Tuesday, September 22, 2009

sessions at east 21st - artisan talk with hendricks' hearth

(Above, Hendricks' Hearth cold process bath soaps. Top to bottom: Vanilla & Sandalwood, Tropical Fruit Punch, Earth Blend. At right: Exotic Blend.)

Looking for exceptional spa-quality, natural and organic bath and body products at a great price, combined with top-notch customer service and attention to detail? Look no further than Hendricks' Hearth, owned and operated by Lauren Hendricks. Hendricks' Hearth offers a complete line of fabulous bath and body creations that will delight your senses and keep the world a little greener ... and naturally beautiful. In addition to her luxurious soaps, Lauren's bountiful shop features lotions, creams, butters, sugar scrubs, hair and lip care products, fragrances, bath salts and teas, vegan deodorants and even a variety of unique garden seeds.

I was very honored to interview Lauren for this feature; her talents and interests are numerous, and philanthropic in spirit. Hendricks' Hearth is a member of the Etsy North Georgia Street Team, EFA Artists Helping Animals, and AOE Altruism On Etsy. Lauren also discusses some of her own beloved charitable works in this interview.

So, settle in for a bit and get to know Lauren Hendricks, the amazing artisan behind Hendricks' Hearth!

1. What inspired you to begin creating your organic bath and body products?

Thank you for asking, Angie. I have very fair, sensitive skin and used to go through ten brands of soap before I could find one that I could actually use without suffering ill effects. My husband had to be even more careful than I did and it seemed like we were always battling skin sensitivities. Back then I did not understand the value (or lack thereof) in the ingredients on the label or that I was using skin care products that actually stripped my skin with the use of harsh synthetic detergents and other questionable ingredients. I decided one day that with the right dedication, research, and ingredients that I could make a bar that was much better for our skin than the store-bought variety, and so it began.

2. You have fabulous bath and body shops on both Etsy and Artfire, AND you have currently returned to school to pursue a nursing career. How in the world do you manage to fit everything into one day?

Thank you so much for the kind words! I actually have no idea how I manage my time these days, but somehow it works out. I had wanted to become a registered nurse for a long time (I love helping people and am very interested in the medical field), but I was working at a corporate office that was turning out to be quite a worthwhile position towards an advancing career and before I knew it four years had passed. However, as a result of the economic downturn, the company decided to close the office this year. I could view it in two ways- as a burden or as an opportunity. I chose the latter and enrolled back in school to become a nurse. I am still working full time right now at my office job until the final shutdown at the end of the year, so I am going to classes in the evenings after work until spring, when I will officially be a full-time student again. In my limited free time now, I spend time with my husband, grow and maintain the organic garden and animals, I cook and bake quite a bit, and dabble in fiber arts. Oh, and I craft artisan soap and bath and body items, fill orders, and run my little Etsy shop of course! :o)

3. You are on several Etsy teams, including one which we share in common, EFA Artists Helping Animals. As part of your efforts on behalf of sustainability, tell me a bit more about your connection with Heifer International.

I truly believe that we (as a species), need to do what we can now to provide a sustainable agriculture and a survivable ecosystem for future generations. I love animals of course, but Heifer International is more than that- it offers those without the means to care for themselves and their families a new life through training, accountability and self-reliance, sharing with their community, and the gift of life in the form of donated livestock. Heifer International is geared towards long-term solutions and really does change people’s lives- all through sustainable development with animals. I support them because I believe in their cornerstones and want to do my own small part to make the world a better place, for people and for animals.

4. Hendricks' Hearth is also working to raise money for a Flock of Chicks to help provide nourishing, life-sustaining eggs to those less fortunate. Please tell me about this project.

I am glad to! Quite simply, when someone makes a purchase from Hendricks’ Hearth, 10% of the sale is set aside to donate to Heifer International. Instead of making a general cash donation, I prefer to donate “the gift of life,” wherein a selected family will receive livestock that is chosen for a very specific reason. In this case, they will receive 10-50 chicks to raise for protein-filled eggs to feed their family and to sell their excess at the market to bring in much needed income. One hen can lay over one-hundred and fifty eggs a year, so it can add up to quite a bit in a relatively short amount of time. The family will be provided with the training to raise the animals properly, the equipment to get started, and will be required to donate offspring to another family in their community as well. I am proud to announce that Hendricks’ Hearth recently reached the goal for the purchase of a Flock of Chicks too, so that is great! I have created a donation page through Heifer International so that progress can be tracked by those interested: https://www.kintera.org/faf/search/searchTeamPart.asp?ievent=178641&lis=1&kntae178641=5538613AA1654F8FA0F9CB23BE60C9C2&supId=0&team=3410906&page=personalThe next goal for Hendricks’ Hearth will be to raise new money to provide the gift of Honeybees, which will help families earn extra income through the sales of pollen, beeswax, and of course honey. Bees are also critical for pollination in many areas affected negatively by chemical spraying and industrialized farming practices.

5. Gardening also seems to be one of your passions (I was just looking at the Organic Heirloom Black Beauty Eggplant Seeds currently for sale in your shop). What grows in your organic garden this year, and do you sometimes use the harvest in your bath and body products?

I really do enjoy gardening immensely. Despite questionable weather such as a late frost at the start of the growing season, I am happy with this year’s crop so far, and it exceeds last year’s, too. So far, I have harvested blueberries, strawberries, radishes, carrots, tomatoes, squash, lettuce, garden beans, eggplants, snow peas, sunflowers, onions, watermelons, and others. My herbs have done very well this year, too- from sweet basil to lavender to rosemary. Unfortunately I did not have any success this year with corn, but the flower beds are lovely and I am looking forward to planting cool weather crops.I love to dry fresh organic garden herbs for my bath and body items and lavender is my personal favorite despite its small yield. It has an absolutely lovely aroma, truly. Even after I work on the lavender beds, I love how the fragrance of the fresh buds and leaves lingers on my fingertips for hours. I currently grow French, Spanish, and English varieties in two different garden beds. If I had the land, I would grow much more of it, too.

6. Do you have a favorite "Hendricks' Hearth Organic Garden" recipe to share?

Sure, a lovely summer and autumn recipe is homemade garden pesto. I use 1 bunch of fresh chopped basil leaves (and you can substitute some fresh parsley and/or fresh spinach for part of the basil if preferred), 2-6 minced garlic cloves to taste, ½ cup chopped fresh oregano, ½ cup toasted pine nuts, ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, ¾ cup olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend together until smooth and serve warm over noodles, on bread, sandwiches, omelets, etc. For a vegan-friendly option, substitute 1/3 cup of nutritional yeast for the Parmesan cheese. A lovely, versatile recipe that is absolutely delicious!

7. Which of your many products is your favorite to create?

I absolutely love crafting cold-process soap. I enjoy planning what fragrance I am going to use and what I would like the finished batch to look like, measuring the individual raw ingredients, and even hand-cutting the fresh bars before the cure. I find the whole experience very relaxing and rewarding, even though I’ll be the first to admit that not every batch turns out just as I imagined it, but that is part of the fun sometimes.

8. (*groan*) If you were stranded on a desert island, which three of your fragrances would you want to take along? (You know that I would say "the Exotic Blend!")

Wow, that is a tough one! I love sampling fragrances and trying out new blended combinations, so this would be a very difficult decision. First, I would need a refreshing, clean fragrance so I think one of my choices would be Water Blend, which is a combination of Spearmint, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, and Ginger essential oils. I would have to take a vanilla, so I would probably go with Madagascar Vaniglia, which is a knock-your-socks-off aroma of Madagascar vanilla orchids and vanilla beans. My third choice would probably be Manuka Lavender, which is one of my new favorites- exotic New Zealand raw honey blended with fresh lavender buds and a hint of bergamot. It is just incredible. I know you said three, but I really would need Apple, Cranberry, & Ginger Cider, Pumpkin Pie, White Tea, Oatmeal Ginger Cookie, and the list goes on! Are you sure that I can’t bring four? :o)


GregoryRoad said...

Great post. It's always wonderful to learn about the person behind the store.

esque said...

What a nice and thorough interview! I love that she tends to her garden and love that she grows her own lavender!

Lonesome Road Studio said...

Yes, Lauren is a most interesting person!

goodkarma said...

i love finding new organic soap shops! thanks, angie. you just made this gal a sale. can't wait to try this soap.

Lonesome Road Studio said...

You're going to love the soap! From my firsthand experience, I also highly recommend the lip balm and whipped shea body butter.

courtney said...

oh WOW what a great interview!

WindandHoney said...

Very nice interview with a lovely person.

cabin + cub said...

oh those soaps look lovely! they probably smell really good too.. sniff sniff. ;)


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