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I'm the Local Gal in Richmond, Indiana, exploring my hometown and heart. I write about all thing local, sometimes global. It's a small world after all.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Local-Lady Featured Interview: Julie Shank of Sweet Annie Soapworks

Supplied Image: Julie Shank
We are in the clutches of winter, and as much as I love the beauty of freshly fallen snow, I can't stand how dry my hands get every year! Luckily, I discovered  Sweet Annie's Soapworks. On a stand by the counter at Ply Fiber Arts, are bars of soaps, lotions and balms arranged attractively and scenting the air oh so sweetly & delicately. I was won over completely by a bar of Lavender and Eucalyptus, and I was delighted to discover the scent of Frankincense, as I had never smelled it before, just before Christmas.

Behind the moisturizing power & subtle scents is Sweet Annie Soapwork's founder, Julie Shank, a country gal from Fountain City Indiana. Julie was gracious enough to grant me an interview. Here we go:

What's your best Richmond memory?

I lived in the country north of Fountain City until I graduated from Northeastern High School in 1974. Just a little country girl! I can remember going to downtown Richmond with my mom when I was 5 or 6 and thinking how huge and stinky the city was! So many people on the sidewalks and the big city buses with their stinky exhaust. I think I probably held onto my mom's hand tightly as we crossed the streets. We would go into Woolworth's on the corner and and sit in a booth or at the counter. We shopped at the Hoosier store and Osco's drug store. I think I lost my mom one day in Osco's and I was scared to death. 

How things have changed!

What's the story behind Sweet Annie Soapworks? How long have you been making soap?

I started making soap on a whim! In 97' (or 96'), my aunt had a craft show in her barn. There were two ladies with booths. One had candles and the other had homemade soap. I was intrigued by the soap and knew I wanted to give soap making a try. The first time I made soap I actually rendered suet and used the fat as my oil to put with the lye. It was pretty crude, but it did suds up a little just like soap should! I was so excited! 

 I made soap for several years and sold it at shows and then stopped selling for a while. My friend, Mary Porfidio, who makes Grey Barn Candles convinced me to start selling soap again and to do craft shows with her. In 2009, when Verizon closed the doors on my job of 30 years, I decided to really commit to making soap and other skin products. By the way, the candles being sold at my aunt's craft show in 1997 were Warm Glow Candles!

Patchouli Soap in a Basket: Sweet Annie's Soap

What do you feel sets Sweet Annie Soapworks apart from other soaps?

My soap, as well as most handmade soaps, are good for your skin but it is my own simple, natural recipe using oils that are good for your skin that many seem to love. I make soaps scented with fragrance oils or essential oils and they both smell good. I give people lots of choices on the scent. I thought I would sell less of the fragrance oil scented soaps but people seem to love them even more than the essential oil scented ones!  

I have received so many wonderful compliments from people who have purchased my soap! They tell me how much better their skin is since they have started using Sweet Annie. It thrills me to hear that from people. I work hard to have a good product that people will want to keep buying.

What are your most popular scents? What's your personal favorite?

Cary Grant: Image Source

It depends on what day it is as to what scent is the most popular! Green Irish Tweed has to be the most popular of all though. That is a knock-off of a scent created for Cary Grant. It's masculine enough for a guy but clean smelling and the ladies love it, too. Ginger Lime is popular and Patchouli is frequently sold out.

It depends on the day as to what is my favorite! I love Patchouli, Cuppa Joe (nice in the morning), and Lavender & Frankincense. I do try out many of my different scented soaps to see how they are in the shower, to wash my hands, etc.

What other skin care products do you make?

Liquid soap was new last fall. It's a little different process to make the liquid soap, but I do like it. I am selling it in the foaming bottles and it is so nice for hand washing and is a little less mess in the soap dish. I use it for shaving my legs. 

Natural Hand Sanitizer uses Aloe Vera and Witch Hazel, lavender and tea tree essential oils with no added alcohol, so it is less drying to your hands.  Lip Balm - Great stuff and its petroleum free. A lot of  commercial lip balms contain petroleum, which actually dries your skin. 

Lotion Bars - Lotion in a sweet little flower shape inside a tin. you can put on as much or little as you want. great for elbows, heels, hands or the rest of your body. Perfect fit for your purse, desk or pocket.

I will be experimenting soon on foot balm, cleanser, scrub and maybe a lotion or cream!

Supplied Image: Sweet Annie's Facebook Page

Finally, where can we find your products?

Sweet Annie's is available in Richmond and Cambridge at the following destinations:

Ply Fiber Arts 921 East Main Street, Richmond, Indiana 
From Pieces to Peace, 128 South 9th Street Richmond, Indiana 
Country Classics, 183 Fort Wayne Avenue Richmond, Indiana 
Rusty Dusty Stuff, 7 W Main Street, Cambridge, Indiana 

Special thanks to Julie Shank of Sweet Annie Soapworks. Thank you, Julie! It's my pleasure to hostess another "Local Lady" on the blog! 

I love your products!

You can "like" Sweet Annie's on Facebook HERE and watch for the launch of their new website HERE.


the Local Gal

Sweet Annie's is occasionally available at the local farmer's markets and at craft fairs.

So remember to Shop Local and watch the Local-Lady Community Calendar for dates & details!

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