Friday, June 29, 2007

Athena Magazine

Athens, Georgia is supposed to be a cool town, although I've never been, I'd like to visit one day. Well, Athena magazine contacted us and wanted to try our Crush On You, which is really getting a lot of attention these days. Their tag line is "Women Embracing Life", and "Athena" is distributed in Athens and Atlanta, Georgia. I sent them some Crush and this is what they said in their mag:
"It smells so good, you won't know whether to eat it or put it on your body...give yourself a good, yummy cleaning with Crush On You Scrubby Wash."
Nice review, AND it is on their Top Ten list. Can't complain!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Making Bubble Rubble

Making Bubble Rubble is a labor intensive formulation, because everything is done by hand with no beaters or electricity and it is a delicate process. I always hated the idea of making the Bubble Rubble, but once I get into the groove, it actually is therapeutic. I mix together the powders and liquids (including the lemon essential oil) to form a sort of fluffy dough-like substance that smells like lemon meringue pie, and then knead, and knead until all is mixed perfectly together. One must mix it by hand with, of course, surgical gloves and the feel of it definitely brings me back to baking bread from scratch with my grandmother in Black Mountain, North Carolina.

I am not a baker anymore... not for a good 3 years. Wish I felt more inclined to bake from scratch, but once my kids started school full time, that was it for me. Now it is about the ease of it all, not the process. I am a fan of the slash and burn cookies, the cake mix, the pancake mix. So when I am formulating the Bubble Rubble, it brings me to a happy place where I get that "from scratch" goodness feeling without gaining weight or getting hot in the kitchen.

Normally we sell Bubble Rubble only to our wholesale/retailers, but I think I will bring the Lemon Bubble Rubble back in the game for everyone to be able to try it, because maybe I just need to go to back to my mixing roots.

So keep a look out. Coming soon.....

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mouth Watering Handmade Buttercrunch

I lived in rural Vermont for 6 months many years ago and loved the pure and simple products that were made there... Maple candy, maple sugar, maple syrup, maple cream, maple coated nuts, and my personal favorite, Mother Myrick's buttercrunch. Mother Myrick's is a small sweet smelling shop that are famous for their handmade sweets. Everything is made from scratch and I can tell you, I swear by the buttercrunch. It is the buttery-est, sweetest, most divine buttercrunch I have ever had the honor of having melt in my mouth.

So I suggest you run over to their website and have some delivered to you. Yes, it is expensive: $30.00 per pound, but you will fall in love and it will fill whatever void might be in your life.... :)

You can order online, call or fax it in. When you get some, please come back and tell me how I'll be putting you in the poor house from this bit of information I shared!

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Letter About El Faro

Back in May, I blogged about a great group, Friends Of El Faro, an organization who work with orphaned kids in Tijuana. My dear cousin, Leslie, told me all about the cause and her immense participation in it. Thought I'd share this letter from her to me:


Hi Jo Jo,

I just got back from spending yesterday in Rosarito and Tijuana. We had a big excursion and took the kids to Fox Studios Baja (where they filmed Titanic) then headed back to El Faro to hang out. I thought you’d like to see a few pictures of some of us with the kids, just a representative sampling. You must feel like you’re getting to know us a little by now!

Cooper Fan Club – Stephen & Hannah are our FOEF (Friends Of El Faro) staff. They met through FOEF, and are now married. Cooper is their 8-month-old son. Here with some kids at EF.

Dat Dat – Stephen playing one of the hand-clap games with the kids.

Gena & Jenny – Gena is your big Product Body fan. She and Jenny here in the toddler room.

James – On the EF playground with one of the boys.

JJ Silly – Juliette in the toddler room.

None of me. I’m the photographer! Thank you so much for supporting our kids! Can’t wait to see you in July!

Love you! -Les


Sunday, June 24, 2007


I like to mix it up. This blog was intended to be a place where I could share about the day to day life of a business owner... To give insight about the process of running a bath and body company, but I like to sprinkle in other topics like design, travel, food, etc. because life is not all business (even though it feels like it most times). And I like to share, something that all bloggers have in common. There are so many bloggers these days and I think we are all hoping to learn a bit from the writing process and clarify our own thoughts and to be listened to by other colleagues and peers.

I hope you enjoy my blog, and if nothing else, let it be a small peek into the life of me.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Working With Products That Are Ever Changing

Formulating and having this type of business can get frustrating and cause tension for me. I am always worried about the environment of our creations. Heat, oxygen, and water are enemies of body products in general. Any one of these elements can alter the composition and stability of the butters and oils, which is typically what I work with so I feel like I am always pushing the door from blowing open in a storm. Does that make sense?

Anyway, I've been working on new formulations to try to make a butter cream that contains oil and butters and I am just not happy with it. I don't want to have it be water-based and I need it to absorb quickly into the skin. I don't like feeling greasy when I moisturize, although the shea butter is buttery and people go crazy for it! One of the biggest concerns for businesses in this field is making sure to address all of the possible spoilage issues. I am trying to make a yummy cream that has no preservatives in it, but every unbutter-based cream is water-based. That being the case, one must have antimicrobial, and antifungal preservatives added or it will grow mold and bacteria and just be a pool of goo you wouldn't want to touch. (Remember, water is bad for these products.) There are natural preservatives, but they really only extend the shelf life by assisting in stabilizing the oils. Hence, my need to create a fluffy, light easy-to-absorb moisturizer that goes on easy and sinks in quickly. It is taking some time, I will tell you. I thought I was really close, but I ended up not liking the scent of my skin after awhile, due to it smelling kind of butter-like. Not a big fan of that oil stink. I have a super sensitive nose and I need a light and airy fragrance, not a looming, heavy one.

It would be easier if I created things that didn't change from the environment over time, like clothing, art, or jewelry, but because I love what I do and make, I have to just get better. I need to continue to create bath goodies, frustrations and all because the reality is that I take great enjoyment when I use a product I've made that I think is dynamite.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Saipua - Soap And Flowers

Saipua is derived from the Finnish word for soap, and it's also a really cute store in Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York where I lived about a block away a few years ago. A cute store, lovely products and beautiful flowers in my old neighborhood. You should go check out the shop online, or if you live in NYC, go stop in and see them.

They make handmade soaps wrapped in artistically designed handmade papers and create unique and stunning floral arrangements. Next time I visit, I will take a peek. I bet the place smells yummy!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Chanel Eyes

Just for pure fun, I am going to review a product. You know, beauty blogging for a moment. Let's pretend...

There's nothing better than when you are getting ready and you go to put your eye makeup on and the mascara actually does what it's supposed to do! No clumps or dry spots, and the experience of gently, smoothly spreading the black mass through your lashes was a delight for the first time in a long time. I felt like is was having a conditioning treatment. When I was completely ready to give myself a once-over, my eye caught my eye.

My eyes looked dazzling. And now I can conquer the world because I feel so pretty, oh so pretty, la la la la la la ... :)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

New Butters I've Tested This Week

I have become aware of some new butters that are being made and I got my hands on a few of them. Mmmmm. All butters I tried this week were infused with either lemon, tangerine, chamomile, green tea, lime, lavender and lemon grass. Orange Peel Oil has a cleansing and toning effect on skin and can improve oily, acne prone skin. The orange butter is derived from orange peel oil and orange peel wax, specifically from Florida oranges, which contains a high level of Bioflavonoids (polyphenols). Bioflavonoids have anti-cellulite and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, the chamomile butter, smells like Sleepy Time Tea. My personal favorite so far is the tangerine butter. So intense. I am still waiting for my samples of pumpkin seed butter and pistachio nut butter.

Oh boy! Guess who will be playing around in the formulary on Monday? :)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

My Alma Mater Is Closing

I attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio for four years and graduated a very proud receiver of their degree. I received an email yesterday from the Alumni Association stating that Antioch College will be closed effective July 2008 with plans to reopen in 2012 due to insufficient funding.

Now, what does one do when their college they graduated from goes under? I suppose I should secure my transcripts in case I ever need them.... (?). I learned a remarkable amount and grew up so much, both intellectually and personally. I learned how to really stand up to my beliefs and feel like I was being heard. It was a time of reflection, new perspectives, opening my mind and making interesting friends.

If you don't know Antioch, I shall shed a bit of light. Total student admission at one time was 650 students. Class sizes were small and almost everyone was a free spirited bell wearing hippies. (I shaved my legs, unlike the majority of women there, and I didn't wear bells and patchoulli or hugged trees.) Generally a "conformist individuality" mentality and stringently politically correct.

It's not empty yet, and maybe I should see it one last time before they shut their doors. Yellow Springs and Antioch will always have a place in my heart.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Space Shuttle Live

For all of you who don't live in Florida, watching the space shuttle take off is breathtaking. I have always been fascinated by space and the fact that we have figured out how to get out there, stay there and return back safely is pretty amazing. I have seen 3 space shuttles take off....always from many miles away, but still a phenomenal experience each time. I have seen it from Disney World, the beach and my front yard, which is about 100 miles from Cape Canaveral Kennedy Space Center.

Last night my husband and I watched a LIVE feed of the astronauts returning to the shuttle from a space walk and shutting the hatch. It blew me away. If you have any interest in that, this page will have live shots from the space station/Atlantis mission. Under the Public Channel header, select Watch with Quicktime. Go here to get there. Have fun. See history.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

We Are Cruelty Free. Always.

There is a lot of talk now about cosmetic companies becoming Cruelty Free. That is great news! But what were they doing in the first place? Have you been to the PETA site? (If you have a weak stomach....) Skin care companies putting products in rabbits eyes, so they can call it an "eye irritant"? Shameful. Why don't they just put it in their own eye?

I'll tell you a short story. When I was a first time mom, back in 1997, before I washed my daughter's hair with "tear-free, no sting" shampoo, I washed my own hair with it and purposefully let the suds run into my eyes which, by the way, didn't hurt, sting or irritate them. I used it for my baby from then on. That method of testing is what we should be doing as producers of products. Taking responsibility.

I am outraged and stunned by this business sometimes. Who even thinks to test on animals!? As a product manufacturer, the first thing I did was research. Research, research. Then I chose vendors who could supply me with raw materials that were naturally processed or minimally processed and that DON'T test on animals. In addition, I don't test on animals. My practice is this. I first test on myself, then my friends, and then when it is deemed lovely and safe, I let my kids use them, who, by the way, just can't get enough of any of it! (Especially the Crush On You. They can go through a whole jar in one bath. I think it is just too fun to touch and squish.)

I continue on a slightly different topic. On labels, we expect to get real information and make educated, socially responsible choices as consumers, but it is getting harder and harder these days because the amounts of claims jammed onto the label. I've noticed cosmetic jars stating "Formaldehyde free!" Who DOES have formaldehyde in their products? So if there were enough room on our labels, I would list a whole slew of what we are not, but we simply don't have the room. We are: formaldehyde free, petroleum free, cruelty free, PABA free, mercury free, lead free, etc, etc. The list is huge. I might tackle that one day whan I have too much time on my hands (time?).

A website everyone should look at is Skin Deep. They have listings of cosmetics, scrubs, moisturizers...etc. on the market that are not toxic all the way to the ones that contain high levels of toxicity. A very informative read, but I warn you... be careful, you may want to toss some of your medicine cabinet in the trash after you look at the list. Also, there is an interesting article called "Beauty To Die For" that says, "Several studies have linked long-time hair dye use to bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma."

Ahhhh, there is so much to learn. I will continue to soak it all up, because I need to constantly improve on our company, the products we make and the things we share. I hope these articles are interesting for you, as they are for me. I am fascinated by the whole thing.

Clay Mask

I tried a white kaolin clay mask the other night. Mixed two tablespoons of white clay to 1.5 tablespoons of water. Spread the paste on my face like butter on toast and then I let it dry while I watched Jeopardy on T.V. It felt good as it dried and tightened. I have a tendency to break out these days (hormones) and I never really know what I am supposed to do about it. Let it take its course and do nothing? I can't. If I try to dry my face out, my sebaceous glands over compensate and over produce oil and make me breakout even more. But my feeling is that if you do anything in moderation, it's gotta work, right?

I want to help my face look more clear and ultimately get soft and young looking sooner rather than later. I enjoyed the mask. My skin felt very soft after the treatment, but it didn't look any different. I am going to try it two more times this week and give you an update at that point, because it usually takes a few treatments of anything before one can see or feel a real difference.

Monday, June 4, 2007

New Scent For Summer - Rhubarb?

Actually, it's Rhubarb Citrus Explosion!

Imagine the blend of these: Fresh Rhubarb, Pink Grapefruit, Lemon, Valencia Oranges, Yuzu and other fruit extracts. I have created a new scent that, to me, is Summer heaven. Yum, sweet but tart. I don't like too sweet, it gets too boring too quick. Tart smells are more my speed, but the combo is nice.

I have it only available in Whipped Shea Butter for now. This one I think might be calling your name. I dare you... Oooooo I love creating new scents! So fun, so smelly good!

Friday, June 1, 2007

Potential International Distributors

That's a mouthful! We have been approached by two different countries overseas to be the exclusive distributor for Product Body in their countries. They sell to spas and other buyers of bath and body goodies. I am so hopeful that they love love love the products and their buyers love them, too. This could be very big for us, or fizzle out and turn to nothing. Sometimes the tension in the pit of my stomach creeps up to my chest and I have to remind myself to breathe. A little less disturbing is when the tension goes down to my thighs, which I figure the tightening of my thighs is helping them be firmer. Who needs skin firming ageless cream when you have tension and stress in one's life?

We have had more International interest than I thought we would through this whole process. I credit this to the internet and the access to reviews online. How is it that businesses that counted on personal recommendations ever succeeded before computers?

It is all so exciting, even if things don't pan out, the prospect of it is still a thrill!