I am the brains and heart behind two indie ventures, The Little Flower Soap Co on Etsy
and Sweet Pea Floral Design
, a wedding and event floral company in Detroit, Michigan.
You can like and follow both here:
Sweet Pea Facebook
Sweet Pea Blog
Little Flower Facebook
How did you get involved into the craft of a beauty/body care line?
A completely kindred college roommate of mine, Anna Cools, had a family soap recipe that was absolutely to die for and after Anna moved away I suffered from awesome soap withdrawal.
I begged to learn the recipe. Anna and her sister Jen agreed to bring me on as an honorary family member and teach me the heirloom soap ways that their mother had perfected. I drove 8 hours North into Canada to a log cabin where a wood burning stove is used to cook all the food, heat the house, distil gallons of maple syrup and …… Make Soap!!
After my first few successful craft shows I was completely in love with the existentially romantic process of making and selling a product that my community embraced. It felt so Little House on the Prairie and way better than a desk job.
Over the years as a body care consumer I had stumbled over lip balms and tiger balms that were incredible but when they ran out I couldn’t find them again. So I decided to try and re create them myself by taking the lip balm recipes that everyone was passing around on Pinterest and jamming them full of the BEST ingredients like shea butter, cocoa butter, lanolin, vitamin E ,jojoba and more. Once these were a hit I was addicted to the thrill of making a product that people raved about so I just kept going.
How do you go about finding the perfect blend, scent, combination?
My husband is 3rd year DO (Med) student with a passion for herbs, vitamins, nutrition and natural health care. He helps me come up with my recipes using his incredible intuition (if you are familiar with kinesiology his process is similar). It may sound hippy dippy but I make Justin a list of the most natural and nourishing skin care ingredients available and he sits down and rights a killer recipe in ounces and grams. This process never fails and his recipes almost never need to be tweaked. Because he doesn’t care what the ingredients cost we end up with recipes that are kind of expensive to produce (full of st. johns wort and Arnica Oils) but arguably the best in our market.
I’m in charge of making sure everything smells great and looks pretty but is still completely natural. This is relatively easy because I prefer earthy essential oils and have always been grossed out by fake fragrances. True confessions I once put on Burts Bees bug repellent before a date because I thought it made a nice cologne (I’m a citronella fiend)
The color for the soaps is fun: Chlorophyll for green, Paprika for orange, Annatto seed powder for yellow, comfrey root powder for purple, French pink clay for red, Cambrian blue clay for etc.
I’m a nature o-holic so I wanted my packing to be minimal and any graphics to be au natural.To be completely honest I choose the papers that I found beautiful and just lucked into the fact that they were also 100% post consumer waste, acid free, and made completely from cotton scraps from garment districts in India and Thailand. So completely tree free paper.
Which flora/plant is your absolute favorite to work with & personal use
It sounds a little country kitsch but I LOVE lavender. My 3-year plan includes planting up my own mini lavender farm (maybe 50 or so bushes) to use in both soap making and floral design businesses. At stressful trade shows I catch myself picking up and deeply inhaling the lavender lemongrass soap over and over and I can feel my nerves settling when I smell it. Folks who use our muscle rescue balm have reported putting it on before bed or in the middle of the night and sleeping better… I think it’s the lavender oil.
Anyone who goes on your website will see you are also a florist, where did this bud from (pun!)
Haha! Well as you can see I am long winded so this may be another story for a different day but the short version is that I hated my job and prayed to St. Therese of Lisieux A.K.A. The Little Flower, and the name sake for the soap business. St. Therese saw to it that I got a new better job as floral team leader at Whole Foods Market, that went well so they sent me traveling to open new WF flower shops in Chicago and Toronto. I took home spoilage and practiced designing until I was confident enough to tackle friends weddings and then the wedding business exploded and I had to quit my day job. I now design about 40 weddings a year.
What projects are you currently working on/will be working on?
This is my favorite part, research and development is so rewarding. I am so excited to be working on a complete mama and baby body care line including belly balm, teething gel, mild soap, nursing balm, diaper creams etc. And on a separate note I’m hoping to release a few aromatherapy oils one for headaches and migraines, and one for help falling asleep.
My Lifestyle is
Lets call it folksy chic (ha ha!) My husband and I love the good stuff: farmers markets, micro brews, tent camping and hiking, jumping in the lake, road trips in the key of life (Stevie Wonder). We had a Motown cover band for our wedding reception but we obsess ourselves with reggae, traditional folk, bluegrass, blues, and the occasional hip hop when the lyrics are progressive. The long term lifestyle blueprints include a hoop house for growing our food, 3 or so munchkins to lavish our love upon, a country home outside of Ann Arbor and a dog or two.
5 Things that Heal me
- Going to Mass every week for a makeover
- Silence when I have the courage to allow it
- Sitting by a river the movement of the water kind of mutes my anxious mind
- Arnica the homeopathic remedy for trauma and bruising (like in this rescue balm)
- Snuggling, can’t get enough.
Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by nature in a big way lichens, feathers, nautilus shells, flowers obviously but specifically trillium, dogwood, ferns, moss, clouds and the like I think there is some universally beautiful math equation that we can all agree is easy on the eyes and since when can we all agree on anything?!
I’m inspired by Therese of Lisieux, The Little Flower and her little way in her autobiography The Story of a Soul Therese wrote, “ Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by …every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love.” (I think of this when emptying the dishwasher).
And my Mom who made sure that my sister and I felt empowered to do and be whatever we wanted and then backed it up with an unending stream of support in the form of time and talent. Mom works with me one day a week labeling and packing orders for the Little Flower Soap Co. And my Dad who is constantly getting out of his chair to do any little task that will make us more comfortable even though he has had double knee replacement surgery!! (heroes)
What your vices?
Coffee, Beer both are good with Sea Salt Caramel while ogling Jeff Bridges (the dude) and I’m obsessed with my hammock + still sleep with a pound puppy.
Where are you located and what places to you recommend/frequent?
Justin and I live in a suburb of Detroit and I commute to Ann Arbor for weddings. This area is FULL of amazing places but I particularly love:
· The beer garden at the Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti for its simple small town feel,
· Cliff Bells jazz club in Detroit for the intoxicatingly glamorous art deco ambiance,
· The Ann Arbor Ark a non profit folk music concert space that hosts and has hosted ALL of the greatest folk musicians and remains my favorite date spot.
· Bandemer Park, Ann Arbor where the University of Michigan rowing team pushes off from but a great semi secret swimming hole right in Downtown that feels like a little lake in the country.
In 5 years I want to
Be a mother of 3 living outside of Ann Arbor on several acres of land with a garage converted to a 4 season studio where I can work while the kids play in the yard nearby. I want to be the proud owner of a hoop house and raised veggie beds as well as a little perennial lavender and peony farm. Hoping to use the property to host community pot luck suppers and bonfires in our folksy chic way.
Dream vision board, what would your ideal day consist of:
My ideal day would start with coffee and a good book then snuggling then maybe a bloody mary on the patio of some fantastic crepes place followed by a vigorous hike to a scenic view, a nap in the hammock, finishing with a bourbon barrel aged stout by the fire where I play union songs and lullabies for my little ones on folk guitar…. more snuggling the end. Well you did say IDEAL J
One piece of advice is
This is impossible as an aspiring philosopher there is no way to narrow it to one piece of advice but here is an attempt:
Be patient and kind with yourself, your happiness is a gift and a treasure for the people around you.