I’m excited to introduce you to someone who has an amazing product for people looking to reduce their waste! A few months ago I wrote a post about making my own shampoo. That was before I found Natalie with Apple Valley Naturals!!!
Natalie makes shampoo and body bars. She also has a men’s bar that’s a shaving, shampoo and body bar (a couple of the other bars work great for shaving too)! My bathroom now has 3 bars- the Man 2.0 bar for my husband, the Little man bar for my son, and… well, I rotate between Basil Mint, Rhassoul and Avocado, and Chamomile and Orange Blossom! Super easy, super minimal and no waste. They come minimally packaged with just a paper wrap which you can recycle and they work great!!!
Natalie has agreed to answer a few questions for us and share some words of encouragement for our readers. I know you’ll enjoy hearing from her (and she’s included a little bonus for you below!!)
Hi Natalie, thanks for sharing your story with our readers today! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey to starting Apple Valley Natural Soap.
I’m a 48 yo mother of nine. My oldest is 21, married, and runs his own business – and my youngest is 3, messy, and runs the whole family. Three of my children are special needs kids. I’ve been blogging at visionary womanhood.com for 7 years, and I started my business journey 7 years ago as well. Interestingly, my blog and business have nothing in common, so I can’t really marry them and live happily ever after. Over the years I’ve debated just focusing on one and letting the other go, but I love them both so much, I can’t bear to part with either one.
One day almost eight years ago while walking through a department store that had a large display of high-end, homemade bath and beauty products, it struck me that if some person in Europe could do this, why couldn’t I? I spent the next six months learning how to make soap as well as studying other online businesses. It was time consuming, enjoyable, and costly. We didn’t have extra money, but I got a small monthly allowance to pay for necessities, and I made a little pin money on the side doing consumer testing for local companies. I said “no” to any other spending and invested all my money toward learning and experimenting.
Most of my learning was done online and in the library, but the experimenting required me to invest in ingredients and equipment. As I made soap, I either gave it away or sold it for a small amount of money, turning any profit around and investing it in more ingredients to make more soap. I lived frugally, but it was so enjoyable, I didn’t notice.
Toward the end of that six month period, a friend’s son asked if he could build a website for me. He was trying to put together his portfolio, and he needed some real projects. What would normally cost between two and four thousand dollars came to me free of charge, and this is really what enabled me to take my baby business to the world. My business growth has been consistent and steady. Every year I add new products and new soap choices. I think variety is the spice of life, and my customers think so too.
There aren’t a lot of shampoo bars on the market- tell us more about your feature product and how it compares to liquid shampoo.
Shampoo bars are a solid, biodegradable option for naturally cleansing the scalp and hair shaft. They can also be used on the body, which makes them a great option for minimalists. There is no packaging involved other than a paper label, which helps limit the build up of landfills. The pH of a shampoo bar is slightly alkaline, so it’s important to use an acid rinse (apple cider vinegar is the most popular choice) every so often to help balance the pH and eliminate any build up of product. We have an article on our website that explains how to use a shampoo bar. You do need to have soft water for them to work effectively.
What’s your favorite product?
Sugar scrubs. I use them in every shower. They smell amazing and leave my skin soft, smooth, and lightly scented. Of course I use my shampoo bars too. My favorites are the Peppermint Tea Tree, Bamboo Shampoo, and Rosemary Orange. We have over 50 varieties of soap to choose from, so there’s something for everyone!
What’s your best tip for people looking to reduce waste?
Look for companies that sell products with minimal packaging. When you’ve used up a product, think of ways you can reuse the container. I reuse my sugar scrub container over and over by making up a small batch of scrub right there in it. You can make a quick scrub by pouring some white or brown sugar in an 8-16 oz. jar, adding enough grape seed oil to saturate the sugar – and spritzing your favorite perfume into the mixture – stirring it in. When you run out – just do it again!
What is one word or phrase you wish every woman would embrace for herself?
Be courageous. Embrace the Truth. That’s two – but they really go hand in hand because it takes courage to embrace truth. You can apply this to so many areas of life. I think the greater our capacity to see reality and accept it – the good and the bad – whether it’s about ourselves our about our circumstances – the deeper our healing will be and the greater our courage will grow. Think about the people you admire most. What quality do they share? They are authentic. And authenticity is what you get when you put courage and truth together and live in them.
Any other tips or words of encouragement you want to share with our readers?
A lot of times women are so busy advocating for others that we forget to advocate for ourselves. Next to the God Who created you and loves you, you are your own best advocate. I am learning to trust my instincts and take risks. And when I fail, I’m learning to say to myself, “It’s okay. You learned something. Try again.” In that kind of safe environment, we can become all that God intended for us to become regardless of the challenges life spits at us.
Thanks so much for sharing your words of encouragement and the story of your business with us!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Olivia lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband and 4 year old son. She enjoys spending time in the mountains, studying about essential oils, natural remedies and herbs, as well as upcycling/ DIY projects. Olivia’s family made the move last year towards becoming a Zero Waste household. They have gotten down to one bathroom sized trashcan a month of garbage but hope to be totally Zero Waste by the end of 2015.
Like this? Check out the rest of our Waste Less and Be Green in 2015 series for more tips!