By Kathleen Bolus The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Jessica Colvin started her bath and body products biz from her home seven years ago. Today she has a bustling brick and mortar location where customers can personally search for rare ingredients to make their own soaps and lotions.
Rocks of Himalayan salt, hibiscus flower powder and shea butter encased in large glass jars fill the shelves and are among the scents of Jessica Colvin's raw room in her State Street shop.
At the Pure Suds Co., Ms. Colvin, 33, of Ransom Twp., shares her love and knowledge of organic, sustainable and natural bath and body products with Northeast Pennsylvania.
The company opened seven years ago in Ms. Colvin's house. She began by making handmade body goods like soaps, bath bombs and bath teas as gifts for friends as a relief from two stressful jobs in the veterinary industry. Eventually, the company moved online before she opened the store two years ago.
Business continues to grow with international and national online customers, stops at various craft shops across the country and products in salons and businesses around the area.
The raw room is the cornerstone of the Pure Suds Co. Customers looking for rare ingredients to make their own soaps, lotions and deodorants, and other natural products, can browse the shelves of the store and purchase the ingredients in six quantities from 1 to 32 ounces.
"This room was very important to me as an entrepreneur and an artisan because I wanted it to be here for like-minded people in our area," Ms. Colvin said.
Products in eight different categories including clays, cosmetic additives, powdered botanicals and dried herbs and botanicals, butters and salts fill the room's shelves.
Through word of mouth, as well as hosting private parties, more people are becoming aware of what the company offers.
"I think the area is becoming more progressive," she said. "I think people are becoming more open minded to holistic options and homeopathic options and I think the key is just really getting people to understand that it's not that difficult to do these things on your own and it can be cost effective while using really high-grade ingredients."
Throughout the store Ms. Colvin sells many products unique to the area. Mediterranean Sea wool sponges, harvested from the Mediterranean Sea by a family from Jordan, are a staple at Pure Suds Co.
The sponges can last a human lifetime if used only for bathing, she said. At Pure Suds Co. the sponges are imbedded into homemade soaps. She also sells bath teas, soaps and essential oil sprays. The ground level store on State Street also features a room with about 30 different types of bath bombs.
The bombs, one of Ms. Colvin's more popular items, release different relaxing fragrances while sizzling in the bath. Products infused with lavender are also major sellers at Pure Suds Co.
"We use a specialty lavender essential oil, Hungarian Lavender, it's a little bit different than your classic French style lavender," she said, revealing one of her shop's trade secrets.
Debbie Miller keeps Ms. Colvin's products stocked at her salon, Salon 320 South. She enjoys the all-natural, no chemicals approach of the products and sells soap and shea butter whips.
Since Ms. Colvin began Pure Suds Co., Utopia Salon in Clarks Summit has sold her products including loofah and sea wool soaps, and salt and sugar scrubs.
"I love her entrepreneurial spirit," said Reagan Hayhurst, part owner of the salon. "The quality of her products only gets better with time. She does a lot of research on what she puts into her soap bars and other products too." Ms. Hayhurst, a skin care therapist added "everything is food grade so it's very good for the skin."
All the products used at Pure Suds Co. are purchased from wholesale suppliers that are "really on top of the sustainability of the products that they order and carry or they grow and harvest in their own fields," she said. One percent of Pure Suds Co.'s annual proceeds are donated to 1% for the Planet, a Vermont-based organization that donates to environmental groups.
Ms. Colvin also works with different humane organizations throughout the country and internationally that support the proper harvesting of products and environmental sustainability.
Two to three part-time employees work at Pure Suds Co. while Ms. Colvin's family helps out.