Small Business Monday: ILUVMYSKIN

As I get older, I recognize the need to take care of myself and my skin better than I ever had.  I’m also learning the importance of natural and homeopathic remedies and products.  A few months ago, my man and I were out to dinner for my birthday in downtown Novi and spent some time afterward strolling around and window shopping.  We found a health market and spent some time dreaming over all the natural products we would want in our home and daily routine.  We ended up leaving there with a few bars of homemade soap because we fell in love with the tea tree oil scented ones.  He blew through those two bars quickly!  I started to love the smell of them in our bathroom daily and was wondering how I could keep up with that and not break the bank.

Flash forward a few months to the end of summer and I’m sitting at a table at the Woodshop in Clarkston with a great group of ladies who love Jesus and life and one girl that I didn’t know shows up with her basket of homemade soaps!  We sat next to each other and chatted all night about life, love, God, and business.  It was then that I decided she was my go-to soap girl and I am so thankful for her.  Her knowledge about natural living is immense and she’s one of the sweetest, funniest and most beautiful girls that I have ever met.  I am so happy to share her and her shop with you.  She is having an Open House this Friday, October 4th in Clarkston if anyone would like to go with me or have me place an order for you.  I am so excited to spend the evening with her and support her!

1.) Tell us a little about yourself.

{Danielle Whaley; owner and operator of ILUVMYSKIN}

Well, I’m a Capricorn who enjoys misty morning runs and large lattes. I believe in ghosts but I think unicorns are a stretch and I’m not quite sure any of this is real life. Like what if we are all just in the matrix and…I’m totally kidding. I’m actually a thirty-five year old stuck inside a eighteen year old’s body with the mentality of an eighty year old with the spirit of a seven year old. Add and subtract all those numbers together and you get my real age-twenty four. My age explanation can only point out the glaring fact that I am a different individual. And I think this is what drew my husband and I together and what makes him my best friend. We are celebrating one year of marriage this month and we have a beautiful, kind-hearted chocolate lab named Zoe, who is and will always be considered our first born child. I was raised here in Michigan to some of the best looking and most loving parents I have ever met. I have two younger brothers who are growing up to be awesome men right before my eyes. I consider myself a runner but I’m not the greatest and I love all things that are outdoorsy and nothing that is pink.

2.) When did you start your business?

I technically started my business in January of 2012 when I moved back home after a crushing attempt at living on my own in the Boston area near my alma mater. I was working in an office and I was already bored after two weeks of work and I started to wonder what are some other things I could pursue with my extra free time and extra cash now that I’m living at home (thanks mom and dad!) I started talking with my mom about the soap she used to make when I was growing up and the more I looked into it and researched the benefits, the more I knew I had a thing for soap. I began ordering supplies and making it at home, all with the help of my mom, and selling it to people at church and friends. I will say that finding the right combination in suds and lather along with hardness and a lasting bar only came from the brilliant mind of my mom. My mom actually started making this soap when I was about ten years old. She and I went to a soap making demonstration and she then tweaked the formula that she was given until she came up with what I use today. It sounds a lot easier than it really is. Because this soap is made from scratch, you have to have the perfect balance of oils and butters to have a nice firm bar while it still being moisturizing and sudsy. I’m not bragging but this is the best natural bar I’ve tried. And let me tell you, there has been a lot! I was all excited about my new venture and my ideas for marketing this already awesome product when, BOOM! I fell in love with this cutie (my husband, in case you got worried for a second) and he lived two hours north of me. Needless to say, I chose love and a DIY wedding over the soap passion for a bit. But around January of this year I actually got serious about the soap business and it’s been growing steadily ever since.

3.) What drives you to want to make homemade soaps?

I had terrible eczema when I was a kid and nothing helped it. It was all over my face and upper arms. It wasn’t until I used my mom’s soap that it went away. I also struggled with acne in high school. I gave into the temptation of these acne commercials for “clear skin”, but all I got was a super dry face with painful acne. It wasn’t until I put down the chemical filled face washes and stuck with my mom’s wondrous balance of cleanliness and moisture that I felt good in my own skin. My mom and I are also very sensitive to lotions and fragrance oils, since this soap doesn’t contain any of that, we fell head over heals for it’s natural essential oil smell. I personally make it to make a difference. I believe my homemade, natural soap is better for the environment, better for your health, and a more holistic way of thinking.

4.) What are the benefits or features of your homemade soaps?

Where to begin! Fragrance oil soap (any commercially made soap out there today) have carcinogens in them, THAT CAUSES CANCER. They have all these chemicals in them to keep the bar from breaking down when used so it has a longer shelf life. So if you are using something on your face that doesn’t have a normal life cycle and an expiration date, how good for you can it be? Not too mention the chemicals that are used in lotions to give you that “soft” feel. It’s basically just an additive to make your hands addicted to it so you will use it more so you will buy more. A smart move on the big soap business’s end but it’s not what I’m going for. Any soap out there today strips your skin of it’s own natural oils that help you defend against sickness and dryness. My soap puts that oil back into your skin. Now, I know all we ever hear is “oil-free” this and “oil-free” that. The oils I used are meant for your body to absorb so it won’t clog your pores like you’re thinking. It’s all plant based oils, so your body can easily absorb them and use them to stay moisturized. And don’t even get me started on the effect other soaps have on our planet. Those products are not made with plant material, they are made with chemicals, so they can’t coexist peacefully when they get washed down the drain. All of my ingredients are made of nature, so it’s great to wash down the drain!

5.) What is your process when making the soaps?

There are many different processes out there for making soap but it’s important to know what’s what. I couldn’t tell you how the heck commercially made soap is made. Frankly, I don’t know if I want to know. It’s kind of like McDonald’s chicken nuggets, they say it’s chicken but is it really? As far as natural soap goes, there is hot-process and cold-process. And true home-made soap is done through a process of saponification, which is a chemical reaction between and acid (oils i.e. oil oil, vegetable oil) and a base (sodium hydroxide). With hot-processed soap the “cook” can watch the reaction right in front of them, making sure it is fully reacted and safe for use before it is poured into it’s respected mold. Cold-processed soap is essentially all the same ingredients mixed together and put into a mold and then it “cures” for weeks at a time. I actually have no experience making cold-processed soap and therefore can’t even begin to know how it’s managed. I use hot-processed. It’s a hot and dangerous hour long process done on my stove with a double-boiler and a hand mixer. I have my secret formula that i melt down, add in the sodium hydroxide (or lye as some might know it as) and mix it, for an hour. Yep. Then I add my scent and any little add in for that given scent (i.e. lavender flowers in lavender, coffee grinds in my vanilla latte soap). I then pour it into a mold where I let it cool for at least 18 hours and then cut it into bar sizes.

6.) How did you come up with your name and adorable packaging?

I was brainstorming with my mom last year for a name for my new and upcoming soap company. We had some crazy and silly names, some that sounded a little racy too. But then it dawned on me, what does this soap do for me? It makes me love my skin! I love my skin! Yeah! My dear friend Kevin from Boston actually designed the logo for me (thanks Kev!) and the packaging is a combination of my mom’s original idea and my need for a bigger label surface to put my stamp or my logo. I’m big into burlap and if I could I would wrap it in that but simple brown paper will have to do for now.

7.) How should the soap be stored after use?

It’s best to let the soap dry in between uses on a slotted soap dish. Basically don’t let it sit in water. But you can let it sit out in your house until you use it. The essential oils are great aromatherapy.

8.) Where can we find your soaps?

Well, I live in the Clarkston area and I am having an open house on October 4th. It’s open to anyone and can be found on my Facebook page. It’s just a nice way to share my joy of soap making and for anyone to try out some samples and to dialog about this great product as well as some other things I make like face scrubs and masks:)

9.) Where can we find you online?

I can be reached through email at iluvmyskin.naturalsoap@gmail.com or you can find my shop on etsy.  I also sell my soaps in a store called Scandia Home in Birmingham and I’m looking for other stores to sell to as well. I also choose about one craft show every other month and I think the next one will be the Clarkston Craft Show this fall.

10.) Do you ship out of state?

I do ship out of state! All of those options are listed in my etsy store or by emailing me for prices.

11.) Do you have any advice for any other small business owners or those who want to make something/start a business?

The only advice I can give at this stage of my humble little business is start today. I kept putting it off and putting it off. I know the timing will all work out in the end but procrastination is not a good habit to get into when you want to start your own business. That and plan on making sacrifices to make your dream happen. There will be late nights, messy kitchens, frustration, but if you really believe in your product and yourself then it’s worth it.

Fresh Lavender Essential Oil Vegan Moisturizing Bar Soap

 

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Miscarriage and Grief

Miscarriage and Grief

 

You might have noticed that I’ve been a little silent on my blog lately.  That’s simply for the fact that we’ve had a very busy few weeks with the start of the school year.  I have had a lot of topics or experiences during this time that I wanted to share but nothing felt right or seemed to come to fruition.  I’m banking those away for other days.  Maybe God has the right person for it to speak to that day.  I did have another blog post lined up for tonight but I think this one needs to be shared.  For all you mommas (and not yet mommas) out there:

 

I wish I would have been in the right frame of mind when we miscarried in January 2011–our story would have been more along the lines of this one.

At the time I felt rushed because I was a full-time employee on top of wife and mother. I felt that I needed to make the quick and “easy” decision of having a D&C so I could be back to work and available to my family as soon as possible. Later I would discover just how shattered my heart was with our decision when they referred to this procedure as an abortion and just threw our baby away in a garbage can.

Recovery was tough for me emotionally but also physically and it landed me in the ER a week later. As I sat in the hallway for hours, having contractions and convulsions and waiting for an ultrasound, I thought for sure they were going to tell me that I would be unable to have any more children. Praise God that His hand was holding my womb and allowed us to conceive Emery Kate just two months later.

Our story is one of victory and triumph because my husband was told at 16 years of age that he would never be able to have children. What gifts Reese, Emery and our little love, Ezekiel {in heaven} are to us. Tonight my heart is so heavy with grief again over his {or her} loss as I think back about how I could have handled this better if I knew then what I know now.

I believe with all my heart that life begins at conception. I believed it then just as I believe it now. I wish I would have valued that life more then. I just didn’t know. It was all so rushed.

Someday I will have a tree that I can sit under to rest, hold and play with all my babies in remembrance of Ezekiel. Please take a few moments to read this family’s story and view the beautiful pictures of life at 13 weeks after conception.

Amazing Photos of Nathan, Miscarried at 14 Weeks, Show Unborn Baby’s Humanity

Even though….I’m thankful

Even though my day started abruptly with a toddler peeing on our bed…
I’m thankful that we have a big, warm bed to sleep in and the ability to wash sheets in hot water and detergent.

Even though I’ve been on the phone all morning….
I’m thankful that God already knows the outcome and will bring the answer in His time.

Even though I have piles of laundry and didn’t get my laundry day this week….
I’m thankful that my family has more clean clothes in closets and drawers to wear in the meantime.

Even though the kids’ bedroom is a mess….
I’m thankful that they both have a bed to sleep in, space to call their own and a roof over their heads.

Even though it seems like every toy in the living room is out….
I’m thankful that people love our kids so much that they buy them gifts and surprises whether it’s their birthday, Christmas or just because. 

Even though a sippy cup of milk was spilled all over the floor and coffee table….
I’m thankful that it wasn’t a whole gallon.

Even though my husband is working 9am-9pm today….
I’m thankful he has tomorrow off!

Even though my lunch got cold today….
I’m thankful for my ability to cook and to have leftovers for lunch!

 

I’m sure there are more things I could think of and I’m sure I will encounter more before days end.  Sometimes it’s hard to see your blessings through the clouded glass.  This week has been a clouded glass kind of week for me but God is so, so gracious and has helped me tweak my way of thinking to be thankful in the things that truly are rather than in the way it seems.

What are you thankful for in the ‘even though’ times?

Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning?

Do you remember where you were that day 12 years ago? Just like my mom and dad can remember where they were the day JFK was assassinated I will always remember where I was when the news of terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers came across television and radios. I was a junior in high school and in my 2nd hour English class. The school counselor was in our room explaining information about the upcoming ACT tests that we would all soon be taking. The classroom phone rang, they asked for him and told him what was happening. We were one of the only classrooms in the building that was allowed to turn on the news coverage. At that time many of us had no idea what the Twin Towers were nor just how severe this act was. The day continued cautiously and prayerfully as a school family and then again in the evening with our church family. Our lives, our country’s well being and our safety had forever changed. Many lives were lost, many lives were put on the line as a sacrifice and many lives still continue to be offered up as a sacrifice to work for our safety and freedom.

A young Facebook friend of mine, Jared, shared this status update today:

“I was a bit offended when our school didn’t do a quick moment of silence for all the innocent souls that died on 9/11. It was an all American nightmare, and nearly 3,000 people died… Although my classmates and I were not old enough to have any recognition of it, it doesn’t mean it never happened… I couldn’t imagine the horror it brought to our nation. But we toughened through it, came out on top. Bin Laden is dead, and we have the toughest, most courageous men and women in the World giving it everything they got to fight for this country. I don’t know about you, but I can proudly call this place my home. God Bless America.”

Had he not posted this I would not have known that today was not recognized in some schools. This post really touched me. It’s true. Just because they were babies or their teachers were still in junior high or high school and they don’t remember it doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen or have an impact on their way of life today. God Bless the men and women who lost their lives that day, the families of those who have given their lives in the towers, airplanes or at the hands of foreign soldiers, and those who continue to stand in the front lines for their beautiful nation and people.

And let us not forget {even though some don’t want to think about it} about the lives that were given on the opposing side because of a false promise or ideal. Their families are suffering too. The human life is a beautiful creation and any loss tugs at the heart strings.

Beautiful Mom

Tonight brought about a beautiful moment for me in parenting.  Then it spawned a beautiful moment for me in my co-parenting and marriage. 

School started last week and Mr. Man is SO not good with transitions.  He’s the big boy in class this year and he had melt down after melt down on Monday when I was working in the class.  He was having a hard time sharing, using his words, following directions, etc.  We’ve had a few talks about it since and he’s apologized to both of his teachers about his behavior but tonight I caught a glimpse of that sneaking back in for school tomorrow.

After coming home from the grocery store, I found him in his room watching a movie before bed.  I walked in to remind him that he needed to find something that started with the letter A because it was A week at school.  We found an Alvin stuffed animal from Alvin and the Chipmunks and I told him it would be pretty sweet to take in the movie to go along with it just in case someone didn’t know who he was.  Then he said, “And I need to find another thing for show and tell.”  I tried to explain to him that it wasn’t his turn for show and tell because I wasn’t the helper in his class tomorrow.

And that’s when he LOST IT!

There was a lot of sobbing, hyperventilating, and a runny nose at this point.  He just kept saying, “But I thought you were going to stay with me!!!!!!!!!!!!”  Daddy had walked in during this time too to see what was happening and how he could help.  He sat on the floor while I sat on sister’s bed and snuggled my boy in close.  I rubbed his hair and explained that I was just in his classroom yesterday and tomorrow was a new day for another mommy to stay.  I told him one of his new friends was going to be the Child of the Day and she was going to bring a Show and Tell.  I even offered the idea of him guiding her since it would be her first turn (you know, “So and so….Ms. Michele is going to tell you to switch the Stop signs to Go and then you’ll go to it and flip it over.”)  He just wasn’t having any of it. 

Sometimes he gets to the point where he is crying so much he {claims} he forgets to breath.  He usually asks, “How do you breathe?  I don’t remember how!”  I found myself speaking very soft and quietly tonight to him, holding him in my arms like he was a little swaddled baby again, rubbing his head and trying to explain in detail what he could expect.  During this time I could see out of the corner of my eye my husband just watching me, smiling and with a twinkle in his eye. 

The only thing that helped me calm Mr. Man down was reminding him that Ms. Jen was going to be there tomorrow as well and he could talk to her about the iPad games he played at her house last night.  He woke me up this morning saying, “You need to call Ms. Jen and ask her when her girls will be home from school so I can go over there again.  And when is Mr. Joe going to be home so we can play iPad games together?  I think I’m really good at some of them.”

After he was settled and in bed finally, Zac met me in the hallway and made me stop my busyness to tell me that he thought I was so beautiful.  I just kind of shrugged it off and half-heartedly said thanks.  He said that he thought I was physically beautiful but also that he was watching me in that moment earlier and was struck with my beauty as a mom and how I handled the situation.  I told him that I’m not always good at this parenting thing and needed work but he said that he isn’t either BUT every time he watches me work like that it makes him strive to be a better dad.

It’s moments like tonight that {could} drive me insane where God makes me take a step back, observe all around me, and help me learn to love and appreciate myself and my talents.  I don’t think I’m a “talented” mom, per say, but I’m happy to know that God has gifted me the ability to have discernment, creativity, sensitivity and compassion during some moments of parenting.  It’s not always easy, in fact, most days are very hard right now.  But I’m so glad to have an awesome partner to walk along side me with, a loving Papa who speaks to me in my spirit or through people and two awesome and totally flawed kids to help me learn lessons through.  Thank you, Papa!

 

First day of school

The day has arrived: the first day of the last year of preschool.  I’m actually going to call it Pre-K because that’s really what it will be for him.  It’s the last session of classes for him before Kindergarten.  How can we be at this point already?  Wasn’t it just a few months ago that we were bringing home that little 7 pound 4 ounce boy who could only wear preemie clothes even though he wasn’t a preemie?  Wasn’t it just a few months ago that we were rushing to Urgent Care an hour before his birthday party because he busted his chin open on the stairs trying to get to the bathroom to go potty?  Wasn’t it just last week that he asked to ‘nuggle mommy and watch Toy Story?  How could we be on a Kindergarten countdown these days?

I guess it’s true.  Time passed so quickly and here we are taking first day of school pictures, bringing the teachers gifts and meeting new friends.  Today was Mr. Man’s first day of school.  It was an abbreviated class that is used to introduce the children to the teachers, the classroom and the activities and routines that will be utilized.  For an hour the kids were able to test out the new toys, decorate a picture frame, enjoy a snack, explore the playground, learn a few songs and meet their new friends.  Parents and siblings were invited to stay and partake in the activities too.  Friday will be the first full day for them–running from 9:00am-11:30am.  We’ve done it before but I now find myself wondering what it is I am supposed to do during that time?  Maybe Little Miss and I will do breakfast dates, walks at the mall or visits to daddy at work.

And now…..without further ado….here are the obligatory “First Day Of School” pictures.  In succession, of course, because they are funnier that way!

 

Watching a neighbor drive by {and waving at him between takes}

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So handsome.  And somehow seems so grown up now.

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Funny faces {his choice}

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Mommy’s choice: A list of current favorites

ImageReese’s Preschool Favorites 2013:

TV Show: Doctor Who
Movie: Toy Story
Song: “Sweet Talkin’ Woman” by Five Iron Frenzy
Color: Pink and green and blue and brown
Food: Egg noodles, gravy and pepper rings
Candy: M&M’s
Toy: Jake and the Neverland Pirate Ship with the alligator
and bird
Activity:  Watch tv and do stuff
Superhero:  Well, I like all the Avengers the most
Shoes:  My tennis shoes, the black and white ones

When I grow up:
I want to be Captain America, Batman and Ironman!

Height: 3’0”   Weight: 29lbs.

And then sister insisted on joining him for pictures too.

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More “funny faces”

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Pictures with his teachers, Ms. Jen and Ms. Michele

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And he wanted to show everyone his BLUE tongue from the Ring Pop they gave him!

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Have a great year, buddy!  We are so proud of who you are and what you do.

Let’s do this thing!