How did we get our start? This is the origin story of Prairie Soap Shack.
Back in 2018 when I was on maternity leave from nursing with our second son, I spent a lot of time outside watching our then 3 year old play in the trees and I remember the exact moment. That pivotal moment. I was examining the golden pine resin dripping down our 100 year old pine trees, in my grandparents old farm yard where we were living. I remember thinking "what is this stuff? It smells amazing. Can I make something with it?"... We then went inside and I googled it. The series of events unfolded over the next few weeks (because my curiosity and passion in life took over me) and I went from infusing resin in oil to make salve, researching how to make candles, researching more prairie plants, traditional Indigenous uses, and what else I could make.
Then one day my Mom said to me "I'm surprised you haven't tried making soap yet!" I suppose she suggested this being as I liked making things from scratch and had a 'natural home'. I was really intentional about what products I bought and what our family consumed on and in our bodies. “You’re right, I don’t know why I haven’t tried that yet!” I had been using natural bar soap for years already.
Okay Mom, challenge accepted. I then bought books, read so much online, ordered supplies, met soap makers at markets... and not long after, my first batch was made at midnight in an empty cream carton while my babes were sleeping.
I then developed an absolute passion for this creating... a complete mix of science, math and art. I devoured it. Simultaneously while indulging in another passion of mine of increasing my knowledge on prairie plants. It was a few months later when it dawned on me to merge my two passions- create all-natural skin and body care products using prairie plants. I eventually thought "Well, if I want to keep creating this, I better start selling it so I can justify making copious bars of soap!"
...Little did I know everything that starting a business would entail. My husband was supportive the whole time saying “Go for it!”. Our kids were good sleepers (God Bless Them) and he was working away at the time so I had quiet evenings to myself. I had the ambition every single night to stay awake till midnight or later, creating in my kitchen like a mad scientist, in our little farm house that was now bursting at the seams with jars, herbs, oils and soap. I managed my stress of solo-parenting and alone time with learning and developing my big ideas.
The past five years have brought not only formulating and making all my own products- learning the herbs (identifying, foraging, growing our own plants from seed indoors and transplanting to the garden, harvesting, drying, infusing), studying the ingredients I wanted to use (from rendering our own tallow to working with vegetable and nut oils), creating my own essential oil blends, experimenting with all the natural colourants (some successful and some fails), to eventually scaling my recipes to meet the demand. My husband has watched my processes and then designed and built my soap molds, soap cutters, soap stamper, soap tube extractor, then eventually even bigger soap molds. After a few years and a move to the farm, we have built a new studio space, curing room and packaging room as we absolutely outgrew our kitchen. We have made my own “Prairie Soap Shack” outbuilding for drying herbs and photography. We have designed our own packaging then worked with graphic designers, sourced packaging and all the materials. Then comes the business side of things- I built my own website, twice, learned how to use social media (instagram, facebook, pinterest and now tiktok), do email marketing and explore other online platforms. We write a column for a rural women magazine TrailblazHer, as well as being asked to be in Vogue and Vanity Fair, we have done podcast interviews, and will soon be on CityTV! We have incorporated our business and continue to expand our wholesale accounts and sell through our website, while also attending some markets. Somehow I wonder how there is time for all this, while also raising our two children and continuing to scratch cook and help manage our farm. But we make time for things we are passionate about.
Our Rural Woman Podcast Interview Here:
After five years, I realize that when you have an idea that leads to a new path in life (as I now run my business and have let my nursing license expire), when you have confidence and curiosity paired with ambition and support… There are possibilities and dreams.