking dull.

Lemon and salt

#3 – Now use simple table salt as a mild abrasive.  Sprinkle just a bit to start and if you are using the lemon wedge, just smear it around again.  Use a soft cloth or sponge too if you prefer.  Do not use wire scrubbies, and I don’t even like the plastic nylon scrubbys for this – gentle the better. Focus on any tough areas.  You don’t need fancy salts – they don’t work any better.

See the difference!
Difference between the cleaning

So there you have it – clean and uncleaned with just a bit of lemon juice and salt.  Repeat if necessary for tough spots.  Rinse with water and dry with a soft cloth.

Don’t throw the lemon away!  Fill a small bowl with water, drop the lemon in, and place in your microwave for 2 to 3 minutes.  The steam from the water will help loosen any splatters in the microwave, and it will smell lovely from the essential oil in the lemon rind!

Now, compost your lemon rind, you’re done cleaning.

There’s lots of helpful, inexpensive ways to effectively clean around the house without the toxic or synthetic cleaners.  I’ll try every Saturday (as that’s my clean up day) to post about cleaning option.

Enjoy this lovely day as tomorrow will remind us that we still have a few more days until Spring!


Welcome to Arcadia Valley Soap

It’s March.  It’s finally sunny.  It’s time to start fresh.

My tulips are beginning to poke their heads up through the previously frozen ground and that always reminds me that all things are possible.  So, welcome to the start of the Arcadia Valley Soap Company’s blog about all things soapy, herbal scented and wonderfully Missourian.

I’ve been handcrafting soap for quite some time now (pushing the 40 year mark) so I’ve worked under a couple of different names and brands.  Sometimes I have only done private label work for spas and resorts, sometimes simply custom work for families with allergies or special needs.  I love to make soap.  My grandmother did professionally and learned from her grandmother, so it’s in my blood to pick flowers, infuse oils and whip up a batch of something scented with natural ingredients. It’s what I do best, and what I always come back to in the end. Now that my husband and I live in the small town of Ironton, I am more at “home” than ever in the world.  Even prior to moving here in 2012, I knew I would live here and began designing soaps with the thought of changing the name of my business.  While I still make my other brands of soaps, I wanted a name that showed I was  committing to the Arcadia Valley for a long time.  Last year, I was lucky enough to purchase a tiny pink granite building built in the 1900’s that no one thought had potential, especially my husband! Instead of seeing a worn down, well past it’s prime old building, I saw what it could be – wonderful.  While most of this blog will be about soaping, it’s also about restoring hope and cheering up the world around me.

Our shopping site( )  is still under construction as I gather all the brands and products together, I hope you follow along on my little adventure.

Welcome to the Arcadia Valley Soap Co. !