Meet Your Merchant | Couple’s hobby turns in to storefront, career
Special to the Sun
What: Bath by Nature
Location: 5001 North Village Drive suite 5103, the Village at Northstar
TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Bath by Nature is Laurie and Patrick Mahoney’s latest business endeavor, born from Laurie’s hobby of making soaps, creams and beauty products from scratch. Laurie began making soaps at the Nova Studio in the Bay Area and fell in the love with the process.
“I wasn’t meant to be a full-time job,” Laurie said of soap and bath scrub making. “But we believe in this whole concept and we decided, ‘why not?’”
Laurie’s interest in using essential oils came from her own problems with asthma and her adverse reactions to chemicals used in beauty products.
“When you starting thinking about it, most things that have a scent to them are chemical — all the way around it’s not good,” she said.
After success at the Castro Valley Farmer’s Market she and her husband opened a storefront in the Village at Northstar in October of 2012. Laurie’s work as a freelance writer allows her to be what she calls “location agnostic” and when she and her husband started Bath by Nature, Truckee Tahoe was the place to be.
“I really think Truckee and Incline and the Tahoe Basin support organic and natural products,” Laurie said.
SOAPS AND SUDS
Laurie and Patrick make the soaps themselves in small batches in their commercial kitchen.
“It was a little scary at first,” Patrick said of the soap making process. But with the help and guidance of his wife, Patrick became a professional.
Because Bath by Nature doesn’t use sulfate, a common ingredient responsible for the foaming action in most soap products, Laurie said finding the right combination to make the soap foam was a challenge.
The soaps scents vary from Lovely Lavender to Spring Garden, and Bath by Nature also offers fragrance-free soaps. Patrick and Laurie add different exfoliants such as ground walnut, sea salt or tapioca.
After participating in the soap making, Patrick decided Bath by Nature needed some more masculine products. Alpine Meadow, soap is made of palm rosa, geranium, lime, rose and vetiver, and has citrus and woodsy notes.
“We needed a more manly scent,” Patrick said.
BATH TIME FUN
Bath bombs or fizzing bath soaps, are one of Bath by Nature’s most popular items. Kids’ bath bombs contain a small toy inside — the bath-time enhancer has become a popular party favor for kids.
“It fizzes in the tub and gets kids in the tub,” Patrick said.
Conventional bath bombs are composed mostly of citric acid and baking soda, said Laurie — the combination creates the fizzing effect. Bath by Nature’s bath bombs are a combination of essential oils and therefore, Laurie said, “actually good for you.”
All of the Mahoneys’ work and progress with Bath by Nature has been done through “trial and error” Laurie said. She remembers testing different scents out on her friends before going forward with new products.
“I took it to dinner parties,” she said of her early soaps. “I passed them around and asked what people thought and finally found one that worked.”
Laurie said she sees more growth for the company, in terms of new products, and hopes to do more gifts as well. Thus far the challenges of the business have been being able to keep up with inventory, especially during the holidays.
WHY NOT DO IT?
Skin care is another specialty of Bath by Nature. Laurie’s products are designed specifically for what she calls “mature skin.” Eye crème with marigold extract revives dry and puffy eyes and a facial lotion made from rosehip and hibiscus has many vitamins and omegas for skin care.
“If you can make something better that’s all natural, then why not do it?” Laurie said.
The soap maker uses Bath by Nature products at home. The sea kelp and aloe powder soak, the cucumber melon lip balm and the pumpkin masque are her current favorites. And although the Mahoney house has four bathrooms and no bathtub, Laurie said a plan for a remodel is definitely in the works.
Jenny Luna is a freelance reporter for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and Sierra Sun newspapers. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.