29 June, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

        Thank you for your web orders! With your help we were able to double our donation to Angela Jackson and AFSP. Angela reported that the walk in Seattle was a little rainy and AMAZING! She and Kayla's Godmother walked to honor Kayla on June 14th. Angela raised almost $2,500 for suicide prevention and awareness. We are so grateful to Angela for walking and to our customers for supporting her!

Grateful that these baby robins survived our recent storms.

    Change Project

    04 May, 2014 6 comments Leave a comment

         I was grateful when a friend gave me a Barnes & Noble gift card and had a book in mind, one that I had given my sister Brittany, several years ago. 'Encyclopedia of an ordinary life' by Amy Rosenthal is the book I was looking for. Not in the store but they were kind enough to order a copy and ship directly to me at home (no additional charge for this valued member).

         When the book arrived I was excited to start reading it. The author had carefully put all of her unique thoughts, ideas and memories into encyclopedic form. It was a unique and interesting way to document the ordinary, it was light and entertaining but nothing really grabbed me until I got to the C's.

         The word was Change and in the book Amy talked about what she did with her change. Once a week for a year she took some change and placed it an envelope with a note and a postcard. The note said that the money was for the finder and to do whatever they wanted with it, and the addressed and stamped postcard was there if they wanted to share what they did with it. (Amy's actual note was lovely and you will have to check out her book to read what it said.)

         I rarely have extra money after bills are paid, cars are fueled up (and or) repaired and food is bought. I tend to have a great sense of guilt and sadness when I have to tell 'Richard' calling for the fire fighters fund that I can't help the children of those brave servants who perished in the line of duty. I know that generosity is good for the soul. It makes sense to me when I see very successful people being charitable with their money and they speak of how it sustains them to share their wealth. How can I give when I feel like I never have quite enough? How can I be generous when I struggle to get by?

          Amy's idea was the perfect way for me to be generous. I found 8 post cards, some were freebies from the SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota and a few lovely art print post cards from a friend and I addressed them each:



    Box 613

    Rochester, MN 55903


    I penned a note that went something like this:


    "This $ was left here intentionally to change your day. Enclosed is a post card if you want to share how you spent it."


    Eight times.


         I went to Hunts card and gift and acquired 8 lonely greeting card envelopes (which they sold me for 10 cents each) and a book of post card stamps.  I gathered all the change and one dollar bill from my purse, divided it into 8 piles and the 'Change Project' began. It wasn't very much money just over a dollar in each envelope but I was excited thinking of places to leave them. I wrote:


    For you


    On each envelope

         I left them all over Rochester. I left one at the Minneapolis airport when my sister, Kathy and I went to stay with Brittany in Florida. I brought 4 envelopes with us to the sunshine state. One was left in a changing room where my lovely sister, Brittany, a radiation therapist, treats her patients. I had such a great time with my sisters in Florida that I forgot all about the project until we were waiting for our flight to return to Minnesota. Three envelopes were left at the airport in Ft. Meyers. It's probably not very wise to leave envelopes labeled 'for you' lying about in airports in today's world (a sad state of affairs) but it was change not anthrax. Not to cause harm but happiness. So I let go of that fear and took a chance and I'm glad I did.

          The first post card I got back was BP Livingston's from Michigan. He said that he thought it was a nice idea and included his email. So I emailed BP and it turns out he was the pilot who flew Kathy and I back to Minnesota. It was pretty cool that someone as busy as Breck took the time to write that he would pass the change on to someone else on the postcard and pop it in the mailbox. The next postcard also came from Michigan, from 14 year old Marissa, who picked up an envelope at the airport because her "curiosity got the best of her". The postcard was simply not enough space for Marissa to tell me what was on her mind so she placed it in envelope with her finished letter. Marissa still had money left from her Florida get away which she was going to save for college and decided to add the one dollar bill to her savings! Marissa said that she was going to leave a dollar for someone one day too.

         I have only gotten those two cards (so far). The project inspired my sister Kathy to do the same; she has left two envelopes in Rochester and my brother Jeff said that he wants to do it too. Amy said in her book that she was surprised every time a postcard arrived in her PO Box and equally surprised when they didn’t. This project has made me feel really good and I'm going to keep leaving change about. Maybe it will inspire someone to be generous in their own way. Perhaps they can afford to share more than pocket change, or maybe all they can share is a smile. This project has confirmed for me that kindness grows, no matter how small the gesture. I hope that this story inspires you to be kind to a stranger without expecting anything in return (even a postcard).



    Grandma’s spoon

    01 March, 2014 1 comment Leave a comment

          When I was a kid, most weekends my mom would pack all four of us kids in the car and drive to my grandparent’s farm in Arndahl, Minnesota. We would spend hours exploring outside, crafting groovy Barbie outfits out of grandma’s quilting scraps or shooting billiards with grandpa. No matter what grandma prepared for us it was always special and delicious, she was an amazing chef and baker. Maybe that is where my daughter Zoe inherited her mad baking skills. I treasured my time with Ben and Ev Swiggum, I knew my grandparents were very special. They were hard working, kind, generous, genuine and loving. My grandparents always seemed so smitten with each other, it was clear to me that they were madly in love. In the 1980’s my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The condition seemed to worsen slowly and then all at once. My grandfather was fighting cancer, and found he was unable to care for her. I can only imagine how painful it was for him to move her to a nursing home. He went to visit her every day, and each and every day he would bring her a small scored piece of chocolate from a Hershey bar. He was sure that she knew he would always return with a sweet treat for her.
          In 1989 my grandpa lost his battle with cancer. When I was helping my mom and my aunt pack up their house I took home a few things that reminded me of the farm, some chipped up fiesta wear, a night stand that always fascinated me. I found a spoon in a box on a dusty shelf in the basement. It was quite sturdy, made of stainless steel with a simple wooden handle. A Scandinavian design maybe? I think the spoon remained in that box until Jon and I moved into our house in 1994. Surely this spoon was for a special occasion since my lovely grandmother Evelyn had left it safely tucked into its box for so many years.
          Right around the turn of the century I started making soap and I figured out that grandma’s spoon was the perfect tool to use scooping vegetable oils from buckets to my soap pot. I have made hundreds of batches of soap with the help of grandma’s spoon. The spoon has been used so much in fact that the wooden handle began to splinter. Jon took some time to sand down the handle a bit and freshen up this gem of a tool and I’m sure it will serve me well for years to come. Maybe it’s because I have been feeling so melancholy lately but I like to think that before my grandmother’s disease took her from us she stowed this special spoon away knowing that someone she loved would find a useful purpose for it someday. I think of grandma Swiggum when I use her spoon and feel grateful and certain that her beautiful spirit is a special ingredient in our products.

    Maud’s Journey

    12 January, 2014 3 comments Leave a comment

        I reclaimed an ACID (brand) cigar box and adorned it with an image of Maud Stevens Wagner (1907). It was one of the first cigar boxes my sister and I customized. I wanted to keep the special box for myself. Maud was the first female tattoo artist in the United States. She learned the art from her husband, tattoo artist Gus Wagner. Maud pulled off her look quite beautifully in the early 20th century as a circus performer. I thought she was stunning on the lovely cigar box of sturdy dove tail construction. Sometimes the cigar box lids warp after they come out of the warm humidor and are exposed to the elements of the outside world. But not this Maud box, the lid shut almost perfectly. It wasn't just the image of the artfully ornate Maud and the quality construction of this exclusive box that made it charming. Kathy and I carefully selected and cut the paper so that a delicate bird peeked out to represent the feathered creatures embellished on Maud’s fair skin. We cut blue skies and maps with green landscapes to symbolize her travels. I was very proud of what we had created with this Maud box and we made more. I thought, “Who wouldn’t love this woman?” Tia took some pictures of our lovely Maud boxes we posted them on our catalog, brought some down to Autonomy and wouldn't you know after a bit of time those boxes were all sold. 

         Except one, Maud the ACID box was MIA and couldn't be accounted for. I was perplexed, and I was convinced that Maud had been lifted at one of our shows. I hid her haunting image on our web site catalog and hoped she would find her way back to us. I was very excited when Jon handed me a dusty Maud box. If my memory served me better I would have recalled whisking Maud off a shelf for Zoe to fill with sample sniffing bars to share with her co-workers at Daube's bakery. Maud may have been forgotten in the trunk of Zoe’s Chevy serendipitously. Maybe the spirit of Maud watched over and protected Zoe during her accident which totaled the Cavalier and left my youngest daughter with a concussion.  Zoe has fully recovered and is driving again. Luckily Maud was discovered in the trunk of the demolished vehicle, unharmed from the unfortunate incident, just before Dillon’s salvage towed her away. So you see, Maud’s journey has been a tumultuous one. I was coveting this lovely box once again so I didn't ‘unhide’ her in our store.

         It became clear to me however, where Maud’s journey should end when I read this post on the Great Soap Company’s face book page. I met Lizzi about 30 years ago. Lizzi is a gifted writer and a busy mom, She home schools her three children and is a small business owner. I have always admired Lizzi’s creativity and it’s been awesome re-connecting with her after so many years. I am quite admittedly passionate about our product and I am convinced that it can add value to our customer’s lives. Because I am so passionate about adding value to people’s lives and the quality of our product Lizzi’s story really touched my heart. It was evident to me that Maud would be welcomed and loved in the little red house of ADHD. So I loaded up Maud the ACID box with our family friendly Gin & Tonic. This round is on us, nobody gets drunk and everyone ends up clean and smelling great! We thought it would be a nice way to thank Lizzi for sharing her family’s story (we can’t have her clan fighting over soap after all) and to raise awareness of this form of autism which affects a growing number of families. To find out more about Asperger Syndrome and how you can help visit autism speaks. Since Locke is so fond of the slippery soap I am excited to give him our newest product to try. Jon has created a super slippery shaving soap. Bentonite clay makes this puck of soap slippery, also scented with Gin & Tonic. This puckin soap is sure to be a hit with Locke. (that inappropriate little pun was for you Lizzi) I have been washing my hair with the Gin & Tonic shaving puck and I really dig it. Look for Gin & Tonic soaps in our catalog soon! Thanks again for the awesome words you shared about how The Great Soap Company added value to your family – we are sure Maud was destined to be with you on her journey.



    The Great Soap Company - Chief Executive Artist

    Merry Christmas!

    22 December, 2013 0 comments Leave a comment

    The Great Soap Company would like to thank our awesome customers and wish you a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year. We are looking forward to introducing new products and fabulous new scents in 2014 and we can’t wait for you to try everything we are working on. Thank you for a Great year.

    Happy Holidays from The Great Soap Company

    Time for Soap

    28 September, 2013 0 comments Leave a comment

    I feel Grateful. Four days off work allowed time for dedicated, Great Soap work.

    Our friends at Scrub your Butt Soap Company told us that their customers love small bars of soap while they are staying in Rochester. Jon made some new soap molds to create nifty 2 ounce bars and I whipped up Zoe’s Lemon Drop and Morning Dew. The smaller size bars are perfect for hotel guests and house guests. Handmade soap is a nice attention to detail, adds a personal touch when company comes to stay and smells Great! The 2 ounce soaps are a Great way to try new scents too! The mini bars will be a Great value and available in our catalog just as soon as they have cured. Know of any B&B’s that might like our awesome Minnesota handmade mini soaps for their guests? Email us at and let us know!

    Jon and I took some time for a GSC meeting at Whistle Binkies on the lake and are really excited about a scent idea we came up with! The essential oils are ordered to fashion an all natural scent honoring the cocktail, Gin and tonic. When the oils arrive we’ll mix up a batch and if it meets our high standards we will offer it just in time for the holidays.

    I made some awesome custom gift boxes with my sister, Kathy. We had a great time finding meaningful messages expressing Gratitude for some special teachers. Is there an image you would like to see on a re-purposed cigar box? Email me and I’ll hook you up . Check out our great selection of soap boxes in our catalog. These boxes make a Great gift or to keep for a nice soap stash.

    We are gearing up for the holidays at the Great Soap Company and are really excited to share everything we are working on. We would like to encourage folks to support small business this season. It’s easy to get caught up in our own busy lives and pick up gift cards these days. Soap makes a thoughtful gift, everyone uses it and scents can stir up memories and calm spirits. Consumable gifts create positive energy (who doesn’t need more of that?) and no clutter! We have created links to all the shops where you can pick up Great Soap on our new ‘Find us here’ page and check our events on Facebook to find us at shows this fall. Like us on Facebook and share our posts with your friends! We appreciate your support and business!


                                                                            Have fun, play hard, get dirty!

                                                                                     We’ll clean you up





    Why Natural? Why Not?

    08 September, 2013 0 comments Leave a comment

    Did you know that mass produced soap makers remove the natural glycerin and sell it to the beauty industry for a greater profit? They take out the good stuff and replace it with chemicals, detergents and preservatives to make more money.

    The Great Soap Company makes natural, handmade soap in small batches, the old fashioned way. When the lye interacts with the vegetable oils it creates glycerin naturally. Glycerin has a superb moisturizing effect on the skin and is a natural bi product of the process. Right before our soap is poured into our handmade molds we add essential oils and occasionally fragrance oils to fashion our fabulous scent combinations. Our natural soap will leave your skin and hair feeling clean and soft without any additives or preservatives to dry and irritate your skin.

    The Great Soap Company is committed to bringing you a high quality product at an exceptional value. We will never take out the natural, moisturizing glycerin or add chemicals. Our goal is to create a Great working, natural product, a product that your whole family can feel good about using to get clean! Make the natural choice and choose the Great Soap Company.

    Thanks for your support!

    09 June, 2013 1 comment Leave a comment

    We are so grateful for our awesome customers and would like to thank you for shopping with The Great Soap Company. We feel blessed to have fans across the country supporting our small business. We're excited to offer Great Soap at Adorn {Furniture Rehab} in Chatfield, Minnesota, Autonomy Tattoo and Body Piercing in Rochester, Minnesota Joe’s in Spring Valley, Minnesota and Positively the Center for Success in Escanaba Michigan. Do you think The Great Soap Company would be awesome to have at a shop near you? email me at and I’ll see what I can do to make it happen! It’s easier than ever to pick up our natural product locally, simply place your order on our web site and pay no shipping. I’ll make sure you get the goods in a timely manner. Pick up a bar at Autonomy, conveniently located on North Broadway sandwiched between Dairy Queen and Taco Bell. Brian and the guys at Autonomy have been very supportive and we are happy to be working with this great local business. You don’t have to have body art to buy natural soap at Autonomy, stop by and pick up a bar for yourself and one for gift giving. Natural soap is a great gift – consumable gifts create positive energy and no clutter. If body art is your thing – Autonomy is the place to go and The Great Soap Company is the perfect way to pamper your art investment. Even if body art isn't for you open your eyes to these inspiring talented young artists work and pick up a bar of soap while your there!

    Yesterday Jon, Zoe and I celebrated our nephews, Ben and Blaine’s High School graduations with family at my sister’s place in Oronoco. We have seen a great deal of rain in southern Minnesota recently, the past 60 days or so… so it was so fabulous to see sunshine for the festivities. The sun also shone on Adorn {Furniture Rehab} shop owner Melissa Wood’s wedding day! Congratulations Melissa and Tony we are so happy the sun made an appearance on your very special day! We got home from the party to find a package all the way from Connecticut! The Great Soap Company Founder, Sandra Pike McShane made a beautiful stepping stone featuring our logo. Sandra is one crafty bitch and these fabulous stepping stones are her latest creative venture!

    Sandra sent a nice letter confessing her addiction to Morning Dew and shared excellent soap reviews from her friends who got gift baskets (including Great soap) for Christmas! We adore your thoughtful gift and are happy you love our soap as much as we do!

    While I was getting soap ready to ship to Connecticut I put together a gift box for a benefit auction next weekend. I choose an image of a vintage Indian motorcycle on a lovely wooden cigar box and loaded it with an awesome selection of Great Soap. My little brother Greg and his girlfriend Jennifer are collecting items for the ride away SMA silent auction next Saturday. Thanks Greg and Jennifer for raising awareness and money for this cause and honoring the memory of a precious little girl taken much too soon. Check out to find out how you can help.

    The Great Soap Company is excited for warmer weather and a little sunshine would be awesome. We're having fun working on new products for you. We used local fresh goats milk in our soap and scented it with cut grass fragrance oil, the interesting combination is currently curing. find out how it turns out right here on our blog.  Have a fun, safe summer!

    Have Fun, play hard and get dirty, we’ll clean you up naturally.



    Responsible packaging, Sassy dos and getting it out there…

    09 March, 2013 1 comment Leave a comment

    I am grateful for a four day weekend and a little healthy time off from Mayo. I spent my first day off pampering Jon a little (who I unintentionally inflicted with some sort of nasty sinus crud which laid me up last week) and by snatching up a last minute appointment at Envy Hair Studio where Katie Kline gave me a sassy new do. With my edgy new hair cut (see #67 - although, i highly recommend reading all 100) I was eager to complete multiple soap tasks. I started by saving some cigar boxes from our landfill. I dropped off our finally completed GSC display case at Autonomy Tattoo and body piercing. I finished a bunch of soap boxes I had started with my sister Kathy. They turned out awesome! These boxes are far too sturdy and lovely to through away so I purchase them from my local smoke shop. I reclaim these beautiful boxes with interesting and occasionally inappropriate pictures and paper. It has really been fun to be creative and spend time with my sister. My teenage nephews have even helped to create these lovely reinvented packages. If I were closer to Escanaba I would love to attend a Decoupage class at Positively Center for Success . Positively is the latest retailer to carry The Great Soap Company – it looks like a fun place! You should definitely check out Positively the next time you’re near Escanaba, Michigan! Salvaging cigar boxes from the smoke shop is just one of the ways The Great Soap Company practices responsible packaging. We really like the idea of reusing packaging and creating less waste. We hand wrap our handmade soap in brown paper bands we create from a little post consumer waste from our neighbors at Sign here the good folks at Sign Here save their scraps because they aren’t quite used up and we make them new again. Hand stamped with our logo they dress up our simple, natural soaps beautifully. We love the new lotion stick container and want to do our best to keep these plastic tubes out of our landfills so we are going to offer a $1.00 off on refills. My personal lotion stick is actually in a re-used deodorant tube and sits right by the bathroom sink. I rub it over my knuckles and onto my cuticles after I wash my hands and I absolutely love it. LH Lori’s labels for the lotion sticks turned out awesome and the good folks at insty prints are going to hook me up with some killer new labels for this great new product.


    I’m feeling a little stiff and sore from a workout with Jenny Green at the DAHLC on Thursday. The first session kicked my butt, hope it’s a little easier when I do it on my own tomorrow. It’s time for me to get up and move. I’m off to prepare baby soap molds for a batch of bouncing baby soap Zoe is making presently. Then I will responsibly wrap up some soap for Autonomy. The Great Soap Company is very proud of our responsible packaging practices. Save us to your favorites and keep an eye on the catalog for our new lotion sticks and sassy new soap boxes… stay tuned.


    what's up.

    24 February, 2013 2 comments Leave a comment

    We are really excited to be making progress on some cool stuff for you! Yesterday I got to hang out with my sister Kathy and her husband Brad. We customized some shelves for the Autonomy display and it turned out awesome. Look for The Great Soap Company at Autonomy Tattoo and Body piercing in March! EXCELLENT! We are planning to offer 6 different scents and Hiker bar. What scents do you want to pick up at Autonomy? Comment on this post and let me know.


    I’m sad I missed my brother’s grand opening at Minnesota Joe’s yesterday. I’m glad Jeff Austin, Todd Fox and Troy Meisner are sharing their passion and knowledge in the lovely town of Spring Valley. I think they are really helping breathe new life into this rural community. Beautiful southern Minnesota is certainly an awesome backdrop for this great shop. You can get great outdoor gear at Minnesota Joe’s and I heard they are making room for tents – which is a great reminder that spring is just around the corner! So take a road trip to Spring Valley and check out this great little shop right next to Ray’s Barbershop, pick up some Great Soap while you’re there!  Minnesota Joe’s is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday - Congratulations Minnesota Joe’s, Spring Valley Minnesota is lucky to have you!


    I got some good feedback from a couple of my skin experts and have made a great change to the lotion stick recipe. I am mixing up some lotion sticks today and collaborating with my most excellent graphic designer Long Haired Lori to design some lovely new labels for this awesome product.  Look for lotion sticks in our catalog very soon! Like us on Facebook for updates on our newest products!