Summer Festivals

06 June, 2017 0 comments Leave a comment

Summer seems like a distant dream for so many months of the year in Minnesota. I am delighted that it still fills my heart with joy when it suddenly arrives, as if by surprise.

The Great Soap Company will be pitching our new tent at several events in and around Rochester this summer. We kicked off our festival scene with Art on the Ave on June 3, 2017. We were impressed with this group of super friendly, organized volunteers. This is the third year we have joined Pauly Bennett, of Dwell Local at AOA and we scored a spot beside the new sculpture. Aurora by Karl Friedrich was unveiled as the 13th permanent art installation in the Slatterly Park neighborhood. It was awesome to see the unveiling of Aurora.  I could feel the excitement of the families who will enjoy Karl’s vision for this evolving neighborhood every day, by simply looking out the window. It made me realize what a gift the Rochester Community has in the Slatterly Park neighborhood. It was a beautiful day for the event, sunny, with temperatures in the low 90’s. We really enjoyed the live music and I was impressed with all the interactive art activities for children; this event is truly a gem. If you have never gone you really need to. Once again, those awesome AOA volunteers came through and welcomed us to shut things down before 4 to beat a little summer thunder shower. We had the show on the road just in time to avoid a sudsy mess, big thank you to Pauly, Lori and Scott for helping us pack everything up so quickly.

We are off to a Great start with our summer festival mojo and I’m confident we will learn and grow with each show. We are really excited to be at Thursdays on First for the first time. Look for us June 22, July20 and August 17 at this cherished celebration of summer in Rochester. Check out the awesome interactive map on the TOF web site to find your favorite local businesses and exactly when and where to find them; pretty high tech. I believe everyone at the Great Soap Company would do a no rain dance to keep the rain away for our dip into outdoor venues. Please join us at Berne Wood-Fired Pizza Artisan Market on August 2. Jon and I have never experienced this Wednesday evening summer tradition but we’ve heard the buzz. All the profits from this completely volunteer operated event go to nonprofit causes in the community. A summer evening with music, pizza, and friends in beautiful southern Minnesota and giving back to the community, that’s priceless.  

TOF August 17 will be our summer finale.

We’ll kick things off in the fall at the Olmsted County Fair Grounds September 22 & 23. Weathered & Rusty Market always offers unique items for creative minds. A great variety of really nice vendors in the old limestone building give this show a really great vibe.

Ask about our newest products when you stop by our tent. We are excited for you to see the additions we’ve made to our display. The Great Soap Company is geared up to keep you clean and fresh this summer.

Farewell 2016

31 December, 2016 10 comments Leave a comment

I try to be a positive person, generally. Speaking personally, I found 2016 very trying, tiring and well, just sad really.
Jon’s father, Jerry Janet lost his battle with lung cancer in February 2016. Jerry spent his final days with his family in his home just as he wished. It was hard to say goodbye to the man who gave me such a wonderful husband. I was blessed to be able to tell him how grateful I am. There was so much love in the house that Jerry built the final days of his life. I know he felt it & took our love with him to the next place.
Still reeling from the loss of Jon’s father, my lifelong friend, Lori Reynolds lost her son Alex to depression in March. Suicide touched my life just as it has touched Alex’s son, Cohen’s life. The loss of Alex left me with a hole in my heart. My daughter Zoe and I got semicolon tattoos like a couple of hipsters to try to fill the hole but it was only punctuation. To honor Alex I remember that I can never know someone else’s pain, so I try to show kindness to everyone.
The Janet family said goodbye to our beloved cat, Isabella Ophelia (izzi b) in November. Izzi was a wild one. She let us hold and comfort her in her last days, which helped to bring us comfort and peace. We miss her.
2016 has been tiring. I am looking forward to working a little less for the world famous Mayo Clinic in 2017 and a little more for The Great Soap Company. Mayo has taught me to work with integrity for the last 25 years for which I will always be grateful. I am thankful for the huge art fair they throw at the Mayo Civic Center each November. The Mayo Craft Show is the super bowl of art fairs. It showcases the employees, volunteers and retirees more creative endeavors and supports small business in a beautiful way. The event offers the community the opportunity to find a variety of handmade gifts under one roof. We saw hundreds of customers this year, it was amazing! It was fun to hear about where you like to pick up our products, like; Dwell Local, Scrub Your Butt Soap Company, Treats and Treasures, and Urban Artifacts of Preston. It was awesome to make new connections with folks I interact with through my career at Mayo like Sue, who picks up our products at Hunt’s Drug. I had the pleasure of meeting two of Sue's children. I introduced myself as their mom’s cheerleader at the DAHLC. With Sue’s permission, I proudly told them that I support and encourage her early morning trips to the gym and what a great job she is doing of taking care of herself. It was pretty cool. The shows we do give me a unique opportunity to intermingle my carefully compartmentalized life. To talk about our passion for soap making with people who see us as Mayo employees everyday was a great opportunity for Jon and I. We enjoyed sharing the soap making part of our lives with the community at several shows and look forward to expanding our repertoire in 2017.   
I enjoyed sharing quotes with thousands of Mayo employees and their families at the DAHLC in colorful liquid chalk on stark black boards each day, again in 2016. One positive thought in the morning might change your entire day so I also send a (generally positive, occasionally cynical) ‘thought’… provoking email to over 400 people each day too. The kindness I feel from others in response to these small gestures sustains me. It reminds me that we are all more alike than we may appear.
Thank you for supporting our little Great Soap Company in 2016 – we look forward to cleaning you up in 2017 as we celebrate our 5th anniversary. Jon and I will be ringing in the New Year at home making Gin and Tonics three ways, in our Shaving puck, a 4 ounce bar soap and in a glass with ice and lime. Who knows? If we get really wild, you might see Gin & Tonic in our AAA Beard Oil in 2017. Celebrate responsibly. Cheers!


Smells like grandma

17 July, 2016 0 comments Leave a comment

I was reminded recently how powerful our sense of smell truly is and why that makes my job as a soap maker so fucking awesome.

Jon and I recently connected with some old friends with whom we had lost touch. We had the pleasure of meeting their daughter. She is beautiful, charming and funny, much like her mother. When the lovely young woman smelled our ‘straight up patchouli’ soap she was transported to her grandmother’s living room and a fond memory of grandma rubbing her back. When she described the vivid memory to us my heart was filled with joy. Our simple bar of natural soap invoked safety and comfort and memories of her grandmother.  Coincidentally, the first soap I ever made many years ago, reminded my brother Jeff of our grandma Austin. I called it ‘sunshine state patchouli’; it was scented with patchouli & orange essential oil with dried orange peel. For Jeff the soap conjured memories of a salve grandma used for cuts he acquired having grand adventures on their farm in Lanesboro.

I’m not a huge fan of lavender and we did not have any lavender soap in our line until a customer told me how the scent reminded her of her grandmother who she missed very much. I decided if I was going to make lavender soap, it has to be very special and the massage bar was born. Our massage bar begins with a layer of tapioca pearls to gently massage your skin followed by a layer of soap and poppy seeds to exfoliate and ends with a colored layer of smooth creamy soap; this special soap is a labor of love. ‘lavender fields’ is scented with a combination of lavender, bergamot and clary sage essential oils (all said to reduce anxiety) The scent has become so popular that we now make it in a regular 4 and 2 oz bar.

Chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven remind me of my awesome grandma Swiggum. I don’t think I’ll be making ‘chocolate chip cookie’ soap any time soon. Do any of our eleven scents hold a memory for you? We would love to hear how the scents of our products make you feel.  

Merry Christmas & Thank you!

20 December, 2015 0 comments Leave a comment

It has been an exciting season for the Great Soap Company. Thank you so much for coming out to see us at the shows this fall. It was great to hear your feedback. We are thrilled that you love our products and we can’t wait to show you what we are working on. It’s not too late to pick up Great Soap for a stocking stuffer.

Adourn {furniture rehab} carries our lovely specialty soaps, one of a kind gifts, and fabulous, unique furniture. You must check out Melissa’s charming shop on Main Street in Chatfield, Minnesota.

Autonomy Tattoo & body piercing has a nice selection of our products & some of our limited edition coffee oatmeal stout. Give yourself a little bling and talk to Ben about getting pierced while you’re there!

Dwell Local carries all of our products; Dwell is conveniently located on the corner of 7 Street & 6 Avenue in NW Rochester. Designer, Paul Bennett features local artist’s work and you will always find something new. Paul also makes clean burning soy candles in a variety of scents.

You can pick up Great Soap at Minnesota Joe's in Spring Valley Minnesota while you are shopping for your favorite outdoor enthusiasts.

Scrub your Butt Soap Company in the Kahler Grand subway has a large selection of Great Soap Company products and great selection of thoughtful gifts.

We hope you shop small this holiday season and invest in your community. It has been great working with these small businesses and building relationships with these wonderful, creative business owners.

We hope that you have found the perfect gifts this year for everyone you love. There is nothing better than watching our girls open their presents on Christmas. We found lovely, handmade pieces for each of them and can’t wait to give them each their unique gift and see the expressions on their faces. Thank you for shopping with us, A Very Merry Christmas & a Peaceful New Year to everyone from The Great Soap Company.

Beer & Venues

20 September, 2015 0 comments Leave a comment

     Jon and I are having fun mixing up some great craft beers from Derrick Chapman into our amazing ‘beered and body bars’. We also made some ‘Coffee Oatmeal Stout Soap’; same Great, limited edition soap we made for you last year, with the same Great scent! The smell is filling our house and I love it! It’s so warm and earthy, smells like fall.  Look for our beer soap at Dwell Local, Autonomy tattoo and on our website in October.

     We wanted to make sure you know where you can shop with us this 2015 holiday season. Save the dates and stop by and say hi.

September 24,25,26 – Weathered and Rusty Market (Olmsted County  Fairgrounds)

November 6,7 – Where the blacktop ends - (pre-view shopping night Nov 5th with ticket purchase for ovarian cancer)

November 21 – Mayo Clinic Employees craft show (Mayo Civic Auditorium)

December 5 – UU Handcrafted Bazaar (First Universalist Unitarian Church)

Please click on the links or ask us for more details on any of these shows. Hope to see you at the shows! 


Almond Oatmeal & Lavender Fields Massage bar

04 January, 2015 0 comments Leave a comment

These popular soaps are available in our catalog once again! You can find more 4 oz bars of Almond Oatmeal and Lavender Fields massage bar at Dwell Local this week. Can't wait that long? I bet Carlene has some at Scrub Your Butt Soap Co.!

Coffee Oatmeal Stout Soap

15 December, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

     Last minute shoppers are going to love our Limited Edition ‘Coffee Oatmeal Stout Soap’, available Thursday December 18th at Dwell Local and Autonomy Tattoo and body piercing. We added Minnesota brewed, Brau Brothers Moo Joos – oatmeal milk stout, to olive oil, coconut oil and organic palm oil to create an intoxicating lather.  We put a little coffee in the bottom layer and oatmeal in the top to gently exfoliate your skin. We scented our Limited edition stout soap with tobacco and bay leaf fragrance oil; we hope you love this special, rich, woody scent as much as we do.  Available December 18 on our website, Dwell local and Autonomy while supplies last! Enjoy this fine Minnesota brewed and re-brewed stout without losing your faculties! It’s good clean fun just in time for Christmas! Cheers!  


The Weathered & Rusty Market 2014

05 October, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

     Today is our last day at The Weathered & Rusty Market. Despite the 'lip balmy' temperatures, rain and wind we have had a lot of fun and met some great folks the past couple of days. We saw old friends and made new ones. We met returning customers who were given great soap as gifts and came back for more.
     It was fun making gift boxes with my daughters, Tia and Zoe. We honored our rescue dog “Lulah” on a couple boxes we donated to the silent auction for Small Dog Rescue of Minnesota. It felt really good to help raise some money for this important work in our community. Because we had recently lost our dog we wanted to do a little something extra for the cause and donated 10% of our profits from our sales Friday to Small Dog Rescue of Minnesota.
     We have had the best vendor neighbors at the Weathered & Rusty Market selling beautifully handmade products. I have been admiring their work and wish I could buy something from all of them. Zoe and I will highlight some of their amazing work on Instagram and Facebook this morning. If you haven't made it out to the Olmsted County fairgrounds yet, we hope to see you today!


17 August, 2014 1 comment Leave a comment

     I watched a women walking with a young girl. She was talking on her phone and hung up as they crossed the street. A second glance at the two found the woman on her phone again. It made me feel sad for both of them. Who knows? Perhaps the calls were very important; maybe she was dealing with a crisis. Maybe the time spent talking on the phone would have been better spent talking with the young girl she was walking with. It made me think about when my girls were 7 or eight... that time is gone, I wasn't on a cell phone, but was I listening to them?

     The otherwise engaged woman made me think of the passing of comic genius, Robin Williams. By encouraging our children to talk about their feelings and challenges, encouraging anyone to - couldn't that be life saving? Could hanging up our phones and engaging with our children and our neighbors, our communities and our families save lives? Robin William's life was such a gift to the world and will live on in his work. His death has become a gift of awareness through the media and everyone he touched that we need to hang up our phones and talk with our children, develop relationships and reach out to those who are struggling. Be kind to one another and make a difference in someone's day. Just a smile can mean so much, a kind word, or a gentle touch might be enough to make someone want to wake up another day. Don't we owe it to each other to pay attention to one another face to face and hand in hand?

     I will never get that time back with my daughters. All I have is today, to hang up my phone, put down my ipad, and shut off the TV. Tia (our oldest daughter) wasn't very enthusiastic about working the sidewalk sale at the drug store. When I dropped her off at work I told her you never know what folks are going through and just a smile can change someone's day, she has a lovely smile. I am done grumbling when Zoe asks me to French braid her hair, she looks so beautiful with a French braid & I get to spend time talking with her while my fingers fumble to create the knots. I will enjoy these rare captive moments with my amazing and capable daughters, they will never pass this way again.


Fresh Ink 2014

27 July, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

     While enjoying a lovely birthday manicure with Tia and Zoe, Aspen from Autonomy Tattoo called me to come in early for my appointment. I got there as soon as I could (without ruining my freshly polished ‘as green on the runway’ fingernails) for my tattoo from the gifted artist Brian Grover. He added some white sandalwood flowers (they are actually a grey blue, a lovely longer lasting, and I believe less painful, color) and juniper berries to my lower right arm. Brian beautifully framed the first tattoo he did for me 5 years ago, the tribute to my father, the tattoo that started this tradition. It was five years ago that I talked to him about completing a sleeve on a budget. Brian has been great to work with, and he's confident that we can meet my goal of finishing this project by my 50th. I completely trust his artistic vision and I can't wait to see what he does next. He must include some more juniper berries I love the way they look, the colors and textures are amazing! It is another beautiful piece of art from Mr. Grover. I am all ready anticipating the next one.

     Once again I am pampering my art investment with The Great Soap Company’s Hiker bar. This tattoo left me very swollen and a little bruised but it seems to be healing nicely. The slippery hiker bar feels great on my tender skin. I put a rubber glove on to wash the fresh ink every 2-3 hours pat it dry with a paper towel and apply a thin even layer of aquafour. It is important to me to take good care of my new art work and I believe in our natural product to do an excellent job of keeping it clean. My new tattoo inspired me to update our inventory at Autonomy Tattoo and body piercing, you can now pick up some of our latest and Greatest products there! Autonomy is conveniently located between Taco Bell and DQ on Broadway in Rochester.

     We are busy finding new ingredients to use in our products and we're cooking up a beer soap and some holiday favorites for you this fall. As always we are looking to keep it local so you might find Jon and me around town sampling, beers, ales and stouts. You will certainly find us at the rusty iron ranch festival on September 12 & 13th and we are working on lining up shows every month through the end of the year! Find dates and locations right here and on Facebook Instagram and Pinterest!

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