It came to pass. Five years ago, my hubby and I embarked on an adventure that had no particular end goal, which ended up renewing us both and brings us satisfaction to this day! It’s a very unlikely story of how sadness was turned to joy; a death sentence was reversed, and our personal faith was made stronger. And yet, I can’t tell you how wonderful I felt the first time I said, “I have handmade soap for sale!”. At the time I was a full-time pharmacist most people looked at me with a funny smile and said, “Why are you doing THAT?”
We each came from our own familial dynasty of stubborn minded folks who just won’t give up. So, it was unusual that my husband actually went to the doctor because of symptoms he had been experiencing. After initial tests and confirmatory tests and right before the end of the year holidays, his neuologist walked into the examination room and proclaimed that he was showing early symptoms of Lou Gehrig disease or ALS – better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The rug was proverbially pulled out from under us. We were devastated; we didn’t tell our children or anyone else for that matter; it was a diagnosis that took some getting used to.
What Do We Do?
My hubby was losing weight and getting weaker. He couldn’t taste or smell. His legs would collapse beneath him and he had trouble sitting in a chair. Each day was a step backward. Something had to be done! More doctors, more tests and the answer was still the same. Days and nights around our house were pretty gloomy. Our research into the disease was telling us that one of the causative factors might be petrochemical exposure. Grasping at straws to do something when the diagnosis had no cure, only an end, we feverishly researched some more. our research educated us as to the items in our home that contained petrochemicals – cleaners, laundry detergent, hand soap, bath soap – are you seeing a trend here? And a still, small voice in my head said, “Make soap and put scripture on it.”
A Great Idea
Both of us being pharmacists, we had hundreds of hours of college courses in chemistry, biochemistry, physical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry and the list goes on…we decided to just look into making our own soap. The first soaps we made were laundry detergents – we weren’t quite ready to tackle the lye issue at that point. But curiosity gave way to courage and we began to make small batches of soap in our kitchen. Oh the messes we made! Laughter filled our home again and we began to look forward to our soapmaking sessions where he would sit at the kitchen bar with a pencil and stab at a giant calculator to give me ingredient measurements and we (neither of us an expert) would give each other sage advice about what the other one did wrong.
Handmade Soap for Sale!
With honest trepidation we began using our soapy creations in our attempt at living healthy naturally. Later, we began giving them to our closest friends The laundry soap we made cleaned our clothes better than the commercial detergent we had been using! The bath soaps didn’t leave our skin feeling sticky, leave residue in the shower or tub, and it smelled soooo much better than the drugstore brand. What we didn’t expect is that my painfully cracked heels (for which I had tried every treatment known to man) would heal and forevermore remain soft as a baby’s skin, my husbands dried, cracked fingers would no longer hurt so badly he had to wear bandaids, and we certainly didn’t expect our friends to whom we gave pounds of our soap would exclaim that this skin issue or that had amazingly gone away! After two years of trial and error (I reiterate…many messes) and at the encouragement of friends, we decided that we needed to share what we had discovered.
First we sold our soaps at markets and antique stores until finally, one day, we decided to convert my hubby’s enormous (now unused) shop into a soaping apothecary – complete with stainless steel tables, state of the art equipment (I could finally stop making soap in disinfected half gallon milk cartons), and a kitchen for cleanups.
How is it possible that a pharmacist of over 50 years could discover skin’s virtual fountain of youth in a simple bar of handmade soap? Even more astonishing, how is it possible that 4 years after a devastating diagnosis we would hear, “Sir, we don’t know WHAT you have, but you DO NOT have ALS!” A death sentence had been miraculously reversed! Was it the change to using essential oil-laden soaps and creams, was it discarding the mass-produced laundry detergent in favor of a simple soap, was it using nontoxic cleaners around the house, was it simple faith in following what a little voice said in our heads, “make soap”? Since those early experiments in soapmaking, I’ve become a Certified Soapmaker and continued my education in the art and science of handmade cosmetics. My husband, also a pharmacist, is still able to work full time although he continues not to be able to smell. I’ve since finally retired (which to a pharmacist it’s said – I just didn’t get refiled) and devote my days to developing products to improve skin care and then handcrafting, labeling and marketing. We still continue to make soap and have many loyal stockists and customers. I’ve become certified in the art and science of soapmaking being one of very few in our state. Together we’ve developed other products for skin care and health with positive results and showcased some of them at the recent Dallas Home and Gift Market gaining national exposure. today we continue to say proudly, “I have handmade soap for sale”! And, yes, every product does have a scripture on it!